Building my own bike...

by MarcMyWords   November 21, 2013  

Hi guys,

I've been cycling for a while but am no expert by any means, the most I can do myself is adjust the brakes, change an inner tube, adjust the gears... Really basic stuff. However, I really fancy getting a frame and having a go at building a bike from scratch... Madness, I know! I'm thinking a road or Cross bike with discs.

Has anyone got any good tips for me about where to start, anything to consider along the way, places or makes to avoid, places to get parts and components on the cheap... etc??

Thanks

20 user comments

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Do it! You'll be surprised at how straight forward it is, the fun is getting it all nicely colour coordinated. Obviously

posted by lazyusername [140 posts]
21st November 2013 - 16:10

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Haha - Obviously that's my main concern! Have you got any tips? Best frames? Best places to buy from?

posted by MarcMyWords [69 posts]
21st November 2013 - 16:13

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I have a cross bike for sale at the mo could sell you the frame, fork and headset if you wanted to build it up to your spec. It's designed for canti brakes though so not exactly what you're looking for.

Btw I'd recommend kinesis as a frame manufacturer built a couple up and both been completely hassle free. Also had to contact the warranty dept about a Granfondo frame in the past and they were really helpful and straighforward to deal with.

posted by lazyusername [140 posts]
21st November 2013 - 16:17

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It would be worth buying a copy of Zinn and the art of Bike Maintenance. A well laid out and easy to comprehend guide to most mechanical tasks.

With that, some patience and a bit of internet time it's not hard. There's the investment in tools to consider, but most of them aren't too expensive.

For the very rarely used ones like headset presses or frame prep tools (chasing and facing a bottom bracket, if needed) easiest to get an LBS to sort it for you.

Don't know where you're based, but the London Bike Kitchen is a like a subscription-based workshop where you can access tools and get advice.

http://lbk.org.uk/

posted by thereandbackagain [152 posts]
21st November 2013 - 16:54

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Do it! You'll never buy a complete bike again once you get the bug. You may not save a whole load of money but it's really satisfying and strangely addictive - I'm on to self-build number 5 at the moment.

Apart from the essential tools, a workstand is a good investment. If you're looking to do it as economically as possible then you need to allow time to gather the parts and keep an eye open for sales and special offers. Ebay and classifieds can also be a good source obviously but you have less comeback with them.

In terms of retailers most likely to have discounts, offers etc. my list of favourites are (in no order) : Ribble, Planet-X, Merlin & Chain Reaction. On Ebay -HighOnBikes and Absolute Cycles are worth checking out as well.

Framewise - totally depends what you want, like lazyusername I've built a couple of bikes on Kinesis frames but there is plenty of choice out there.

The big question - what is your budget?

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posted by joemmo [788 posts]
21st November 2013 - 17:29

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I agree. Do it.

I've just completed my first one, a fixed speed bitsa. I bought a (very cheap) frame off eBay, then gathered second-hand and new parts from eBay, a couple of retailers (Planet-X, Tredz, ProBike Kit, that sort of thing) and bike fora (I believe that's the plural of forum), eg London Fixed Gear & SingleSpeed (they're not exclusively fixed & SS).

It took a while - 10 months to be exact. But, that's because I was trying to do it as cheaply as I could. Plus, I had bought a rather old frame for which certain parts: bottom bracket, hubs, were not easily sourced.

Sorry, I started rambling on.

The result is a bike that (OK I probably have bought cheaper and quicker) is all mine and brings a smile to my face every time I swing my leg over.

Super-satisfying!

I'll be doing it again...

...when it's safe to broach the subject with Mrs Jimbonic!!

posted by Jimbonic [107 posts]
21st November 2013 - 17:58

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+1 for Zinn and the art of road bike maintenance

tells you how to do anything you might possibly want to

posted by lazyusername [140 posts]
21st November 2013 - 18:04

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lazyusername wrote:
I have a cross bike for sale at the mo could sell you the frame, fork and headset if you wanted to build it up to your spec. It's designed for canti brakes though so not exactly what you're looking for.

Btw I'd recommend kinesis as a frame manufacturer built a couple up and both been completely hassle free. Also had to contact the warranty dept about a Granfondo frame in the past and they were really helpful and straighforward to deal with.

Thank you, great offer but I do have my mind set on discs. I've never tried them before and have read a lot about them so really fancy giving them a go... I've just been having a look at the Kinesis T2 which looks pretty nice and around the sort of price I was thinking. May have a scour of eBay tonight as well to see what more I could get for the money!

posted by MarcMyWords [69 posts]
21st November 2013 - 18:54

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Kinesis t2 takes rim brakes by the way, the pro6 takes discs.

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posted by joemmo [788 posts]
21st November 2013 - 22:00

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joemmo wrote:
Kinesis t2 takes rim brakes by the way, the pro6 takes discs.

