How to Build a Bike

Apart from exercise benefits, you could use the bicycle as a means of transport to work. It is relatively cheap and does not pollute the environment. One fun fact about cycling is that you do not require expertise to start.

If any of the above interests you, then you need a bike. Should you, therefore, rush to your nearest bicycle shop or build your own from scratch? If you are a person who enjoys personal projects or you love bicycles, then keep reading.

How To Build A Bike

A bike is relatively simple to set up and enjoyable to customize. Getting to ride the complete bicycle is the climax of the entire project. The following are the steps you will take:

The Seat Post

Take your frame and insert the clamp, then the seat post. Then put a lot of grease on the point of contact between the seat post and frame. That reduces rust. Afterward, put on the seat. The clamp holds the saddle firmly to prevent it from rotating or the seat post from dropping further into the frame.

Insert the Headset

Fix the crown race on the steerer tube and ensure the race presses firmly on the crown. The crown race connects the bottom of the headset to the steerer tube.

Next, apply some grease to the inner parts of the race to make it easier to slide. To prevent damage during installation, apply little on the rubber gasket on the upper part of the race.

Wipe the inner parts of the headtube to ensure debris cannot get into the headset. Give both the headset and headtube a final look to ensure that they are spotless.

Grease the headset cups. Avoid using too much grease on the dust cap because it usually spills out and traps dust when cycling.

Insert a single headset cup at a time and align each properly. If you have an offset headset, pay close attention to this specific step. Position the headset press and tighten the handle snug until the cup is level with the headtube. Ensure that the headset cup is straight. If you do not have a press, you can use about eight washers, a nut, and a few long bolts.

Set Up the Fork

The next step is to grease all the bearings and align them. Before you install the headset spacers, remember to incorporate lock rings.

Apply some grease on the race and slip the steerer tube along the headset. Cut the steer tube using the appropriate length and install star nuts. To know where to cut, place the stem and spacers on the fork and put marks.  To get a tight fit, lower the dust cap onto the tube.  Now insert the fork and secure the top cap. It is probably too secure if the handlebars/fork moves back and forth with many difficulties. A good fit prolongs the life of your bearings.

Install the Bottom Bracket

Start by ensuring that the threads in the shell are sharp and clean. If you see any damage or touch them, you feel they are not defined; you can chase them or visit your local bicycle shop for help. Scrutinize them.

The next step involves greasing the threads to ensure easy movement between the frame and cups and avoid rusting. You can use your index finger to spread the grease.

Screw the appropriate cup into the frame. That helps to avoid damaging the threads. Add in the spacers before you begin fitting. It is good practice to add extra grease.

Start the thread and screw in the cups using your hands. Ensure you are screwing in the right cup. The step requires you to use your hands because it is vital to feeling the threads engaging. Ensure that the result is neither too loose nor tight.

Tighten the Bottom Bracket

To make the final turns, you require an adjustable wrench. Repeat this step on both sides of the bike.

The Cranks

Anti-seize or grease the threads of nuts/bolts. Align the right crankarm on the right spindle and screw in the bolt.

Tighten the bolt according to the manufacturer’s requirements. Do the same thing on the left side.

Pedals

Pinpoint the left and right pedals using the markings on the wrench flats or axle. Where there are no markings, remember that right-threaded pedals slope upward and to the right and go to the right crank. The vice versa is the case for left threaded pedals.

Grease the threads.

Thread the right pedal onto the right crank using your hands and eventually a wrench.

Repeat the process on the opposite side.

Cable Guide

Install this at the base of the bottom bracket.

Derailleur

Rub grease on the bolt and thread it into the derailleur hanger.

Brakes

Most brakes have three holes, so here you can choose the hole you like. You can try each one of them to see what works best for you.

Chain

Make use of the most extensive gear both in the front and back when installing the chain.

To move the pin through, use the chain tool and the inner step to loosen the link by an eighth cycle or turn.

Kinky

You do not want to have a stiff chain, therefore repeat the previous step to loosen it.

Cables

Be careful when cutting the cables because you want to avoid binding, interference with brakes, or completely turning the bar. You can make housing for the rear derailleur, shifters, and breaks

Tuning

The rear derailleur has two screws: the lower, the biggest and innermost, and the higher on the outside. When setting cables for the rear derailleur, limits are necessary. They prevent the chain from ramming into spokes or going into space between the smallest gear and dropout.

You can use a barrel adjuster to fine-tune the rear derailleur. You can do so by aligning the teeth of the gear to those on the pulley.

Knock

This step ensures that the headset is stable or tight. Place the bike on the floor, take hold of the brake and move the bike from front to back. If you notice any knocking, unfasten the stem, tightly secure the top cap till the knocking stops, and finally tighten the stem.

Testing

Ensure that every part of the bike is tight, and then take it for a spin.

