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  1. #1
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    bike building guide?

    I've been looking for a new bike the past few weeks, and in the process I realized how little i know about them. So I figured, what better way to learn than to build one myself? in 9/10 of the reviews I read they say to swap out stock parts anyway, i might as well just start from scratch and save some money in the mean time.

    so my question is, are there any websites out there for someone like me who wants to try this but doesnt know much besides that bikes have wheels & pedals? aka telling me what parts i need for a bike that moves, what parts i dont need but might want, what tools i need and how to put it all together.

    I'm planning on making a mountain bike btw. I have yet to decide on if it will be hardtail or fs, so a guide that talks about how to build both would be a super plus, but as far as I can see on search engines such guides dont exist in the first place. ug.

    thanks for the help

  2. #2
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by narsol
    I've been looking for a new bike the past few weeks, and in the process I realized how little i know about them. So I figured, what better way to learn than to build one myself? in 9/10 of the reviews I read they say to swap out stock parts anyway, i might as well just start from scratch and save some money in the mean time.
    The search feature of this site works pretty well, and there are sticky threads in the mtb forum to help you out.

    I do want to say that "save some money in the mean time" is a fallacy. What you'll pay for individual parts, shipping/taxes, and tools will most likely end up more --lots more-- than you think (and more than a new ride out the door). While I commend your desire to build a bike (I'm the same way), get past the notion that it will save money. --Unless you think you'll enjoy hunting for bargains, new old stock and gently used parts....

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    i meant it would save money in that it would be cheaper to buy individual parts and build it than buy a whole bike, throw away most of the parts, and replace them with new ones. but i dont expect this to be super cheap. and thanks for the forum rerout!

  4. #4
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by narsol
    i meant it would save money in that it would be cheaper to buy individual parts and build it than buy a whole bike, throw away most of the parts, and replace them with new ones. but i dont expect this to be super cheap. and thanks for the forum rerout!
    I built my last 2 bikes and loved every minute of it. With that said it was not cheap. Buying a factory complete bike is usually 99.9% cheaper than buying a frame and outfitting it. I'll give you an example. Bikes Direct sells an all Ultegra equipped bike for $995.00 complete.

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ttour07995.htm

    You can't buy the build kit new for under $1000 retail anywhere. That's like getting a free fork and frame. Plus most of the hard assembly is already done for you. Unless you are buying wholesale, there is no way you can piece together a bike anywhere near as cheap as the Motobecane. You would have to use used parts. Good luck on the build but don't go into it with unrealistic expectations.

    Tim
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    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  5. #5
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    If you buy a proper and suitable bike there is no reason to have to change the stock components until they wear out after several years and thousands of miles so eliminate that premise from your thinking.

    As others have said, building a bike up from parts is always more, usually much more, expensive than buying a complete bike.

    Finally, a complete novice to bike mechanics is very ill advised to take on a complete build-up project. You don't know enough to spec the suitable parts and don't know how to install and adjust them. Buy a bike that suits you and learn to work on it over time.

  6. #6
    so much for physics humble_biker's Avatar
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    Every component in the bicycle industry is a stock part, except for titanium bolts and exotic brake calipers, etc. Lets say you buy a $500 dollar ATB, pull the drive train, esentially throwing away about 50% of the cost of the bike and then buy, what? An upper end drive train? for another $400 dollars. What you have now is a $900 dollar bicycle that is no more custom or exotic than the one you started with.

  7. #7
    as seen on crimewatch rea1high's Avatar
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    I would recommend that if you're thinking of building a bike, only do it if you have a bike already that has salvagable parts on it. That way you can keep the initial costs down of your "new" build by using old parts from your old bike and slowly build it up as time goes.
    This is not Nam. This is bowling. There are rules

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    I saved approximately $1200 off list building my Merlin rather than buying it from a dealer. I saved approximately $1000 building the Marin (a Rift Zone frame built to Mount Vision specs). The key is to shop ebay and online dealers for discounted parts.