Thank you! Told you I was a beginner...!!

posted by MarcMyWords [69 posts]
21st November 2013 - 22:18

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thereandbackagain wrote:
It would be worth buying a copy of Zinn and the art of Bike Maintenance. A well laid out and easy to comprehend guide to most mechanical tasks.
http://lbk.org.uk/

Zinn and the Art of Bike Maintenance is on it's way from Wiggle! I'm in London so have had a good look at the LBK tonight, may have to pop in this week.

posted by MarcMyWords [69 posts]
21st November 2013 - 22:20

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I took it one stage further and designed my own frame. I wanted a titanium frame but did not like the price in UK shops. I got my own frame built in China for substantially less. Firstly you need to know exactly what you want by way of a frame, and secondly how to recognise that on a drawing. Once it arrived I only had to get my LBS to face the headtube and fit the headset. The rest I built up myself without a hitch. There are endless hours of fun to be had searching for forks, wheels, groupset and finishing kit on ebay. Great fun when you finally get it together and go for a spin. Frame decals are available on ebay as well, so you can have a change of brand if you ever fell like a change.

posted by pcaley [19 posts]
21st November 2013 - 22:28

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Some really positive comments so far, cheers gents. Actually got me quite excited about the prospect of building my own. I've got Zinn on the way and am planning on really taking my time, months if need be to get kit at the right price and do it properly. Appreciate the great suggestions so far, thanks and please do keep any good advice coming!

posted by MarcMyWords [69 posts]
21st November 2013 - 22:49

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I build all my own bikes, as there is a great sense of satisfaction in riding the finished product. Also when you build your own bikes you get to know exactly how everything goes together, which in the long run means you are more likely to be able to fix things yourself when they eventually break or wear out (saving money on maintenance). I agree with earlier posts that Zinn and the art of bike maintenance is a must have if you intend to build your own bike, but also I have found that youtube has been a great source of advice when looking for how install/repair something.

The biggest problem you may have is with tools, items such as bottom brackets and headsets often required special tools, for your first build I would recommend using you LBS to install these items, the rest you should be able to do with a good set of allen keys and metric spanners, that said if you venture into the would of carbon fibre parts a torque wrench is a must (Zinn gives all the torque settings you are likely to need in his book).

I usually buy all the bits from the likes of wiggle et al, but find ebay is a great source for coloured anodised screws for bottle cages, dust caps, bar ends etc, and they are pretty cheap, these little touches can really make a custom build standout.

as others have said go for it, you might loose some finger skin and get stuck along the way (this is when forums come in handy) but in the end you will be glad that you have built something that is unique to you.

posted by tbecher72 [6 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 7:56

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It's easy as pie really.

This thing would be a good start:
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/x-tools-bike-tool-kit-18-piece/rp-pro...

It's got basic things like chain whips and a BB spanner in it. (you certainly don't 'need' them, but it makes life considerably easier if you do).

If you're the 'handy around the house' sort of chap you can install headsets with a hammer and block of wood or even a fabricate a tool using a quick release skewer.

In fact it's always straightforward up to indexing the gears which is not always the exact science it should be.

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posted by William Black [196 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 10:12

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I have to agree with all the comments here, it is quite easy, fun, and rewarding, most importantly you get to learn so many new skills. I started building my own bikes when I was still a kid as that was the only way of me getting a bike, I have 4 different builds going right now, just waiting for the parts to magically appear

I would suggest looking out for an older steel frame bike to start with, look around jumble sales and ebay for the parts you need and learn from your mistakes...if any. Once the build is complete, if you have any concerns, take it in to a LBS hand have the give it a once over.

I have some notes on my blog if you need inspiration, and on that note, I would encourage anyone doing this to write/blog about it http://jasontimothyjones.wordpress.com/tigger-bike-project/

posted by jason.timothy.jones [303 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 10:30

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William Black wrote:
It's easy as pie really.

This thing would be a good start:
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/x-tools-bike-tool-kit-18-piece/rp-pro...

It's got basic things like chain whips and a BB spanner in it. (you certainly don't 'need' them, but it makes life considerably easier if you do).

If you're the 'handy around the house' sort of chap you can install headsets with a hammer and block of wood or even a fabricate a tool using a quick release skewer.

In fact it's always straightforward up to indexing the gears which is not always the exact science it should be.

Brilliant, looks good and a lot cheaper than I thought I'd have to spend on a toolkit. I'm lucky as well that I have an LBS 2 minutes down the road from me so if it ever gets too tricky, I'll go to them in SOS mode...

posted by MarcMyWords [69 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 12:49

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jason.timothy.jones wrote:
I have to agree with all the comments here, it is quite easy, fun, and rewarding, most importantly you get to learn so many new skills. I started building my own bikes when I was still a kid as that was the only way of me getting a bike, I have 4 different builds going right now, just waiting for the parts to magically appear

I would suggest looking out for an older steel frame bike to start with, look around jumble sales and ebay for the parts you need and learn from your mistakes...if any. Once the build is complete, if you have any concerns, take it in to a LBS hand have the give it a once over.

I have some notes on my blog if you need inspiration, and on that note, I would encourage anyone doing this to write/blog about it http://jasontimothyjones.wordpress.com/tigger-bike-project/

Thanks Jason, I've just read the first couple of entries and hit 'follow' on your blog! Looking forward to reading more about your progress and made me think that I might do the same. I've got a feeling there will be plenty of frustrations along the way to write about! Part of the reason I'm doing this is to expand my knowledge and understanding of how it all actually works so maybe in a few months I won't still be calling it the 'hangy thingy that the chain goes through'...

posted by MarcMyWords [69 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 12:51

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The assembly part of building a bike is really not that hard (but don't tell anyone because it destroys the mystique) - one of the trickier aspects is the whole issue of parts compatibility. Which headset / bottom bracket / mech / seatpost / groupset is needed, what works with what - all that stuff. It can get a bit geeky but you can always ask for help.

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posted by joemmo [788 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:30

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joemmo wrote:
The assembly part of building a bike is really not that hard (but don't tell anyone because it destroys the mystique) - one of the trickier aspects is the whole issue of parts compatibility. Which headset / bottom bracket / mech / seatpost / groupset is needed, what works with what - all that stuff. It can get a bit geeky but you can always ask for help.

Indeed - I think I'll be making the most of this forum for a start!

posted by MarcMyWords [69 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 14:45

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