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Building a Bike for the First Time

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Building a Bike for the First Time

Old 06-06-19, 01:41 PM
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SonicSpeed
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Building a Bike for the First Time

Hello,
I am planning on building a bike from the frame up for the first time. After some research, I've decided I want to build an endurance road bike for under $1000. I found that I need the following components:
  • Frame
  • Wheels
  • Headset
  • Saddle
  • Chainset
  • Cassette
  • Handlebars
  • Shifters
  • Crankset
  • Breaks-thinking of getting mechanical disc breaks.
  • Tons of tools
I'm a little confused though (if you couldn't already tell). It seems like there are several ways to go about this. I could either get all the components separately and call the manufacturer/consult the seller's website to make sure each part is compatible with the others, or I could just buy a frameset and a "gruppo"/groupset. I'm not really sure which I should be doing. I'm leaning towards just buying a groupset since I'm sure there are many things I'm missing in my list above, but at the same time, I feel like it would be more fun to get each part separately so I can really understand what is going on, which is part of my motivation for building a bike in the first place. Could someone please give me some tips or point me in the right direction for this project. I'm also not sure what type of tools I should be buying and what brand I should be buying from at my price point. Sorry for so many questions, it just feels like I've been searching in the dark about this for the last few days. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks a lot!
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Old 06-06-19, 01:46 PM
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Start with what you really want. Is it a specific frame? A certain set of wheels? You will generally save NO money building from scratch, so you should be doing it to get exactly what you want, how you want it. If you have no one aspect of the bike that you are 100% set on, buying "off the rack" will save you a whole lot of money from the outset.

This is not to discourage you from building your own bike-- I built my CX bike up from a bare frame-- but to let you know it's not the way to save money or time. If you're piecing it together over a few years, at least then the costs will be somewhat deferred.
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Old 06-06-19, 01:49 PM
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I understand it probably will end up being more expensive, but at the same time I really want to understand how every part of my bike works together and I felt like building it up from the frame would be a good way to learn. I'm also in the market for a new bike anyway, since I've been riding the same one going on 7 years now. My hope is that this bike will become my main bike for the next 7-10 years, so I'd like to do it right and make it something I really like.
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Old 06-06-19, 01:52 PM
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Then start with the component that you absolutely cannot live without, and build outward from there-- this is almost always the frame. Component groups, wheels, etc can be changed on a whim. A bike is its frame.

That $1000 budget is THIN, unless your Google-fu and eBay luck are both very, very good. And even then.
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Old 06-06-19, 02:04 PM
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Where would you recommend buying the frame from if new? I know that the $1000 is pretty low for a new road bike, but it's worth a shot I guess. How much of the total cost do you recommend should go towards the frame set. Also, would you recommend buying a frame set, groupset, and wheels, or buying each part separately? Sorry for all the questions. I just want to minimize the number of mistakes I'm gonna regret later on
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Old 06-06-19, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by SonicSpeed View Post
Where would you recommend buying the frame from if new? I know that the $1000 is pretty low for a new road bike, but it's worth a shot I guess. How much of the total cost do you recommend should go towards the frame set. Also, would you recommend buying a frame set, groupset, and wheels, or buying each part separately? Sorry for all the questions. I just want to minimize the number of mistakes I'm gonna regret later on
Not sure if this is a real thread or just idle chat -- did you read and understand the above replies? How can anybody know where to buy a frame when you don't know which frame you want?

Anyway, here's a good-faith reply: Start reading...A LOT! Soon you will become more and more confused by the myriad of options and chaos. Keep reading. Eventually you will become less and less confused and begin to know what you want. Keep reading. Then, go shopping for yourself.
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Old 06-06-19, 02:27 PM
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Fair enough. Will do, thanks.
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Old 06-06-19, 02:59 PM
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I understand wanting to do this, and I have done it myself, but after years of doing my own maintenance.

