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Ignorant noob question: MTB frame, fork

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Ignorant noob question: MTB frame, fork

Old 01-15-17, 11:22 AM
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Ignorant noob question: MTB frame, fork

So I am thinking of building a first MTB, a first bike [EDIT: my first bike build; I have owned and ridden a number of bikes and MTBs], and i am really ignorant (just ordered a book from amazon, Zinn and the art of MTB repair, something like that), have what is probably a stupid simple question to answer: so as I look at MTB frames on ebay, I am wondering do I have to look for some special size of the holes in the frame where the bearing for the crankshaft/pedals will assemble, and also where the steering tube will go in? Or is this kind of a "universal fit" thing, where all frames pretty much have the same size holes for attached components?

Same question for a MTB fork. Will pretty much all forks fit in pretty much all frames? or does the O.D. (outside diameter) of a fork need to be matched to the I.D. (inside diameter) of that hole in the frame?

Thank you for your patience in a noob's dumb question!

Last edited by subzerobiker; 01-15-17 at 02:58 PM. Reason: clarification on 'first bike'
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Old 01-15-17, 11:48 AM
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suspension fork? they come from a different factory and the company making the frames buys them.

Why not save yourself a lot of grief and just buy a New Bike At A Bike Shop?
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Old 01-15-17, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
suspension fork? they come from a different factory and the company making the frames buys them.

Why not save yourself a lot of grief and just buy a New Bike At A Bike Shop?
i'll +1 that.
Some other things to think about:
- are you wanting to build an old, 26in wheeled MTB? - you'll be hard pressed to find a decent new fork, and even harder to find an old one
https://goo.gl/photos/om6FUVuHkAqnqpR18

- you have to think about steerer tube diameter
- tapered headtube or not
- wheel size (29in? 27.5in? 26in?)
- disk or not (almost impossible to find decent rim brake bikes now a days, i think...)

Anyway, I guess it depends if you enjoy the building things up from not much or if you enjoy riding more. And if you build it up yourself, you'll face the pressure of riding an odd ball bike in front of all the kool kids who bought the off the shelf kool bike from the bike shop.
Then you'll get a reputation for riding odd ball bikes. It happened to a "friend of mine" ~ not that my Franken-bikes are odd - they're kool.

Mountain bike suspension forks ? a buyer's guide - BikeRadar USA
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Old 01-15-17, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
suspension fork? they come from a different factory and the company making the frames buys them.

Why not save yourself a lot of grief and just buy a New Bike At A Bike Shop?
Yes.
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Old 01-15-17, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by subzerobiker
So I am thinking of building a first MTB, a first bike, and i am really ignorant...
Buying a complete bike, whether new or used, is typically a lot less expensive than buying parts to build a comparable one up from scratch. And you don't have to worry about parts compatibility since it's all been figured out for you.

I'd strongly suggest you buy a complete bike, even if it's not as nice as your 'dream bike' as a starter. Learn what you like and dislike, learn what sizes and fits work for you, learn how to wrench on it, etc. After getting experience, you may find that your real dream bike isn't what you originally thought it was.

Originally Posted by subzerobiker
...(just ordered a book from amazon, Zinn and the art of MTB repair, something like that)...
Good thinking. Whether you use online resources or a book, reading up and learning is a good thing.

Originally Posted by subzerobiker
...have what is probably a stupid simple question to answer: so as I look at MTB frames on ebay, I am wondering do I have to look for some special size of the holes in the frame where the bearing for the crankshaft/pedals will assemble, and also where the steering tube will go in? Or is this kind of a "universal fit" thing, where all frames pretty much have the same size holes for attached components?
There are many different current and past standards for both bottom brackets and head tubes/headsets. (And dropout/hub spacing, and wheel size, and brake mounts, and seatpost diameters, and...)

