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  1. #1
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    Building your own bike

    I am a novice mechanic at best. I am considering building my own bike (not the frame, of course). What am I getting myself into? For those of you who have done this, do you recommend going this route? I am just not happy with the way a lot of bikes are "spec"-ed in my LBS. Thanks for any and all advice.

  2. #2
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    you, my friend, are getting yourself into a job i can guarentee you will NEVER COMPLETE! at least if your any bit like me or any of my friends LOL

  3. #3
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    and o yeah...GO FOR IT! GOOD LUCK!

  4. #4
    Bring the tech Ajay213's Avatar
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    Well, the building part isn't really to bad providing you have a few of the essential tools. It's the adjusting and tweaking that may drive you nuts. Maybe pick up a book or two that covers everything and you can probably get it all done without to much trouble.

    But past that I'd say go for it, in a worst case scenerio drop by your LBS and have them assemble everything for you for a fee. But before you start the whole endevour tell them what your needs/wants are and see if/how they can help you, one of the local LBS around here has some very competitve prices when it comes to component groups which they are more than happy to assemble on your own frame (or one of their own obviously).

    Andrew

  5. #5
    human velocipedio's Avatar
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    Building a bike requires a certain amount of skill, though not overmuch. Most of the components are pretty modular, and bolt on pretty easily. As Ajay said, the complex and fussy part is tuning the machine once it's built up. I've been tuning my own bikes for years, so that wasn't a problem, but if you don't know a low limiter from a barrel adjuster, you might want to leave that part to someone else.

    It does require a huge amount of patience. Hotshot wrenches can build a complete bike and get in on the road in and hour or two. If you don't have the touch, expect a 6-12 hour job over a number of days.

    It also requires tools... A full set of allen keys, a BB tool, a crank tool, a pedal wrench, chain tool, STI cable cutter, chain whip and cassette lockring tool, workstand... In addition to the frame and components, you're probably looking at more than $250 in tools. This may not be a problem, though, since you need most of these tools anyway for regular maintenance.

    You can read about my own bike building adventures [I built two last week] in this thread.
    when walking, just walk. when sitting, just sit. when riding, just ride. above all, don't wobble.

    The Irregular Cycling Club of Montreal
    Cycling irregularly since 2002

  6. #6
    NOT a weight weenie Hunter's Avatar
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    Great good descision! Here are the tools you need. If you are going from the frame up you need a headset press (you can make one) a #1 phillips head screwdriver, metric allen wrenches a range of 1.5 or 2 to 8 or 10mm, a bottom bracket tool, tire levers preferably nylon, a hack saw for cutting the forks steer tube, waterproof grease (not automotive), cable and housing cutters (you do not need a STI cutter you can use Klien pliers) a chain breaker, cassette lockring tool, a pedal wrench (although a 14 or 15 mm open end wrench will do) and some free time. You do not need a chain whip to asist in the initial build. After for maintainance sure.

  7. #7
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    you may be better off having a GOOd shop do the headset, and fork if you are a first timer.The HT may also need reamed and faced anyway,and a screwup with the HS is expensive. Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel handles cable and casing if you have one.Bikes can be built with out a workstand:done it many times.Many pedals won't accept an open end wench.A pedal wench is good to have,as the beetter ones provide the lelverage often neded.

  8. #8
    NOT a weight weenie Hunter's Avatar
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    Originally posted by pokey
    you may be better off having a GOOd shop do the headset, and fork if you are a first timer.The HT may also need reamed and faced anyway,and a screwup with the HS is expensive. Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel handles cable and casing if you have one.Bikes can be built with out a workstand:done it many times.Many pedals won't accept an open end wench.A pedal wench is good to have,as the beetter ones provide the lelverage often neded.
    I have never seen a frame sold to a customer that requires head tube reaming and facing. That being the case the same could be said for facing and chasing the b.b. threads. Lots of pedals will take a open end wrench. Klien pliers are cheaper than a Dremel tool. For someone that bellittles LBS it is a surprise to hear you actually reccomend it.

  9. #9
    Mr. Cellophane RainmanP's Avatar
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    Having built and rebuilt a few bikes not, I've gotta go with Pokey on the headset thing. Trying to install the headset may be the only thing that can actually damage the frame if one gets too hamfisted. I DID have a frame that required reaming the headtube. I actually tried installing the headset myself, even getting fairly vigorous with it. Pretty quickly I realized that something was not quite right. I paid a shop to install it and, sure enough, the headtube needed reaming. They also checked the bottom bracket shell and found it square and not needing thread chasing. After initial assembly and riding for a while to confirm frame fit, I disassembled the bike for painting. When I reassembled it, I decided to give the headset another go. It went in with appropriate snugness and gentle taps protected by a piece of wood. So I guess the moral is if it doesn't line up and go in fairly easily, STOP. I mean, it's got to fit snugly, but you shouldn't have to tap it very hard. Use a rubber mallet or place a board on it and tap it with a hammer.