When you don't know what you're doing, you're likely to get some parts that are incompatible... you can't put disc brakes on a frame that wasn't designed for them for instance.

I propose an alternate project - buy a complete bike that needs maintenance and maybe a few new parts and tear it down, clean it up, and put it back together. You'll learn all the right skills, and you won't waste money on stuff that won't work.
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Old 06-06-19, 08:59 PM
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I recommend picking up a vintage bike or two to get your feet wet. They're generally pretty bombproof and forgiving to learn on.
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Old 06-07-19, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by SonicSpeed View Post
Where would you recommend buying the frame from if new? I know that the $1000 is pretty low for a new road bike, but it's worth a shot I guess.
Take a look at what Salsa and Surly have on offer. Would something like the Salsa Marrakesh or the Vaya work for you? The reason I suggest those brands is that there are enthusiastic communities around those brands (esp Salsa), and Salsa has a decent dealer network. You'll be able to find help and support from others who have built the same frames. When you have a question about parts compatibility, there will be someone out there who likely has been there and knows the answer.

Your budget is way low. At least double it and be prepared to deal with over runs. Also tools. Figure on spending a couple hundred on tools. Be prepared and willing to go over budget.

Building is fun -- my friends and I build several frames per year -- but is fraught with incompatibilities and requires a patient mindset along with a level of confidence to trust what you are doing without entering the realm of hubris and over-confidence.
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Old 06-07-19, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
... buy a complete bike that needs maintenance and maybe a few new parts and tear it down, clean it up, and put it back together. You'll learn all the right skills, and you won't waste money on stuff that won't work.
This.

If you find an older bike that fits and you think will be a keeper the possibilities are fairly endless, and you will learn alot doing your periodic upgrades as time and money allows. I guess I have 'reborne' about 20 bikes for myself, friends, family ,,, frankly the idea of building a bike out of catalogue purchases seems like a very poor idea. Get ready for lots of frustration and disappointments, and wasted money, if you are committed to this idea.
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Old 06-07-19, 09:09 AM
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I actually did what the OP is proposing (before I discovered bike forums).

I bought a used Surly Ogre frame from a private seller and a manual at Barnes and Nobles.

I bought all the parts at a local bike shop asking questions there along the way.

Except for the crankset which was Deore I went Deore XT for everything since I figured keeping the same component family would make things simpler. I ended up ordering the wrong length of spokes at least once. It was fun, but I hate to think how much more it cost me to do it that way.
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Old 06-07-19, 11:24 AM
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I wouldn't recommend putting disc brakes on a vintage frame unless that frame was designed to use disc brakes. Too easy to bend fork blades and/or seat stays/chain stays otherwise.
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Old 06-07-19, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
This.

If you find an older bike that fits and you think will be a keeper the possibilities are fairly endless, and you will learn alot doing your periodic upgrades as time and money allows. I guess I have 'reborne' about 20 bikes for myself, friends, family ,,, frankly the idea of building a bike out of catalogue purchases seems like a very poor idea. Get ready for lots of frustration and disappointments, and wasted money, if you are committed to this idea.
+2

I thought the same thing when I read your post. You could buy something new from bikesdirect.com and strip it down, build it back up. This would be SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than buying all the parts separately.
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Old 06-08-19, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by matimeo View Post
+2

I thought the same thing when I read your post. You could buy something new from bikesdirect.com and strip it down, build it back up. This would be SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than buying all the parts separately.
For what the OP is asking, this is really the only option, as their budget is way too low to do anything as a build it yourself project unless your willing to drag it over a long time period and get very lucky with deals.

Something like this Save Up to 60% Off Disc Brake Road Bikes - Motobecane Omni Strada PRO bang on budget and learn how to fix it/replace parts as you use it/wear stuff out (ride it and this will happen!!!)

Edit, that a Gravel bike, you could start the learing process by swaping the tires for larger volume slicks and you have a pretty good all round bike there!

