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Building a bike?

Old 02-04-10, 08:18 PM
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Building a bike?

Anyone know when it became common to say 'building a bike' when what is really meant is 'getting a frame and all the parts and putting a bike together'? To me, bicycle-building brings to mind the image of a frame builder who might or might not go ahead and put all the parts and pieces on the frame. Is this just a time-saving phrase that has caught on?
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Old 02-04-10, 09:06 PM
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No, building up a bike has pretty much, to my knowledge, always meant assembling the bike from its component parts.

Framebuilding is the term for building the frame from scratch with tubes (and lugs) and solder or welding.
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Old 02-04-10, 10:32 PM
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I call it 'building' when someone chooses a frame (or a complete bicycle - taking off the components for another use) and takes the bare frame and adds the components that they have personally selected. Getting a box from BikesDirect full of parts pre-selected and slapping it together doesn't qualify - in my book.

Building the frame, as well, is an art unto it's own right.
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Old 02-04-10, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by bigvegan View Post
No, building up a bike has pretty much, to my knowledge, always meant assembling the bike from its component parts.

Framebuilding is the term for building the frame from scratch with tubes (and lugs) and solder or welding.
Yep. But in my mind there is a difference between "building a bike" and "building up a bike" so I know where you are coming from JanMM.
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Old 02-05-10, 06:42 AM
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Unless you are building the frame, you are not building a bike. When you just put the parts (even if you select ever one of them) on you are assemblying a bike or maybe at a long stretch building up a bike.

I think maybe this is a BF term just like bifter which I have never heard anywhere else.
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Old 02-05-10, 07:27 AM
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+1

I totally agree. "Building a bike" should be taken to mean building the frame, then populating it with components. If someone buys the frame and populates it with pieces and parts, that's "building up a bike." Totally different degree of skill involved.
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Old 02-05-10, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I totally agree. "Building a bike" should be taken to mean building the frame, then populating it with components. If someone buys the frame and populates it with pieces and parts, that's "building up a bike." Totally different degree of skill involved.
I always say "building up a bike." But to be picky, if "building a bike" means building a frame (in truth, just one component of the total bike), why it doesn't also mean building the derailleur, the brakes, etc?
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Old 02-05-10, 08:40 AM
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New Oxford American Dictionary:

build
verb
1 they were building a tree house: construct, erect, put up, assemble; make, form, create, fashion, model, shape.
2 they are building a business strategy: establish, found, set up, institute, inaugurate, initiate.
3 the pressure was building: increase, mount, intensify, escalate, grow, rise.

Oxford English Dictionary:

1. a. trans. Orig. To construct for a dwelling; to erect (a house), make (a nest). Hence, To erect, construct (any work of masonry), and by extension, To construct by fitting together of separate parts; chiefly with reference to structures of considerable size, as a ship or boat, a carriage, an organ, a steam-engine (not, e.g. a watch or a piano). Const. of, more rarely from, out of, with (the material), on (the foundation). In early mod.Eng. used with up without change of meaning; but to build up (in literal sense) now implies a contrast with pulling down, or with a previous state of decay, as ‘to build up again’. to build a fire: to arrange or pile the fuel. to build a railroad, said in U.S., is unknown in England.

Therefore, he is building a bike

A.
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Old 02-05-10, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
Anyone know when it became common to say 'building a bike' when what is really meant is 'getting a frame and all the parts and putting a bike together'?
1. I agree with you.
2. Most BF posters use "alloy" as a synonym for "aluminum".
3. We may be more precise but we're gonna lose anyway so we might as well get over it.
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Old 02-05-10, 10:34 AM
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Well when people assemble custom PCs they also refer to it as "building" a computer.
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Old 02-05-10, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
3. We may be more precise but we're gonna lose anyway so we might as well get over it.
Look at it this way: It wouldn't occur to most people that you could or would build a frame from scratch. If you specify that you're building the frame it sounds a lot more impressive.
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Old 02-05-10, 12:23 PM
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'building a bike' is already in such common usage amongst the cycling community that there's no turning back.
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Old 02-05-10, 03:39 PM
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If that is a picture of you, JanMM, then you've been around bikes for about as long as I have, since you're wearing a Bell Biker in the picture. Back in the 70's, putting components on a frame was called building a bike, at least in my area (NYC).

