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involve undoing your headset (you’ll find some information here or look up a video). Adjusting your headset will also prevent any wobble at the front end, or tendency for the steering to bind. When that’s done, tighten the bolts that hold the stem to the fork steerer. This is most important, as you will otherwise learn at the first corner… Be sure to tighten the bolts evenly, each a little at a time. You should find the bolts that hold the bar to the stem are already tight, but if not, or you want to change the angle of the bar, be sure to tighten them afterwards, again applying a halfturn at a time to each bolt.

leave anything too loose. A workstand will make life easier, but if you don’t have one anything that keeps the bike upright is better than nothing – a broom handle through the frame and hung on two stools, for example, or bungee ropes over the rafters to hang the bike on. This lets you get to the gears and turn the transmission while you tweak. Bar and stem So, first things first: turn the handlebar and stem to face forwards. Do make sure the bar is facing forward and not backwards, and that the fork is the right way around. This catches a few people out, even some who should know better… Also check the cables haven’t got wrapped around the fork in the process; if turning the bar tends to apply the brake or change gear, this is probably the cause. You might also want to change the height of your bar, by taking spacers out from underneath and sticking them on top (or vice versa). This will 28

Front wheel Now fit the front wheel. A tip here is always to make sure both wheels are in straight before doing any other adjustments. Take the bike out of the workstand, put it on the floor and undo the quick releases, then do them up again. This ensures that everything has settled squarely between the dropouts. With the bike back in the stand, re-hook the brake cables and give the levers a squeeze. Spin the wheels. Any side-to-side movement might mean the wheel is out-of-true and some work by someone proficient with a spoke wrench is required. Check that the brake pads line up correctly with the rim – that means, not touching the tyre or going into the spokes. It’s easy to fine-tune the pad position on most rim brakes: pull the brake on, loosen the pad nut (usually requiring a 5mm Allen key) and realign it. Tighten the nut and release the lever. Done. Adjusting the little screws on the side of the callipers allows you to ensure an even space between rim and pads on each side. (See more here,

Pedals It’s easier to check the gear adjustment once the pedals are on, so do that next. There’s a left pedal and a right pedal. Trying to screw the left pedal into the right crank (or vice versa) will lead to tears before bedtime and possibly some expensive damage. The reason is that the left pedal screws on in the reverse direction – so, anti-clockwise as you look from the side. It’s a good idea to smear anti-seize grease on the pedal threads before putting them in. In a spin Now twirl the pedals and check how the transmission parts are performing. This should be a beautiful symphony. If it sounds like Schoenberg, it’s adjustment time. There isn’t room here to go into all the details, but there are plenty of online tutorials available – and find more here Check all your nuts and bolts are tight, pump up your tyres… and ride!

Cycle Commuter #17  
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