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Old 06-08-19, 07:24 AM
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You want to build an endurance road bike for under $1000, you state. Do you really need/want new? Are you going to be happy with something fairly entry level (ie, around about a $800-1500 off the shelf bike)?

What sort of component group do you expect? Realistically, to have any hope of hitting that budget, you could maybe go 105 or Centaur in 11 speed. Tiagra 10 might be more in the budget. A whole groupo will be cheaper than individual parts if you want new (and if you're buying used, you really need to know what you're buying). It's worth considering that a new group (or even new levers) will come with cables, and that's another cost.

What frame material are you looking for? Carbon? Aluminum? You might find a Merlin or Ribble branded frame around $400. As I think someone stated, the frame is the heart of the bike - you can always upgrade a group, and certainly the other bits (saddle, bars, stem, seatpost, pedals, tape) are easy to change over time. If you aren't too weight conscious, look for a nice 90s vintage steel frame - personally, I'm cautious with used aluminum (although I've bought a couple), and very cautious about used carbon.

My first high-end bike was an 87 Pinarello I bought in 92 on the advice of a riding buddy with a De Rosa - he was keeping me away from the dark side (the others in our group rode carbon Treks with Shimano). With his help (remember, this was pre-internet days), my first build was to tear it down completely,clean and prep everything, and rebuild it as a 7-speed downtube bike with index shifting. A year later it was torn down again and rebuilt with 8-speed Chorus. I couldn't tell you how many times that bike was rebuilt over the years (if I got caught out in the rain, I would tear it down, at least enough to re-lube inside the tubes with WD-40 and make sure the BB was clean/dry) but the last time was last week. And now I'm off to do my third build (on my third frame) since 2016 with Chorus 11.

If you're going to want to do this, make sure you buy/borrow all the right tools - the wrong tools is a surefire way to damage something. They're not cheap. Buy a used bike, buy new tools, do the rebuild. Save the money and consider what you're really looking for and whether you want to save to go higher end. My final word of warning on this whole build up your own bike thing - you might find it to be addictive but don't let it get in the way of the ride (I'm laid up for at least another week with sciatica anyway so I'm getting caught up on projects)
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Old 06-08-19, 08:36 AM
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OK, I'm going to pile on here.

Your budget is far too low to build anything even half decent, never mind needing to buy all the tools on top of the frame and components. Your only hope is to buy a lower-line complete bike.

I've done what you propose a couple of times BUT I knew just what I wanted and what would work, had some of the part from other bikes and spares and had all the needed tools. Even at that my budget was way above your proposed one.

Do you have an LBS you trust? They could order a frame and fork that meet your requirement for both type and size and put together a "build kit" with all the components. That should assure everything works together. Then you could assemble it knowing it's going to work.
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Old 06-08-19, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Then start with the component that you absolutely cannot live without, and build outward from there-- this is almost always the frame. Component groups, wheels, etc can be changed on a whim. A bike is its frame.

That $1000 budget is THIN, unless your Google-fu and eBay luck are both very, very good. And even then.

I recently was trying to decide on a personal reward for losing more than 100 pounds. I wasn't looking for anything specific yet, when I found an ad for a never used 2006 Cannondale CAAD8 R1000 frame and carbon fork for DIRT cheap. Well. Had to have it!!! Then I found a good set of DT Swiss wheels for only a bit more, with nearly new tires and tubes. And then, I got a lot of neat components from a buddy... And I am patient looking for the remaining parts I needed. I had questions about components and got lots of great help and look forward to riding this lightweight bike when I drop another 23 pounds. The bike is going to be about 20 pounds even when done, but still the lightest bike I've ever owned. I'm into this bike for less than $200. Good thing I am patient. Without the stuff from my friend, that figure could have tripled. The downside to this bike, I might have to consider selling something, as it duplicates a similar bike I already own. And that bike is more in the classic and vintage group.

