Assembling your own road bike

matt611
matt611 Posts: 5
edited July 2014 in Workshop
Hello, I’m a newbie *waves *

I’ve been toying with the idea of building my own bike. I was thinking a Planet X carbon frameset (or similar) and Ultegra groupset - spending about £1k in total for both. I’ve already got a set of decent wheels, and I’m guessing the other bits won’t cost too much. This is partially in order to get a decent specced bike without breaking the bank, but also because I thought it would be a good learning experience to put together – maybe even fun.

I’ve done nothing more than tinkering around before and I’m not particularly mechanical; And I want this to be a proper bike, not something that sits in the garage as a unfinished project gathering dust.

So the question is: is this advisable? What should I be aware of? Where are problems likely? What specialist tools do I need?

Basically, will it be fun to do or a major ballache?!

Any advice gratefully received …

Comments

  • borisface
    borisface Posts: 273
    I'd save the hassle and just get one of these:-

    http://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/CBPXSLPULT ... -road-bike

    You can always have a look on park tool's website if you're interested in how to do things. There are a couple of specialist tools needed with the headset (a press) and the BB and possibly the cranks which you will only use once or twice, when you add the cost of them to the cost of the frame and other bits and bobs, this deal would be cheaper. If you have decent wheels (if they are 11 speed compatible) you could flog the ones supplied on or keep them for winter use.
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    borisface wrote:
    I'd save the hassle and just get one of these:-

    http://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/CBPXSLPULT ... -road-bike

    You can always have a look on park tool's website if you're interested in how to do things. There are a couple of specialist tools needed with the headset (a press) and the BB and possibly the cranks which you will only use once or twice, when you add the cost of them to the cost of the frame and other bits and bobs, this deal would be cheaper. If you have decent wheels (if they are 11 speed compatible) you could flog the ones supplied on or keep them for winter use.

    Not at all. A lot of bikes don't have the headsets pressed in these days and the BB spanner is a couple of quid and will be re-used regularly to change the BB when it wears.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • hypster
    hypster Posts: 1,229
    I’ve done nothing more than tinkering around before and I’m not particularly mechanical; And I want this to be a proper bike, not something that sits in the garage as a unfinished project gathering dust.

    Bolting the various bits together might not seem too taxing but adjusting things like the gearset etc. so that they work properly takes some experience. It would be better if you could practice on an old bike to make the inevitable mistakes you will make in all sorts of areas before tackling a new and expensive bike build like you propose.

    There are other tools which are also useful to have and for an inexperienced mechanic a torque wrench would be advisable to make sure various bolts are tightened to the correct torque. This in itself would be prohibitively expensive for a one-off build but will almost certainly save you money in stripped bolts. Cable cutters and a chain tool would also be considered necessary by most people as well so you can see things are starting to add up already.

    If, as you say, you are not particularly mechanical, then I would advise taking on something like this unless you have access to a friend who does have some experience to supervise you and maybe some of the basic tools you can borrow.
  • Dippydog2
    Dippydog2 Posts: 291
    Do it yourself, but save £50 for your LBS to help you with the difficult bits. They will have the tools for BB fitting etc.
  • Miles253
    Miles253 Posts: 535
    Thing is, having the tools is great in the long run, I bought tools for my first build and they get regular use for maintenance and indeed my second bike build. Things like bib tools, chain whips and Allen keys are invaluable. Get the LBS to do any headset installs as they can be difficult.
    Canyon Roadlite AL-Shamal Wheels-Centaur/Veloce Group
    Canyon Ult CF SL- Spin Koppenberg-Ultegra group
  • gozzy
    gozzy Posts: 640
    hypster wrote:
    but adjusting things like the gearset etc. so that they work properly...

    ...can be done via watching youtube and parktools. It's really not that difficult.
    (rear mech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzvfCaIbyQ)
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    I think a few posters are putting up too many negatives. For a first build, you can do it with basic tools. You don't need an expensive torque wrench when a torque key for 5nm is adequate for most things on a bike. Anything more ask your LBS to loan you a torque wrench. As someone else posted, BB spanners, chain whips, cone spanners etc will pay for themselves over and over again as the years go by. You don't need a headset press or facing tool or hanger alignment tool and forget about buying tools for wheel building. These are the expensive things that a decent LBS will loan you or do the job for you.

