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Building a bike

Old 06-21-10, 04:29 PM
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Billy1
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Building a bike

Ok, so I'm relatively new to bike mechanics, I can do things like adjusting brakes/gears, fitting handlebars, stem, wheels and the like, but I'm thinking of building my own bike in the Winter (with Christmas money) and wondered just how hard it would be? Also what sort of time period it would take?


Is it easy for someone with basic maintenance skills to build a bike if they have the right tools?
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Old 06-21-10, 04:35 PM
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Like from the tubes up?
Or just buying a frame and assembleing parts?
You will need some specific bike tools.

We are here to help you.
But check with Park tools and Sheldon B first.

Enjoy
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Old 06-21-10, 04:41 PM
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Sorry, don't quite understand what your qustion. Basically, I'd buy all the parts individually off the net (e.g. frame, forks, crankset etc.) and assemble them all. I'm a complete newbie as you can probably tell!!!
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Old 06-21-10, 04:48 PM
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Having just completed what you are contemplating, let me tell you that it is going to be very expensive--about like buying all the parts individually through the Parts Dept and assembling your own automobile.
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Old 06-21-10, 04:49 PM
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The hard part is getting the bits that fit. This is where a noob can really f* up.

With the right parts and tools, building it isn't hard; it's fun.


Assuming you can read.


Originally Posted by ClarkinHawaii View Post
Having just completed what you are contemplating, let me tell you that it is going to be very expensive--about like buying all the parts individually through the Parts Dept and assembling your own automobile.
Yep. Some people like doing it that way, but don't pretend that you're going to save $$.
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Old 06-21-10, 04:55 PM
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I will have a budget of 1000.
DMF, you say the hard part is getting parts that fit, what do you mean by this? Would buying a complete groupset solve this issue?
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Old 06-21-10, 05:03 PM
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Yes (assuming the group is appropriate for the frame). All the bits should fit the bike and they'd all work together. And you'd save beaucoup on shipping.

If you factor in the availability of used parts on eBay, though, you might spend a little more. But then, you'd have new parts - and all the bits that go with them. That can be one of the worst bugbears about buying used/internet parts. E.g. buy a crankset from one guy and a BB from another, and neither one includes bolts or washers - or installation instructions...

I'm sure someone here can point you to a good online source for groups. [probikekit.com?]
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Old 06-21-10, 05:06 PM
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Alright, thanks for the advice guys. As I say, it's in the Winter I'm planning on doing this, but just wanted to check it was feasible before I got my hopes up!
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Old 06-21-10, 05:09 PM
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Even buying the groupset you're still going to spend a lot more by the time you're done compared to just buying a bike that is already fitted out close to the way you want and then just upgrade a part here or there.

Also a lot depends on what sort of bike this is. Serious road bike as in for racing, performance commuter hybrid, downhill crash and bash or something else? And without test riding it how do you know you're getting a frame that truly fits you? Granted for a road bike this is fairly cut and dried but you are relying on whoever fit you in the first place.

But in the end it still comes back to the money. You'll get a better overall groupo, wheels and frame for your 1000 pounds if you shop around carefully and buy it as a complete bike. Just keep a little over to allow for any swaps to stems and saddles to fine tune the fit to what you want and perhaps buy your favourite tires and pedals if they are different from what you'd like.
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Old 06-21-10, 05:13 PM
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I have handlebars, stem and wheels that I'm planning on using from my current bike and then upgrading the wheels at a later date. So now I'm looking at a frame and groupset, would you still suggest buying a completed bike or not?
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Old 06-21-10, 06:55 PM
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IT depends a lot on the quality of the left over parts that you have once you've built up your present bike. Without knowing the quality levels of all the stuff and what you can get over in your part of the world for your 1K pounds it's hard to evaluate that. But the fact remains that you clearly get more buying a built bike than you do buying pieces.

I strongly suspect that the financially smart thing to do would be to sell your left over wheelset from your current bike and add the proceeds to your upcoming Christmas money to buy that much nicer a pre-built bike. That is unless you want to keep the wheelset for a spare or just in case you trip over a deal on a used frame at some point. And unless your bars and stem are something exotic they are not really worth the cost of shipping them to someone so you're best off just keeping them as spare parts.

Now keep in mind that this is the wallet talking and not the heart. By all means shop around and compare deals on pre-built bikes vs what quality levels you can get for the same budget buying parts. Money wise I stand by what I've posted. But if you can stretch a little on your budget it may well be that you can get all the parts that you want and still put them together for not all THAT much more. But only you can answer that question by doing your online homework as for costs. Just don't forget to add on the shipping charges to the amounts. After comparing all this then make up your mind about do you build or do you buy.

And while I'm not including the cost of all the bicycle specific tools you'll need this is not a small amount of cost. Depending on your source of income it's something that may or may not need to be taken into consideration and added onto the cost of a build project.

Frankly if you're after a really sexy new bike I still think you're going to get the best bang for the buck by buying an off the rack model and then do whatever minor things are needed to fit it to you. But you shouldn't toss the idea of a build. Instead just "downsize the dream" a little and maybe look at scrounging for good quality used stuff over the next year and only buy if it's a bargain. It's not easy to avoid getting caught up in "auction fever" but if you can be patient and not let yourself overbid what you allowed in the first place and slowly accumulate what you want then at some point you'll have all the parts for a really nice build even if some of them are "pre-enjoyed". For example you can build up a killer single speed that way since you only need about half the stuff compared to a geared build. Or perhaps build a totally different bike from used parts such as a light and fast flat bar commuter or whatever else suits your fancy. Or with patience you might even buy the used parts to build up your current vision of a dream bike that is far better than you can buy off the shelf for your 1K pounds just because it is based on year or two old top line parts bought used or from closeout sales with some shrewd patience and shopping.

