Build a bike

With some great advice from a few people here, I got all the bits together for Mrs74s new bike.  A few photos whilst I was building.

 So it starts like this:

Add a few left over bits from the shed (actual bars are in the post from Chain reaction so these are just for today).


  • Arse.  Photos not inserting, so you'll have to click through.

    All the bits laid out.  Frameset from Dolan £175, box from Merlin with full Ultegra compact for £335 and the Saddle from Evans for £60.  Bars and Dura Ace cables another £80 from Chain Reaction.

    Take parts, and simply screw together.  No really, it's that easy.  Only time you need to be a little careful is with the front mech, just keep the tape on until fitted as that shows you where to mount it and saves you ages fiddling around later.

    Then an hour later you have one of these (I know, chain still to go on as I was degreasing it and there is a limit to what you can get away with in the lounge).

    And these are the tools you need.  In fact the chain whip was only needed as I had a 9 speed block to take off first.  I'll also need a saw to cut down the stem when the real stem, spacers and bars arive on Monday, but for today to get a feel for the size then it's fine, only turbo duties for now.

  • That actually looks quite sexy!  Are you saying anyone with two hands could build it?
  • Absolutely.  Two hands, 2 hours and the tools shown.

    Screw in the bottom bracket cups with the big blue ring spanner.  Push crank through bearing and bolt on other crank.  Screw on rear mech.  Screw on front mech and line it up with the chainring.  Push fork through frame and bolt stem on.  Brakes bolt on with single allen key bolt.  Levers slide onto bars and tighten.  Stick seatpost in.  Add chain.  4 cables to the mechs and brakes and you're done.  Just need to adjust the limit screws on the mechs to make the gears work and you are ready to ride.

    And what's more then you'll understand how it all goes together for future maintenance.

  • putting a bike together is not that difficult though much easier if you build a singlespeed or fixie as no gears to pfaff with......

    nice stuff Duncan - have just finished my SS - will post some pics later. took much longer than you as some components took a while to come and there was no rush for me to finish it
  • Handlebars are sat beside me now (just realised I need some headset spacers too), so may get it finished tonight.  Got some free sweeties from CRC too, first time ever, and I never got any from Wiggle in all the years and several £k I spent with them before i lost it with them 18 months ago.

  • CRC are doing sweeties now??? I've had them from Wiggle a few times but never from CRC.....
  • Yep, aniseed flavoured rock with CRC in the middle. And very nice it was too.
  • and to save me reading back how much did the bits cost...........
  • Frame , Forks, Headset, seatpost. £170 Dolan

    Groupset (ultegra) £330 - Merlin Cycles

    Stem and Easton EA50 bars and tape - £40 Chain Reaction

    Headset spacers  - £5 - LBS

    And that was it in terms of essentials.  I also bought a Selle Italia Lady saddle for £65 and a computer, and Dura Ace Brake and gear cables which we're 'upgrades', and added spare wheels from the shed.  So full Ultegra build for £545 plus wheels (would add a pair of 105s or Askiums for about £120).

  • Wow that looks ace and you make it sound easy image

     If i wanted to make a few upgrades on my bike before my next tri in may, what would be the best upgrades to give me that little extra speed?

  • Depends what your bike is like at the moment - assuming it's a standard road bike you are looking at making it more aero.    Position is the main thing - so get some tri bars and and work on getting a good flat position with them.   

    Wheels are fairly important but you are looking at a lot of money for some good aero wheels - several hundred pounds even second hand.     Your clothing is quite important - remove anything flappy, wear a tri suit or skin suit.   An aero lid is also worthwhile though they tend to be hotter so for a long distance event in hot weather you might be better off with a normal helmet.    If you want to take things as far as you can without spending much things like not wearing gloves, aero water bottles etc will save a few seconds off. 

    Non aero stuff look at getting some tyres with low rolling resistance.

  • As the man says, hard to say without knowing where you're at at the moment.  I'm not a big fan of flash parts, I actually have 105 9 speed roadset on my race bike, and use 105 wheels.  But then it's all about what racing you do too.  I tend to do all my training  in the peaks, so a bike that climbs is right for me, so STIs not bar end shifters.  For flat areas then bar ends may be right.

    For upgrades, simply making sure your current bike is well maintained, tyres at the right pressure (ie good track pump with guage), clean chain and check it's not worn as that increases mechanical resistance, make sure your position is right (very hard as the generic is just that, not specific to your mobility and bio-mechanics).  Lots of people start by blowing £500+ on wheels (and then wear a baggy cycle top), but in 90% of cases I reckon you could save more time by spending £50 on stem / bottle cages / tri suit.

     FIrst IM I did I spent £300 on a coach and that took several hours off my time.  Start there, the bike bling saves minutes.

  • Cheers for the advice guys, i have a basic trek 1000 (£350) at mo my first road bike with sora gears, I was measured up for it so it fits me well and im comfortable on it. Its mostly steel so will look into swappin seatpost and forks like you said d74, and was thinking of swapping wheels upto the £200 mark (or could that money be better spent elsewhere).

    I did invest in some decent tyres (gator skins) and a pump stand to get right pressure and that made a massive diff. I'm just gettin into tri after doing my first in sept, but looking at doing a sprint in may and the trentham classic in july, so plenty of time to get my fitness up and just wanted to see where i could save a bit on the bike, i'll take on board the tighter clothing as i did wear baggy shorts and t'shirt last time image bit conscious about my gut hanging out but ive got rid of most of that now lol.

     If any of you guys know of a good link that explains how to properly clean and maintain my bike after use, i'd appreciate you putting that up.