    DEFINITELY get a good book. I like Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair. Consider it a mandatory tool. Of the other things listed few are specialized tools and some you can buy less expensive brands that will work just fine. My suggestions

    Pedal wrench - I don't have a pedal wrench. A 15mm cone wrench will do. For that matter any 15mm open end wrench will work on many pedals. However, on some the wrench flats may be too narrow for a regular open end so a thinner wrench is needed. AND, many pedals these days have a hex socket on the inside end of the spindle which allows the use of a 6mm or so allen key.

    Bottom bracket tool - assuming you use a sealed bearing splined Shimano type, you can get an inexpensive Lifu for a few bucks from Nashbar.

    Chainwhip - aka sprocket remover, a handle with a length of chain to grip a sprocket to hold the cassette still while you unscrew the lockring. A Nashbar brand works fine and is quite inexpensive.

    Cassette lockring tool - Again, assuming you are going with Shimano hubs/cassettes you need a Park FR-5. This tool is only $5-7 anyway so get the Park.

    Crank extractor - There are two types, one for traditional square taper bb spindles, a slightly different one for hollow splined Shimano spindle, you will need the appropriate one extractor. Some Shimano cranks come with self extracting crank bolts so you may not need an extractor, only an 8mm or so allen key.

    Work stand - VERY, VERY nice to have.

    These are about the only really special tools I can think of.

    Here is what I suggest. Get a book, and work on the bike you have now. Take a few weeks to go over it from end to end. Pick an area, read up, get the specific tools, pull it apart, put it back. For instance, the rear wheel is a simple place to start. Get a lockring remover and chainwhip, less than 20 bucks total. Take the cassette off, clean it up real nice. Put it back on. Sounds simple and it is, but there is a technique to it to prevent damage to the cassette or lockring or your tools. I won't tell you. READ and learn. If your hubs have loose bearings you can clean and repack the hubs to learn about bearings.

    Then try the headset, assuming it is traditional threaded. You don't need to remove the cups. Just read, take it apart, clean and repack the bearings, reassemble. If you don't have a pretty big adjustable wrench get one of the Park double ended headset wrenches with 30, 32, or 36 mm on one end and 15 mm on the other. Then you have your pedal wrench.

    Last, do the bottom bracket.

    If you are not willing to read, learn and try on your current bike I wouldn't try building your own. It will be a learning laboratory. Even if your current bike has all older traditional stuff and you plan to use all modern, actual installation mostly the same. You definitely need a book FIRST.
    FWIW,
    Raymond
    If it ain't broke, mess with it anyway!

  10. #10
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    Lots of frames can be bought that have not been properly prepped. Reaming and facing a BB shell is also an option,but the facing is less important with the new cartridge BB,and I have yet to encounter threads that needed anything other then a little cleanup with a good stiff brush.Frames are sold other than by shops,you know??....Open end wrench ARE too wide for many pedals,not all, it's one of those it depends things.And a Park pedal wrench handle is about 50% longer than the typical 15mm open end wrench.Sometimes leverage is good to have when removing stubborn ones.A cone wrench as suggested by someone else is also a cheezy option. Many people already have a dermel tool if they are any kind of do it yourselfer.If they don't they should have.Note,I Isaid GOOD shop.There are lots of the other kind populated by nose picking,butt scratching, ham fisted hack mechanics.Having been victimised myself made me appreciate doing it myself.If the shop screws up, and it happens, at least they are acountable.
    Last edited by pokey; 08-04-02 at 09:35 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    One area where you might encounter setbacks is the spec'ing of the parts so they're compatible. It's getting harder and harder to mis-spec things like bottom-bracket spindle length, for instance, but if you accidentally order the wrong threading, that could be a hassle. Likewise with things like handlebar diameters, stems (nominal 1" stem = 7/8" actual quill diameter :confused: ), brake lever compatibility with V-brakes, front-derailleur pull direction and clamp diameter...

    If you're planning to build your own wheels too, then you will have extra reason to be proud of your bike when you're done, but expect it to be a bit of a chore the first time. That's not meant as a discouragement... I still remember my first self-built wheel and I was very proud of it, although it was not very good. And these days, you can find guides and spoke-length calculators on the Internet. Of course, you can have a LBS build them to your specs if you like.

    Whatever you do, don't cut your fork too short or you'll be hating life. That task is probably best left to an experienced mechanic who has a saw guide. If you'll need a cable hanger mounted in the headset, make sure he/she knows that before the job proceeds, because it will require extra steer-tube length.

    If you care to throw out some of your target specs, we can probably comment on some of the potential issues to watch for. As it is, we don't even know if it's road, mountain, BMX, dirtjump, freestyle, downhill, DS, touring...?

  12. #12
    NOT a weight weenie Hunter's Avatar
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    Originally posted by pokey
    Frames are sold other than by shops,you know??.... acountable.
    NO really? Instead of being so argumentative, confrontational, and egotitical all the time, just answer questions and leave it alone. You are not the only one in here that knows a little about bikes. We do not need to read all your other b.s.

  13. #13
    Scooby Snax
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    I like Hunter's suggestion on using Klein pliers!!
    but get the ones with royal blue handles for hardend steel, they cost a coupple bucks more but are more than worth it!

    Otherwise the stainless steel in the cables and housing may chip the blades...
    (I use mine every day, and I have regretted not buying the hardend ones)

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