How hard is it to build your own bike ?

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  • How hard is it to build your own bike ?
  • Cynergy

    Ok, i’m in the process of pulling some bit and bobs together but ‘building my own’ is something I have never done before. Thought I would give it a try for the sense of satisfaction and an alternative to sitting in front of the TV.

    Are there any resources in terms of books or online reference ?

    Do I need any specialist tools ?

    I’m stripping a SC Superlight down beforehand so that will at least show me how one went together in the first place 🙂


    Pretty straightforward if you have the correct tools.

    Quality set of Allen keys
    BB spanner
    Headset press
    Cable cutters
    Cassette lockring tool
    Decent hacksaw for cutting steerer tube
    Torque wrench handy but not essential (good for peace of mind with carbon bits)

    Highly recommended. Do it!

    I ‘built up’ my first bike a few months ago. It was great. I had a few stumbles along the way but nothing major and learn’t so much about how to maintain my bike. I bought one of those toolkits that had everything I needed, just had to buy a hacksaw for the fork steerer and borrow a few minutes of my LBS time to knock the crown race on to the steerer.

    Don’t bother buying a book it’ll be out of date in a few months time with all the shifting standards in MTBing. Use the park tools website, its comprehensive and free.



    re. books. Standards may come and go, but the Zinn book is rather good 🙂


    Quality set of Allen keys – check !
    BB spanner – nope
    Headset press – nope
    Cable cutters – check !
    Cassette lockring tool – nope
    Decent hacksaw for cutting steerer tube – check !
    Torque wrench handy but not essential – nope

    need to do some shopping 🙂


    As above, I’ve made 4 of my bikes now, zaskar, s-works m2, cotic soul and my hummer, loved every minute of it, find it’s all over too quick, in the haste to see how they will ride, most enjoyable experience, savour it while it lasts,


    Anyone that’s mastered walking upright should be able to do it given the info that’s around – Parktools website etc.


    Cheers guy’s, all advice appreciated


    BB spanner – nope

    depends what you are fitting taking off

    cable puller helps
    (ipod and alcohol)

    did a 700c mtb x thing last year with help from on here and sheldonbron’s site
    bought one of the aldi tool kits but to be honest would have been better off buying the few tools i really needed
    bought a workstand to save back
    got lbs to do headset as couldn’t get to seat on stem using bodges
    its ugly but i like it

    You will also need some good music and a beer. I dont think I have had an unbuilt up bike for about a decade.

    Once you have a shed of bits, you can entertain your whims, a few weeks ago I built a rocklobster fixed crosser with WTB dirt drops and rasta bar tape… just coz I could.

    just want to add, building your own is just about the only way to get a bike without hidden horrors like heavy BBs and nasty seatposts that are often lurking under the new graphics and marketing bs.


    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.

    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.

    Premier Icon garage-dweller

    Couple of other good things

    Star nut setting tool (got one for a tenner and saves the need for 6 star nuts) – I never could knock them in straight.

    Some way of holding the frame up at chest height so you can work on it. Hanging from the shed roof or at least do some of it by GENTLY clamping the bb shell in a vice (then fit the BB and cranks towards the end of the build)

    Premier Icon Nick

    I don’t smoke anymore but I really really want one when I’m fettling.

    Premier Icon gonetothehills

    Yep – workstand and tools from Merlin – I got a great deal a few years ago when they did a combo offer and have never looked back.

    So saying, not a single build goes by without some foulup. I amazed myself at quite how useful, and frequently used, a rubber mallet is during a bike build (rather worryingly…) on my last one.

    I still get the LBS to do the crown race, and I have more star fangled nuts fitted to my bikes than I have forks, but at least they’re not the heaviest component on a bike to have two (or more) of fitted… arse!

    It’s hugely satisfying – especially as I very much fall into the amateurish end of ‘enthusiatic amateur mechanic’ The real guys probably look and and weep, but there’s a great sense of achievement, and fettling can be great fun – with the right tools!

    Again, to reinforce, Park Tools website is your big buddy in all of this.

    Go do it.


    You can buy lots of tools which are terribly expensive which can be made with bits from B&Q. Headset fitters are a good example. Mine cost me about a tenner, threaded bar, some nuts, some big flat washers.