Last edited by BCRider; 06-21-10 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 06-21-10, 07:07 PM
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What is meant by "fit together" is that the bicycle is a system of parts that both fit into each other and interact with each other. that means there are not only issues of length, diameter, etc but also of distance/angle between parts, meshing, etc. That means there are many places where you can make mistakes, and frankly you would learn more efficiently by fixing up a few different used bikes than building up one bike.

In addition you may know so little at this point it would be hard to choose among various options, even given that they are compatible. It's not a matter of the "best" drivetrain, or brakes or tires - it's what you would prefer. I don't know whether you know enough about components to make a choice that suits you - maybe you do.

I wrenched for 20 years and am perfectly cabable of building a bike up from scratch and making choices that fit my needs. but I bought a stock bike and changed out the pedals, saddle, handlebars and stem (then sold them). Saved hundreds of dollars and a LOT of time that I could then use for riding (or in winter playing volleyball.
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Old 06-21-10, 08:08 PM
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Building a Bike

If you are even slightly mechanically inclined, its the way to go.

I just finished building up a Pinarello Prince, circa 2002 frame. My brother found the frame in a shop in NJ for $200US. I bought a used Dura Ace 25th Anniversary Edition group set on-line in Europe for about 200 Euros. I bought the wheels off Craiglist ($200 CDN w/ tubes & tires) and picked up a saddle and bars used for a song.

Shimano Tech Docs has assembly and adjustment details on every part. You will have to buy a few specialty tools, but if you intend to do any service on your bikes, you'll use them later.

Aside from building a bike that costs a fraction of the cost of new, you know every part on the bike and can service it. This alone is worth a lot to me.

Take your time gathering parts. if you are in a hurry, buy a new bike at a store.

Ian
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Old 06-21-10, 08:18 PM
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Note that the key item in ianstock's post above is that he did this over time and only bought deals as they came along. I suspect that for him, as it is for a lot of us, the shopping for the deals is a whole other hobby that is only partly related.... Does that about sum it up Ian?

As noted it's not really the best way to go if you're in a hurry for a new ride. But since you've got a decently servicable bike it is an option in your case IF you're willing to take the time with your used and closeout shopping to get a nice collection of parts.
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Old 06-21-10, 08:38 PM
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My 2 cents on this.If I had it to do all over again I would build from parts.I change out so many parts on my Surly LHT. That I could have built it a little cheaper. I would say go for it but like all said here take your time don't get in a hurry at all.So what if it takes you a little longer than you want it to.When you build your own bicycle you get all the parts you want on it.Talk with a LBS on what works good they can help you get the right parts for what you want.I wish you the best of luck on building it.You will learn a lot doing it your self and don't forget if you need help your LBS can help you as well.So what if it cost more in the long run.
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Old 06-21-10, 08:43 PM
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Building a bike from a frame and a pile of components should only take a couple hours (maybe a little more if you need to build the wheels) if you know what you're doing. If you need to design and build the frame, that's another matter entirely.
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Old 06-21-10, 08:47 PM
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Well, my builds typically take more like 3 to 5 hours depending on how much fussing I do. For example it takes me a good hour to just do all the housings for brakes and shifters because I play around with the lengths and then grind the ends nice and flat before putting on the ends. Stuff like that takes a lot of extra time. But it's a hobby and I enjoy taking the time to do it perfect rather than just OK like I would have to do if it was a paying job. I suspect that most here would take more than a couple of hours unless they are shop mechanics as their day job.
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Old 06-22-10, 08:40 AM
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"Is it easy for someone with basic maintenance skills to build a bike if they have the right tools?" -- Billy1

Generally, yes. For the first build I suggest you buy a complete bike that you know fits you and then gut it down to a frameset and install whatever you wish. Keep the old parts for a future build-up or sell them off to help finance this or another build-up. Also for the first build buy a complete group, which are sometimes sold at sale prices if they're obsolete, marketing wise that is to keep compatibility issues at bay.

I've never built a bike as cheaply as I could have bought with the same or a comparable group and wheelset, but I got a lot of self satisfaction and the education was priceless. Don't be afraid to take the finished bike to your LBS for a critique. Well trimmed cable housings and cable ends can make or break a custom build...the devil is in the detail.

Brad
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Old 06-22-10, 05:38 PM
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Thanks for the advice everyone, I think I'm slightly leaning towards the idea of buying a complete bike and then upgrading parts as and when I see fit (or see bargains). The main reason for building the bike was education and self satisfaction as bradtx mentions above but in time I think I will end up adjusting or upgrading most parts of the bike so hopefully I will learn this way.
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Old 06-22-10, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Billy1 View Post
Thanks for the advice everyone, I think I'm slightly leaning towards the idea of buying a complete bike and then upgrading parts as and when I see fit (or see bargains). The main reason for building the bike was education and self satisfaction as bradtx mentions above but in time I think I will end up adjusting or upgrading most parts of the bike so hopefully I will learn this way.
Good decision. If you buy right, you can some really sweet bikes used.

I really like building my personal bikes, but I tend to collect parts and pieces over an extended period of time similar to ianstock above. But unless you score some really great deals on parts, buying a complete nice bike used is always going to be the better bargain.
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