    Those savings don't consider the ~$400 I spent on various tools, work stand, etc, but that's money I spent *once*. Spread those tool costs over the future decades I'll be building and repairing my own bikes and the cost is inconsequential.

    Edit: to the OP, when I started building there was a single web page someone linked to that gave an overview of the process but, frankly, without pictures it wasn't really much help. The best resources I found are the repair/help/how-to articles on parktool.com web site and Zinn and the Art of Road/Mountain Bike Maintenance.
    Last edited by Proximo; 11-02-06 at 09:37 AM.

  9. #9
    Broom Wagon Fodder reverborama's Avatar
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    Building your own bike is certainly fun and rewarding but you can't compete with the economy of scale a bike manufacturer has going. They bought 1000 of each component and got it for way less than you can get it for. One great reason to build your own bike is when you can't buy exactly what you want. Maybe you're in love with an old frame you found at a thrift store. Maybe you want something that is different. Maybe you want to be the only guy in town with a tandem Stingray.

    If you have the LBS do your bottom bracket and headset and maybe the crank, you can put the rest of the bike together with a minimal investment of tools. If you want to do EVERYTHING, you're going to have to buy some special tools and fret over whether you are doing the critical tasks correctly. You want to make sure you know all the dimensions of the parts you will need so that means a lot of research. Little is more frustrating than breaking the blister pack open, installing the brakes, and discovering that they don't reach the rims. I bet every single person on this forum has a handlebar that wouldn't fit into the stem or a seatpost that was 1 or 2 mm too big.

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    Actually, the company impossible to compete with is bikesdirect.com ;-) A friend of mine just bought an '07 Sprintour from them and I assembled it for him. There's no way you could build that same, or comparable, bike from new parts yourself for $995. It's a heck of a deal.

  11. #11
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proximo
    Actually, the company impossible to compete with is bikesdirect.com ;-) A friend of mine just bought an '07 Sprintour from them and I assembled it for him. There's no way you could build that same, or comparable, bike from new parts yourself for $995. It's a heck of a deal.
    Exactly the point I was trying to make. It might be more productive to just buy the Sprintour and assemble it to get some experience first. Just the build kit on that bike is over $1000 even piecing it together on ebay.

    Tim
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    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  12. #12
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proximo
    I saved approximately $1200 off list building my Merlin rather than buying it from a dealer. I saved approximately $1000 building the Marin (a Rift Zone frame built to Mount Vision specs). The key is to shop ebay and online dealers for discounted parts.

    Those savings don't consider the ~$400 I spent on various tools, work stand, etc, but that's money I spent *once*. Spread those tool costs over the future decades I'll be building and repairing my own bikes and the cost is inconsequential.

    Edit: to the OP, when I started building there was a single web page someone linked to that gave an overview of the process but, frankly, without pictures it wasn't really much help. The best resources I found are the repair/help/how-to articles on parktool.com web site and Zinn and the Art of Road/Mountain Bike Maintenance.
    Saving $1200 off list on the Merlin is quite a feat. But most dealers have a substantial amount of room to deal with on high end bikes. You may or may not have done as well by negotiating.

    My last 2 bikes I built were well below list. BUT, I made liberal use of ebay and used parts. My Waterford RSE-11 took 2 years to build. I was very patient and spent 2 hrs a day cruising ebay in the early morning for deals. By the time I finished, I had missed 2 full seasons of riding to save a few hundred dollars. That was NOT time well spent.

    Next time I am in the market for a bike it will be from the LBS or a place like Bikesdirect. Too bad they don't sell lugged steel frames. LOL

    Post some pics of your Merlin, they make a beautiful frameset. I'll bet the bike looks great.

