Building your own bike

Ask for advice or share your fettling tips
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Building your own bike

Postby Euros » Thu Jan 10, 2013 22:00 pm

Having been cycling now for a couple of years it's now time to upgrade my bike. In order to get the spec that I want I'm considering building my own. I would appreciate any advice on possible pitfalls that could be encountered, and also any general advice regarding building your own machine.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby GGBiker » Fri Jan 11, 2013 00:03 am

I built a bike about 6 weeks ago. Tricky bits I found was installing cables/ cutting cable housing etc. and wrapping the bars. Setting up gears and brakes is fine if you are used to making adjustments yourself. You will need to make sure the parts you choose are compatible with the bike ( bottom bracket in particular) and with each other.

The key is taking your time and look on t'internet for advice if unsure. I started building at 10pm at finished at 4am (only uninterrupted time I could find with 2 small kids in the house!).

Use anti-seize on everything also and use the old carpenter's maxim of "measure twice, cut once".

I love my home built bike probably because I know everything about it and it holds no mystery or fear for me, it has also got a lot of compliments on club rides and people are amazed to hear that I built it myself. I would recommend anyone to try it, really not that difficult or complicated.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby Yossie » Fri Jan 11, 2013 09:50 am

Its simple as:

To order what you need just look at your current bike and start at the front (or back, your preference really) and write down everything: its strange but you don't tend to think about all the little bits that make up a bike that when you are building one and don't have it the whole thing comes crashing to a halt (eg barrel adjusters, that funny plastic thing under the frame where the cables run through, ferrules, etc).

Then sit down and write down your spec.

Go onto the 'net and order what you want - search around and you'll find out its dirt cheap to buy individual components rather than groupsets etc (I specced up a full Planet X Nanolight with Red, D/A chain, carbon seat post, bars, stem, Selle Italia SLR 135g seat and rubbish winter wheels for £1450 - minus VAT - the other day).

Don't forget that its sometimes cheaper to buy cables (inners and outers) from the big Shimano box at your LBS.

When it all arrives, get what ever you need fitted by the LBS before you start (I always get headsets fitted as I don't have a press).

Then fit bike to whatever you are going to use to build it, be it work stand, turbo trainer on workbench, etc. Make sure that you have decent allen keys, a torque wrench and bits, a couple of proper screwdrivers, spanners and snips. Copperslip, carbon paste and normal grease are also needed.

Then start at one end and slowly put it together - its not difficult. Do everything finger tight at first so it sits there nicely - when you have finished do everything up tight to manufacturers torque settings/common sense tight.

Keep your existing bike next to you - this means that if you are not sure where something goes you can just look. It also means that you can measure cable lengths (for example the loop by the rear mech) against what you know works.

At the end of it, give it a once over, and go off and ridd.

First build will take you a slow weekend: don't rush it, don't be nervous: its really good fun.

Any problems, put a post on here. Just remeber, its a bicycle not Apollo 5, so its not really brain surgery. The only tricky things will be setting up the mechs if you haven't done it before, but if if you;re a bit lost just take it to the LBS.


This is only a joke by the way, I am in no way implying directly or otherwise that there is any kind of link or similarity between BR and North Korea :)

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby jazzkailey » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:26 pm

Go for it. You won't regret it.
You may need to buy some new tools eg bottom bracket, chain & whip, lock ring tools, nut setter for forks, cable cutters but they aren't expensive and you will get your moneys worth out of them in the long run.
There is plenty of advice on the internet and if you buy a new groupset to bolt on, all the bits have instruction manuals in the boxes to help with fitting/assembly. Failing that just go to the Shimano/Sram/Campag website and download them.
The best bit is that you can choose your own exact stem/bar/crank lengths, handlebar tape and gearing to suit your style of riding. Once you add your chosen saddle/wheels you will have your ideal bike. Scour the net/ebay etc and you can get stuff pretty cheap too.
Take your time and do some background reading first. I took a week to build my first bike (few hours a night just with basic tools no workshop style stuff - nice and gentle) and wouldn't go back to an off the peg version now. This forum is a good place to post if you get stuck with something.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby smidsy » Fri Jan 11, 2013 15:10 pm

Chain whip not required for installing only removing.
Yellow is the new Black.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby gloomyandy » Fri Jan 11, 2013 16:28 pm

Things to watch out for when buying...
1. Some Chainsets include the BB. Some don't.
2. Some shifters come with cables (my Sram Red ones did), some don't.
3. There seem to be endless variants on BB types so always worth double checking you get the right one and the matching chainset.
Other than that it is pretty straight forward and a lot of fun!

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby g00se » Fri Jan 11, 2013 17:05 pm

As a rule, it'll be cheaper to buy a bike than buy the equivalent parts and do it yourself - about 25% cheaper. Saying that, there are bargains to be had and if you're patient and net savvy, you'll get it done a lot cheaper.

