Bike assembly – final parts (chain, brakes and shifters)

The final part of the bike to deal with depends heavily on the bike type – but it is always the chain, the brakes and the derailleurs (also known as shifters). I completed my custom bike a while ago, but never wrote on this, since I felt it is very bicycle and component specific. Here are some short steps though…

Ingredients and tools:

  • chain and chain tools
  • allen key set
  • derailleurs (back and/or front or none)
  • gear shifters (again, possibly none)
  • brakes and cables to mount them
  • teflon grease, fourth hand tool (optional)

Time and cost:

This can take anything from ten minutes to a full working day, again depending on what you want to have/do.



1. Every bike needs a chain. To measure the proper chain length, put the chain on thelargest ring on your crankset and the largest ring on your cassette. Measure the length and ADD 2 links. This will keep the tension of the chain right. Break the chain with a breaker tool (you really should have one of these, for example:

Next, put the chain aside, you won’t need it right away.


2. Now is the time to install your derailleur. The installation instructions are againspecific to the derailleur you have, but in general, you should bolt the derailleur to your frame with a derailleur hanger. There is usually a screw which determines how close the derailleur will come close to the frame. You will deal with that later. After installing it, guide the chain through. I installed only a rear derailleur since I don’t feel the need to have a front derailleur for city biking. If you do have a front derailleur, make sure to install it first (according to the instructions) before guiding the chain through the whole system.

3. Decide on what kind of brakes you want on your bicycle. Again, I felt that the normal v-brakes will be just enough for the occasional town ride. These brakes are very simple and use a single cable to pull them taut on the rim of the wheels. The brakes are operated via levers, which you place on the handlebar. Some people prefer to install brake levers to the inside of the derailleur shifters, some the opposite. This is entirely up to you.


Installing the brakes and levers is very simple. There are places on your frame/fork where you have to put the brake, so just plug them in there. Attach a cable to the brake and the lever. Now do the same for the derailleur shifter. In the image you can see a tool that holds the cable taut while you fasten it. If you don’t have this tool, just use some pliers, or, better yet, ask someone to hold it for you.

4. The final step is to adjust your derailleurs and brakes. I will not describe how this is done, since, once more, it depends heavily on the type you are using. Basically, for any type imaginable you can find short instructions online, so you should be fine.

That’s it folks! From an empty frame and components lying around, you got your complete bike – enjoy it, you made it!

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