Originally Posted by subzerobiker
...Same question for a MTB fork. Will pretty much all forks fit in pretty much all frames? or does the O.D. (outside diameter) of a fork need to be matched to the I.D. (inside diameter) of that hole in the frame?
They're not universal fit. The diameter has to be correct, the steerer tube length has to be sufficient, and they have to be the right type (e.g. threaded vs. threadless).
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Old 01-15-17, 12:18 PM
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The short answer is no. Buy the frame you want and then get the parts that fit.
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Old 01-15-17, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Why not save yourself a lot of grief and just buy a New Bike At A Bike Shop?
Two reasons. Foremost is I can not find a look that I like at any bike shop or online bikes (Trek, etc). Second I need an XL frame and that is often hard to find local. I did find a bike I liked a few months ago, 2016 Trek Talon 3 gray/black with lime yellow-green, but could not get my hands on an XL anywhere. Frustrating to find an XL in a design I like. Thus build, paint it myself.
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Old 01-15-17, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
The short answer is no. Buy the frame you want and then get the parts that fit.
Makes sense ! Thank you.
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Old 01-15-17, 12:52 PM
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Thank you!
I am still not 100% committed to building--- if i could just find a MTB I like I will definitely just buy, not build. But I have done a lot of searching and looking both online, at local bike stores, and in a bike magazine of 2017 models. Nothing is working for me. I sort of have a geek/OCD thing, e/g I build my own desktop computers to get exactly the look and components I want (small cube PC on my desktop that is almost silent), I've made my own dinnerware and mugs from clay, I search long and hard for the laptop and phone that work for me (ASUS Zenbook laptop, ASUS Zenfone). I have not given up on buying, but just wanting to go down the build your own bike rabbit hole a bit to see if that is an option. I don't mind paying an extra $500 to build my own, the life experience and getting what I want would make that worth it to me.
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Old 01-15-17, 01:24 PM
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If you haven't built a MTB before, would really look at buying a complete bike, there are so many 'standards' out there today, that unless you know exactly what you are looking for, the chances are you will end up with a bunch of parts which don't work together, or spend so long researching them, that by the time your ready to buy, they will either no-longer be available, or obsolete.

For 2017, were already over half way through the model year, if you want an outlying size, would be looking sooner rather than later, or be thinking about getting a 2018 model, which will start to filter into shops in 5-6 months time.

#mrv has pointed out some key things with MTB's, for a modern MTB's (very general here), 26" is long dead, non-tapered forks are long dead for anything but low end bikes, rim brakes are long dead, whatever you look at will be either 29er/27.5 (both possibly in + versions), will have a tapered steerer, and disc brakes, a 1x or 2x driver train, 11/12 speed/electronic shifting (budget dependent). After this, the 'standards' get messy.

Last edited by jimc101; 01-15-17 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 01-15-17, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by subzerobiker
Thank you!
I am still not 100% committed to building--- if i could just find a MTB I like I will definitely just buy, not build. But I have done a lot of searching and looking both online, at local bike stores, and in a bike magazine of 2017 models. Nothing is working for me. I sort of have a geek/OCD thing, e/g I build my own desktop computers to get exactly the look and components I want (small cube PC on my desktop that is almost silent), I've made my own dinnerware and mugs from clay, I search long and hard for the laptop and phone that work for me (ASUS Zenbook laptop, ASUS Zenfone). I have not given up on buying, but just wanting to go down the build your own bike rabbit hole a bit to see if that is an option. I don't mind paying an extra $500 to build my own, the life experience and getting what I want would make that worth it to me.
I recognized your geek/OCD thing right away, and I immediately thought about PC modding as a corollary. I had my bike building (and PC fabbing) phases too, as a younger nerd, and there wasn't Internet then to bounce my angst off. Specs are your friend. There is more commonality between frames and their specifications than differences. Bottom brackets for example, will be almost (99%) always 68mm wide. But why wonder... take an earlier posters advice, and buy the frame you like (with fork!) and it will come with a spec sheet that will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the threadings and dimensions of the various holes that need to be filled with stuff. You should also know that a new frame has BB's and Headtubes that should (need?) to be "faced", and these procedures need specialized toolsets that you will not have. BTW the XL thing is a doddle. With the right seatpost and/or stem you could fit a M sized frame. Especially in a MTB type config. FWIW.
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Old 01-15-17, 01:54 PM
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If I were you. I'd search Craigslist for a somewhat decent bike (the more good parts attached the better) and give it a semi complete overhaul by repacking/replacing all the bearings etc.