I don't think it's an abuse of the word. We "write" things with a computer, without a pen.
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Old 02-05-10, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I totally agree. "Building a bike" should be taken to mean building the frame, then populating it with components. If someone buys the frame and populates it with pieces and parts, that's "building up a bike."
Or "assembling a bike." But that doesn't sound nearly as exotic as "building a bike." Even WalMart "assembles" bikes.
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Old 02-05-10, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
If that is a picture of you, JanMM, then you've been around bikes for about as long as I have, since you're wearing a Bell Biker in the picture. Back in the 70's, putting components on a frame was called building a bike, at least in my area (NYC).
Yes, that's me on a bridge over the Hudson near Pughkeepsie in 1981.............You've told me what I was interested in hearing - that folks have been saying 'building a bike' for quite a while.
A long history of popular usage confirms the status of an expression as 'correct'.
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Old 02-05-10, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I totally agree. "Building a bike" should be taken to mean building the frame, then populating it with components.
To me "build" = "fabricate". Bolting things together that were fabricated by somebody else is "assembling".
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Old 02-06-10, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
To me "build" = "fabricate". Bolting things together that were fabricated by somebody else is "assembling".
So building a house is actually "assembling" according to you, since all the bricks were already made by someone else?

A.
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Old 02-06-10, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
So building a house is actually "assembling" according to you, since all the bricks were already made by someone else?
A.
"assembling" makes sense for modular homes, or homes 'built' with prebuilt wall systems or roof trusses, etc.
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Old 02-06-10, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
So building a house is actually "assembling" according to you, since all the bricks were already made by someone else?

A.
Exactly. It's all relative. I say I make my own coffee, because I grind the beans myself. Some roast their own beans. I suppose some GROW their own beans. And so on.
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Old 02-06-10, 01:46 PM
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I think the phrase "custom built bike" to refer to selecting particular components to use on an off-the-peg frame bothers me more than the phrase "building a bike." To me a custom built bike includes a custom built frame, designed to the rider's particular requirements.
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Old 02-06-10, 02:17 PM
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Go back a few years and Most frames were Steel. I used to manufacture Karts (Go-Karts) I can weld but I designed- bought the tubing- Bend them to shape and tacked together for a better welder than I am to do a professional job. Sure I can weld but I knew people that could do it better. Then Aluminium came along and in the early days Ally welding took some special equipment. I did not have it.

Now transfer over to Bikes with Ti- That takes an expert to stick together.

I also used to be a fibre glass laminator building 30ft cabin cruisers- but there is no way that I could build a C.F.Frame.

I dare say that I could get hold of some lightweight Steel tubing- and then copy someone elses design on the critical geometry parts and build a frame.

Why?

Frames are cheap- they are a component of a bike and it does not matter what material it is made of. I do not have the bike design skills and I know there are better welders around than me.

So I do a custom build on a frame and forks assy that I buy. I then build the parts around that frame with carefull selection of what I know works and is compatable with my wallet.
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Old 02-06-10, 04:31 PM
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How about "building a home"? Does it mean that I am the architect, the soil engineer, and all the subcontractors? Maybe not. Lennar is a home builder and KB Homes. I bet most of their work is sub contracted out. They just package the thing together.
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Old 02-06-10, 06:15 PM
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To me "to assemble" means to put together something that is already partially built, where all the parts are already picked and matched up, such as bike that comes in a box, speakers+stands, IKEA furniture, etc. A bike frame is just a part, it may be the most important part that dictates the choice of other parts and give the bike its style and function, but it's just a part: in itself it can't do anything. So using "build" seems perfectly fine to me when applied to putting together a bike from a frame. You have to pick the parts, match up the components, do some designing, it's not just simple "assembly".

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Old 02-06-10, 11:25 PM
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"Build a bike" meaning assemble a bike from the frame up was certainly in use by the 1970s bike boom.

If you meant brazing up the frame yourself, you'd say "build a frame" rather than "build a bike." e.g. Talbot's classic Designing and Building Your Own Frameset: An Illustrated Guide for the Amateur Bicycle Builder.
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