How difficult can it be to build a bike?

Nikonos Posts: 18
edited October 2011 in Road buying advice
I have a £1000 to buy something lasting in memory of my Mum who passed away last month.

I would like a road bike that will pass on to my boys when they are older and have always had a hankering for a Ti framed bike. I know this is not enough money for a complete bike but I was thinking it would be nice to buy a frame and build a bike myself, buying and fitting all the various components as and when I can afford them.

I have no bike building experience other than the usual changing wheels, tyres etc and my question is how difficult is it, what special tools are needed etc. I am fairly mechanically minded and what better way of learning how everything works.

I was thinking something like Van Nicholas Euros or similar frame and Shimano 105 or Camagnolo equivalent groupset.

I already have a pair of Mavic Elite wheels, a new Charge Spoon seat and Ultegra pedals, not much I know, but a start. I also have a workstand.

I'm thinking it would make a nice winter project.

Any advice or guidance would be gratefully received,



  • Sorry to hear about your mum. Sounds a great idea. Building up a frame is an awful lot easier than it seems. I built up a frame in May. If you buy the groupset in one, rather than buying bitand bobs from ebay etc then your jobs half done.

    Any standard bike toolbox will have all teh kit you need, only special I can think of will the top of my head, the bottom bracket tool - depending on BB of your choice. Everything else i used came in a toll box that I got from lidl.

    There are loads of vids on youtube too should you get stuck or need encouragement. There was an order I built mine in, i think i did BB, cranks, mechs, fork, handlebars etc, shifters, cables

    good luck anyway. A good project for a fine cause.
    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns
    momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
  • js14
    js14 Posts: 198
    Building a bike is well within the grasp of someone with good mechanical skills. On the tools side, it is recommended to use a torque wrench to tighten all the bolts up to the correct values. I think it is also useful to have a good pair of cable cutters for trimming control wires and housings to the right lengths. My frame came with the headset already fitted, so I can't say if this is a difficult job or not. I had to cut the fork steerer tube to length, which I found a little stressful as it was a £300 carbon fork; I used the Park Tool sawing guide.

    You need to know which frame you're buying before you can go ahead and buy the matching seat post, bottom bracket, front derailleur mechanism in the right sizes.

    Without wishing to discourage you, check how much all the components and frame that you need are going cost compared to a complete bike. The difference may be less than you think since bike manufacturers can buy components much cheaper than you.
  • Nikonos
    Nikonos Posts: 18
    Thanks guys

    I get what you mean about bilk buy and I will look into it

    Part of the reason for doing it myself is to learn as much as anything else.

    I can also spread the cost over 3 or 4 months.
  • I'm building up a bike myself, just bought a cboardman frame, forks, crank headset of ebay yesterday. Difference is I'm on a £400 budget.... :shock:

    I've got a little experience - I stripped my 1986 raleigh down, and it's very satisfying putting it back together. I didn't tighten the crank (sqaure taper) on hasn't been ridden and it came off, so glad I made that error on an old bike and not a nice one...

    What tools you need will partly depend on what stuff your putting on the bike (I'm thinking about the chainset really).

