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Old 09-17-12, 07:52 PM   #1
TysonCook
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Easiest Frame to Build Up...

Hello,
I've done a search and not a lot comes up. My basic question is what would you pick as the easiest frame to build up? I assume that bikes are very similar to cars in that some parts are much easier to come across, install easier, and ultimately make for a better "first time" experience.

My idea is to custom paint the frame myself (my family are all auto-painters, so no cost here):
Specs:
58cm
Steel/alum
Shimano friendly (as that is what I've got on my other bikes)
triple with 12/28+ cassette
mainly a very local commuter (several miles here/there) maybe add a beer basket/rear rack
USA region
Budget <$500-800 USD

I'm mechanically proficient, but I don't want to start with the bicycle version of a 74 Fiat conversion that I can't get anything to fit, nor find anything.

Any frame suggestions (Schwinn/Raleigh/trek/spec?) would help me narrow down my garage sale searches/craigslist etc.

Thanks for any insight!
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Old 09-17-12, 08:06 PM   #2
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I don't understand - are you looking for a bare frame to build with your existing parts, or are you looking for a bike you can try to re-build into a higher-performance model? OR are you going to buy a bike and ride it as-is but are concerned about parts availability in the future?
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Old 09-17-12, 08:20 PM   #3
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Assuming the frame itself is OK, there isn't that much difference in building difficulty. Probably the most universal and easy to build would be anything with a 1-1/8" threadless headset system, either press in, or a common integrated design.

Then there's the BB, 1.370" ISO is the 50+ year standard, with lots of available crank options, but some of the new ones are getting more popular.

Other things to consider is provision for brakes, with either disc or canti bosses, or drill for calipers on right road bikes.

But other than function specific details, all frames build about equally easily, since the work isn't on frames themselves, bit on the components.
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Old 09-17-12, 08:21 PM   #4
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Sorry, I was unclear:
I want to buy a bike that I can rebuild into a higher performance model. (e.g. get a clunker, remove the old rusted parts, replace what needs replacing with updated parts (so the frame is original, parts are not), and then rebuild with frame repainted with upgraded parts).
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Old 09-17-12, 08:49 PM   #5
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What are you wanting to achieve with that process that is better than just buying a bike that's close to what you want and changing out a couple items for fit? I consider it unwise to try to upgrade a "clunker," and rust is generally more expensive than aluminum or chrome-moly. One of the biggest changes you can make is wheels, but they can easily eat up a good bit of your budget, especially as almost any stock set will need to be professionally retensioned. Drive trains are also expensive, extremely so if you are upgrading to brifters.

Before deciding on a frame I would suggest you price the types of things you would want to upgrade, the cost of tools and stand, and assume that you are going to pay at least a couple hundred dollars for a bike worth upgrading.

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 09-17-12 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 09-17-12, 08:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TysonCook View Post
Sorry, I was unclear:
I want to buy a bike that I can rebuild into a higher performance model. (e.g. get a clunker, remove the old rusted parts, replace what needs replacing with updated parts (so the frame is original, parts are not), and then rebuild with frame repainted with upgraded parts).
You are embarking on the most expensive possible route to a bike. As long as you realize this is an economically unsound approach, have at it.

My recommendation is to find a reasonably recent decent quality road bike frame so that commonly available current parts (headsets, bottom brackets, hubs, etc.) fit. An older "clunker" is going to require a lot of obsolete parts or frame modifications to work.
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Old 09-17-12, 08:53 PM   #7
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Get the cheapest bike you can with the frame you want and build from there...
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Old 09-17-12, 08:53 PM   #8
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High quality frames usually come with older high quality parts. Lower quality parts (the type you would want to change) usually come on lower quality frames which are less worth the effort of upgrading.
And there is practically nothing you can do to make a bike better or faster or easier.
A few exceptions:

If the geometry and size of the bike is not a good fit for the rider then remedying this will make the biggest improvement.
New tires with lighter and more supple casing (or more flat resistant tires, if repeated flats are what is slowing you down) will make a noticeable difference if the tires you remove were very cheap. Plus tires are a 'consumable', so you have to replace them eventually anyways. Replacing wheels with a nice set of lightweight hand-built ones can be nice, but makes little practical difference and might not be the best way to make a bike suited for what you described as your intended use.

In my opinion, the following things are worth effort and money:
If there is anything not working properly then it should be fixed. Hubs, headsets, bottom brackets, and pedals should spin easily without any roughness or looseness in the bearings..

