Ever wanted to build your own bike but don’t know where to start?

Ever wanted to build your own bike but don’t know where to start?

Don’t worry you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last. However, we hopefully have you covered in this following article.

Can I build my own bike?

Yes! Without a shadow of a doubt, you can build your bike. Mechanically they are straightforward things; it’s just a matter of clueing yourself upon the knowledge and approaching each task one by one. Don’t think of it as one big task, think of it as lots of individual procedures and you’ll be surprised how quickly you have mastered building your bike. With the internet as our resource, almost every part that has been built on a bike, someone has taken the time of doing a “How To” of fitting it. Don’t worry; we’ll link you to the ones we think are the best.
NOTE: Only attempt to build your own bike if you feel you have the necessary know how, if in the slightest doubt, go to your local bike shop and get them to do it for you.

What tools do you need?

You will be surprised that you do not need many tools to be able to build your bike. The following will show you a basic list followed by a preferred list: (please bear in mind this list is for a road bike)
  • Allen key set
  • Hand pump
  • Adjustable spanner
  • Chain link removal tool
  • Cassette tool for your chosen cassette
  • Bottom bracket tool for your bottom bracket selected
  • Pair of scissors
  • Cable cutters
  • Copper grease
  • Carbon gripper paste (Only if frame and seat post are both carbon)
  • Chain Lube
  • DIY headset press (more on this later)
Preferred tool list:
  • Torque Allen key kit
  • Floor Pump
  • Bike stand
  • Headset press
  • Crown race tool
  • Derailleur alignment tool

What parts do I need

It's very easy to be put off the task of building your bike for the simple reason of not knowing all the parts needed. We decided to make that a lot easier for you with the below list; please bear in mind this list is for a road bike. There will be a few extra parts if you are planning on building a suspension bike.

How do you fit all these components together?

Once you get rolling on fitting all your lovely new parts together, you will be surprised how quickly you start to accomplish the bike build. We have tried to lay out what we feel is a good order for building your bike. Obviously, you can do it in whatever order you think, but make sure you don't fit more permanent parts too early, I.E. handlebar tape before you have tested the handlebar angle and brake lever positioning.

Fit seat post and saddle

This is a quick win to get you going; also, if you are using a bike stand, a lot clamp to the seat post. One thing to bear in mind, if you are using a carbon seat post and carbon frame. You will need to get some carbon gripper paste. This acts as a friction agent, so the seat post doesn’t slip in the frame. A lot of people have made the mistake of over tightening their seat post clamp and fracturing the carbon frame or seat post in the process.

Fitting forks onto a frame

To fit the forks in your frame seems a lot less complicated than it is to the untrained eye. Don’t worry; it isn’t hard, just there are more parts to the procedure than you would think.

Step one - Fit crown race

A relatively straightforward job, however depending on how the manufacturer's tolerances are on both the steering tube and headset it may be a little tougher. Check these following videos, as well as how to build a DIY crown race tool.  

Step two - Fit headset bearings

Most road bike frames use a press fit headset these days. All this means is that it uses friction and pressure to hold itself in place correctly. This requires the use of a headset press to fit correctly, the main thing the press is doing is ensuring the bearing are seated correctly and aligned. As a slight incorrect position can cause the bearings to wear out quicker. You don’t have to spend big money on a proper one; you can just make a DIY press for a lot cheaper. If you don’t feel confident enough, you could get your local bike shop to do it for you. It should only take them 10 - 15 minutes to fit.

Step three - Measure and cut forks to the desired length

Possibly the scariest part of any build, but there is no need to be worried. Take the approach of start large with your maximum available height, then later when we are making micro adjustments and changing how our headset spacers are stacked do we cut further. Even then, we do not have to cut the forks anymore. Rather than write the process for the correct way to measure and cut, please take a look at the below videos as they explain it while doing it which is much easier to understand.  

Step four - Fit star nut into forks

Just follow this tutorial video below, just make sure you give yourself enough room to be able to tension the headset correctly.

Step five - Fit headset spacers and stem

Again at this point, this is pure to get everything in roughly the right position, we will later be set up our position on the bike correctly and tensioning the headset.

Fit handlebars into stem

At this point in the build, you do not need to worry about how handlebars are angled. However, to save you time later on, make sure they are centred correctly in the stem and a horizontal position to the ground, running parallel to the floor. These will be adjusted to your desired fit later in the build which is where things will get vital for you. Right now, we need them seated securely and roughly in the correct position to continue with the build.

Fit brake callipers and brake pads

At this point, we are just making sure that they are both fitted correctly and in roughly the right position. The adjustments will come later once we have installed the wheels and cables.

Fit brake levers

Fit bottom bracket

Setup crank

Fit pedals to crank

Fit cleats to shoes

Fit front derailleur

Fit rear derailleur

Fit rear cassette to the rear wheel

Fit inner tubes and tyres

This should be a task you are well versed in now, but here are some handy videos to check out.

Fit wheels

Run Brake and Gear cables

It can be quite a fiddly process depending on the type of cabling runs you have. Internal cable routing can sometimes be very awkward dependent upon how pleasant the frame manufacturers were. Quite often with internally routed frames, the manufacturers will have run string or specific piping inside the frame to make this easy. If not, you maybe will need to get a pair of long needle nose pliers at hand and a torch to shine in the frame and see where your cables are. Here are some great videos to follow with regards to this.  

Fit chain

Connect and adjust the brake cables

Connect and adjust the gear cables

Adjust saddle height

Adjust headset spacers as required

Adjust handlebar angle and brake lever positioning

Adjust stem alignment and headset tension

At this point in the build, we want to ensure our stems are in absolute alignment with our wheels. Once you are happy that the stem is correctly aligned, its time to correctly set the tension on the headset.

Re-check saddle, handlebar and brake lever positioning

This is your final chance to get everything in the most comfortable position for yourself. If something still doesn’t feel quite right with your bike fit, we do recommend booking in for a proper bike fit at your local bike shop.

Apply handlebar tape

Probably one of the more time-consuming parts of the build. I highly recommend getting a very cheap handlebar tape to practice with first, then apply your desired handlebar tape later. It isn’t a laborious process, just your first few times, you will readjust the tape quite a lot which can lose the tackiness of the glue. Check out this video on how to do it well.