    Tim
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1
    Next time I am in the market for a bike it will be from the LBS or a place like Bikesdirect. Too bad they don't sell lugged steel frames. LOL
    Tim
    You can buy complete "build kits" from Colorado Cyclist, Excel Sports or other mailorder dealers for much less than you could buy the individual parts and they include everything but the frame and fork. You get to specify things like crank length, stem length, handlebar width, etc. and can do substitutions for the item's cost difference.

    That way you could buy the frame of your dreams, including lugged steel, and still save a lot on the components.

  14. #14
    Bike Junkie aadhils's Avatar
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    It's all out there on the internet. I've built two bikes successfully with out knowing anything about bikes prior to that. The only time I've been to the LBS to get something related to fixing a bike was to have a wheel trued.

    Provided you are willing to buy the relevent tools for the job, it is extremely rewarding and very easy if you are mechanically inclined...

  15. #15
    Senior Member Road Rash's Avatar
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    I am going to wiegh in on the side of Buy your first bike and build future bikes.
    1. As has been mentioned while you are building a bike, what are you going to ride.
    2. To save money on a build you need to be patient to find NOS, used or clearance parts
    3. All of the little things add up (cables, housing, bar tape), plus the cost of proper tools and the occasional screw up.
    4. I do not believe that you need to replace anything on a stock bike from a performance standpoint (if you buy at the right level) - but when you buy your bike make sure that the shop properly fits you for stem and crank length.
    5. As you ride your new bike you will notice things that will influence your future build, that you cannot anticipate until you have been riding for a while
    6. Building a bike is alot of fun and you can save money if you have no pressure to get it done so you have something to ride.
    7. In the last year I have built a winter bike for $287 and a 1983 Trek 720 Frame with modern 9 speed Ultegra Drivetrain for $495. And now that the building bug has bitten I have stripped down the winter bike and am looking for a better frame to do a rebuid in the next month
    Road Rash

  16. #16
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider
    You can buy complete "build kits" from Colorado Cyclist, Excel Sports or other mailorder dealers for much less than you could buy the individual parts and they include everything but the frame and fork. You get to specify things like crank length, stem length, handlebar width, etc. and can do substitutions for the item's cost difference.

    That way you could buy the frame of your dreams, including lugged steel, and still save a lot on the components.
    I did that at Colorado Cyclist. The tires were $19.00 a piece and its the Michelin Pro Race 2.

  17. #17
    as seen on crimewatch rea1high's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Rash
    I am going to wiegh in on the side of Buy your first bike and build future bikes.
    1. As has been mentioned while you are building a bike, what are you going to ride.
    2. To save money on a build you need to be patient to find NOS, used or clearance parts
    3. All of the little things add up (cables, housing, bar tape), plus the cost of proper tools and the occasional screw up.
    4. I do not believe that you need to replace anything on a stock bike from a performance standpoint (if you buy at the right level) - but when you buy your bike make sure that the shop properly fits you for stem and crank length.
    5. As you ride your new bike you will notice things that will influence your future build, that you cannot anticipate until you have been riding for a while
    6. Building a bike is alot of fun and you can save money if you have no pressure to get it done so you have something to ride.
    7. In the last year I have built a winter bike for $287 and a 1983 Trek 720 Frame with modern 9 speed Ultegra Drivetrain for $495. And now that the building bug has bitten I have stripped down the winter bike and am looking for a better frame to do a rebuid in the next month
    yay, somebody actually agrees with me!
    This is not Nam. This is bowling. There are rules

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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1
    Saving $1200 off list on the Merlin is quite a feat [....]
    Post some pics of your Merlin, they make a beautiful frameset. I'll bet the bike looks great.

    Tim
    It helped that the C110 is a carbon frame and rumor is that Merlin is dropping their carbon bikes (actually, "bike" since the C110 is the only carbon bike in their lineup). That would explain why a whole bunch of brand new C110 frames showed up on eBay earlier this year at drastically reduced prices. The frame and fork list for $2000 from Merlin but I picked it up for $780. I also picked up an Ultegra groupset from probikekit and the rest of the parts here and there. Everything was at a discount, though. I think I have about $2100-2200 invested in it and the bike lists for $3495 in very similar trim.