    With a budget of £1000 you should be able to build up a stunning bike!
  • on-yer-bike
    on-yer-bike Posts: 2,974
    Its pretty easy providing you have the right tools. Many frames have hand push in headset bearings which dont require tools but for others you'll need a bearing press. Bike Cable cutters are essential otherwise you will have fraying cables. The Park Tools website is full of information and all the components come with instructions. You also need to know your riding position so that you buy the right size frame and stem and dont end up cutting too much off your fork steerer.
  • Matt78
    Matt78 Posts: 9
    I have built all my bikes myself and it is a great way to spec the bike to your own taste and if you look hard enough you can get some great savings. I have recently built up a new road bike for a friend and managed to buy a 105 group set from Merlin for £280, worth checking them out for bargains. Check out Ice Toolz tool kit online for as little as £35. This will have most of the basics you will need including both types of bottom bracket tools and all the tools to set up your drive train. I would invest in a torque wrench if you are going to be working with carbon components as over tightening will break expensive parts, don't be scared off by the prices quoted by bike websites and shops, you can get a 1/4" drive torque wrench from motorcycle shops for as little as £25. As one other post had said cutting down carbon steerer tubes is tricky but as long as it is good quality carbon and not some of the Chinese rubbish on eBay I is quite easy with the proper tools. This is probably where a bike shop will be cheaper as a cutting guide and new hack saw blade will be more than the labour a shop will charge. They will fi it for free if you buy it from them.
    Hop this I helpful and enjoy building your bike.
    Specialised Stumpjumper FSR Pro
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  • asprilla
    asprilla Posts: 8,440
    I'm building up my TI winter bike at the moment and it's pretty straight forward. I'm using Sram gruppo as they are all interoperable and so I've been picking up parts as and when I see bargains available. I've got Force shifters that were scratched in an accident, a new Apex front mech, Apex crankset and a shop soiled Rival rear mech.

    I think it's cost me less that £150 for the group set so far.
    Mud - Genesis Vapour CCX
    Race - Fuji Norcom Straight
    Sun - Cervelo R3
    Winter / Commute - Dolan ADX
  • brettjmcc
    brettjmcc Posts: 1,361
    I built up my first bike recently - a TT bike

    Just take it slowly and as people said, make sure you have the tools. You can use similar tools i.e. cable cutters from Toolstation for £6 insteda of £35.

    No idea where you, but if I can help I will

    Oh - nearly forgot - buy a height adjustable workshop stand!!!
    BMC GF01
    Quintana Roo Cd01
    Project High End Hack
    Cannondale Synapse SL (gone)
    I like Carbon
  • +1+1+1 on the workstand! I've recently bought one and even just cleaning the bike is SO MUCH easier

    I got the lifeline elite (£60 from wiggle) I think...nothing flash but does the job!
  • chrisw12
    chrisw12 Posts: 1,246
    Since you already have decent wheels and pedals, I think building the bike yourself is definitely the way to go.

    IMO you don't need a torque wrench but I would advise to get a decent cable cutter.
  • If this is of any interest, I have had a Van Nicholas Zephyr since 2006, ridden >6000 miles on it and it's still a dream to ride. I also run a very good quality Condor alu/carbon job, but the Van Nicholas titanium is the best for club rides and sportives.

    Good luck with the build - it should be a fun winter project.
  • Go for it I'm sure you'll get loads of pleasure. I built up this bike from a frame I got off here had it resprayed then built it up, maybe not everybody's cup of tea but I love it and use it everyday. Not sure where you are but I'd offer any help if you were local to me. ... C01565.jpg
  • geebee2
    geebee2 Posts: 248
    Yes, it's really not too hard. Just take your time, work things out slowly.

    Probably the trickiest job I did was fitting the crown race to the fork without the correct tool ( I just used a big screwdriver and a hammer ).

    Cutting a steerer tube is pretty easy, Cables are a bit of an art, but you if you make a mistake no real problem.

    Worst mistake I made was not realising a 10 speed chain MUST be joined with a special link, you cannot just use a chain tool to connect it.
  • carl_p
    carl_p Posts: 989
    To the OP. Sorry about your mum.

    This is spookily like my story really. My Dad died at the beginning of the year and to cheer myself up a bit I bought a VN Euros frame and built it up myself. The frame came from Fat Birds and I asked them to fit the headset. The rest was fairly straightforward, although I have done 1 other self build prior to this.

    I found the most difficult thing to set up correctly was the front derailleur, but there are plenty of helpful videos and stuff online, plus you can always pop on here as well. Agree with what others have re the build.

    The Van Nich is a superb frame - you won't be dissappointed.
    Specialized Venge S Works
    Cannondale Synapse
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    Genesis Flyer Single Speed

    Turn the corner, rub my eyes and hope the world will last...