    Indexing gears is a simple and logical process. Use the YouTube videos out there which cover most things these days. As long as you don't bend anything, you aren't going to do any damage. This isn't some sophisticated machine you're about to work on; it's a bike. If you get stuck and can't find or fathom how to do it, put it in the car and take it to someone who knows and is maybe willing to do the job with you watching. If you don't try, you'll never know and be stuck paying exorbitant and unnecessary fees to your LBS for evermore.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • hypster
    hypster Posts: 1,229
    philthy3 wrote:
    I think a few posters are putting up too many negatives. For a first build, you can do it with basic tools. You don't need an expensive torque wrench when a torque key for 5nm is adequate for most things on a bike. Anything more ask your LBS to loan you a torque wrench. As someone else posted, BB spanners, chain whips, cone spanners etc will pay for themselves over and over again as the years go by. You don't need a headset press or facing tool or hanger alignment tool and forget about buying tools for wheel building. These are the expensive things that a decent LBS will loan you or do the job for you.

    Indexing gears is a simple and logical process. Use the YouTube videos out there which cover most things these days. As long as you don't bend anything, you aren't going to do any damage. This isn't some sophisticated machine you're about to work on; it's a bike. If you get stuck and can't find or fathom how to do it, put it in the car and take it to someone who knows and is maybe willing to do the job with you watching. If you don't try, you'll never know and be stuck paying exorbitant and unnecessary fees to your LBS for evermore.

    Yeah, maybe but when I see people post "I'm a newbie" and "I’ve done nothing more than tinkering around before and I’m not particularly mechanical" I don't think a brand new, £1K carbon bike is the best place to start learning. Maybe you'd care to let him practice on your bike?
  • Flâneur
    Flâneur Posts: 3,081
    I'm building my first bike, admittedly I've tinkered with bikes before rather than building from scratch. I would advise making sure you and the LBS are friends. I bought my frame and the parts where they couldn't compete with prices but bought other stuff like bar tape, grease etc from them where saving a few quid on the internet doesn't matter.

    Take it all very slowly and be patient, use the internet especially the youtube channels which you can trust and call the lbs when stuck or unsure

    I grabbed an M parts torque wrench (32 quid) just to be safe, should have had one for years but always just used keys.

    its going to be a ballache but prob a good reward at the end
    Stevo 666 wrote: Come on you Scousers! 20/12/2014
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  • mikpem
    mikpem Posts: 139
    I've recently finished building a new bike ready for the 'cross season and I've loved it.
    Building a new one is much easier than messing around trying to fix up an old bike so if you're not mechanically minded it's probably the best way to go. You will find that you need to get tools to do some jobs but most will be useful again and again and like others have said it's worth popping it in to your LBS for any of the specialist one time jobs like BB facing. In the end it's a bit like grown-up's Mechano/Lego and we all loved that when we were kids right!

    It takes a bit of patience to get everything right, the brakes I've chosen were a pain to set up, I got cheap bar tape which I struggled to put on neatly but that will come with practice, I didn't buy decent cable cutters.... this was a bad decision, I just couldn't figure out the front derailleur because I bought a 2nd hand one which didn't have the lining up stickers on it (I was close but gave up and went for a single chainring) but these are all part of the learning process and make me much more in tune with 'my' bike.

    Once I'd finished mine I handed it in to the LBS for an 'MOT' just to make sure I hadn't completely messed anything up, all he had to sort out was the damned brakes.

    Go for it!
  • birdie23
    birdie23 Posts: 457
    Gozzy wrote:
    hypster wrote:
    but adjusting things like the gearset etc. so that they work properly...

    ...can be done via watching youtube and parktools. It's really not that difficult.
    (rear mech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzvfCaIbyQ)

    Adjusting the mechs is a doddle and you end up with things running exactly how you want.
    2012 Cube Agree GTC
  • matt611
    matt611 Posts: 5
    Thanks everyone for your advice and comments ...

    I think I will do this, but perhaps starting with a cheap frame/groupset build to begin so that any fatal mistakes don't prove too costly
  • Old_Timer
    Old_Timer Posts: 262
    edited July 2014
    Do the build, its a rewarding experience when you are riding your personally built bicycle. Don't go in to this with the attitude of saving a bundle over buying a complete bicycle from an LBS, you'll probably end up frustrated about that aspect. Think of it as doing the set up and choice of components that suit your needs best.