    But yes, building your own bike can be difficult but immensely satisfying.

    The only real useful point i’d make is that if it’s a brand new frame, get it faced by a professional at a shop, it’ll make a world of difference. (BB and headtube)


    I built my first bike when i was 11, (33 years ago) couldn’t affored to buy one so i made one from bits i found at the tip. Have never taken a bike to the LBS, i maintain all 4 MTB’s and my latest addition from the dark side.

    Its the only way.

    Premier Icon mboy

    Haven’t ridden a bike I haven’t built myself (well, “assembled” myself at least, I’ve not built a frame yet) in errrr… About 12 years! Even the couple of “off the shelf” bikes I have bought in that time have been totally ripped apart, and had most of their components changed to suit my tastes from new (and unused bits sold on ebay in general).

    Regarding tools wise, well it really depends how much of the bike you are “building” really. If we’re not including wheels, and you’re prepared to go to a bike shop to get them to press the headset in and cut the fork steerer, then you can significantly cut down on tools required. You should need the following.

    Allen Keys
    Phillips and Flatblade screwdrivers
    BB removal/insertion tool (depends what cranks you’re running as to which one you need)
    Cassette Lockring tool
    Rubber Mallet (yup, you will use it, just don’t use it too much!)
    Quality cable cutters (can’t stress enough do not skimp here, cheap ones are CRAP, Park ones are worth their weight in gold)
    Pedal spanner
    Some decent bike grease

    And that is about it in truth! You may need a Torx bit for disc bolts possibly (if they’re not allen key fitting), but that’s about it otherwise. Headset presses are really only for people who build LOTS of bikes, or have a CK headset. If you’re using a headset worth closer to £10 than £100, just use the block of wood and rubber mallet technique, though be careful and ease it in, don’t try to whack it clean in in one go!

    Incidentally, try Aldi/Lidl for bike toolkits. I picked one up from one or the other last year, it had pretty much everything you could ever need to build a bike with in it, and cost me about £16 all up! Ridiculous. Ok, it’s not Park stuff, but it’s all usable, and it’s survived plenty of use by me so far.

    Oh, and don’t ask why, but however long it takes to build a bike, it usually takes as bloody long again just to setup the bloody front mech on it. I hate them, they require such perfect setup (well, they do if you’re a perfectionist like me) which is not easy to achieve necessarily, always a massive PITA!

    Anyway, Once you’ve done a couple of bikes, you’ll be onto building your own wheels next!

    Premier Icon cp

    if you’re swapping cassettes, as well as the cassette lockring tool, you’ll need a chain whip.

    a workstand is handy, but i spent about 10 years building bikes without… just start with fitting forks, then the wheels, and it gives you a good basis to work on.

    good quality (20quid plus) cable cutters are essential! mine cost something like 25 or 30 quid 15 years ago, and they still cut super clean.

    post on here with pics if you struggle with anything and most folk will be willing to help pronto I’m sure.

    as samuri, you can fit a headset with a length of threaded bar, some large washers (get a few different sizes and put an increasing diameter in a stack if the hole in the middle of the big one is too big for the nut), and a couple of nuts. Put a few washers on, as thin ones can bend with the clamping forces!!

    some grease for the threads of most parts is useful, chain lube which you’ve (hopefully!) already got 🙂



    As above, just try to take your time, do one thing at a time, a list of the things you need is good, to avoid finding you need more cable outers @ midnight the night before the first ride………………..


    If I can, you can!


    Shedloads of good advice in this thread!

    My 2 pence worth-

    I luuurrrrve building bikes. It’s relaxation for me. Nuts and bolts don’t argue….

    I started in the early 90s by repairing and servicing my ’91 Cinder Cone.
    Fairly soon I could strip the whole thing and put it back together again and that was in the days of cup-and-cone bottom brackets (Mine had a grease nipple on the BB shell!) and loose bearing headsets. I used to do my hubs, BB and headset 3 times a year!

    I’d second getting some cable cutters, but get them from a DIY or tool store because they’ll be just as good and cheaper.

    Fork crown races can be hammered on with a length of plastic waste pipe, which works very well.