If the bike is very old and has friction shifting then it is usually best to leave as-is because you have almost the whole drive-train to make indexing work properly.
Changing a bike from, say, and 8 speed cassette, to a 9 or 10 speed cassette makes no difference in performance and can be quite expensive if you want indexed shifting.
A higher quality derailleur or shifters will make no difference to how the bike performs, as long as the bike is properly set up in the first place.
If the bike is going to have a basket and locks and fenders, shaving off 100 grams with a lighter handlebar will make absolutely no difference.

Also, for what you said you want to do with the bike, the only advantage I can think of from any 'upgraded' part is a back wheel with a extra tough rim built with 36 stainless steel spokes.
Maybe buy a $200 used bike and install an extracycle freeradical.

Last edited by LarDasse74; 09-17-12 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 09-17-12, 08:54 PM   #9
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Get the cheapest complete bike you can with the frame you will be satisfied with and build from there...
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Old 09-17-12, 09:25 PM   #10
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fwiw, cannondale has always put an emphasis on the frame over the components. How that holds up now that the aluminum frames have thousands of miles and multiple owners is a bit of a crapshoot. Inspect the bike closely when purchasing.

no matter what the frame, look for a seatpost in 26.8 or 27.2 and english BB threading, the rest is pretty easy [standard] from there.
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Old 09-17-12, 09:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TysonCook View Post
Sorry, I was unclear:
I want to buy a bike that I can rebuild into a higher performance model. (e.g. get a clunker, remove the old rusted parts, replace what needs replacing with updated parts (so the frame is original, parts are not), and then rebuild with frame repainted with upgraded parts).
The Shimano and SRAM OEM discounts are so steep (even compared to on-line European prices which can be less than US wholesale) you can get a whole "off-brand" (like bikesdirect) bike for less than the price of a group and wheels.

The same $800 gets you an Ultegra group or bikes direct bike with Ultegra (except for crank and brakes) and wheel set.

If you're a Campagnolo guy it works out better since those components show up on much more expensive bikes. A $1200 Chorus gruppo becomes a $4000 bike. Campagnolo groups start at $425 from over-seas; although you'd do well to substitute NOS 2010 Veloce shifters.

The calculus is also different if you've been opportunistically acquiring parts. If I had another frameset I'd only need brakes, bars, and stem to turn it into a bike and it'd be very nice for not a lot of money.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 09-17-12 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 09-17-12, 09:41 PM   #12
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Old road frames are the easiest to setup shifters and brakes on, DT shifters can be installed by a monkey and calipers are pretty simple also. But quill stems are slightly more work to setup than threadless.

I guess I'd go Japanese so you don't have to track down an Italian BB. Miyata, Univega, Centurion, etc.

Get something spaced 130 or 126 so that it has to be cold set little or none.

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Old 09-18-12, 04:51 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
The Shimano and SRAM OEM discounts are so steep (even compared to on-line European prices which can be less than US wholesale) you can get a whole "off-brand" (like bikesdirect) bike for less than the price of a group and wheels.

The same $800 gets you an Ultegra group or bikes direct bike with Ultegra (except for crank and brakes) and wheel set.
Thank you. That also makes a lot of sense. Money isn't the biggest issue here for me, I can afford to go buy a new bike if I wanted, this is more of a learning experience and desire to "know the bike". I already have a CF bike and an AL bike that I use for group rides etc, this is just more of a local ride.

I already have a large amount of bike tools and a bike stand, so that should be straight forward. I'll keep my eyes peeled on Craigslist/ebay and see what I can pick up that has:
seatpost in 26.8 or 27.2 and english BB threading
alum or chrome-moly
more recent model for ease of parts
1-1/8" threadless headset system, either press in, or a common integrated design
BB, 1.370" ISO is the 50+ year standard, with lots of available crank options, but some of the new ones are getting more popular
cheapest complete bike you can with the frame you will be satisfied with and build from there

...looks like a good starting point. I'll have some research to do and will be back!
Any other suggestions???
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Old 09-18-12, 05:54 AM   #14
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Tyson;

I find that threaded headsets are very easy to work on, thus I recommend not discounting a bike/frame with 1" threaded headset.

I would look for cro-mo or 531; preferably double butted. Watch CL and e-bay - my SR was on ebay, my 310, GT, and JT were CL.

There are some good deals on NOS parts on ebay.

I build my own wheels, and built my own truing stand. http://forums.bicycletutor.com/thread-3834.html

Wheels are easy to build, just requires a bit of patience - I follow Sheldon Brown's suggestions, and have been influenced by Peter White's website.

As noted above - well built strong wheels are the best thing for the bike you are describing - basically a quick little pick up truck. I'd go with 36H or 40H on the rear and 36H on the front.

Some cro-mo brands that are very nice: SR, Miyata, Schwinn, Univega, Centurion, Trek, Specialized, and many others - note that these brands also offered hi-ten steel frames; so look carefully before purchasing.