A big coft will be tools - but if you're into your own maintenance, then this is a good outlay anyway.

If you're going carbon, look up on setup issues regarding carbon steerers (use bungs, appropriate spacer positions etc) and using carbon paste. Check up on BBs and headsets as there are pitfalls if you doing know your stuff....

Then Zinn book of road bike maintenance is very useful - as is the park tool website.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby jockywilson » Fri Jan 11, 2013 17:36 pm

In the process of doing my first build at the moment (Mid 90's steel frame with a new105 Groupset), and like GGBiker it's had to be done after 10pm due to 2 small children taking up the rest of the evening. Also had problems with missing parts in the groupset (cassette returned due to missing cog and then the replacement arrived with a broken spacer) and the wrong front mech was supplied (braze on rather than the band on that was requested), which has delayed the build.

Headset was already installed, so have fitted hollowtech BB, Crankset, brakes (+cables), shifters, front mech and rear mech. Planning to get the gear cables fitted to the front and rear mech tonight so that will only leave the rear-mech adjustment when the replacement cassette spacer arrives, hopefully tomorrow.

It's all been fairly straightforward and the only tool I needed to buy was the hollowtech BB tool as I already had cable cutters, cassette lockring tool etc.

A couple of tips -

- A proper workstand will make things much easier. I've had to make do with a rear chainstay stand which isn't ideal as it only keeps the back wheel off the floor and isn't very stable.
- When shorting cables, keep hold of the end that your cutting otherwise it'll fly off never to be seen again. This is especially important when building a bike in your living room. I'm sure in a few weeks my two year old will come screaming to me with a 2cm steel cable impailed in her foot.
- If you've got internal routing first attach the cable to the STI shifters/brakes then make a bend at the end of the cable and feed in through the hole nearest the headset. Then feed the cable through until it's at the exit hole and then rotate the cable and then the bendy bit will come out. Grab it and then you can feed the cable outer through this end and feed it back through to the shifters.
- If using hollowtech BB, make sure you know whether you need an italian or British threaded one.

Only thing I'm not 100% sure about is cable length from the STI shifters and how tidy it should look - anyone got any tips (or even better pics)?

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby Monty Dog » Fri Jan 11, 2013 20:25 pm

There's plenty of online resources to help you find the information you need. If you stick to one brand of drivetrain components you'll rarely have problems with compatibility - mixing and matching is often where problems arise.
In terms of getting the outer cable-length right, always work with bars in lock-to-lock positions - headset spacers, stem and bars with levers in desired position - use full-wrap of electrical tape to hold cables to bars before fitting bar tape - it means you can remove/refit easier if needed.
Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby thecycleclinic » Fri Jan 11, 2013 22:51 pm

Just give a go. You will make mistakes and find compatibility issue perhaps but you will work it out and know for next time. It's pretty easy really. -wheel building and other stuff.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby Bengdogg » Fri Jan 11, 2013 23:05 pm

I totally stripped down my bike and rebuilt it last weekend. Took about 6 hours to rebuild including food stops and a few beers. I had to have a new bb fitted by the lbs as it was press fit but other than that plain sailing. Setting up gears isn't that hard once you have done it a few times. YouTube has plenty of videos that help if unsure. From a fun something to do in the winter project you can't beat it. And riding a bike you built always has a certain satisfaction to it.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby Bengdogg » Fri Jan 11, 2013 23:18 pm


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Re: Building your own bike

Postby Euros » Sat Jan 12, 2013 17:38 pm

Thanks for all your thoughts. My main motivation was that although you could get a fully built bike probably cheaper than building yourself, it appears to me there is always a weak link, normally the wheels. So once you fctor in changing these it may not be cheaper.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby mosamahab » Sat Jan 12, 2013 22:59 pm

you can always get a second hand almost new bike for cheap. But yeah there is the ultimate satisfaction of achievment after you have built it yourself. Off course there is the customisation of what parts your want on a certain frame with specific choice of wheels.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby Term1te » Sun Jan 13, 2013 21:14 pm

It will almost certainly be cheaper to buy a bike than to assemble it from components, unless you have a nice frame laying about. However, there are very few things more satisfying than getting to the top of a mountain, big hill, long ride, etc., on a bike (and even better wheels and bike) you've built yourself. I've built a few bikes from scratch, including wheels, and it is a great feeling to go on a big ride or sportive with a bunch of people on factory bikes, knowing you've made yours.

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Re: Building your own bike

Postby SmoggySteve » Sun Jan 13, 2013 22:37 pm

Read up on everything you want to do. YouTube clips on installation of items on the bike.
Make a list of all the kit you want and cross check for any compatibility issues they may have before you buy anything.

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