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enter image description hereI bought a partly dissembled bike at a discount price because I'm a university student, and I wanted an easier way of transport than walking. It's an Expert EXPMTB18SPD31. I've hit a wall, though- the only parts of the bike that came pre-assembled were the chain, the back wheel, and the braking system. I put the front wheel, but I didn't realize it until after that the brakes are positioned behind the bar. Also, when I squeeze the front brake on the handlebar, the brakes close a little but do not stop the wheel. I'm not word-savy, nor am I a mechanic, so any advice would be really appreciated. Thanks in advanceenter image description here

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    Looks like you have the fork reversed. The brake calipers should be facing the direction of travel. Can you post a picture of the whole front end of the bike, wheel, forks and handlebar? – Argenti Apparatus Aug 20 '17 at 15:07
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    There are organizations called bike co-ops/bike coops which exist to help people learn about and maintain their bikes. They try to be very affordable. They usually have tools and parts, and they could probably get you fixed right up. You could check to see if your city has one. You could also see if your uni has a bike club, I bet they could help you out. – compton Aug 20 '17 at 15:39
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    Pro tip: don't buy bikes from electronics stores. – ojs Aug 20 '17 at 16:14
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    You bought an extremely inexpensive bike that we disparagingly call a [bso]. You should be able to get it into rideable shape but it may be a struggle. A bike shop or coop may need to do the final tune up – RoboKaren Aug 20 '17 at 16:58
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    It looks like reversed forks are a common problem among BSOs. – errantlinguist Aug 21 '17 at 13:13
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First, please do not ride the bike in it's current condition with the fork reversed or the front brake not functioning, it is dangerous. The steering will be unstable and you may not be able to stop quickly enough.

You have two things to do:

1) Un-reversing the fork, obviously.

2) Adjusting the front brake (and checking the rear brake).

To un-reverse the fork/handlebars. The 'quill' style stem must be loosened. Loosen the hex bolt in the top of the stem (you don't have to undo it all the way), the bars and stem will come loose from the fork steerer tube in the headtube, rotate the forks 180 degrees, replace the stem, align the bars and tighten the stem.

A couple of things to be aware of:

  • Make sure the stem is tight, you do not want the bars and forks coming apart when you are riding.

  • Make sure the stem is inserted into the fork steerer tube far enough. There may be a 'minimum insertion' mark on it. In your picture it looks like it may not be inserted far enough.

If you need additional help, there are many bike maintenance videos and articles you can search for. Just Google for 'bicycle quill stem adjustment'.

The front brake cable as shown in your picture is far too loose. Brake adjustment is too complicated for me to describe here so I recommend watching the Park Tool video on linear brake adjustment. Park Tool bike maintenance videos are generally well thought out and accessible.

You should check the rear brake adjustment when you address the front brake, to verify it is working properly.

  • The bars will not come loose by undo the hex bolt in the top of the stem. – paparazzo Aug 21 '17 at 11:36
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    @Paparazzi by 'bars' I mean the handlebars and stem as a unit. – Argenti Apparatus Aug 21 '17 at 12:13
  • I see it is probably a quill stem. – paparazzo Aug 21 '17 at 17:23
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The fork is backwards.

Brake should be to the front and fork camber to the front.

Just loosen the handle bars and spin them (or fork).

Also it looks a little tall so sink it if it will go.

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    Explaining how to solve the problem would be beneficial. While it may appear obvious to us, and perhaps even to the OP, as they assembled the bike, someone that encounters this question may be a bike neophyte and not know where to begin correcting the issue. – Makyen Aug 20 '17 at 17:42
  • That is actually me, exactly. I have no experience with this, so you have a good point. Any tips? – Austin Aug 20 '17 at 17:57
  • Sheldon Brown explains how to adjust stems: sheldonbrown.com/handsup.html (pay attention to "rotate it from side to side"). The entire site along with parktool.com is recommended reading for anyone who wants to adjust and maintain their own bikes. – ojs Aug 20 '17 at 18:40
  • @ojs Probably only need to loosen the bars here. – paparazzo Aug 20 '17 at 18:49
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    @Paparazzi, Probably only need to loosen the bars here. - people do not know how to do that, generally. It would be wise to update your answer to teach them how to do it and especially if that needs specialist tools or if safety is at stake (the OP is a non-mechanic). – AnoE Aug 21 '17 at 15:27
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Not only is the fork in backwards, the handlebar is on backwards. Rotate both by 180 degrees, and also rotate the controls on the handlebar too.

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    Controls are in the correct location WRT the handlebar stem. The fork needs to rotate while the hadlebar stays where it is by loosening the quill, per Argenti's answer above. – SSilk Aug 21 '17 at 16:41

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