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:
- 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.
- Seat post has to be the correct diameter for your frame.
- Make sure the bottom bracket is the right type for your frame.
- Crankset has to be compatible with your bottom bracket.
- Shifters, crankset, derailleurs, chain, and freewheel/cassette all have to be the same speed.
- Wheels need to be correct size for frame. For mountain bikes for example you might need 26, 27.5, or 29” diameter wheels.
- Check that wheels are compatible with the correct speed freewheel/cassette and that frame has correct spacing for wheels.
- 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.
- If front derailleur is clamp on, the clamp has to be the right size for the frame.
- Stem has to fit correct diameter fork and bars have to be correct diameter where it clamps to stem.
- 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:
- Install seat post and seat. Now you can clamp the seat post on the bike stand.
- Bottom bracket and crankset installation.
- Headset, fork, and stem.
- 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.
- Rear and front derailleurs.
- Cassette/freewheel onto rear wheel.
- Tires onto rims.
- Wheels onto frame/fork.
- Adjust brakes to wheels.
- Brake lever and shifters.
- Shift/brake cable and housing.
- 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.