You may come across a Sears Ted Williams branded 531 frame made by Puch in Austria. IMHO this is a perfect example of a poor bike frame made of excellent materials. My dad had one; not at all pleasant to ride.

The other area that needs to be upgraded on older bikes is the brakes. I like Avid linear pull brakes to replace canti (T50 and SR had cantis); and Tektro dual pivot side pulls to replace older side pulls or center pulls. I have R559 on the 310 and R536 on the World Tourist.
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Old 09-18-12, 07:18 AM   #15
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TC, I suggest finding a CX or touring frame with 126-130 OLD and rebuilding it as your urban basher/beer wagon. There are few roadies now-a-days that have any provision for mounting a rear rack.

Either frame will allow for a larger more pot hole friendly 28+ mm tire and are more likely to have attachment points for a rack. I rebuilt my Daughter's CX Bianchi Volpe much like what you want. Very popular in recent years are the Cannondale ST tourers (search rccardr in the C&V section for his builds).

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Old 09-18-12, 07:38 AM   #16
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Here's a decent rule of thumb [obviously exceptions exist]- most big brand bikes (trek, giant, cannondale, specialized) with 105 have a nicer frame than the 105 would imply. For years 105 has been the 'bargain' performance group and is often put on a model of bike to get below a price benchmark.

If you're just looking for a frame from a complete bike, you'll most likely find the best quality to dollar ratio on a 105 equipped bike. 600/ultegra still commands a bit of a premium, and DuraAce? fuggeheddaboudid.

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Old 09-19-12, 10:13 AM   #17
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So the goal is a clunker with bright shiny bits... sounds like a general waste of time and money. The guts of the bike is still just a clunker and will ride like a clunker.
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Old 09-19-12, 06:24 PM   #18
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...sorry the goal isn't necessarily a "clunker", just something to cruise around on. I misspoke on that one.

My ideal bike is one that I've stripped down, repainted, and brought back to life with good components that I don't have to worry too much about going out on me. I prefer a "clunker", more because I want to recycle a frame, rather than wanting a specific look.

Most older bikes i see on CL/Ebay have broken wheels, rusted, with obsolete cabling etc. My purpose is to save a frame from the dump, and make it useful.

to IthaDan: Charlotte, NC
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Old 09-20-12, 09:07 AM   #19
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As it sounds like you have a couple of road bikes already and want to do something frame-up, why not build up something different. Maybe a drop bar MTB? Seems like that would make a great around-town bike.
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Old 09-20-12, 09:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
[h=2]Easiest Frame to Build Up...?[/h]
NEW?
The Tenth, buildup will be easier than the First..Getting Experience..

Sight unseen IDK , have Dealer Chase and face BB Ream head tube, & seat tube.

all the things that will keep it from coming together without struggling..

mass produced budget frames cut corners.. that lowers the prices..

used bikes and doing an overhaul and rebuild, are good..

you should know the brand names of the box store BSO, in your area will
eliminate those time wasters, in fixer-uppers..

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Old 09-20-12, 09:23 AM   #21
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This could be a good option (price is probably $150 high, but it's been up for a while)-

http://charlotte.craigslist.org/bik/3256294889.html
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Old 09-20-12, 09:27 AM   #22
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To answer the question in the thread title, I vote for steel Japanese road frames. Standard tube and thread sizes to accept all standard components, easily cold settable to accept varying hub widths and usually very well made.
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Old 09-20-12, 09:53 AM   #23
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Food for thought: I built my road bike myself it's a "classic" or "vintage" depending on your perspective.. costwise for parts etc it came out to a lot less then the bike itself would have cost me... this does not take into consideration my time. If I take that into account, I probably spent 4-5 times what the bike is worth building it, between hunting parts, learning new techniques, researching parts, making deals, and install/adjustment time.. I'm basically retired so I can swing that without any regrets. Do you have a lot of free time, or a lot of money? If not consider just buying the bike you want outright.
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Old 09-20-12, 02:20 PM   #24
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$500-800 could buy you a good used road bike from the 1980s/1990s that needs nothing other than new tires and brake pads. Maybe you could just take it apart, clean everything really well, and put it back together for fun.
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Old 09-24-12, 06:42 PM   #25
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Here are two options from a guy in my bike club, both are in great shape (he sent me photos).
Any thoughts?
Thanks!
"I recently acquired an old school Chain Bike Corp aka Ross road bike purchased from the bike shop in Clemson back in the late 1970's. It has a steel frame (seat tube measures 23" roughly 58 cm), and it has the old Shimano 600 components.

I also have a 40 year old Schwinn World Traveler. It has all the original Scwhinn components and even an old Gastonia bicycle license sticker on the seat post. If anyone is interested call, text, or email me off the list."
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