    Headset cups I usually fit with 2 blocks of wood and a hammer, works fine but I wouldn’t fit a new King with it! 🙂

    An old stem is good as a steerer cutting guide.
    Regarding cutting – Measure twice, cut once – Assembe the whole front end, headset, fork, stem, spacers. Make a mark at the top, take it apart, reassemble and check you’ve got ALL the bits in the right places properly. Then make another mark: They should be near as dammit the same. Only then do you get the saw out!
    And I would NEVER cut a steerer to less than 200mm because it makes it so much easier to sell the fork in the future. I usually have about 30mm of spacers around my stems, so nothing silly.

    Best bit of advice is to work carefully, and if it’s not going too well, WALK AWAY!
    Leave it for 15 mins.
    Have a brew and a slice of cake.
    Try again tomorrow.
    Getting stressed will end up with you damaging something or worse.



    A really good set of outer/cable cutters are a must. I wouldn’t buy a headset press because of cost vs how times I’d actually use it. If I build a bike I usually buy a headset from my LBS and get them to fit it. Everything else as people said are easily done at home.

    Premier Icon chakaping

    Nuts and bolts don’t argue….

    Maybe, but they don’t always agree either when I’m holding the spanner.

    To the OP – get a workstand and toolkit combo offer from Merlin or Wiggle and have a go. If I can do it, anyone can.

    Done three bike builds now and usually get the LBS to fit headset and BB/cranks – but will probably have a go at the latter myself next time too.

    Have a go at it.


    I’ve built 4 bikes now with no major problems. As the advise above says. Take your time, try to use the right tool or a suitably well thought out alternative.

    The only thing I get my LBS to do these days is facing. I made my own headset press from a long bolt, nuts, and washers. Also I had a home made chain whip for several years made from an old chain, screw and piece of wood which worked fine.

    I’ve gradually built up my toolkit over the years and my mates now borrow lots of the tools. I realised that I was doing all the buying of tools and they were using them for nothing so I now charge a beer/post ride cuppa a loan which keeps everyone happy.


    Some fantastic advice here guys, thank’s to each and every one of you.

    Excuse my ignorance but what does ‘facing’ mean ? The frame I will be using is a SC Chameleon which I am having powder coated first. Do I need to get this facing process done before or after the coating and what does it do ?

    Sorry if I’m being thick !


    Parks explain it well here Cynergy:

    Park tools Facing a BB


    Ow, you should not need to do the tapping btw and some on here would say you don’t need to do the facing either 😉


    Don’t underestimate the benefit of walking away if you get stuck. Have a cup of coffee, read the paper or whatever. Go back 15 mins later and your head will have cleared.

    If all else fails post on here or another forum. Someone always[/i] knows the answer.


    Cheers lads, can’t wait to get started now ! 🙂


    Facing may not be necessary, I have a mate who just uses a bit of wet and dry paper to get the paint off and does it “by eye”. He’s never had any problems. That said, before I moved, I knew my LBS well so they faced everything one one frame for £10 and some biscuits so it was worth doing.


    Great way to know your bike 🙂 and getting the perfect set up.. never bought a stock bike but frame and build up… my 2 current builds:

    and my dad’s (time of pic almost finished)

    enjoy 🙂


    It’s fairly easy and very enjoyable. I’d say

    1. set a budget (very easy to think that all the bits need to be sparkly new and 5 * reviews)
    2. look for other builds of your frame – good for spotting things that work and things that don’t. Also take note of cable running etc – look here for SC Chameleon

    My build in three weeks – first proper one…..with a tight budget/reuse what I had in the garage..



    Jeesus – just spotted this a couple of posts above – I hope you’ve started!!!!

    Anna B

    This thread in the grave for 2 years and suddenly up it pops! Funny, I wonder if Cynergy built his bike?

    It’s a good question…. I’ve nearly built a bike, ie some bits of it were done by other people, headset and gears. I’m not sure I did enjoy it actually, and I don’t have the bike anymore.

    What I’m doing at the moment which I AM enjoying, is upgrading parts on my new bike – the cheapest hardtail Spesh you can get. It has different pedals, wheels, brakes, stem and handlebars. Next is to change from 7 speed to 9 speed. The task doesn’t feel so overwhelming and I can take my time, while still riding it. By the time I’ve finished, only the frame will be original.

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