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Mechanic Tips MTB & Road

Frame Sizing

Mountain bikes are available in extra small through extra large. Size does not affect price. If you are 5'8" through 5'10" you would buy a medium size bike. 5'11 to 6'1" would be large. If you are 5'0" to 5'2" you would choose extra small. 5'3" to 5'7" is small. Lots of ladies buy small. The smaller the lighter and less things they will collide with in its life time. Road bikes are the same system. You should be able to stand over the top tube with your sneakers* on the ground and be able to lift the front wheel up about 2 inches. If the road bike shows metric centimeters sizing than 56cm is large and 54cm is medium respectively. You can figure the rest. If you buy your bike at Walmart you will not hear anything about sizes.

*if you are bare foot or in high heels this range changes accordingly.
**based on standard mountain bikes having 26" wheels and road having 700c



5000 Parts and more. We also have all the small hard to find parts  for your repairs and upgrades too. Click Here.

Headsets are the bearings, cups and other parts needed hold your fork to the frame. Old school frames take 1" threaded headsets. If you fork has threads on it is threaded and not threadless. Then the industry when from 1" threaded to 1 1/8" threadless we had a change in the standard. 1" headsets would tend to loosen up so the new design took over. This collaborative industry change marks the new standard size. It just may just go down in history as the time when old school became new school. The forks became 1 1/8" threadless and the steerer tube became longer so the threadless new style stem would slide on to it. The old style stem (gooseneck) was called 1" shafted and always had that long expander bolt to hold it in place. Most steerer tubes can be cut with a pipe cutter. You will usually use a few 5mm Ahead spacers between the top of headset and stem. The stem should have the steerer tube go all the way through it minus 1/8" to allow the ahead cap not to make contact with the fork so it can properly pull the headset together. Once the top bolt is tightened so the fork is smooth and free of wobble you can tighten the stem bolts on the side of the stem. Sealed bearing headsets are nice, but not required.

Traditional Threadless Headsets: Traditional threadless headsets are headsets that use a cup and bearing system. These headsets use cups that must be pressed into the frame and by force of compression via a star nut can be tightened down. These headsets were most popular on all frames from 1994-2001. Set your 1 1/8" Aheadset spacers below your stem so that your ahead cap never touches the top of the fork. Usually a 1/8" gap is nice. If it touches your headset will not pull together to snug the bearings up. Use a Phil Wood or Park grease or any white Lithium. Even automotive axle grease is better than no grease on unsealed cartridge bearing headsets. 

Internal Headsets: Internal Headsets are the newest headset design for modern Aluminum Race Frames. These headsets are commonly mistaken for Integrated Headsets (which are headsets that are made with no cups so that the bearing is sitting inside the frame). The Internal headset is a headset that still has a steel cup that sits in the frame, but rather than a traditional 1-1/8" Threadless Headset the cups are hidden inside the frame. Since Aluminum frames are pitted easily, bearings cannot be run on the metal with a steel divider so the cup must be used. Generally you can tell an internal frame from a traditional frame by the width of the headtube and the hourglass design that they use to make the headtube wide enough to hold an entire headset inside. This style headset has only been used on frames for around five years.

Integrated Headsets: Integrated Headsets are the most widely used headsets on newer style chromoly frames. Integrated Headsets utilized semi sealed or sealed bearings that rest inside the frame on the cup that has been bored out of the headtube. This makes easy assembly and disassembly. These headsets come in two sizes for different types of frames. One size is a 45 x 45 Campagnolo Style Headset. This would include the FSA Impact, FBM, Eastern and Campagnolo Hiddenset Integrated Headsets. This is the general size for integrated headsets and there are few exceptions to the rule. This would include all chromoly frames with the exception of Sputnic, Volume, Stolen and a few others denoted throughout the website. These frames use a slightly larger Cane Creek IS-2 integrated style headset. These headsets are the same design as the Impact Headset with a different sized bearing that will only fit those rare frames. You can tell an integrated frame by a coke can size or hourglass headtube that looks to have cups built in.






Cranks in the old school days were either 1pc or 3pc. The most common crank length is 170mm and three piece. Generally, 170mm is found on all stock mountain and road bikes. Three piece cranks are found on most all road and mountain bikes. You need the 9/16" pedals for 3 price cranks and 1/2" pedals for 1 piece cranks. I think the smallest cranks are in BMX is 130mm. The newest cranks style is Hollow Tech and you can see right through the axle. These are a nice design improvement. Cranks are single, double or triple chain ring. Track bikes take a single gear. Road is double or triple and mountain is triple. Some Free Ride and Down Hill bikes can be any style.  