Why Should You Consider Building Your Bike?

Some cyclists are happy to buy a bicycle from the store, yet others get satisfaction from building their own. In most cases, those in the second category want better, lighter, and faster equipment. Since you are reading this, you probably belong to the latter.

The process allows you to have control over your bicycle. You can choose components from brands that provide quality or sizes not available on stock on bikes. Having the right fit is vital if you previously incurred injuries. Your riding style could also be a reason to consider.

As you put together all the parts, you understand their functions and how to avoid damaging them. That means that you will probably not need help when certain parts break down. You will know how to fix the problem. Suppose you are a professional cyclist; the process will boost your confidence.

You might have spare parts that keep staring at you every time you walk into your workshop or garage. Perhaps there is a frame you feel would work well with the addition of a few components. There is also the possibility that the idea of putting all the parts together piques your interest. Starting from a bare frame till you have a complete bike is satisfying.

Building your bike helps you tap into your creative side. That is because you can pick the components you like, and the bike market has many varieties for you to select. The advantage is that you will choose pieces suitable for you. You will therefore not have issues such as an uncomfortable saddle, sores, or butt pain.

It is true to say that it is cheaper to purchase a bike than to build it yourself. That is, however, only true to a certain extent. Bicycle manufacturers can take advantage of the economies of scale. The reason being that they buy components in significant quantities and at lower costs. That means that after manufacturing, the product will be affordable. On the other hand, buying a single part will be more expensive for an individual.

However, to reduce your total cost, you could decide to buy second-hand components. Such components come with good deals. Through that, you can make a bike that costs as much as a new one. Making your bicycle can therefore be a cheaper alternative. You probably think that the bike will fall apart in a short time because of the source of the components. You need not fear because most of the items in the used cycling market are durable and legit.

If you have a bicycle, you could transfer the high-quality components to the one you are handling. So, for example, you can switch frames and take parts from older bikes. You can also decide to pick components with different price ranges. For example, you can choose relatively expensive, good-quality wheels and cheap handlebars that do not look fancy.  That makes such a project affordable.

Although doing mechanical activities may not be your stronghold, building a bike is not that tough. We are living in an era where there is so much information all around us. Therefore, you can quickly go to the internet and find a guide like this one to help you. All you need is perseverance, proper tools, and patience. Do not let fear keep you away from such an incredible challenge.

How Long Does It Take To Build A Bike From Scratch?

That depends on your expertise in assembling the bike and the complexity of its anatomy.

Single-speed bikes are easy to assemble. You only attach the standard parts such as handlebars, seat post, wheels, seat, and pedals, to mention a few. You will also inflate the wheels. A person with little experience in bike assembling can take up to twenty minutes and about an hour for a novice.

Three-speed bikes are similar to single-speed bikes in terms of assembly time. Here you will tune the gears, which is not difficult. For a novice, give yourself a limit of about one and a half hours.

7speed bikes require more time. To assemble the basics similar to those of the single-speed, give yourself an hour. Then an extra hour to adjust the brakes and gear shifter. An expert can do that work in about fifteen minutes, but let your range be two hours for a beginner.

21speed bikes are similar to 7speed bikes. You, however, need to adjust the front derailleur. For a novice, let your time limit be two and a half hours.

What Do You Need To Build A Bike?

The bike parts include:

  • Frame
  • Headset
  • Fork
  • Front derailleur – This is optional.
  • Rear derailleur
  • Brake levers and hangers
  • Brakes
  • Cable guide
  • Shifters
  • 4′ Derailleur housing
  • 4′ Brake housing
  • Cranks
  • 2 Derailleur cables
  • Bottom bracket
  • Wheels
  • Pedals
  • Chain
  • Cassette
  • Seat and seat post
  • Seat clamp
  • Stem
  • Handlebars
  • Tubes/tires

The tools required include:

  • Wirecutter
  • Allen keys
  • Grease
  • Chain tool
  • Hack saw
  • Pedal wrench
  • Bolts/nuts/headset press
  • Bottom bracket
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver

Should You Buy Or Build Your Bike?

Below are some of the pros and cons of either purchasing the bike or building it yourself:

Purchasing a Complete Bike

For someone who is just getting into cycling and bikes, this is the way to go. The bikes in the market work well, and because of all the competition from manufacturers, they are economical. The pros and cons will give you finer details:

Pros

You Invest Less Time

You only need to find out the bike model that would suit you. You can go online searching for information about bikes and place an order or go to your local bike shop. There you will find people who will help you make a good decision on the model to pick.

It Is Cost-Effective

As earlier mentioned, manufacturers use economies of scale to produce affordable bikes. There is a wide variety to choose from, so your funds will dictate what you will carry home.

You Get an Adequately Assembled Bike

The manufacturer ensures that all the components are compatible before the product gets to the market. It will therefore function as required. Consequently, you only need to ensure what you are purchasing is from a reputable brand.

