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Building a bike

Old 06-24-20, 09:32 AM
  #1  
sallii3
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Building a bike

In parallel to buying a bike from CL and LBS, I want to learn to build a bike. I've been riding on and off the since 2012, mostly for commuting purposes (in NYC w Citibike, Berlin w second hand bike, probably stolen and sold at a flea market and Singapore w a Btwin from Decathlon - first bike I bought). Currently, I would like to have a bike to explore the neighborhood I am in (comfortably going for longer distances) and to throw into my workout mix. My last bike was a Btwin Hybrid bike and would like to stay with a hybrid or road bike. I understand the pros and cons and when shopping I am searching for both.

Okay back to back to the bike build. I understand there are YouTube videos which will each me many things and I am sure there are threads here which will also teach me what I need to know. I want to however start from the basics the very basic and I guess more technical areas of bike structure and parts, if that makes sense. Also on bike history and information on vintage/classic bikes. I'm not sure if riders sorta fall into an area of expertise based on interest and experience. For me, I looking for a starting point and some guided sources and to avoid being fire hosed with information.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-24-20, 10:12 AM
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By “build a bike” do you mean that you want to fabricate the frame from raw tubing, or just collect a bunch of parts and hang them on a bare frame?

The short answer is that it’ll typically cost 30-50% more than buying the exact same bike complete, and may or may not result in a satisfactory, or even complete bike.

The best way is to have a very specific plan, or a couple of key major components, and to build around that.
“A hybrid road bike” is the exact opposite of specific. Too many variables to even begin to start. Just collecting a bunch of parts can also lead down the rabbit hole of incompatiblity.

You mentioned vintage; this is a path to possibly persue: Many people say they want to learn how to work on a bike by ‘building’ one, however they would be better served by acquiring an older bike that’s complete or mostly complete, and overhauling it. You can learn how to route cables and adjust shifters and derailleurs, without trying to also figure out whether it works with the other parts of the bike
FWIW; old 70s -80s “ten-speeds” make good base material for ‘townie’ / path-bikes.
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Old 06-24-20, 10:18 AM
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Read all of Sheldon Brown's website. It details maintenance, compatability, etc.
Then learn about groupset standards and limitations.

After that, buy a bunch of tools and components, then attach everything.
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Old 06-24-20, 11:01 AM
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See if there is a bicycle co-op in your area. They can assist with a build and perhaps loan the special tools you'll need.
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Old 06-25-20, 06:23 AM
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I second the recommendation that you find a local bike coop and begin asking specific questions about your own bicycle. Learn to maintain and repair that bike. It's how most of us started.

As romantic as "building a bike" may sound, doing so requires access to specialized tools, an adequate workspace, patience and, most of all, the inclination and ability to solve problems. You must be also realistic about what you're willing to spend.

Most of us have acquired bike-specific tools over decades. The coop can help you with that part, at least.
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Old 06-25-20, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
By “build a bike” do you mean that you want to fabricate the frame from raw tubing, or just collect a bunch of parts and hang them on a bare frame?

The short answer is that it’ll typically cost 30-50% more than buying the exact same bike complete, and may or may not result in a satisfactory, or even complete bike.

The best way is to have a very specific plan, or a couple of key major components, and to build around that.
“A hybrid road bike” is the exact opposite of specific. Too many variables to even begin to start. Just collecting a bunch of parts can also lead down the rabbit hole of incompatiblity.

You mentioned vintage; this is a path to possibly persue: Many people say they want to learn how to work on a bike by ‘building’ one, however they would be better served by acquiring an older bike that’s complete or mostly complete, and overhauling it. You can learn how to route cables and adjust shifters and derailleurs, without trying to also figure out whether it works with the other parts of the bike
FWIW; old 70s -80s “ten-speeds” make good base material for ‘townie’ / path-bikes.
When I was writing this post, I had a feeling building a bike was not the right ask. I guess I need a starting point and from the other posts in the thread a co-op might be a good place to start. I think I will go down the road of acquiring an older bike (from what I see on CL vintage bike seems to be in abundance, although from the little research I have gathered priced a bit high, but these types might be for me a good starting point which I use the bike to learn a bit about bike parts and a possible beginner restoration project). Thanks for all that good information, much appreciated.
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Old 06-25-20, 01:45 PM
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If you are a handy person, hanging your pieces on a frame is not that hard.
I started road biking in 2017 and after getting to know a bike shop guy (independent shop) he suggested me to get an steel bike.
I found a nice one with down-tube shifters at the beginning of 2018 and had fun getting all the hardware to put on the frame.
Removed all the old pieces myself, did cold setting, touched the paint, cleaned the headset, aligned the drop hanger, treated inside the frame, etc.
But since didn't have any experience and wanted the bike set up, asked the bike shop to put it together with the new pieces.
Fast forward, I put together 5 bikes since.replacing the comps to different ones.

The main thing is the initial investment on required tools - you will need tools for old components as well for the new ones if you are going with brifters and 11 speed cassetes.
Also, gave it a try to build a set of wheels that is still good after some 4 k miles

Have fun!

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Old 06-25-20, 02:25 PM
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Back in the day we read books.. since the internet did not exist then.