More in the vein of this thread, I was looking at picking up a Cyclocross bike that was too small for me, mainly for the groupset and wheels. Then look for a proper fitting frame. Still might. Mainly trying to decide if I NEED a cyclocross bike rather than just WANT... I alredy have a N+1 problem...
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Old 06-09-19, 02:24 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by SonicSpeed View Post
Hello,
I am planning on building a bike from the frame up for the first time. After some research, I've decided I want to build an endurance road bike for under $1000. I found that I need the following components:
  • Frame
  • Wheels
  • Headset
  • Saddle
  • Chainset
  • Cassette
  • Handlebars
  • Shifters
  • Crankset
  • Breaks-thinking of getting mechanical disc breaks.
  • Tons of tools
I'm a little confused though (if you couldn't already tell). It seems like there are several ways to go about this. I could either get all the components separately and call the manufacturer/consult the seller's website to make sure each part is compatible with the others, or I could just buy a frameset and a "gruppo"/groupset. I'm not really sure which I should be doing. I'm leaning towards just buying a groupset since I'm sure there are many things I'm missing in my list above, but at the same time, I feel like it would be more fun to get each part separately so I can really understand what is going on, which is part of my motivation for building a bike in the first place. Could someone please give me some tips or point me in the right direction for this project. I'm also not sure what type of tools I should be buying and what brand I should be buying from at my price point. Sorry for so many questions, it just feels like I've been searching in the dark about this for the last few days. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks a lot!
Hello there. I'm pleased to tell you that I just recently did what you want to do around that budget.

Here's the completed bike:

First bike build complete!!! Thanks BF for all the help.

Right, where do I start?

Firstly, despite what everyone is saying, you CAN build a road bike within that budget. I don't know if what I built qualifies as a road bike but I think it does (in my books, if it's got thin tyres it's a road bike). I buit that up with a budget of £800 so that leaves you with a bit of leeway if you're building a bike up with disc brakes and a derailleur.

As the other's have said, you will have to do a LOT of reading in order to know what you want. Saying you want a road bike is too broad. How many speeds, what tyre thickness, what kind of aesthetic, modern or vintage? Drop bar, bull horns, flat bar, porteur, moustache? What bars do you want. What frame, what frame size? etc...

Look at my bike, it took some reading and reasoning to decide everything that went on it. For example I decided I wanted a vintage aesthetic. I wanted something that looks like a fixie but allows for coasting and breaking. I went with a coaster brake because it allowed for all three. I decided I wanted drop bars becuase of the multiple hand positions. I went with a seel frame because of the low cost and durability, I wanted a small frame (56cm) so that it doesn't look stupidly big, I bought everything else in alloy and stainless steel so that it doesn't rust, etc...

It took a lot of reading to decide all that. So yh, read a lot beforehand, this might extend the project to a few months but that's ok since it's your first build.

Secondly, as another poster has said, your google skills and ebay-foo have to be reeeeally good! With that kind of budget, you will have to settle for unbranded parts. It might surprise you to find out that that bike that I posted was built with virtually NO BRANDED PARTS! No campy, no shimano, no sram, no none of that. Just alloy and steel.

The only branded parts on the whole bike were the KMC chain, a VELO seat, VELOSTEEL coaster hub and a STRONGLIGHT chainring. Everything else, was bought unbranded, by fishing for deals on ebay.

Take this headset or these pedals as an example:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/232448956546
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/372030393719

Brand new, alloy pedals and brand new alloy mushroom style headset for peanuts. These components would cost plenty more if they were branded. The headset would be 20 and the pedals would be 40.

These are the deals I found here in the UK but I'm sure in the U.S you have some equivalent ebay sellers as well.

A lot of folks here on BF would scoff at my shopping cart but it's part of the aesthetic imo. I pride myself in being something of an anti-elitist

Lastly, tools. I kinda bought them as I went along. I'd do that if I were you too. Buy them as you need them. Don't skimp out on the tools would be my advice. If it's not bike specific, buy the trusted brands like Bahco adjustable wrenches, Bondhus allen keys, etc. If it's bike specific, Park Tool and Cyclo make some good tools.

