Attempting my first bike build - Advice please!

by TimPhin   April 15, 2014  

Hi all, I've got a new frame (Kinesis 4S, since you asked) arriving at my LBS any day now and I'm planning to build it up with most of the componentry from my old bike, the frame of which is sadly knackered. After resolving this year to improve my bike maintenance skills, and to save money, I told the guys in the shop I'd like to try putting it all together myself but as the delivery date approaches the excitement's fading and the nerves are setting in...

So basically I was hoping some of you good people would be able to recommend some useful guides or reference works for relative novices like me attempting their first build (of a road bike). I already have a copy of Zinn's book on maintenance but I'm open to books, dvds and useful youtube channels or series as well as any general advice.

Many Thanks.

18 user comments

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I was faced with the same challenges when building my bike. For couple of beers (more like a crate) local bike shop let me use their tools and gave some advice. At the end I had a good idea which tools I need at home and which jobs are best left to professionals (like wheel truing). Other thing I thought I could not do was wrapping dropbars. After few attempts and messed up tapes I did a good job.

I was installing Ultegra 6800 groupset which worked "out of the box" with minimal adjustments needed.

I say, give it a try and do not rush. You might end up getting loads of satisfaction from repairing and tweaking on your own bike Smile

rix's picture

posted by rix [65 posts]
15th April 2014 - 6:17


there is some good info here but to be honest if you are stripping an old bike you can do it piece by piece, take a part off, give it a clean, put it on the new one.

at the end of the day its just about putting a part where it belongs and tightening to the frame, you will be fine.

posted by jason.timothy.jones [305 posts]
15th April 2014 - 8:23


As I've done it, I can say whole heatedly. Take your time. Plan the build meticulously and make sure you buy the right bits. Size, fit colour etc, otherwise it quickly gets expensive, even if you do manage to sell things. Also any particularly risky jobs, fork cuts etc get your lbs to do. Also consider buying a group as a whole, from some retailers I'm sure it works out better value and is much easier.

Canyon Roadlite Centaur/ Veloce groupset, Shamal wheels

Miles253's picture

posted by Miles253 [211 posts]
15th April 2014 - 8:23


As above take your time, make sure you have the right tools and it's really not that difficult. Once you’ve built your own bike, you won’t buy another complete bike again. Probably. I’m about to build my 6th , on a Kinesis frame as well.

The trickiest part can be making sure you have the correct compatible components for the frame but the 4s is pretty conventional all round (27.2 post, BSA bottom bracket + deep drop brakes) and it comes with a headset and seatclamp so that shouldn’t be a major problem.
Before you start bolting bits on though, it’s worth doing a bit of preparation and inspection on the frame as there are a couple of common things you can fix yourself and some that you might be best off asking a shop to do. It’s nice to get all the prep done on the naked frame so you don’t get stalled mid way through the build.

The simple things are checking the finish at the top of the seat tube and where the slot is cut. My experience of kinesis frames is that this can be a little rough so get some fine grade emery paper and a needle file and carefully take off any burrs or sharp edges and give the inside of the tube a rub to smoothe it off – your seatpost will thank you, especially if its carbon.
Check the bearing seats inside the headtube for any lumps or overspray that might stop the bearing sitting in the frame snugly, again some LIGHT rubbing with some emery paper can take these off, sometimes you can just pick them off with your nails or a plastic knife point.
Finally (or in any order) have a look at the bottom bracket. The faces or threads might have some spray on them – a little is not an issue but if it’s particularly thick or uneven then it might stop the bearing cup sitting or threading. A shop can use a facing tool to clean this off if you’re not confident of doing it yourself. Try threading the bottom bracket cups in – they may take some some torque to screw in but if they feel sticky or gritty or just generally jammed then don’t force them and get your shop to clean out the threads.

Cutting the fork is, again not that hard, but if you mess it up and cut too short then that’s an expensive mistake. It’s always worth leaving some excess for a few rides until you find how many spacers you want. You can use the stem with a sacrificial headset spacer taped to it to create a cutting edge guide and then cut with the blade along the edge of the spacer. You can use a file and abrasive to clean up the cut edge but do this outside with gloves on because carbon dust and splinters are unpleasant. I got a splinter under my nail that took weeks to work it’s way out.

Good luck, post up your progress. I might stick my next build on some kind of blog site, just in case it’s useful reference…

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
15th April 2014 - 9:46


I did one last year - a good experience and really improved confidence in bike maintenance.
Take your time; don't have any silly deadlines that keep you up at 3am bodging it.
A good excuse to invest in a proper bike stand.
Add some fancy colour coordinated cables, outers and end crimps!

posted by big shug [40 posts]
15th April 2014 - 11:25


..and don't do any work after a beer. I made this mistake and lost a fingernail after I jammed it between the chainring and front derailleur...

