Building a bike yourself.



Andy Jennings

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Nov 3, 2016
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Now please keep in mind that I have just come back to cycling after 15 years and my knowledge is outdated to say the least, so my apologies in advance for incorrect terminology.

Just how hard is it to build a bike from components yourself?

I ask this for a very simple reason. I live in Thailand, where people tend to be much shorter than my 6 ft, and it is next to impossible to get bigger than a medium frame or custom bike made, as far as my limited time searching has found anyway.

To that end I am looking at my next bike, for when I reach my goal weight as a reward to myself. Importing expensive items can be a VERY expensive issue in regard to Tax and payments to grease the way, so I tend to think I need to avoid that where possible. Good components, however are fairly easy to get. So I am looking at importing a frame and getting rest of the components, where I can, locally. My problem is, though, that I have little to no idea how easy it would be to actually construct the bike, and adjust things like the derailleurs correctly.

Although not much of a mechanic, never needed to be, I am able to learn and there is a bike mechanic fairly near to me that would be able to assist if I was unable to get something right.

So that led to the question...how hard is it to build a bike from components?

Any guidance please?
 

dabac

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Sep 16, 2003
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Generally speaking, bike parts tends to be considerably more expensive when bought piecemeal as compared to when bought as a complete bike. You need to be very skilled at bargain hunting or have a big stash of parts before building a bike becomes financially sensible.
If you have a certain frame you want to dress up it can make sense to buy a donor bike to transfer as many parts as possible from instead of buying piece-by-piece.
Although it is rare to achieve a complete transfer. Seat posts/seat tubes, bottom brackets, front derailers are things that you still might need to buy.
As to how hard:
- difficult to tell. Setting headsets requires some special tools.
Bottom bracket shell might need to be faced. Headset bearing seats might need to be reamed/faced. These are not tools anyone would have.
The rest is pretty much basic assembly.
 

Andy Jennings

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Nov 3, 2016
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Thanks for the reply dabac.

I'll have to check with my LBS around here to see if anyone can help with the points mentioned in your post I think then. My problem is actually getting a frame my size her at all tbh. If I import one I will be up for 17% tax, at least, an any other helpful little palm greasing I need to do. Then should e able to source the rest of the components here in Thailand.

I haven't been able to find some one to build a custom bike for me here either, but that cost is high as well of course.

I have managed to find ONE shop in Bangkok that sell trek bikes (750Km away lol), but they appear to be out of stock. The other bikes available I don't recognise the brands so need to research more there.

Have to delve in to the research and costings of this a lot more deeply before I order anything though.

Again thanks for the info. Appreciated.
 

wood_dweller

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Nov 3, 2016
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Building a bike is not very hard, but you need to know what exactly you want to create. If you are not sure about 50% of parts there is no point building yourself. It will be better to buy used bike and change some parts during usage. Why don't you just get an used bike and order bigger frame?
 

Andy Jennings

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Nov 3, 2016
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I have considered that, Wood Dweller, but in Thailand there aren't many people that can afford a reasonable bike/frame, mostly its walmart kinda stuff bought here. Good second hand bikes are few and far between.

But you are also right in that if I do decide to build a bike myself I have to research and understand the components required.

Still not sure if I am going to go down this rabbit hole as I am very much in a research period and I have also found a few bike shops now as well. Only problem is that they are the best part of 750Km away. lol. So although I have a bike mechanic near me he may not be at a standard I want and I have to learn all this anyway, just to service and maintain my bikes the way I want. Jeez I'm making this all sound hard as hell. o_O

Either way I'll do the research as a learning curve and look more in to complete bikes over here as well before I decide which way I'm going to go.

Good advice and taken on board. Many thanks.
 

doctorold

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Dec 14, 2010
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IMO, building a bike is fun. It's an adventure. And when you are finished it's really cool to ride something you put together. Not cost effective. I learned much of what I know about wrenching from trial and error and Youtube. So if you can find the frame you want, I say go for it. Just my two cents.
 

Andy Jennings

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Nov 3, 2016
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IMO, building a bike is fun. It's an adventure. And when you are finished it's really cool to ride something you put together. Not cost effective. I learned much of what I know about wrenching from trial and error and Youtube. So if you can find the frame you want, I say go for it. Just my two cents.
Well it's not like I don't have the time for it. lol. Retired years ago.

It is very tempting and I have just found an old thread on another local forum, that there is possibly a custom bike builder quite close to me. Just got to find out if he is still operating. may be useful if I do build my own bike and have problems.
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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Retired...watch Youtube videos and hit the Park Tools website for hours on end. Watch the Art's Cyclery "Ask A Mechanic" series. Watch the GCN videos. Then buy loads and loads of Park Tools, Campagnolo tools or whatever brands you can get.

Most new Carbon frames come with the BB shell factory faced and/or you can specify it to be faced be the wholesaler or retailer. Most headset are a snap to install with maybe a crown race setting tool being needed.

As was stated above you would be dollars ahead just buying a complete bike. As also stated above, building a bike up from component parts is a very cool experience.

If you have been away from the game for 15 years the mix of what is still the same and what has changed will be confusing at first. But, sort through the information on the web. In particular, research shimaNO's website, Campagnolo's website and SRAM"S too. Hit all the English online retail sites to research prices and to find out who has the best deals on what.

Lastly. consider a vacation to a nearby country with the best bike deals and selection (no clue, but maybe Korea, China, Japan?) and buy there. Ride the thing enough to get it filthy and box it up to go home with you. Many countries have no import tariff on used bikes.
 
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Andy Jennings

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Nov 3, 2016
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Definitely not China. No idea about the deals, but I bought a Chinese frame bike 2 months ago and the damned frame has cracked at the join of the top tube and down tube already. Managed to find a Specialized S Works MTB frame in my size purely by luck, as it was the last one he had and had been in stock for months. No one big enough to buy it. Lol. $200 dollar discount because of this. I got the shop to change everything over today. for $15 for 4 hours work. (That's one good thing about Thailand. LOL)

I think I may just build my own bike up next year when it's time for a road bike. Gotta lose the gut first.

Thanks for the hints and tips Campy. Much appreciated. I need to learn all the new gear and what a perfect way to do it.

Thailand only has a 10% tariff on a new frame, at least in theory, but that is always subject to change on the day by the mood of customs at the time. lol.

All advice gratefully accepted and used.
 

guardianbike

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Nov 3, 2016
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I ended up building my bike and my eldest built her own, we are mechanical numpties, got the bike shop to do the headset that was all, it was an education, frustrating at times but brill, all works and nothing has fallen off, cracked or smashed.
World's Safest Children's Bikes
Get good cable cutters....no really good ones they are worth it

my daughter bought a torque wrench from Merlin cycles neither of us used it.......but possibly worth while...but we did not use it.

Good grease....yeah get that.........

enjoy the satisfaction is overwhelming.
 
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