In this modern world, where bikes of every type are squeezed through the industry marketing machine, there is still something to be said for building your own bike.
When I built my first road bike age 14 in the mid eighties, it was pretty much the normal thing to do. In the pre-internet days, we would source a frame from a club mate, or the classified ad’s in cycling weekly (mine was a £50 Vitus 979), collect some parts together for the build and get it done.
Building your own bike is satisfying and gives you a greater understanding of how and why everything works. When the assembled box of parts transforms into an actual form of transport, it is a cyclist’s opportunity to give birth to their new pride and joy. A proud smile will accompany the bike as it leaves the
maternity ward garage, for the very first time.
Before the build, think about what you want to achieve in your new bike and make a parts list of components. The best thing about building your own bike is that all the options are yours to make. From simple things like your favourite brand of narrow bars & long cranks on a 56 cm frame (not standard off the shelf road bike sizing) to an outrageous colour scheme or an unusual mix of components – the world is your oyster. Choices have become even wider in the last few years with tubeless tyre, wider rims, disc brakes and thru axles giving more opportunity to vary your ride.
If you have any doubts in your competancy ‘on the tools’, invest in a torque wrench. Stick to manufacturer recommended torque settings and you can’t go too far wrong. If you are in doubt, consult a friend or even Youtube if you have to. Following a new build, double-check everything is tight and have a short ride.
While it is possible to let your creativity flow with your new build, there are certain parameters which need to be considered. Your frameset will dictate and influence quite a few aspects of the build. Headset type, bottom bracket type, wheel axle type and braking will all be governed by your frameset – so plan wisely for what you want to build
Uniqueness. “I built it my way”, as Frank Sinartra might have said, had he been a bike rider… Building your own bike will give a strong bond between you and machine. I like to think if you built your bike, it is more likely to look after you, out in the wilds, when the sh*t hits the fan – a true bond of kinship. On the other hand if you just want to hand over some money, jump on a new bike and ride, that also has its plus points too…
Avoid Big Mistakes
1 Make sure you are happy with your riding position before cutting the excess fork steerer – Leave uncut for a while, measure twice & cut once.
2 Make sure your cable routing is right before cutting outer cables.
3 Use grease! All threads need a little dab of grease so they dont seize, seatposts too. Carbon seat post and carbon frame? – Use carbon anti-slip paste.
4 Make sure you have the right tools, check out our own range of tools here.
Having got the gravel riding bug on the awesome entry-level Merlin Malt G last year, I wanted to build something a bit racier that suited my local gravel tracks. I bought a 2nd hand, 7.5kg Colnago Prestige CX bike which had raced at a pretty high level (World Cup CX) a few years ago and set about my gravel masterplan. The bike featured Shimano Dura Ace 7900 / 7800 and C50 carbon wheels. The plan was to sell the Dura Ace kit and rebuild with Shimano R7000 components / Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels and some fat 40mm gravel tyres.
The bike turned out really well and is a lot of fun. I added about a kilo to the weight of the original bike, but added so much more in terms of riding enjoyment and user-friendliness. The old Dura Ace component demand online was strong, this meant that the frame was basically free, so the build set me back the cost of the R7000 parts, wheels and tyres. My local gravel tracks are relatively flat and so don’t really require disc brakes – just as well because cantilever braking demands a fair bit of planning ahead and positive thinking…
I think the bike has delivered what i hoped it would – the Shimano R7000 is brilliant. The bike is fast and fun for short blasts, and yet comfy enough for a recent 100k / 5 hour plod along gravel trails.
Pimp Your Ride
Even if you decide against a full new bike build, there are plenty of custom options to give your bike a little extra ‘wow’ factor. Check out our these Supacaz parts to set your bike apart from the crowd…