'Frame building' is one thing 'bike building' from existing frames & forks selecting & fitting component parts, is another..
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Old 06-25-20, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
I second the recommendation that you find a local bike coop and begin asking specific questions about your own bicycle. Learn to maintain and repair that bike. It's how most of us started.


As romantic as "building a bike" may sound, doing so requires access to specialized tools, an adequate workspace, patience and, most of all, the inclination and ability to solve problems. You must be also realistic about what you're willing to spend.


Most of us have acquired bike-specific tools over decades. The coop can help you with that part, at least.

I appreciate you all keeping it real and setting my expectations. I will have a look around to see if I can come by a local coop (I did a quick search on google and nothing near me) but I figure I will inquire with my local bike shop to see if they know of anything.
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Old 06-25-20, 03:56 PM
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Yes, I agree. first of all you need to collect information
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Old 06-25-20, 04:31 PM
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I have built bikes from the frame up, not frame building. Here is what I have found... unless you have or can transfer a lot of parts from another bike, or you get an unbelievable deal on a frame, it will cost you more, and maybe a lot more if you make mistakes, to build a bike. Also, if you want to build a nearly identical bike as one you can buy, save your money and buy a complete bike. If you want the experience of building a bike, take everything apart and it back together. At least you'll know everything fits.

Building a bike is always better if you can't buy a bike the way you want it to be and you have to spend money anyway on replacement components.

If you decide to still build a bike, you have to do your research. Pick a frame that will fit your style and has great reviews. You want to know that one frame is better at this and one is better at that and one does a lot pretty good but nothing great stuff before you buy. You don't want to end up with a bike you don't like after putting in all the money effort.

John
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Old 06-25-20, 05:53 PM
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Do your research into threading etc. Know what it is you're trying to accomplish. Shop smart, don't discount used stuff.


When I built my first bike I found the bike on CL stripped everything off, bought a lightly used 10s 6600 Ultegra group on Ebay, new wheels and a few other things. I had $1200 into it including the original bike. I couldn't touch a full Ultegra bike for that price and still can't. Yeah I had to buy a few more tools, but that's an investment. I also built a bike for my daughter by picking up a donor bike to taker the parts off of and then sold the donor frame for a few bucks.

1987
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Old 06-26-20, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by sallii3 View Post
..... I think I will go down the road of acquiring an older bike (from what I see on CL vintage bike seems to be in abundance, although from the little research I have gathered priced a bit high, but these types might be for me a good starting point which I use the bike to learn a bit about bike parts and a possible beginner restoration project).
I commend your initiative and understand. I've done several bikes and enjoy the challenge and the outcomes. But: you may heard that the world got turned upside down and there's been a "bike boom" greater than we've seen in decades. Demand out paces supply. So all bikes, even those on CL are high priced and sellers have no reason the bargin. Another buyer will be by in a few minutes. Not a good time to get a nice deal on an old bike. Timing. So, good luck and beware of great deals and their undisclosed issues (like frozen bearings, bent frames, dead shifters and flat tires). Especially flat tires. A flat tire means you cannot test ride the bike and thus discover all the other hidden issues. "fully restored and ready to ride" could just mean 'brought out of the dark n damp, cobwebs brushed off and will generally roll down hill - one time'.

Amazing how many sellers will say "$350, just needs the tires pumped up. I couldn't find my pump. OH! A bad tube. No problem those are so easy. I didn't have time."
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Old 06-26-20, 07:44 AM
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sallii3
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Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
I commend your initiative and understand. I've done several bikes and enjoy the challenge and the outcomes. But: you may heard that the world got turned upside down and there's been a "bike boom" greater than we've seen in decades. Demand out paces supply. So all bikes, even those on CL are high priced and sellers have no reason the bargin. Another buyer will be by in a few minutes. Not a good time to get a nice deal on an old bike. Timing. So, good luck and beware of great deals and their undisclosed issues (like frozen bearings, bent frames, dead shifters and flat tires). Especially flat tires. A flat tire means you cannot test ride the bike and thus discover all the other hidden issues. "fully restored and ready to ride" could just mean 'brought out of the dark n damp, cobwebs brushed off and will generally roll down hill - one time'.


Amazing how many sellers will say "$350, just needs the tires pumped up. I couldn't find my pump. OH! A bad tube. No problem those are so easy. I didn't have time."

Thank you and I look forward to sharing that joy eventually. The post cracked me up because I can relate at the moment.


I can feel/see the bike boom on my CL searches (I seem to always be on the tail end, I had an issue with getting yeast also...haha) I see entry level/"not so special" vintage bikes for 150+ (example a Peugeot for $200 and changed to $150, this bike is well kept, hangs inside the home). Then again there have been a couple which I thought were priced a bit more fair (1985's "women" Ross Gran Tour, I think - Owner said 1982 but the decal seems to be not be from that year, it fits the 1985 from what I can make out in the scanned catalog, for $75 and a Panasonic Villager III for $95 - which seemed fair from my research). I haven't tested these but seems to be operational and running with no issues. I;m hoping to see the Ross - might have been sold as I am typing this hahaha. So that's how I am going about my search, practicing patience and in the meantime reading up as suggested by the others.


Currently, with this whole living at the parents, I don't want to spend the funds on a new bike as there is no room for it (dad's pretty territorial) and I would hate for storage to be a reason the bike is damaged.
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