    Thx again Neil

  • I said forks and seatpost?  They  will help for comfort (swap to carbon ones), but won't make you any faster, and I'd say would be a waste of money really unless you were looking to do long distance races where the 'buzz' from the road becomes limiting after 2-3 hours.

    Gatorskins are fine for training, but there are faster tyres out there for racing, personally I like Vittoria Corsa CX tyres, but any of the £25ish  per tyre race tyres will be much of a muchness in the real world. 

    Undoubtably the money saved from the wheels and fork would be much better spent on coaching (10 months at £35).  In fact start now with a coach and book a half IM in for September (Vitruvian?). 

     As for cleaning, I'm not a  fan of the cosmetic stuff, think I really cleaned my old frame once and that was to sell it, but I keep the mechanicals clean and in tip top.   Park Tools website is great for all manner of cleaning and repair tips.  Also (Ride In Peace).  Chain clean with whitelightening every week or 100 miles (whichever sooner), relube with some finishline lube (green winter, red summer) and check tyres for any glass.  Don't retension cables that have stretched, swap them as the inners are dirt cheap and once they are starting to stretch it means they are on the way out.  Occasionally then you may need to give the jockey wheels a degunge, same as the front mech.  But that's it really, nothing complicated.  Spend the time on the moving bits, leave the frame polishing to the ponces.

  • When you said stems i thought you was talking about seatpost image

    Ive heard of a local tri club sowill have a look into that and maybe invest in abit of 1 on 1 training, and will save my cash.

    Cheers for the advice guys its made my mind up to not bother buying upgrades that i don't really need, i'm going to concentrate on making sure that I get quicker on the bike.

    Thx again

  • And I picked up the final piece of the jigsaw, a pair of shimano wheels for £75 from a bike shop in Thame when I was at the outlaws yesterday.  Low end model, but they've been fine for me for years, so as Mrs74 is half my weight then I've no worries about them for her.  So £620 for full bike.  Looking forward to getting some miles on it over xmas.
  • All those bits add up to more than 620 pounds, plus no mention in budget for pedals and tyres/tubes.

    Nice idea if you like buiding bikes, but maybe not for everyone.

  • Don't forget the rim tape .... image and not for me ...
  • Kanga,

    I thought you would have been a dab hand at putting bikes together!!!!!!!

  • Emergency repairs with gaff tape and WD40 rather than building from scratch ! Assume you got PX to build your bling machine rather than spanner it yourself ?
  • Well I opened the box with a knife if that counts!!!!

  • Foggy, reused old tyres I had, basically perfectly good ones, but swapped out before IMNZ for confidence and to save cleaning them for the NZ bio checks. Tubes ditto.    Pedals, the ones there in the photos are new ones from 'the shed', ones I'd got for the commute but not got round to fitting.  Will be used for a while before she moves to some Shimano SPD-SL R540 at £35.  Then again, pedals are rarely included in any bike price, that's part of the reason I left those off.

    Sorry, forgot the saddle in the total, so with a top end saddle that's £700, and say £750 for a full ultegra build bike with a carbon rear frame including a £65 saddle, tubes and tyres.  So about £250 cheaper than a normal shop built bike?  Could have made it cheaper by spending less on the saddle and there were other cheaper options too, but this is now a very competent bike at a price I was happy to pay.  3 hours total time to order everything, build it and then fettle including chopping the steerer down,  taping the bars and swapping cassettes around (originally built using a spare wheel with a 9 speed cassette, so swapped for the photos, and then swapped back yesterday after I'd got the final wheels).

  • Its definitely worth building your own if you are an enthusiast with the tools, skills, confidence and some spares in the shed!!!   As you say 750 for Carbon bike with Ultergra is well below shop prices.
  • What I hoped by this thread was to show that the tools were minimal, the skills not really that high, the only thing you need is confidence. 

    Clearly the latter part may take a battering  if I post early in the new year that I am a Widower after Wifey74 expired whilst out riding on new bike.

  • the only thing you need is confidence

    in many ways that's probably the most important thing you need

    as D74 has shown it's not difficult with the right tools and confidence - and any problems that arise can be sorted by cultivating good relations with a nice friendly LBS mechanic who won't laugh out too loudly when you make a balls of it....... image

    PS - I fitted some new tubeless tyres at the w/e on Petal's MTB which drove me nuts - then I read the instructions.............RTFM as they say.... image
  • Actually, I suppose what I ought to do is to expose any 'errors' to assist.

    So here goes:-

    1) Front brake needs longer 'nut' to go through carbon steerer - forgotten that before when I was building my racebike, but it's a standard part and was £2 from LBS

    2) Had mental block about which brake went to which lever.  Quick check in the garage on existing fleet helped with that one.

    3) Cutting the steerer.  I did the right thing which was to 'go too long' on the first cut, and I'd underestimated the thickness of the top cap, so it was about 2mm too long to get any compression with all the spacers in place.  So had to do a second cut 5mm down to get the compression.  No problem, just meant double the cutting and taking out the fork again as I didn't want steerer dust falling into the headset bearings by cutting on the bike.

    4) The thread on the driveside of the BB was a bit rough which meant that the bearing wouldn't screw in straight, and  in fairness it would have been very easy for someone to have just tried to force it and cross threaded it.  As it was, as soon as I couldn't tighten it by hand then I knew  something was wrong and so backed it off, cleaned the swarf out with a small electrical screwdriver and then it was fine.

    5) Anti seize used on the seatpost, bottom bracket and pedals.  Chain de-glooped before putting on the bike.

    6) Don't use the full chain length, put it in largest  at front and rear (I know, you don't use in real life) then fit chain with overlap 2 links with mech at limit.  This means you can't pull the mech off if you get the chain diagonal when out on the road. 

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