This checklist contains important information regarding bicycle assembly and safety. It is intended to be a convenient general reference only. It is not intended to be a complete or comprehensive manual covering all aspects of bicycle assembly or safety.
Tools you will need:
- 6 mm hex wrench
- Regular wrench
- 5 mm hex wrench
- 5 and 5 mm Allen wrenches
- Phillips head screwdriver
Step 1: Attaching the Quill Stem
Make sure the fork of the mountain bike is facing forward. Use your 6 millimeter hex wrench to loosen the stem binder bolt and insert the wedge-shaped part at the bottom of the stem far enough into the steer tube that the minimum insertion mark can't be seen.
Tighten the stem binder bolt, keeping the handlebars aligned with the front fork. Adjust the height as needed for alignment, rider fit, and comfort.
Step 2A: Attach Front Nutted Wheel
Using your adjustable wrench, loosen the wheel axle nuts enough for the fork ends to fit. Place the axle completely into the dropout slots with the washers on the outside. If the washers have hooks or steps, place them inside the small holes on the fork dropouts.
Center the wheel and tighten each axle nut gradually and evenly by switching sides until both are secure. If the wheel is not centered, loosen the axle nut on the side with the smaller gap. Shift and hold the wheel on center and retighten the nut.
Step 2B: Attach a Front Wheel with a Quick Release
Locate the quick-release skewer and remove the adjustment nut and outer spring and washer. With the quick-release lever on the opposite side of the bicycle chain, slide the skewer through the front-wheel axle.
Replace the outer spring with its smaller end toward the wheel and loosely thread the adjusting nut onto the skewer.
Seat the axle completely in the fork dropout slots, keeping the wheel as centered as possible. Hold the quick-release lever in an open position and hand-tighten the adjusting nut until some resistance is felt.
The correct tension is achieved when the lever requires a firm hand to close but is not forced. With the handle closed, spin the wheel to be certain that it's centered and properly seated.
Step 3: Attaching a Bolted Seat
Apply grease to the outside of the seat post.
Loosen the seat clamp bolt and insert the seat post far enough into the seat tube that the minimum insertion mark can't be seen.
Align the seat with the top tube of the frame and tighten the bolt until the clamp holds the seat post firmly in position. Adjust the seat height as needed for alignment, rider fit, and comfort.
Step 4: Attaching a Seat with a Quick Release
Apply grease to the outside of the seat post. Unlock the quick-release lever and insert the seat post far enough into the seat tube that the minimum insertion mark can't be seen.
Align the seat with the top tube of the frame and tighten the adjusting nut until the lever, when closed, holds the seat post firmly in position. Adjust the seat height as needed for alignment, rider fit, and comfort.
Step 5: Attaching the Pedals
Pedals are directional and conveniently marked with an R for right and L for left.
The R pedal should be matched to the right-hand crank arm on the chain side of the bike, the side that you would place your right foot if you were riding, and is threaded in a clockwise direction.
The L pedal should be matched to the left-side crank arm, the side your left foot would be on if you were pedaling, and is threaded in a counterclockwise direction. Start threading each pedal by hand in the correct direction on the appropriate crank arm. Then use an open ended 15 millimeter wrench tighten.
Step 6: There are several types of brakes in the mountain bike category including:
Please jump ahead to what type of brakes your bike has
- Linear Pull Brakes
- Caliper Brakes
- Disc Brakes
ADJUSTING LINEAR PULL BRAKES
STEP 1: Adjusting Linear Pull Brake Cable Tension
Before you begin, check to make sure that the brake cable is seated in the brake lever. With one hand, squeeze the brake lever together with until the front pads touch the rim.
With the other hand, hold the cable and insert the end of the noodle into the carrier.
Loosen the cable anchor bolt so the cable moves freely.
Pull the cable through the anchor until the left brake arm sits about 1/8th of an inch from the rim. While still holding the cable, move the right brake arm until it reaches the same distance from the rim and tighten the cable anchor bolt completely.
Check the brakes are centered to the wheel. If the gaps between the pads and the rim are not the same on both sides, loosen the anchor bolt and adjust until even.
Step 2: Adjusting Linear Pull Brake Arm Tension
Look at the brakes over the tire to see if they are centered. If the gaps between the brake pads and the wheel are not even on both sides, this will need to be adjusted. Make sure the wheel is centered.
Squeeze the brake levers to test operation, then start with the arm closest to the rim or the arm that is moving improperly. In small increments of 1/4 to 1/2 turns, rotate the brake arm screws in the appropriate direction to move them in or out. Clockwise rotation moves the pad away from the rim while counterclockwise moves the pad closer.
When the pads are at a 1/8th inch gap on both sides, check the centering by squeezing the brakes. If the brake arms don't move evenly, they may need to be fine-tuned through a series of adjustments.
ADJUSTING CALIPER BRAKES
Step 1: Adjust Caliper Brake Centering
Caliper brakes should be centered to the wheel. If one of the caliper arms moves more than the other or not at all, the brakes can't operate properly.
Before adjusting the brakes, first check that the wheel is centered. Then compare the gaps between the wheel and fork and the pads and rim. To center the brake, loosen the caliper mounting lock nut and position the brake so both arms move equally.
Squeeze the brake lever to hold the caliper closed while tightening the nut. Release the lever and recheck. Repeat the adjustment if it shifts out of place.
