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How hard is it to build a bike?

Ok, I'm sorry for this is about the 10th time I've asked questions about the prospective new bike. But I have now decided that I may go down the route of building my own bike as I have found a good deal on a Cervelo P2C frame and wiggle has some great deals on bits.

It also allows me to choose all the parts I want in particular my own choice of wheels as I wanted some deep rimmed aero wheels, and I may get the planet-X 82/101 tubs, which seem to be a great deal at £399!

Ok so the question is, with all the right tools, how hard is it to build up a bike from scratch? In particular things like fitting the cables as I can't pretend to know a huge amount about all the intricate parts of our fair steeds!

Thanks in advance, Tom


  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    Buy the frame, then bring it to your LBS and get them to build it to your spec using their parts which you pay them for. This way you gett he best of both worlds - a keenly priced frame, the knowledge that the bike is built properly and you have got to know your LBS who are a great source of advice.

    I would advise do not build a bike unless you know exactly what you are at: do you know what to cut, when to cut it, what length to cut it to, do you know what derailleur to use if you want the option to use a bigger/smaller casette, or have the option of putting a compact chainset on the bike. Also Campag and Shimano are very iffy about unqualifieds fitting kit. Better not to do it if you are unqualified and if you don't have the tools

  • I rebuilt my mountain bike in 20 minutes last weekend. I'd resprayed the frame so was starting from a total strip down so I was quite chuffed. It even worked too!

    The only tricky part is getting the headset races pressed in right and with a carbon frame you may want a bike shop to do that. They may only warranty the work if you buy the frame and headset from them though. My LBS refused to rebuild an old (but good) rim onto a new hub so don't assume that your LBS will build your kit for you. I'd ask them before you buy the bits from Wiggle to see if they have a problem building it or if they'll price match.

    If you only get the headset fitted, the rest of it is pretty much "insert tab A in slot B" and is a joy to do with new bits. It's worth getting to know what all the bits do anyway.
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    Thanks for the advice guys, my plan is now - As I am getting the frame from slane cycles I am going to get the bottom bracket, chainset and a few other things from them, so I will ask them if they can fit them. Is it the bearing type things such as the headset and bottom bracket etc. are these the trickiest? should I be asking them to do anything else in particular?

    The reason I am not going to go down the LBS route is because I asked all my local shops and they want to charge me loads for fitting it all, even if the components are theirs, this will heavily reduce the savings I'm making by buying all the parts separately and I might as well buy a built bike!

    Also I really want to learn how to do all this stuff, as I am pretty good with mechanics and building things so I reckon I could do it!

    What do you think of this set-up?

    Cervelo P2C frame, Dura Ace chainset with ultegra mech, planet X carbon base bar and extensions, Planet X 82/101 carbon tubs and all the other bits! all for 1850.
  • LindsLinds Posts: 124
    The short answer is not really and it should'nt take you to long

    However this is based on my experience working in Halfords some 17 years ago, when everything was all a bit simpler.

    I fact (and this tells you a lot about Halfords bike departments) I didn't have any formal training in bike repair/servicing), but fortunately I had a VERY knowledgable colleague to teach me everything, and a couple of "broken bikes" knocking around out back (the joy of a High Street shop was that we had a sperate workshop area) for me to practise on.

    The one bit of kit you will really need is a bike stand, without that you are going to struggle - and they can cost a bit.

    Having said all that, I'm taking my bike to the LBS for a full service/check as the gears are out and the flappy padle gears are far more complicated than anything I ever came across
  • I personally find bikes a pleasure to work on. I have worked on Renault's for over two years now and they re-define awkward! I don't think you'll struggle with fitting the components. That's the easy bit. It's the setting up and fine tuning the mechs, brakes etc that you may find puzzling.

    Oh and one more thing, don't scrimp on the tooling i.e Cassette tool and chain whip, Cable cutters etc. These will be used again and you'll be pleased you have them! Perhaps invest in a small torque wrench. Most components, especially Carbon fibre ones, rely on the correct torque setting (Usually 7-8Nm for stems, bars etc) This will take the guess work out of your assembly and ensure a trouble free and safer ride.
  • djtvdjtv Posts: 28

    Building a bike can be a real pleasure. If you are logically minded then there is no real difficulty in it. I would buy the following before you start:

    A full toolset, which will last you years and save £££ on future repairs.

    "Zinn and the art of bike maintenence" which covers everything you need to know (I use it really to reassure myself that I am doing these things right).

    I have built and re-built many bikes now (as I upgrade frames etc) and never really had a problem.

    My son recently bought a new MTB frame and re-built a bike from his old frame with no real difficulty.

    The only challenge I see is getting the gear settings right which requires a lot of patience.

    It is a lot easier with a bike stand but I have built plenty without - it is just a bit fiddly. The bike stand will save a lot of time.

  • learnerlearner Posts: 100
    I like the advice re headsets bearings being fitted by a pro, can get a bit tricky riding when your forks take off in a different direction. I must admit that i do most of the work on my bike myself, i find it realy relaxing fiddling around in the garage for a couple of hours, stripping and cleaning before reassembling. My advice for a complete novice is to start with simple stuff until you get confident. you could even pop to the local tip and pick up an old treader and practice on that. I must say that gears were a mystery or a while but i seem to have the hang of them now.

    Good luck
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    Thanks again guys, some really useful comments. I think I'm pretty good on the tools side, but will definitely get myself a stand.

    I think I'm going to have a go, however as the cables are internally routed and it all looks a bit of a faff I think I may have all the cabling done by the LBS, less chance of a screw-up!

    And djtv I was thinking about getting that book, so now i definitely will! Thanks!
  • learnerlearner Posts: 100
    internal cabling, have you tried a bit of net curtain tracking, it's a bit stiffer than normal cable and once it's through you can tape your cable to it and pul it through, don't tell the wife though....
  • transittransit Posts: 163

    headsets pressed in by lbs, now internal routing of cables.....might as well get them to finish the job [;)]

    I service my mtbs & road bikes. Zinn is a great book, also Park Tools website. If you can work in a garage with rafters or something overhead you can hang rope off this and round the frame and no work stand needed!!

    Good cable cutters are an absolute must, if they are rubbish they just fray all the cables.

    I think you're quite right to get someone to press in the headset. Not sure what happens with facing head set and bottom bracket shells on a carbon frame, these parts are metal aren't they?

    Good luck and we'll expect lots of techy bike related questions for a while!

    Oh, the spec sounds pretty good for the price. I'd go for a dura ace rear mech over anything else if I had the choice e.g. ultegra everything, if I was able to upgrade parts to Dura ace I'd go for rear mech first, then shifters, then, er nothing else probably.
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    Thanks, the reason I'm currently going for a Ultegra mech is its about £30 cheaper than the Dura-ace and the review I read on them said there wasnt that much difference!

    Ok, so I need to ask one more question as I want opinions!

    I have a few choices on frame that drastically affect the price of the bike, I had my heart set on a P2C but there are some other choices.

    A 2007 P2C making the overall bike 1800

    2008 P2C = 1950

    A P2SL - 1300 (is the carbon on the P2C really worth the extra 500)

    A planet X stealth carbon frame - overall bike 1300.

    What do people think? I do have up to £2000 to spend, but theres no point spending the extra money if its not worth it!

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