Chains & Freewheel sizes are all 3/32". A sprocket is a one piece and a chainring uses chainring bolts to attach to the spider then to the crank. All chainrings are 3/32" so you would use a 3/32" chain. The same applies to the rear freewheel. Freewheels are all right side drive. Freewheels require no install tools since they just spin on the hub threads. Do not cross threads when threading. The object when building your frame is to have a straight chain line with the front sprocket. You can space the right side 3 piece crank arm to line up with crank are spacers that come with all 3 piece cranks except the aluminum racing style that press on to a square or ISIS spindle. You will have extra chain after you assemble the bike, cut it with a chain breaker tool.

Cassettes are not the same as freewheels. They side onto a cassette style hub then the small low gear is threaded and tightened down to hold all the gears tight. A special too is required for install and uninstall. A chain whip tool and a cassette remover are needed for removal. A vise would help to hold the wheel for you. Only the cog remover is needed for install.



Gearing standard uses 44T:16 for a 20" wheel bike. 24" cruisers take 39T:18T. You may have noticed the trend to go with small front sprockets. Riders are doing this, because the smaller front gears tend to get less destroyed when grinding. The common gearing here is 25T:9T. This gearing equals the 44T:16T. DK makes a 12T that fits on the small threaded side of flip flop hubs. 12T is the smallest freewheel that is threaded style. Anything smaller is a driver style. Profile, Odyssey and several other companies make hubs that accept drivers. Drivers come in 8T up to 12T. Drivers are usually available in chromoly or titanium. We carry special the 9T driver that fits Odyssey hubs as well as all other brand drivers that are quality.


Grips should be installed with soapy water or hair spray to help them slide over the bar. Let the hair spray dry before riding on the new grips so you don’t wipe out. You will find lots of grips here, even old school Ame Tri's. Ame Tri grips are standard length at 120mm. I had a pair of Oakley 3's some time ago, they had wings to rest your palms on and finger indentations. Lots of cool colors are available now like Purple and gold grips. Check out the Animal or new ODI O grips. Get some bar ends to prevent handlebar end punctures to your body.


Pedals are made in 1/2" or 9/16" thread. All three piece cranks take 9/16". All one piece cranks take 1/2". Three piece cranks always have a separate left and right arm. One piece cranks are one long piece that fits through the frame bottom bracket to form left and right. The left pedal always tightens in a counterclockwise direction. The right always tightens in a clockwise direction. You sometimes need a thin wall 15mm open end wrench to get your pedals tight. We do sell a special Pedal Tool you could add to your tool collection.

Seat Clamps

Seat Clamps come in three sizes for BMX. Measure the outside diameter of your frames seat tube to get your size. Old school metal pro and xl frames take 1" which equals 25.4mm. New metal frames most all take 25.4mm seat post so the clamp accommodates the metal thickness and takes a 1 1/8" clamp. Most Aluminum frames take 1 1/4" and wider clamps. If it is wider than 1 1/4" you may find you need to order a mountain bike brand clamp. Check these out.  

Seat Posts

Seat posts were most all 7/8" in diameter for old school frame. Some minis take 13/16" which is even more narrow. The Uni Mini seat was 13/16" and the Uni Pro is 7/8". We still have these original seat post and seat combos in stock. We even have 7/8" chrome straight, laid back and snake posts still in stock. The newer school chromoly frames went to taking the 25.4" seat post. All other frames take whatever the factory decided to use. There is a tool that measures to the 10th of a millimeter otherwise it is trial and error unless you know the required specifications.


Road handle bars are either 26mm or 31.8mm clamp diameter. Most of the Men's Road bikes, made in the last 10 years, have 31.8mm. Handlebars are measured from outside center to center. Measure your existing bars will help you to decide on the correct width. Type your height in the comments field if you want us to do the sizing. The most common size frame is Medium or 55cm. Its bar width would be 42cm plus or minus two centimeters. Deda makes a nice Bar. Most ladies bars fit men’s bikes, but if you get a women’s specific bike it will have overall shorter dimensions. ATBs are about the same story.


Stems clamp the handlebar. Make sure you alternate bolts when tightening. Most all bicycle not purchased at a department store ate 1 1/8" and fit a 1 1/8" threadless fork. Don't go too light when choosing a stem. A little meat here can make you bomb hills with a little more confidence. Don’t forget the helmet! We do sell Gyro. Click Stems

Tire and Tubes

Road tires are usually 700 x 25C. 23C is skinnier and 28C is wider. Hybrid road bikes with upright bars usually take 38C tires. Check the marking on your tire to get the correct size. It is usually best to order the size marked on your tire. Mountain tires are usually 26 X 1.95". We do sell thorn proof tubes, but they do add weight.