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Old 02-10-12, 01:55 PM   #1
SurlyLaika
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what is the order of building a bike up from a frame?

Sorry, if this is a dumb question. I need it answered explicitly, though.

I am buying a frame this weekend. I plan on building it up over the next few months because I can only afford a few components at a time. So what is the order I should build the frame up? For example, I can't put a chain on without a rear wheel, can't put a cassette on without a rear wheel, need a stem to put a handlebar on, need brake levers to put brakes on. In what order do you build up a frame?
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Old 02-10-12, 01:57 PM   #2
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1st you put the seatpost in, so the repair stand has something to hold onto.
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Old 02-10-12, 02:21 PM   #3
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1st you put the seatpost in, so the repair stand has something to hold onto.
2nd: make sure to have such a repair stand.
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Old 02-10-12, 02:25 PM   #4
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I would start with the seatpost & saddle, headset, fork, stem, bottom bracket, crankset.

Then derailleurs and brakes (installed but not adjusted)
Then wheels *with tires, tubes, and cassette already installed), handlebar, shifters/brake levers
Then install the chain and set the alignment (front) and end points (front and rear) of the derailleurs.
Then install cables
Then set up the derailleurs and brakes
Then get the shifters and brake levers set where you want them.

Then install grips or tape on the bars.
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Old 02-10-12, 02:29 PM   #5
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If I had to build up a bike frame as I aquired parts, I'd do it in the following order:

Fork and headset
Seatpost and saddle
handlebars and stem
crank and bottom bracket
wheels
derailleurs
cassette and chain
shifters
brakes
pedals

Nothing sacred about this order but it will allow installation of the next part as you get it.
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Old 02-10-12, 02:32 PM   #6
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As I recall when I built mine, I went roughly in this order (after putting in seatpost so stand had something to hold onto)
:
--Put on stuff that attaches directly to frame more or less working back to front (RD, rear brake, BB then Cranks then FD, headset cups).
-- headset bearings, fork with front brake, stem
-- Handlebar with brifters (I was swapping from another bike so brifetrs and tape were already attached)
-- Wheels with tires and casette
-- pedals and chain
-- Housing and Cables
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Old 02-10-12, 02:39 PM   #7
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If I had to build up a bike frame as I aquired parts, I'd do it in the following order:

Fork and headset
Seatpost and saddle
handlebars and stem
Must be threaded headset to install fork without stem.
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Old 02-10-12, 02:39 PM   #8
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Got a bike stand? and is the seatpost installed yet?

If so...

Then do the bottom bracket, crankset, pedals.
Then the headset, fork, stem, handlebars
Then the brakes, FD, RD.
Then the any bosses, shifters, brake levers.
Then the wheels with tires/tubes mounted (rear with cluster installed)
Then housing and cables - adjust brakes and derailleurs.
Lastly finish with saddle and grips or handlebar tape and accessories
(e.g. bike computer, rack, lights, reflectors, etc)

Notes: All things that could become cosmetically soiled, like saddle and handlebar grips/tape, I do toward the end for that reason - don't want them dirty. The other consideration is leverage and testing while assembling the bike. You really can do a final adjust on threaded headset/fork until you have it on the ground, with front brake attached and can rock the bike back and forth. The hand on the fork wobbling it in the stand doesn't reflect the reality of actually riding and braking as it stresses the headset. So the above list isn't set in stone. And I put on pedals early, because once the wheels and derailleurs go on, you betcha you'll want to turn the cranks. Hence your hand will want the pedals there. Again, it gives better leverage to rock the crank side to side as well to test for BB play. But YMMV.

Last edited by gyozadude; 02-10-12 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 02-10-12, 02:42 PM   #9
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Must be threaded headset to install fork without stem.
Yes, to do the actual installation and cut the steerer to the right length for a threadless headset which is why the handlebar and stem are soon after the fork and headset
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Old 02-10-12, 02:49 PM   #10
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Kickstand so you can park your uncompleted bike out of the way.
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Old 02-10-12, 02:59 PM   #11
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I've just left my new-ish frame in the box for the last year, and the parts are in the basement too ..... one of these days .....
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Old 02-10-12, 03:35 PM   #12
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back in the 80s , the Italian builders left the fork and head tube prep
and BB threading , and such, at the retail end..
helped sell a lot of frame Prep tools .

suppose it preempted grey market sales..
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Old 02-10-12, 03:55 PM   #13
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Whatever way makes the most sense to you.

