Putting together a flat pack bike

I believe the official term for this is “assembling” but as I’m a common man I’m going with “putting together”.

A lot of people these days are tempted to order bikes online. However, there is often a fear of what will happen when the bike arrives. How hard will it be to assemble? Will something go wrong?

Fortunately, the way bikes are flat packed these days, it’s a five minute job to set them up correctly. At least it is when you order off reliable retailers *cough* Toys R Us is rubbish *cough*.

When a bike arrives these days it will look a little something like this:

Bike inside the box

Out of the box it will look like this:

Flat pack Voodoo Canzo bike waiting to be assembled

As demonstrated by the rather gorgeous Canzo by VooDoo bikes. I’ll be testing the gorgeous Canzo, as it will hence forth be known, more thoroughly over the coming months and posting a full review. Hat tip to Halfords for sending me this bike.

Flat pack bike assembly: Stage 1

Use some form of cutting device to remove the various packaging. Be careful not to scratch the pretty frame. Note: You may wish to keep the box for playing games such as this:

Flat pack bike assembly: Stage 2

Straighten the handlebars so that they are aligned with the front wheel.

It is crucially important here to tighten the bolts in the right order. The top cap should always be tightened before tightening the stem bolts. Otherwise, you can cause damage to your headset.

The bolts that hold the handlebars from shifting forwards will also need to be tightened.

Warning! Be careful not to over-tighten these bolts. They should be tightened just enough to ensure the handlebars don’t turn out of position. If you over-tighten then there is potential to damage the bearings

Check that the bars are aligned in the center.

Voodoo assembly with arrows showing position of bolts that need to be tightened

It is a similar system on a road bike. On the Trek Madone you can see there is also an indicator to help you centre align the bars.

Road bike assembly

Flat pack bike assembly: Stage 3

Check that the pedals have grease on the threads. If not then add some now. You should also check there is grease on the bottom bracket threads. These are two areas of the bike that have massive pressure exerted upon them so making sure they are properly greased is very important.

Then, check which is the right pedal and which is the left. This will be marked on the pedal.

Mark indicating this is the right foot pedal

Use a wrench to tighten the pedal firmly into position.

Important! The left pedal is tightened through a counter clockwise motion as it is reverse threaded.

pedal tighten

Flat pack bike assembly: Stage 4

Pump up your tyres to the recommended pressure as indicated on the tyre and add the saddle. Although in most flat packed bikes this is already done.

Tighten saddle on flat pack bike

Flat pack bike assembly: Stage 5

Just some final checks to do now:

  1. Make sure the brakes are working
  2. Check the wheels don’t feel loose and the bolts are tight
  3. Add any accessories and ensure they are firmly tightened
  4. Check nothing feels loose

Finally, make a note of the frame number in case the bike is stolen.

Now head off and ride but take an Allen Key with you as you will need to make a few adjustments to get things just right. A bike does take some “bedding in” which means after you’ve done some mileage you are likely to need to come back to make minor tweaks.

Note: I’ll be adding this repair to the Bike Doctor App (Android and iPhone) soon!

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13 Responses to Putting together a flat pack bike

  1. Phil 21/07/2011 at 9:58 am #

    Can I add to the instructions ” check that the bottom bracket threads are greased, so that when the time comes to change it you don’t have to pay two burly mechanics from your LBS to jump on a breaker bar to get it out.” I speak from experience- factory assembly often neglects grease in BB threads.

    • Andreas 21/07/2011 at 10:28 am #

      Phil, good tip, have added in now.

  2. Grant 21/07/2011 at 10:50 am #

    The headset ought to be tensioned via the bolt in the top cap before tightening the pinch bolts on the stem to hold it in place. Do the stem first and you might leave some slack which can knacker the bearings.

  3. Grant 21/07/2011 at 10:53 am #

    Sheldon probably explains headset adjustment better than me: http://sheldonbrown.com/headsets.html#threadless

  4. whitey 21/07/2011 at 10:54 am #

    I’ll check front wheel bearings as well. They usually are very tight, and if you got the tool adjust it (same with rear wheel, they usually better but worth to check).
    Wipe chain/casette/chainrings.

  5. Johnno 21/07/2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Lol @ the cardboard box clip….made me smile. Gonna be interested in the Canzo review too, have been giving serious thought to the Voodoo Agwa hybrid, so will be interested in the build quality etc, as there aren’t many reviews out there for Voodoo

    • Andreas 21/07/2011 at 8:00 pm #

      Pleased you liked it. I’ve watched it twice now and always leaves me with a smile. I’ll try and get the review out soon but not before I’ve had a good play around with it.

  6. Adam 21/07/2011 at 9:46 pm #

    Grant is right about the headset and the compression cap / top hat (top allen bolt) should not be overtightened as it can crush or put pressure on the bearings causing them wear out and make steering stiff.

    Also check the warranty T+Cs as they often state that if your bike is not assembled by a qualified mechanic / shop then your warranty is invalidated.

    • Andreas 22/07/2011 at 8:33 am #

      Hey Adam, I updated the repair to make this clearer. Not everyone has a torque wrench so didn’t think it would be helpful to mention specifications.

  7. Peter 23/07/2011 at 8:31 am #

    Might be worth putting in something about checking which way round the forks should be. Which is the most common error seen from flat packed bikes. That and missing brake blocks (!)

    • Neil 26/07/2011 at 6:31 pm #

      Very true. Goes hand in hand with a loose headset and lopsided v brakes because the wheel has been put in off centre.

      I seriously recommend that you check all bolts. Especially crank bolts, wheel nuts, brake caliper bolts, brake arm bolts, gear and brake shifter bolts, brake and gear cable bolts etc

      You don’t reallly want to find out once you’re already on the road that the guy in India who set up your bike was having an ‘off day’.

  8. mike 05/09/2011 at 4:24 pm #

    had the canzo for two weeks now, after my orange sub five was stolen. and i can honestly say that there is nothing this bike cant do comparred to top priced f/s mtb’s. halfords set the bike up (wish they had’nt, as no care was included) and i spent the afternoon fixing silly mistakes. but that still doesnt take away the fact that this bike is impressive for the price. voodoo frames have always intrested me but being a rider rather than a builder a build has never intresed me, but after they joined with halford i saw the spec and i couldnt find anything else exept the boardman (but i thing that it might be an old man magnet for the trails) came close. i love this thing but please dont buy one as i havnt seen anyone else on one yet. 10/10

    • Andreas 05/09/2011 at 6:25 pm #

      Hey Mike – thanks for posting up such a positive review of the Canzo. Pleased to hear you are enjoying using the bike and you’ve been impressed with its performance for the money it costs.

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