TL;DR

- do more reading.
- settle for unbranded parts or increase your budget.
- buy tools from trusted brands, don't skimp out.

I hope to see some results in a few months, PM me the thread link if you complete the build, I'd feel betrayed after all that typing!

Kret
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Old 06-09-19, 09:07 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by SonicSpeed View Post
Where would you recommend buying the frame from if new? I know that the $1000 is pretty low for a new road bike, but it's worth a shot I guess. How much of the total cost do you recommend should go towards the frame set. Also, would you recommend buying a frame set, groupset, and wheels, or buying each part separately? Sorry for all the questions. I just want to minimize the number of mistakes I'm gonna regret later on
All good stuff from all people here. READ, READ and READ AGAIN. There is no short cut and the devil is in the details.

Once you know what frame you want, one way to save a bit could be to buy a complete bike, keep the frame and sell the parts for buying new ones. Not sure you will save a lot but you could also ride the bike sooner and modify it at your own rythm. You can also learn a lot by unbuilding a bike.
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Old 06-09-19, 09:36 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by SonicSpeed View Post
Hello,
I am planning on building a bike from the frame up for the first time. After some research, I've decided I want to build an endurance road bike for under $1000. I found that I need the following components:
........
1st read EVERYTHING here: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/

2. $1000- will barely cover tools, if you don't have any. I have been acquiring tools for 50+ years to be used for various projects, and from time to time still spend another $100- or two on bike tools.

3. Building a bike will not teach you all about how the components work and interact with each other. A bicycle is a relatively simple mechanism, which can be described with high school mathematics.

4. Before you start, write down a list of what you expect from the bike: where are you going to ride it, terrain (hills, etc), what are you going to carry on it, what are you going to use it for. My latest project is a commuter bike to take on Caltrains. I checked into the restrictions that Caltrains publishes. I hate riding with a backpack. It has be easy to take up the 5 stairs into the gallery cars. Be rugged to withstand the stacking of the bikes on the trains, the up/dn stairs in a rush. And many other requirements. I have two commuters that I use on Caltrains - one is built from a mid '90s Trek 720 frame I picked up off Craigslist for $25-, the other is built from a '92/'93 Trek 750 Metro that was also a C-L find. One has butterfly bars, the other Oxford style. One has V-brakes, the other cantis. One is a 3x8 with friction shift and the other a 1x9 with a gripshift. And lots of other differences. They both do the job well.
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Old 06-09-19, 10:31 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
2. $1000- will barely cover tools, if you don't have any. I have been acquiring tools for 50+ years to be used for various projects, and from time to time still spend another $100- or two on bike tools.
This is bs! Why are you scaring him like that?

He doesn't need 50+ years worth of tools to build his bike. I have a 15" toolbox loosely filled with enough tools to dismantle my bike and put it back together.

All I use is:

- 8" bahco ergo adjustable wrench (£15) For headsets, bb's, pedals, anthing wide or slim.
- 9 piece metric bondhus allen key set (£15) Stem, seat post clamp, brakes, bb bolts, chainring bolts, etc...
- Shimano chainring tool (£5) Rarely useful but sometimes comes in handy
- Chain breaker tool (£4)
- Park tool crank extractor (£15)
- Plastic tyre levers (£peanuts)
- Park tool lockring tool (£15)
- Dumbells (£peanuts)
- Spokey (£8)
- Slim jaw adjustable wrench (£15) For cones...
- Tube of threadlocker (£peanuts)
- Tub of grease (£5)
- Tub of anti-seize (£5)
- Bottle of chain oil (£5)
- Rubber repair kit (£peanuts)
- Wire bushes, solvents, syringes for oil and grease, other miscallenous **** (£peanuts)

There, you have it all for no more than £150 or in U.S dollars around $200.