That will provide a LOT of relatively inexpensive "education" while you search for your "good" frame.
Sell that bike and recoup your money.
By that time, you'll know much more about all the different "standards" etc.
You might even stumble across a good old double butted CrMo frame in the meantime.
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Old 01-15-17, 02:00 PM
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Read the ZINN book cover to cover Yet?

Still say Buy a Whole bike as your first bike, (a hardtail) learn how to not crash and die first,

then start on the Scratch build for your first attempt at that ..

NB; there is a difference between 'Find local' expecting it to be sitting there on speculation when you walk in ,

and seeing a Model thats good enough and asking the shop if they can get it in an abnormally large size ..





Last edited by fietsbob; 01-15-17 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 01-15-17, 02:45 PM
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If you really want to build a bike you need to understand many important things are not "Standard". Bottom brackets come in all types and sizes 68mm, 70, 73mm wide, BB30, PF, threaded types among others. Depending on what crank you want to run, a frame you buy may not be compatible. Headsets/forks not quite as complicated but size, length of steerer, axle to crown length need to be determined. Type of brakes also need correct mounts. You can find components to fit a frame chosen or a frame to fit components chosen. You really need to have a very good idea of what you want before buying anything.
In general buying a complete bike is cheapest and those components are usually chosen to work well together as well as meet a certain price point.
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Old 01-15-17, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
I recognized your geek/OCD thing right away, and I immediately thought about PC modding as a corollary. I had my bike building (and PC fabbing) phases too, as a younger nerd, and there wasn't Internet then to bounce my angst off. Specs are your friend. There is more commonality between frames and their specifications than differences. Bottom brackets for example, will be almost (99%) always 68mm wide. But why wonder... take an earlier posters advice, and buy the frame you like (with fork!) and it will come with a spec sheet that will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the threadings and dimensions of the various holes that need to be filled with stuff. You should also know that a new frame has BB's and Headtubes that should (need?) to be "faced", and these procedures need specialized toolsets that you will not have. BTW the XL thing is a doddle. With the right seatpost and/or stem you could fit a M sized frame. Especially in a MTB type config. FWIW.
All good to know, thank you. I hope a frame would come with spec sheets, if I buy off ebay I will have to ask and be sure on that, o/w I would be better served to buy from a more reputable company and surely in the USA in case of any issues and to be sure the frame comes with spec sheets and all. BBs?!?? I am almost 6'5" (195 cm) in height, figured I need an XL frame?
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Old 01-15-17, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
If you really want to build a bike you need to understand many important things are not "Standard". Bottom brackets come in all types and sizes 68mm, 70, 73mm wide, BB30, PF, threaded types among others. Depending on what crank you want to run, a frame you buy may not be compatible. Headsets/forks not quite as complicated but size, length of steerer, axle to crown length need to be determined. Type of brakes also need correct mounts. You can find components to fit a frame chosen or a frame to fit components chosen. You really need to have a very good idea of what you want before buying anything.
In general buying a complete bike is cheapest and those components are usually chosen to work well together as well as meet a certain price point.
For sure, I plan to check very carefully, here and with local bike shop, for buying any components once I have a frame. I even figure I will plan to pay some cash to the local bike shop for their mechanics to put on some of the components, pay for their time at a PC on their workbench to double check components I want to buy, and even have them look over and tune up and adjust the bike once it is assembled.
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Old 01-15-17, 02:50 PM
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If you don't even know what to call the "holes" in the frame I would strongly advise you against a scratch build. Bikes are deceptively simple - until you start facing the myriad differences in threads, diameters, angles, quality, etc. As for frames on eBay, you don't know what they've been through (as in is the frame really straight/undamaged), probably have no idea of the significance of OLD in frame vs. wheel, etc.
My advise, considering you have the rest of the winter, is to find a good quality XL bike of fairly recent vintage, disassemble it after researching how to do so properly, and then have it painted to your desired "aesthetic". Of course you would have to allow for the cost of painting and replacement parts in your budget for the bike. I don't know that this would meet your needs, but found this C'dale XL for only $500, Not exactly near you, but checking with shops in the Twin Cities would not be a bad idea anyway:
https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/d...915905899.html