Cons

You Cannot Choose the Components You Want

That is where compromise hits. You may, for example, have good quality wheels but an uncomfortable saddle. You have to know what you can sacrifice before making the purchase.

You Get a Poor-Quality Bike

Problems arise when you purchase from a low-level company. They compromise on quality when it comes to some components to ensure that the complete bike fits your budget.

Building a Bike from Scratch

That is a good option if you have experience with bikes and your budget is flexible.

Pros

You Build Your Knowledge about the Components

Changing various parts of the bike usually affects your cycling. Through the assembling process, you understand that as well as how to maintain the final product.

You Can Customize Your Product

That is the reason why prior knowledge is vital. You need to know the bike’s anatomy to make the right choices when buying the spare parts. You know what you need in your new bike.

You Get So Much Gratification

Starting a project and seeing it to its end is a source of pride and joy to all humans. It gives you a sense of accomplishment regardless of how small or big it seems.

You Get A Unique Product

Unless you are recreating someone else’s creation, the bike you get will not be similar to another person. Building your bike lets, you get creative.

Cons

You Might Require Some Costly Equipment to Assemble the Bike

The downside is that you probably will only need the equipment for this specific project unless you want to become a mechanic. Where you decide to use expensive spare parts instead of the standard ones, your budget will get bigger.

You Need To Invest a Lot of Time

That is like a learning process; therefore, you will carry out a lot of research. Some of the things you do may also be trial and error, so kindly be patient with yourself, especially if you are new to the field.

An intelligent approach for a newbie would be to purchase a good bike and replace the components with time. That is because they are prone to wear and tear. You cannot avoid that. So when deciding what to buy, consider the parts you won’t restore and those with little significance. Look for the frame you can use for a long time. Components such as wheels and transmission are easily replaceable.

Tips for Building a Perfect Bike

If not done properly, DIY-build bikes can lead to injury or costly repairs. The following tips can help you build a bike that is perfect for you.

Don’t Ignore Bike Defects

It is always advisable to check the frame and parts for damage before picking up any tools, even if the box it was shipped in appears to be in excellent condition. The main thing to look for is cracks or damage to the frame or parts. The paint can sometimes indicate chipping or wear, but it cannot always indicate a defect.

If your frame is made from metal such as steel, aluminum, or titanium, you should pay extra attention to the welds. It is even more important to be meticulous about carbon fiber. Despite their small size, microcracks in carbon fiber can have a catastrophic impact that will quickly end a ride. It is easy to avoid a costly internet investment if you discover a damaged frame from transit before building the bike.

Properly Install the Pedals

Pedals that have been incorrectly threaded are by far the most common mistake we see, and unfortunately, they can turn into a costly mistake. Install the pedals by hand at least 2/3 the way into the crank arms using waterproof grease on the threads. There’s a high probability that you are cross-threading the pedals if you are experiencing resistance. The failure of those threads will result in the spindles falling out of the cranks anywhere between the first ride and one year later.

This can sometimes be repaired, but you might need to buy a complete crankset or crank arm to fix the threading. When you cross thread the pedals during installation, a company typically won’t warranty the bike.

Correct Installation of the Fork

When shipping containers are stuffed with forks, the boxes are generally lined up backwards to minimize the size. In most cases, rim brakes should point forward, while disc brakes should point away from the drive (opposite the gearbox).

After wheeling up the bike, if you find that the tire slams into the frame or that it strikes your shoe when you turn the bike, then the fork may be installed incorrectly.

Adjust the Limit Screws Properly

Limit screws regulate the range of reach of your derailleurs (the components that shift gears). Incorrectly positioned limit screws can cause your chain to pop off your chainrings and damage the frame. Be sure you understand how these are set up, and if you are uncertain, tighten the screws slightly instead of letting them loose.

Check the Saddle, Stem, Handlebars, and Seatpost for Tightness

It is common for new bikes to come in with loose saddles. Bolts secure the clamps to the saddle rails, keeping them in place. The seatpost clamp is usually torqued pretty close to the recommended torque by many amateur builders, but since most saddles come with the seat post-installed, it makes people think they are OK. It is very dangerous to fail to tighten these to specifications.

If you are using seatposts and saddles, apply a thin layer of waterproof grease across the inside of the seat tube before inserting them. If you install a Seatpost dry into your frame and leave it there for a season, the chances are high that your seatpost will rust in place.

The stem and handlebars should also be firmly tightened with the proper torque. A stem, handlebars, saddle, or seatpost shouldn’t be able to pivot or turn when force is applied.

Final Thoughts

Building a bike on your own can be frustrating for a beginner because it is mostly trial and error. The important thing is to have fun and be patient with yourself. To reduce the frustration, try to learn from this article on how to build a bike from scratch.