Building bikes requires a vision, and that all starts by gathering inspiration. I often gather ideas from the pros’ bikes, but another great resource is stopping by a local shop and asking to see the shop mechanic’s bike. These guys build bikes out of the box for a living, so when it’s time to build a bike for themselves, they often go all out on the details. Once you’ve envisioned the type of bike you want and have a rough idea of how you want to build it, now comes the time-intensive part.
It’s always good to start with a frame as the foundation for your build, since this choice might dictate which parts will or will not fit. If you order a brand-new frame with Boost hub spacing, then those old wheels you’ve had hanging in the garage for the past decade won’t fit. Collecting parts is a tedious process that requires double-checking that all of the parts will mesh well. I’m fortunate enough to work directly with the companies, but I know many of you are likely to bargain hunt for new or used parts online. My tip is to triple-check that those parts will work with your build before you order them.
BUILDING A CHECKLIST
Once all those parts arrive, your first instinct will probably be to start assembling everything as soon as possible. Without a detailed checklist, however, your efforts will likely result in a half-built bike taking up space on your workstand. When I’m building a bike, I stop and look at a bike that’s completely assembled and work my way around it to see if my box of goodies has everything I need. Small parts, such as the crown race, or missing tools, such as a bottom-bracket press, can put a halt to your project and may cause you to take a trip to the bike shop with your “not quite a bike” build. Write up a checklist and make sure you have all the parts and tools you need to finish the job.
THE BUILDING PROCESS
Now that I’ve made my checklist and made sure I have everything I need to complete my build, it’s time for the fun to begin. The building process is truly my favorite part. I tune into a top-country-hits playlist and watch the time fly by as my box of parts turns into a trail-shredding weapon. I tend to take my time when building a bike to ensure everything is greased and torqued to spec so that my bike runs like a top for years to come. Each part installed pulls the vision of my bike into reality. Before I know it, my project is ready for its first ride.
As with the first ride on any bike, I take my time to set up the controls and stop occasionally to check my handiwork. Once I’m feeling confident with my setup—from suspension feel to the placement of my controls—I begin to dig a little deeper into what my new ride can do. The feeling I get turning a box of parts into a rideable machine is like no other. It’s an experience every rider should have. If at any point you’ve thought about building a bike from the frame up, I highly recommend you start today. It’s more than okay to take your time and purchase parts month by month until you have everything you need. Think of it as a payment plan for your dream bike. Before you know it, you too will be the proud owner and builder of a custom-built dream bike.
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