    The advice about the Park Tool, and others, vids on You Tube is a great place for picking up how things should get done. Tools are kind of a personal thing, too, having the specialist tools is nice, but not totally necessary. The torque key and bits as well as the good cable/housing cutters, are spot on. Regular hand tools you should have anyway, and some an LBS will let you use there, will get things done quite well. One last recommendation, get one of the many good manuals available,(Park Tool Company's "Big Blue Book", and "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance" Lennard Zinn are two I have and use daily.) Best of luck on the build if you decide to go with it.
    Lets just got for a ride, the heck with all this stuff...
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    hypster wrote:
    philthy3 wrote:
    I think a few posters are putting up too many negatives. For a first build, you can do it with basic tools. You don't need an expensive torque wrench when a torque key for 5nm is adequate for most things on a bike. Anything more ask your LBS to loan you a torque wrench. As someone else posted, BB spanners, chain whips, cone spanners etc will pay for themselves over and over again as the years go by. You don't need a headset press or facing tool or hanger alignment tool and forget about buying tools for wheel building. These are the expensive things that a decent LBS will loan you or do the job for you.

    Indexing gears is a simple and logical process. Use the YouTube videos out there which cover most things these days. As long as you don't bend anything, you aren't going to do any damage. This isn't some sophisticated machine you're about to work on; it's a bike. If you get stuck and can't find or fathom how to do it, put it in the car and take it to someone who knows and is maybe willing to do the job with you watching. If you don't try, you'll never know and be stuck paying exorbitant and unnecessary fees to your LBS for evermore.

    Yeah, maybe but when I see people post "I'm a newbie" and "I’ve done nothing more than tinkering around before and I’m not particularly mechanical" I don't think a brand new, £1K carbon bike is the best place to start learning. Maybe you'd care to let him practice on your bike?

    I don't see the problem? I built my first road bike on a £1,900 full carbon frame set with top notch components. It isn't brain surgery building a bike and I learnt enough building the first one to build several since and for other people. Making it out to be more difficult than it is is not encouraging someone with the desire to learn.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • davidof
    davidof Posts: 3,064
    I have assembled all the bikes I've every ridden bar a Felt I bought off the peg in the sales - although even the Felt I made some changes. If you are interested these are some Youtube videos of my latest build with some interesting comments where people don't agree with me:-
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... KfVIe5PjaR

    Park tools are your friends. You will need a set of allen keys, a cable cutter and at least a bottom bracket fixing tool. Headsets are relatively easy these days. It is not rocket science.
    BASI Nordic Ski Instructor
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  • gozzy
    gozzy Posts: 640
    I don't think it matters it being a £1k carbon frame, or an old steel one.

    It's all bikes. You just have to be slightly more careful that you don't umm lets see, crack your seat tube when you over torque it. Except everyone's recommending using a torque wrench. Besides, even if you did it by hand, you'd naturally think it was tight enough before you reach the 5nm a ritchey torque key will give you.

    Otherwise anything you tighten is metal to metal. Mechs attach to metal; threaded BBs go into metal; cables attach to mechs and brakes, both metal. Shifters generally go onto metal bars. The same on an old steel frame as on a new carbon frame. There's not too much can go wrong.
    Press fit BB and headset? Send it the LBS. Carbon steerer cut? LBS it.
    Otherwise, you clamp cables the same on a 1987 105 mech as a 2014 Dura Ace mech; the same on a 2014 Ultegra brakeset as an old pair of dia-compes.
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I've tinkered a lot over the years, but my first ever build was last year with one of the Westbrooks CR1-SL framesets. Incredibly light, and with very thin walled tubes in some places so I was careful to install an alloy seatpost first and clamp that in the workstand. Press-fit Shimano BB was already fitted, so a used Tiagra chainset just slotted straight in. Headset cups were pressed in to the head-tube using a Heath Robinson "press" bought off Ebay for a fiver (threaded rod, discs, washers, nuts). Crown race tapped down onto the fork carefully using a small screwdriver / hammer. Steerer cut by eye using a junior hacksaw following a line drawn above a spacer. Actually did it twice since I found I wanted it lower. Expander bung located in the steerer and tightened up, then stem and bars attached. Headset preload adjusted, stem pinch bolts tightened. Attached the shifters, mechs and brakes, then cabled everything up. Setting up the front mech was the trickiest bit since there's no downtube adjusters on the CR1. Wheels on and fitted the chain to correct length, then indexed the rear shifting and adjusted the brakes. Popped the pedals and saddle on and took it for a test ride to make sure the shifters were in the right place on the bars. Once happy with the bar / shifter position the bar tape was applied. Hey presto! New bike!

