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A journal of running, healthy food, mountains, bikes and technology by Julia Revitt

Building your own bike is a very rewarding way of getting exactly what you want in a bike. When finished, your bike will be built to your own specifications and there won’t be another one in the world like it. There are several considerations to take into account when thinking about building your own bike…

Time

Building your own bike takes time. We typically spend a winter sources parts, waiting for their delivery and building it all ready for spring. Inevitably, there are delays – the parts are out of stock, you need an extra widget etc. So don’t try to build your own a month before a big event – give yourself plenty of time – at least 8 weeks.

Money

It’s cheaper to buy a bike off the shelf. Manufacturers get discount on their components but you won’t. The January sales are a good time to buy components and places like Chainreaction Cycles and Wiggle have excellent deals most of the time. Don’t be afraid to barter a bit on prices for the big items such as frames and forks. I got my Orange Diva Five with a custom spray job for less than the retail price of the frame alone.

Tools

You will need to spend some cash on some basic tools to build your own. You’ll need a place to work that’s warm and spacious. Being bike nuts we tend to spread a large tarpaulin over the living room floor and build the bike inside. It’s warm and comfortable but does take over your life for a while!

You’ll need a good bike stand as bending over for long periods of time is back breaking and it really helps when setting up the gears. The alternative is to put your saddle on a step ladder and let the bike hang underneath but this is quite fiddly and eventually gets on your nerves!

You’ll need specialist tools to fit some of the parts – so do your research as it’s very frustrating to find you are missing a tool when you come to build the bike.

Knowledge

A good bike book is very helpful when it comes to adjusting gears or bleeding brakes. It’s worth investing in unless you already know how to adjust everything on a bike.

Help

We always take the bike to a bike shop to get the headset fitted and the brakes bled. The headset requires an expensive tool and we’ve never been able to successfully bleed the brakes.

It’s great fun and really satisfying to build your own bike but it’s not for the faint hearted. It takes time, effort, money and commitment but we love it. We’ve built 4 bikes from scratch and rebuilt many more. My Orange Five Diva has a custom spray job with beautiful white components – I even bought custom Oakley Endurings to match it!

 

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  1. Tom #
    October 6, 2010

    Hmmm- very interested to read your post.

    I have just started to build my own bike with a fair amount of common sense and intuition, but no real knowledge! Good tip about the headset, I think it may be nearly my next job. And brake bleeding- are you talking hydraulics?!

    • October 8, 2010

      Hi Tom,

      Yes, I was referring to hydraulic brakes. An excellent book to reference whilst building your bike is ‘Zinn & the art of mountain bike maintenance’. We refer to it regularly during the build and can thoroughly recommend it.

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