Step 2: Adjust Caliper Brake Cable Tension
Loosen the cable anchor bolt so the wire slides freely.
Squeeze the caliper arms with one hand so the pads touch the rim, and with the other hand, pull the cable tight through the anchor bolt. Hand-tighten the anchor bolt and then wrench tighten.
Use the adjustment barrels to fine-tune the brake cable tension.
ALL MOUNTAIN BIKES WITH BRAKE PADS
Step 7: Adjust Placement of Brake Pads
You will need a five millimeter hex wrench to complete this step. Brake pads should be evenly center on the rim. To adjust, loosen the bolt and reposition the pad. Retighten the bolt.
Step 8: Adjust Disc Brake
You'll need 2.5 and five millimeter Allen wrenches to complete this step. Rotate the wheel and look at the gap between the rim and fork.
If the gap is uneven, loosen the axle nuts. And adjust until the wheel and disk rotor are centered.
Loosen the two centering adjustment screws and adjust the caliper body until the gap between the disk rotor and the brake pads is approximately 1/32nd of an inch on each side.
Using a 1/32nd inch spacer gauge between the outside brake pad and the disk rotor, and while slightly pushing the brake caliper towards the wheel, tighten the centering screws.
With a 1/32nd inch spacer gauge between the disk rotor and the brake pad, loosen the set screw.
Turn the brake pad adjustment screw clockwise to move the pad toward the disk rotor and counterclockwise to move the pad away from the disk rotor.
Adjust the pad until the gap between the disk rotor and the brake pads is 1/32nd inch on each side.
Retighten the set screw.
If the brake cable wire is not attached to the brake arm, then loosen the cable anchor bolt until you can see a gap large enough for the brake cable wire.
Pull on the brake cable wire and place it under the cable anchor bolt.
Tighten the cable anchor bolt.
Check that the brake cable tension allows the lever to travel about 1/3 of the distance to the handlebar before the brake pads contact the disk rotor.
If the cable has stretched or slipped, you'll need to make some adjustments. Slightly loosen the jam nut.
Turn the adjustment barrel clockwise to loosen the brake cable tension or counterclockwise to tighten it.
Recheck the brake cable tension and tighten the jam nut. Refer to the installation guide for ways to double-check that the brake is correctly adjusted.
Step 9: Adjust Rear Derailleur
You'll need a hex wrench and a Phillips head screwdriver to complete this step.
With the rear gear shifter set to the largest number, disconnect the rear derailleur cable from the anchor bolt and place the chain on the smallest sprocket.
Adjust the high-limit screw so the guide pulley and the chain are vertically lined up with the smallest sprocket.
Pull the cable taut, reconnect it, and tighten the cable anchor bolt.
Now with the rear shifter set to gear one, place the chain on the largest sprocket and adjust the low-limit screw in 1/4 turn increments until the guide pulley and chain are vertically lined up with the largest sprocket.
If it's difficult getting the chain on the largest sprocket, turn the low-limit screw counterclockwise to move the chain closer to the wheel. To test, shift through the gears, making sure each gear is achieved quietly and without hesitation.
If there are issues, fine-tune the cable tension by rotating the barrel adjuster in the appropriate direction to move the derailleur cage closer to or away from the bicycle. Fine-tuning may take a series of adjustments. On some models, adjustments can also be made at the right-side or rear shifter.
Step 10: Adjust Front Derailleur
You'll need a wrench and Phillips head screwdriver to complete this step.
With both shifters set to the smallest number, disconnect the cable from the anchor bolt and place the chain on the corresponding sprocket and chain wheel.
The position of the front derailleur should be parallel with the largest chain wheel, and the chain guide should clear the chain wheel by one to three millimeters.
Adjust the low-limit screw so the chain is approximately centered in the front derailleur cage.
Pull the cable taut, reconnect it, and tighten the cable anchor bolt.
Now set the front shifter to the highest number and move the chain to the largest chain wheel.
If the chain doesn't go onto the largest chain wheel, turn the high-limit screw counterclockwise in 1/4 turn increments until the chain engages.
If the chain falls off, turn the high-limit screw clockwise in 1/4 turn increments until the chain no longer falls off.
To test, shift through the gears, making sure each gear is achieved quietly and without hesitation. Fine-tuning may take a series of adjustments.
Step 11: Adjust 2-Bolt Handlebar
You'll need a hex wrench to complete this step.
Loosen the handlebar binder bolts and center the handlebar to the bike.
Make sure the brake and shift cable are routed properly around the handlebar so they're taking the smoothest path across the bike with no snags or twists.
Alternate tightening the bolts a little at a time, keeping the gap between the stem cap and the stem even until the handlebar is firmly secured.
Step 12: Properly Inflate Tires
Identify the correct tire pressure as indicated on the tire sidewall. Remove the valve cap and secure the pump to the stem. Inflate to the correct tire pressure. Securely replace the valve cap.
Step 13: Adjust Reflectors
You'll need a Phillips head screwdriver to complete this step.
Check and confirm the front and rear reflectors are installed correctly, facing either directly forward or backward and perpendicular to the road's surface.
The front, white reflector should be mounted on the handlebar and the rear, red reflector mounted to the seat post.
Women's and men's mountain bikes from Schwinn make the great outdoors even more accessible. Get tips on where to ride your bike, bike maintenance and how to pump tires in our blog and enjoy the trails!