    No torque wrench, so it's possible that some things aren't tightened enough, but I do keep an eye / ear out for things falling off and so far so good. Lovely ride.
  • stevenb
    stevenb Posts: 717
    I love building/speccing up my own bike.
    Just bought a new Focus Cayo Evo 2.0 2014 and have stripped it down to the frame fork, built it up with my own parts even before going out to ride it.
    I did my homework at a bike shop beforehand though so I knew what I was getting as standard.
    I dont possess a torque wrench but have no issues with parts coming loose and with regular experience of how tight the key parts are supposed to be I have managed very well. You just know how tight something is after a while just use a multi tool or allen key etc.
    Even cassettes and BB 30 crank bolts are no issue. Having a 2ft breaker bar helps on the cassette install/removal.
    I just pick up tools along the way and have steadily acquired some very useful tools.
    Now my gears are properly indexed and the brakes are spot on (why o why cant bike shops ever do this right) to my precise standards I can get out tonight for its first ride.
    8)
  • ic.
    ic. Posts: 769
    stevenb wrote:
    Having a 2ft breaker bar helps on the cassette install/removal.

    :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

    You really don't need to be tightening a cassette with a 2ft breaker bar.
    2020 Reilly Spectre - raw titanium
    2020 Merida Reacto Disc Ltd - black on black
    2015 CAAD8 105 - very green - stripped to turbo bike
    2018 Planet X Exocet 2 - grey

    The departed:

    2017 Cervelo R3 DI2 - sold
    Boardman CX Team - sold
    Cannondale Synapse - broken
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    Boardman Road Comp - stolen
  • stevenb
    stevenb Posts: 717
    It helps to loosen the cassette which are torqued up tight.
    The bar is used for ease of movement and convenience of course. Effotless leverage.
    Installing is easy as I am not tightening it up anywhere near as tight as the max leverage would allow.
    Again, it's experience of feeling how tight that torque setting is.
    :wink:
  • markyone
    markyone Posts: 1,119
    Do it yourself and learn,i build all my bikes and love it.
    Colnago c60 Eps super record 11
    Pinarello F8 with sram etap
  • lesfirth
    lesfirth Posts: 1,382
    IC. wrote:
    stevenb wrote:
    Having a 2ft breaker bar helps on the cassette install/removal.

    :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

    You really don't need to be tightening a cassette with a 2ft breaker bar.

    I agree.

    Untrained hand + 2ft breaker bar = potential serious damage.
  • stevenb
    stevenb Posts: 717
    lesfirth wrote:
    IC. wrote:
    stevenb wrote:
    Having a 2ft breaker bar helps on the cassette install/removal.

    :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

    You really don't need to be tightening a cassette with a 2ft breaker bar.

    I agree.

    Untrained hand + 2ft breaker bar = potential serious damage.
    :lol:
    If a breaker bar is used for leverage and ease of use only how can it be hazardous in LEARNED hands.
    If I was brutal with it then of course. As stated above twice now. Common sense prevails.
    Its all part and parcel of learning the limits of bike ownership and maintenance. Using initiative.
    Never had any problems with any of my bikes and Ive been building my own bikes for years.
  • Bought a Cannondale CAAD 8 Sora as my first road bike a couple of years ago and thought it was great.

    Then I built my own bike last summer, all from sale parts, learned a hell of a lot and it rides far better than the Cannondale! Realised then that I could improve the Cannondale considerably with only a little money and some time in the workshop. Cost of the Cannondale was £700, cost of the home build was £550 and that included full 105 throughout.

    Go for the build, but also be warned that building can be as addictive as riding! :mrgreen:
  • lesfirth
    lesfirth Posts: 1,382
    stevenb wrote:
    lesfirth wrote:
    IC. wrote:
    stevenb wrote:
    Having a 2ft breaker bar helps on the cassette install/removal.

    :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

    You really don't need to be tightening a cassette with a 2ft breaker bar.

    I agree.

    Untrained hand + 2ft breaker bar = potential serious damage.
    :lol:
    If a breaker bar is used for leverage and ease of use only how can it be hazardous in LEARNED hands.
    If I was brutal with it then of course. As stated above twice now. Common sense prevails.
    Its all part and parcel of learning the limits of bike ownership and maintenance. Using initiative.
    Never had any problems with any of my bikes and Ive been building my own bikes for years.

    You know what you are doing. The OP admits that he does not. What is common sense to you might not be to a novice. With a 2 ft. bar it would be easy to break the cassette lock ring or worse still damage the hub thread. To recommend a tool which is not necessary and could cause damage is plain stupid.
  • frisbee
    frisbee Posts: 691
    Get torque wrenches/keys, do it properly. Its too easy to under torque large bolts and over torque small bolts.