I usually start with the BB, then the headset / fork & stem, Then the rest of it just happens as I get the parts or as I feel like it.
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Old 02-10-12, 05:05 PM   #14
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Whatever way makes the most sense to you.
+1
There's no one best way, do what works for you. I work from the more physical, ie. BB and headset first to the more detail, adjustments, bar tape & saddle last.
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Old 02-10-12, 05:10 PM   #15
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Unless the frame is really special it's far less expensive to buy a complete bike if it fits and if you like it.

If building up from a frame I would not cut the steer tube before riding the bike and checking the fit.
You can always cut the steer tube shorter but can never cut it longer.
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Old 02-10-12, 05:12 PM   #16
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If building up from a frame I would not cut the steer tube before riding the bike and checking the fit.
You can always cut the steer tube shorter but can never cut it longer.
You mean as in "Dammit I cut this $%#&^ fork 3 times and it's still too short"?
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Old 02-10-12, 05:23 PM   #17
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You mean as in "Dammit I cut this $%#&^ fork 3 times and it's still too short"?
Exactly

But that's not the dumb mistake I made. I used the torque specs shown on the stem to tighten the stem to the steer tube and cracked a very expensive cf fork. 5 nm or 40 inch pounds is enough.
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Old 02-10-12, 06:24 PM   #18
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Unless the frame is really special it's far less expensive to buy a complete bike if it fits and if you like it.
++ If you have to ask what order to build a bike then you are very likely missing the knowledge needed to choose the best components for your needs. The only reason to pay the considerable cost penalty for building a bike from scratch is to get what are the best component choices for you. In fact, even the frame you choose requires significant knowledge to get it just right.

This time of year is one of the best to get great deals on whole bikes. I was a mechanic for over 20 years, and raced, toured and commuted as well. I also was experienced at fitting folks to their bikes and helping in component selection. Even though I had all the skill and knowledge necessary to build a bike from scratch, it made no economic sense (now that I have to pay retail) to do so. Instead I chose a bike that was the closest to what would be my ideal for my budget and then changed out saddle, bars and stem, tires and pedals. **Note that what I changed were mostly parts that affected how my body interacted with the bike. I then was able to sell most of the parts I changed out, for a low net cost.

You very probably also are not fully aware of what needs to be considered so that everything is compatible. A bicycle is a deceptively complex machine where threads, angles, diameters, tension, geometry and more have a critical effect on whether parts work well together and deliver the performance and durability you need. You can ask for help as you go, but much of what you learn will not be applicable to everyday maintenance, which is where you will spend 95% of your time. The same goes for some of the tools required for assembly.

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Old 02-10-12, 08:20 PM   #19
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++ If you have to ask what order to build a bike then you are very likely missing the knowledge needed to choose the best components for your needs. The only reason to pay the considerable cost penalty for building a bike from scratch is to get what are the best component choices for you. In fact, even the frame you choose requires significant knowledge to get it just right.

This time of year is one of the best to get great deals on whole bikes. I was a mechanic for over 20 years, and raced, toured and commuted as well. I also was experienced at fitting folks to their bikes and helping in component selection. Even though I had all the skill and knowledge necessary to build a bike from scratch, it made no economic sense (now that I have to pay retail) to do so. Instead I chose a bike that was the closest to what would be my ideal for my budget and then changed out saddle, bars and stem, tires and pedals. **Note that what I changed were mostly parts that affected how my body interacted with the bike. I then was able to sell most of the parts I changed out, for a low net cost.

You very probably also are not fully aware of what needs to be considered so that everything is compatible. A bicycle is a deceptively complex machine where threads, angles, diameters, tension, geometry and more have a critical effect on whether parts work well together and deliver the performance and durability you need. You can ask for help as you go, but much of what you learn will not be applicable to everyday maintenance, which is where you will spend 95% of your time. The same goes for some of the tools required for assembly.
+100

The best deals are on complete bikes. It will cost 2-3x more to build up a comparable bike from the bare frame, especially if you're buying one part at a time.

