Trailgrams: Bike-Build Tips


One of many: Bike Shop owner Scott Armstrong of MJ’s Cyclery talking shop.

I read Brandon’s “The Bike-Build Experience” column and thought I should respond. I have been a reader/subscriber for many years, as I started racing bikes in the early ’70s and mountain bikes in the early ’80s. I have worked in many bike shops and owned my own shop for a while (retired now). I think you could make the bike-build idea into an informative article, because this is what all serious riders should be doing.

A few pointers:

—Look for a deal/sale on a frame that will serve your needs. This is easier than it seems because once you start looking, almost all the big online sales places will start notifying you of whatever deals they have going on (whether you want them to or not). Craigslist may also be a good place to look.

Jenson USA is known for its smokin’ deals on framesets! BTW,  they have some going on right now!

—Once you have a frame, you will know what hubs/wheels and BB you’ll need. The vast majority of riders (readers) do NOT need carbon rims. Look for decent quality hubs, suitable rims, and then build (or have built) wheels. Figure out tires and look for deals on them also.

—Look for deals on last year’s suspension forks (they don’t change much). Then look for light cranks and fill in the other components.

—Using this method, the average serious rider will be able to build up a bike that will exactly suit his (or her) needs. I built one last spring using this method. I can send you more details if you want, but I built a 19.8-pound hardtail (with pedals) for about $3,600—a bike that would cost about twice that if you could buy the whole thing from a manufacturer. It has very nice strong wheels, handles great and will be very reliable for years to come.

Niner Bikes RKT 9 RDO RS

It has mostly XTR parts (SRAM crank), a Niner frame (it was on sale for $1200) and a Fox SC fork. This is what any avid rider could (should) do. If you want any more details, just let me know. By the way, I also built my road bike, CX bike, bike-packing bike, TT bike, etc. this same way.

Tom Webb (not the motorcycle guy)
Portland, OR

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