    Note that, in a nod to their heritage, the dropouts are titanium.
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    Last edited by Proximo; 11-04-06 at 11:37 PM.

  19. #19
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proximo
    It helped that the C110 is a carbon frame and rumor is that Merlin is dropping their carbon bikes (actually, "bike" since the C110 is the only carbon bike in their lineup). That would explain why a whole bunch of brand new C110 frames showed up on eBay earlier this year at drastically reduced prices. The frame and fork list for $2000 from Merlin but I picked it up for $780. I also picked up an Ultegra groupset from probikekit and the rest of the parts here and there. Everything was at a discount, though. I think I have about $2100-2200 invested in it and the bike lists for $3495 in very similar trim.

    Note that, in a nod to their heritage, the dropouts are titanium.
    That is a really nice bike. It doesn't look like a typical carbon bike. The styling is very traditional. I like it. You did very well.

    Tim
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proximo
    It helped that the C110 is a carbon frame and rumor is that Merlin is dropping their carbon bikes (actually, "bike" since the C110 is the only carbon bike in their lineup). That would explain why a whole bunch of brand new C110 frames showed up on eBay earlier this year at drastically reduced prices.
    Merlin and Litespeed are both owned by American Bicycle Group (ABG) and the recent issue of Velonews, had a full page Litespeed ad saying they were dropping their (only) carbon bike and going back to all Ti frames.

    I expect that ABG realized that both Litespeed and Merlin are best known as high-end Ti frame builders and their side trips into Al (Litespeed a few years ago) and Carbon (both Merlin and Litespeed) hurt the brands so they are going back to their basic markets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1
    That is a really nice bike. It doesn't look like a typical carbon bike. The styling is very traditional. I like it. You did very well.

    Tim
    Thanks. It was my first build and I think it turned out extremely well. I also like the fact that it has traditional frame geometry rather than compact. Maybe I'm just old school but I just can't get used to a sloping top tube. The bike as built weighs 18.2lbs. A lighter set of wheels than the Open Pros, and maybe some carbon bars, could get that down further but I'm very happy with it as it stands.

    I notice that there have been several Merlin Proteus carbon frames on ebay lately. The Proteus was sold for a couple of years before the C110 replaced it. It is the exact same frame as the C110 but with more of a raw carbon look and a number of cosmetic titanium embelishments. I think they originally sold complete bikes for somewhere around $5000. Looking today, I see that a frameset sold recently for $899. Back when the C110s were on ebay, framesets seemed to sell in the $700-800 range.

  22. #22
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Agreed that you won't save money (although I did because I got a good deal on a normally expensive frame on ebay), but it's well worth it for the satisfaction and knowledge you get.

    My approach was to first take a class at my LBS, sponsored by park Tools where we totally stripped our bikes down to the frame, then repacked bearing, etc. and reassembled over two Saturdays. Something like that give you enough confidence to do it. Then I bought my gruppo from my LBS because although I could have done better on the internet, I like to support local businesses, especially LBS'es. They were also happy to provide me tips, advice, etc. when I was unclear on something. Also, being able to take your time really helps as well.

    The Park Tools site, Sheldon Brown's site, and a few other books I had were more than enough resources.

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    Quote Originally Posted by narsol
    i meant it would save money in that it would be cheaper to buy individual parts and build it than buy a whole bike, throw away most of the parts, and replace them with new ones. but i dont expect this to be super cheap. and thanks for the forum rerout!
    Building a bike is like going to Sears Parts place to build a dishwasher. In the end you know how to build a dishwasher but you have a $400 dishwasher that cost $4000. If your only reason is to save money, think again. It is a fine hobby but if you are the "I really want to upgrade" type you will only need three things: money, more money and even more money in addition to tools and time.

    After the first bike I built up, I sat back to admire it and thought about all the time I could have been riding while I was working on the bike.

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