If you have to ask what order to put it together in, there is no point in doing a build from a bare frame as you don't know what you want/need. The best way to learn and save money is to buy a used bike, give it a complete overhaul, ride it, find out what you like and don't like about it and make your next purchase based on that.

To answer your original question, there is no "proper" order. Obviously you cannot install the brake levers if you don't have handlebars, putting it all together works itself out. Adjustments can be made along the way.
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Old 02-10-12, 08:55 PM   #20
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Let’s see I put parts into place before finalizing anything to make sure everything fits first.
Clean everything before starting & install tubes and tires on rims.
#1 Seat post
#2 fork (headset, spacers and stem) preload headset but leaving stem to cut last.
#3 Bottom bracket and crank & arms.
#4 Put bars on stem. (final adjustment to come.)
#5 Front derailleur set height to crank ring (final adjustment to come.)
#6 Install Rear derailleur (final adjustment to come.)
#7 Cassette on wheel
#8 wheel in drop out.
#9 Set Hi & Low limit screws by visual to Cassette and jockey wheels (final adjustment to come.)
#10 Install levers on bars close to where I think I will have them (final adjustment to come.)
#11 Cut cable housing and inner cables to specs and install for shifting
#12 Install chain
#13 Set cable tension and adjustment get it to shift good (final adjustment to come.)
#14 Install Front wheel
#15 Install brakes
#16 Cut cable housing and inner cables to specs and install adjust brakes to rim (final adjustment to come.)
#17 Install saddle (final adjustment to come.)
#18 Now check everything over remove whatever needs final lubing make adjustments as needed tighten and torque parts as needed.
#19 Short test ride
#20 Anything need major tweeks? No / Yes
#21 Measure stem length to were you may want it leaving a little extra for just in case remove fork and cut.
#22 Reinstall fork and parts you unhooked to cut it.
#23 Check over everything once more wrap bars maybe with something cheap so if you want to remove to do something major you can.
#25 Ride a while making adjustments as needed to fit when done rewrap bars with final tape and RIDE!
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Old 02-10-12, 10:22 PM   #21
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Last part to go on is the rider...
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Old 02-10-12, 11:29 PM   #22
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See #17, 18,+19........Buy a whole bicycle of reasonable quality,
take it apart, and lubricate and reassemble it.

Parts and frame is the most expensive way to buy a bicycle.
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Old 02-11-12, 08:27 AM   #23
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+1 for wanting to have a go and +1 for having the sense to ask. The satisfaction of riding a bike that you have built yourself with components you chose can't be matched. You should be able to find help here when needed. I am not sure it costs that much extra above a complete bike; if you shop around or ebay for parts you can do pretty well and the cost is spread. If you are like me, it is difficult to accept other people's compromise choices, so you find yourself upgrading things and any savings are soon absorbed.

If you don't have a workstand, fit headset & forks (plus stem if needed) then put the wheels in - this saves your back a bit!
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Old 02-11-12, 09:49 AM   #24
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Brake and derailleur adjustments:

I adjust the rear brake first because I use it to stop the rear wheel while I'm making rear derailleur adjustments.
I adjust the rear derailleur before the front because I shift from the little to the big cog when I'm adjusting the front derailleur.
Immediately after I finish adjusting either a brake or a derailleur, I trim the cable. That way, if I get distracted, I'll have a reminder of where I left off.
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Old 02-11-12, 11:02 AM   #25
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Actually you've already broken from the recommended approach.
This is a project and every project should start with a plan and a bill of materials. Normally those are used to estimate project costs, track progress and identify potential issues.


You don't need blueprints, but at least a list of components is a good idea so you can get a second opinion.


The other year I got talked into assembling some bikes for a guy that wanted to build a couple bikes from the ground up. In spite of my reservations about his experience and lack of documented details, he insisted on going ahead anyway. Over the next 6 months I think we exchanged over 100 e-mails as I explained on an ongoing basis why the parts he was sporadically having delivered to the shop were incompatible with each other or simply wouldn't deliver the results he expected.


Eventually he did end up with a couple nice bikes, but the project took about 6 months longer than expected, cost him a small fortune, and he ended up with about $10,000 worth of spare parts that he had to sell off. Regardless of how good a price he got any of this stuff for - the overall cost was too way high. Some people claim a learning experience is worth something but there has to be limits.
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