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
15th April 2014 - 12:24


I built up a mtb a couple of years ago and as everyone else has said, take your time, make sure everything you need is at hand and be patient because some things will not run smoothly, if you try to rush it it will only make things worse and heaven forbid you scratch your new frame.

A good bike stand is a must though.

I know my lbs let me stand by whilst they built up a couple of bikes and it gave me added confidence to see how they did it.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3237 posts]
15th April 2014 - 12:34


My last one was a Ti Kinesis as they've said once you do it once, you'll never
buy a complete bike again.

take it one element at a time and take a day to do each, don't rush and
have fun Smile I did mine as forks, then bars and seatpost/saddle, brakes, crankset,
mechs, ergos then all the little things as a final day, things like cable ends,tape,
indexing and a large amount of standing back and admiring my handy work Smile

You'll have an inside knowledge of your bike, how it works, how it goes
together, what goes where - you'll appreciate it even more Smile

If all goes to plan you get ... happiness Smile

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [924 posts]
15th April 2014 - 12:45


Some good advice above.

I've only recently completed building up a Kinesis T2 frame. Apart from feckling with gears, I had no experience building bikes but found it fairly straight forward. The knowledge and confidence you gain is invaluable, and you should be able to fix most stuff yourself in future.

I also found the Ribble to be the cheapest website for components, but don't be afraid to shop around.


posted by Scoob_84 [364 posts]
15th April 2014 - 13:44


+1 for decent cable cutters

posted by Scoob_84 [364 posts]
15th April 2014 - 13:46


Scoob_84 wrote:
+1 for decent cable cutters


Was previously using what I thought were good snips, but the difference to a decent cable cutter that a mate bought is like night and day really.

Got milk? Doesn't fit in your bottle cage? Get a Carton Cage.

Video: we put a GoPro on a sparrow.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [464 posts]
15th April 2014 - 13:57


therevokid wrote:

That bike is a thing of beauty Smile

Got milk? Doesn't fit in your bottle cage? Get a Carton Cage.

Video: we put a GoPro on a sparrow.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [464 posts]
15th April 2014 - 14:06


Another +1 for cable cutters - I've got a pair of these, available locally to most people, they've done a great job cutting cable outers and inners and always snip cleanly Much cheaper than the bike-specific cable cutters you can buy.

Youtube is your friend, whenever you come across something you don't know how to do - Youtube it.

The other thing is to get the right greases, mostly the correct anti-seize for bottom brackets and carbon paste for any carbon bits - seatposts are the main one, a mate of mine is currently dealing with a broken seatpost clamp and the post is stuck in the frame!

Also, don't rush it, that's when mistakes happen, take your time and do the old measure twice, cut once!

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [324 posts]
15th April 2014 - 14:25


Get the LBS to fit the headset and face the BB shell.

Have a spare pack of cables in case you make a mistake cutting. They will keep if you don't have to use them. Measure twice and cut once.

Take the opportunity to fit a new chain (also measure twice and cut once), maybe a new cassette, new brake blocks.

Don't expect to get it all right the first time. The new frame might have some bit missing like a BB cable guide and your old bikes one won't fit. Just relax, order the bit and wait.

Get some of those frame protector patches if they are not included with the frame. They prevent rubbing from cables.

vorsprung's picture

posted by vorsprung [298 posts]
15th April 2014 - 14:40


+1 for taking your time - if it isn't screwing in easily don't force it (although BB cups might need a bit more effort), take a break and come back to it.
I would leave the bars un-taped for a few rides to make sure you are happy with the position of the levers on the bars and the orientation of the bars - it's really annoying to have to unwrap perfectly good tape

posted by allezrider [92 posts]
15th April 2014 - 15:09


This is all really good advice. I just did my first build and what made it easy was having a good toolbox, including decent wirecutters as has been said above, and a workstand.
Not got too much more to add. Look out the official Shimano video for fitting a 6700 group. The dubbing makes it both informative AND comical.

posted by bashthebox [764 posts]
15th April 2014 - 23:08


Pro-tip: before you attach the stem and bars, secure the fork so it can't rotate. The weight of just the stem can cause it so swing round and ding the top tube.

Either put the wheel in and secure it to the downtube with some string or a bungee, or put a cardboard, plastic or foam tube through the fork under the crown and tie that to the downtube.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
16th April 2014 - 13:15


Great advice forum people - joemmo gets a mention for detail. I've done various bits on various bikes before and am pretty confident (with help from Zinn and YouTube) but, being just about to start my first full build from a bare frame, I'm pretty sure something will not fit/will have to be adjusted.

A superb way to spend a few hours in the shed with the radio.

posted by jellysticks [92 posts]
16th April 2014 - 15:51