Bike build compatibility checklist and assembly order

Last Updated on March 13, 2021 by FAB Jim The Cyclist

Last year I decided I wanted to become a better bike mechanic and building a bike seemed like the best way.  So, I started buying all cheap parts I could find.  I learned a lot during the build, but it’s definitely more expensive than buying a used bike.  I made an error and bought a few things that ended up not being compatible.  The speed I was planning to build ended up not being compatible with the speed wheels I could find for the frame.  This was because my rear spacing was odd for a rim brake road bike.  It’s very important to know from the start that everything is going to be compatible. 

Here is a checklist of compatibility to check when buying your parts:

Compatibility checklist

  1. When buying the frame, I recommend you make sure it uses common sizes for bottom bracket, seat post, rear spacing, fork…  Also make sure the frame size will deliver the correct size bike for you.
  2. Seat post has to be the correct diameter for your frame.
  3. Make sure the bottom bracket is the right type for your frame.
  4. Crankset has to be compatible with your bottom bracket.
  5. Shifters, crankset, derailleurs, chain, and freewheel/cassette all have to be the same speed. 
  6. Wheels need to be correct size for frame.  For mountain bikes for example you might need 26, 27.5, or 29” diameter wheels. 
  7. Check that wheels are compatible with the correct speed freewheel/cassette and that frame has correct spacing for wheels.
  8. Tires will have to fit your wheels.  Frame will have to have clearance for the size tires.  In the road bike world, a lot of frames may only fit up to 25mm tires.
  9. If front derailleur is clamp on, the clamp has to be the right size for the frame.
  10. Stem has to fit correct diameter fork and bars have to be correct diameter where it clamps to stem. 
  11. Make sure brakes are compatible with frame and wheels.  Can’t put disc brakes on a frame made for rim brakes. 

When I finally had a big pile of parts I didn’t really know where to start.  I ended up watching lots of build videos and piecing together the order.  Here is that order:

Assembly order

  1. Install seat post and seat.  Now you can clamp the seat post on the bike stand.
  2. Bottom bracket and crankset installation.
  3. Headset, fork, and stem.
  4. Handlebars.  Be sure to add some padding to bars/frame.  The bars will swing loosely at this stage, so you don’t want the bars hitting and damaging the frame.
  5. Rear and front derailleurs.
  6. Brakes.
  7. Cassette/freewheel onto rear wheel.
  8. Tires onto rims.
  9. Wheels onto frame/fork.
  10. Adjust brakes to wheels.
  11. Brake lever and shifters.
  12. Shift/brake cable and housing.
  13. Chain.
  14. Tune brakes and shifting.

Now the bike is done!  I’m a much more confident mechanic now so I’m really glad I did it. 

Here is my build:

Here is a good bike build video of a bike:

The guy who built my wheels also does advertisements for the shop.

He’s a spokesperson.

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