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 01-15-17 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 01-15-17, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Still say Buy a Whole bike as your first bike, (a hardtail) learn how to not crash and die first
Maybe my post was not written as clear as I might have, I have purchased and owned and ridden maybe a dozen bicycles, half of those hardtail mountain bikes, I have ridden mountain bikes on trails, even flipped head over heels and crashed a few times (my city of Duluth MN was listed as the #1 outdoor city in the USA by Outdoor magazine; incredible outdoor trails here; that said I am looking to relocate to a milder climate like perhaps NC, the winters are just too cold and long here--- on that note, one reason to build a bike for me is that I have five more months of winter, cabin fever is a definite risk of going insane here, lol.


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Old 01-15-17, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman
If you don't even know what to call the "holes" in the frame
But a hole is still a hole, right?
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Old 01-15-17, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by jimc101
...For 2017, were already over half way through the model year, if you want an outlying size, would be looking sooner rather than later, or be thinking about getting a 2018 model, which will start to filter into shops in 5-6 months time..
Good to know. Sadly, snow will not be gone here for 4+ months. It's just that right now I have no bike, I want one by the time the snow is gone. Loaned my Specialized XL MTB to a friend when I went on a long road trip last summer and it was stolen when he did not lock it up and just put it in an alley behind the building where he works.
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Old 01-15-17, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by subzerobiker
But a hole is still a hole, right?
Not to a Catholic...
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Old 01-15-17, 04:22 PM
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Don't listen to these downers. Go ahead and build it. Let me recommend a strategy:

Buy the frame you want.
Use Youtube, google search, manuf. data, etc... to educate yourself on headsets and fork types
Buy the fork you want.
Educate yourself on bottom brackets, component groups, brakes, and the tools you'll need.
Buy the groupset.
Etc....

When you get it all together, if you still have some uncertainty, take it to the LBS and have the mechanic go over it.
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Old 01-15-17, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by subzerobiker
Same question for a MTB fork. Will pretty much all forks fit in pretty much all frames? or does the O.D. (outside diameter) of a fork need to be matched to the I.D. (inside diameter) of that hole in the frame?
Given that I would recommend buying a bike. There are many other, more complicated, aspects to building the bike. There are some very expensive tools that make the job easier and more reliable as well as many hand tools that you need to complete the process. Your eagerness is fantastic and building a computer as apposed to building a bike are two very different things. I have built my computers since the 90's and understand that specc'ing something is very important. However, sometimes a product will carry 80% of the spec you want and with a little additional outlay you can complete it with exactly what you want.

Its one thing plugging RAM into a motherboard and a very different thing fine tuning a bike.
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Old 01-16-17, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Jiggle
Don't listen to these downers. Go ahead and build it. Let me recommend a strategy:

Buy the frame you want.
Use Youtube, google search, manuf. data, etc... to educate yourself on headsets and fork types
Buy the fork you want.
Educate yourself on bottom brackets, component groups, brakes, and the tools you'll need.
Buy the groupset.
Etc....

When you get it all together, if you still have some uncertainty, take it to the LBS and have the mechanic go over it.
...and all of that is justified in the quest to get the aesthetics he desires? The odds of finding a frame that "looks right," is the proper size and style, that has paint in excellent shape (remember, aesthetics is the only criteria he has specifically mentioned), is not bent nor damaged, is compatible with modern fork, BB and wheel specs is miniscule.

I and others are not being "downers" but rather being honest and accurate about the problems with his plan. Incidentally, the OP would need to educate himself before buying the frame.

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 01-16-17 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 01-16-17, 11:31 AM
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I think there are a lot of naysayers because we get a lot of newbies who really dont have a clue about what they want to do or worse yet, dont know how to use tools, so the buy a bike and not parts is good advice for many.

I was in your position a few years back and wanted a big frame for my long legs too. I found an XXL Specialized Allez frame, won the bidding war and went to work. I assembled a great bike from a handful or orders and auctions, and still spent much less than a used one even if I could find a big frame.

Go for it! You might buy a few wrong parts along the way but you'll have fun since you have done your homework.

-SP
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