There are more advanced tools out there for the pro like a headset press and tap and die sets but I doubt the OP needs them at this point.

Kret.
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Old 06-09-19, 01:06 PM
  #23  
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The rest is ok tho, +1 on sheldon brown, do some extensive reading on his site when you're in peril or otherwise, very knowledgable guy.
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Old 06-09-19, 04:50 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by krecik View Post
This is bs! Why are you scaring him like that?

He doesn't need 50+ years worth of tools to build his bike. I have a 15" toolbox loosely filled with enough tools to dismantle my bike and put it back together.

All I use is:

- 8" bahco ergo adjustable wrench (£15) For headsets, bb's, pedals, anthing wide or slim.
- 9 piece metric bondhus allen key set (£15) Stem, seat post clamp, brakes, bb bolts, chainring bolts, etc...
- Shimano chainring tool (£5) Rarely useful but sometimes comes in handy
- Chain breaker tool (£4)
- Park tool crank extractor (£15)
- Plastic tyre levers (£peanuts)
- Park tool lockring tool (£15)
- Dumbells (£peanuts)
- Spokey (£8)
- Slim jaw adjustable wrench (£15) For cones...
- Tube of threadlocker (£peanuts)
- Tub of grease (£5)
- Tub of anti-seize (£5)
- Bottle of chain oil (£5)
- Rubber repair kit (£peanuts)
- Wire bushes, solvents, syringes for oil and grease, other miscallenous **** (£peanuts)

There, you have it all for no more than £150 or in U.S dollars around $200.

There are more advanced tools out there for the pro like a headset press and tap and die sets but I doubt the OP needs them at this point.

Kret.
Agreed. This is the kit I have out for a 11-speed Chorus build. I'd guess around $150 worth of tools, and there's quite a bit of duplication:

The three blue handled tools are all park items, a master link tool (convenient), 4th hand (critical for cable tensioning), and crimper/cable cutter (not really critical - a decent linesman plier will do). My chain whip is home-made. There's a Pedro's campy BB cup tool - that's necessary. A Park cassette lockring tool. Park chain tool. Most everything else, including the torque wrenches ($10 each), is Harbor Freight. Notice far too many allen tool sets. HF socket set in the black case. Not shown, and important, is a HF set of bits, including long torx bits, which are needed to lock down the Ergo levers without having to remove the grips. Also allows torquing of hex and torx by using one of the sockets as an adapter to the 1/4 torque wrench.

Not shown because I don't need them for an 11-speed build (although I used them last week for an 8-speed build) are a crank extractor (Park), Sugino BB toolset, various cone wrenches (not that I often work on hubs or anything else requiring a thin wrench), headset tools, etc. Those cost a good amount back in the day, I recall.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:19 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by SonicSpeed View Post
Hello,
I am planning on building a bike from the frame up for the first time. After some research, I've decided I want to build an endurance road bike for under $1000. I found that I need the following components:
I'm totally going to jump on the pile, and say that building your first bike from scratch, especially since it looks like your buying all new parts, at retail, will be a good way to spend $1000 to build a $700 bike.

The way that builds turn out the best, is as someone said, if you have a really specific set of requirements, or a 'signature' component to plan the build around. Otherwise, your'e just swinging in the dark.

An 'endurance road bike' is a pretty non-specific requirement. I can go on my local CL and find a handful of Cannondale Synapse, ready to roll, from $600 for an AL 105 rim brake, carbon 105 for $800, and a 1-yo AL 105 disk-brake for $1000.
How do you plan to improve on something like that?

There's a bunch of 'I want to build a bike' threads in here that ended up with kludged-together bikes, or frustrated builders who fell down a rabbit hole that took way more time and/or money to get out of than they were willing to spend.

Larsbb's build thread is a good example of how a successful from-scratch build works. In his case he had a very specific design brief; belt-drive, single-speed, city bike. Even still, he ran in to a couple of snags, and put him (he admits) way over budget, even on a very simple bike.
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