's Forum Archives - General

Archive Home >> General(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 )

What of my bike should I build myself, what should I leave(41 posts)

What of my bike should I build myself, what should I leavebill
Mar 27, 2001 10:41 AM
to the experts?
I'm buying a frame from an overseas guy ( He is selling me the frame, the fork, and probably most if not all of the drivetrain, including the brakes (campy record -- his prices are good, what can I say?). I'm not terrible with a wrench as a general matter, but I've not tried to do anything sophisticated with my bike. I have a consumer-quality tool kit that includes most of what you might need. I have patience and interest, but, you know, sometimes you don't know squat until you've broken some stuff, which I really don't feel like doing.
Should I get him to install the BB and the threadless headset and do the rest myself, although cutting cables does have me a little freaked, and I'm pretty sure that I don't want to cut a carbon steerer myself?
Should I suck it up and give it all a go (which I'd kind of like to do)? Just tell him to put it all in a box?
Should I forget it and say to build it up as far as he can, and let my LBS handle the rest, because the steerer won't be cut, the bars are here, and the stem isn't picked yet, anyway? In other words, all I'll really be doing is bolting on a couple of things, anyway?
I realize that no one knows my level of skill, but I'm interested in hearing from people with no experience who've done it as well as others who've cleaned up the messes of folks (or themselves) who thought they knew too much.
I'd let the pros do it.Alex R
Mar 27, 2001 11:10 AM
If you're not an experienced mechanic, I wouldn't try assembling the bike. If you would like to become a good mechanic, take a course. The place to start your first experimental tinkerings is not on your new Italian dream machine.

do it allJiggy
Mar 27, 2001 11:26 AM
if you have the tools and know how. But if you can't even adjust brakes or a derailleur you might as well take it to a shop and get it done right. You will just look like a twit bringing in a MO purchase to a LBS- expect to pay for the build. At least you won't screw anything up that way.
re: What of my bike should I build myself, what should I leaveKEN
Mar 27, 2001 11:38 AM
Based on your description, I'd take a middle road. If you trust to do build work, I would have them install the BB and fork/headset. Those are the most exacting jobs, also they require special tools like a headset press that are not practical in a home shop.

None of the other stuff is rocket science. Get a book with photos like Zinn's and take your time. For cables you can study other bikes first for lengths and routing. I have cut cables/housing with a dremel attachment on a 1/4" drill (cheap), but I would recommend getting the proper cable cutting tool (Park or Pedro's wrenches are good). Installing brakes, derailleurs, cranks etc. are all reasonable jobs for someone with the right tools and reasonable mechanical aptitude. You will also need a pedal wrench and a set of metric allen wrenches, including the correct one for the crank bolts (usually larger than any in the standard set).

I built up a mountain bike last year and had a ball, it was my first build. Since then I built up a bike for my wife as well. Before that all I had done was routine maintenance on my bikes.
best advicepmf
Mar 27, 2001 11:59 AM
I agree and would add, let the shop cut the fork for you too. A certian someone here on this board made a mistake with a Colnago Star carbon fork and presumably had to buy another. Ouch.

As far as cutting cables, so what if you goof up, they only cost a couple dollars. Buy a good cable cutter, its a tool worth having.
Ouch...not a Star!!ColnagoFE
Mar 27, 2001 12:24 PM
What are those like $800? That would make me physically sick to have done that.
The guy is a lawyerpmf
Mar 27, 2001 12:56 PM
I guess he can afford it.
Mar 27, 2001 1:21 PM
that's gotta hurt to do something like that.
You got that rightpmf
Mar 27, 2001 1:28 PM
Oh man, I'd be banging my head against the wall if I cut a $700 fork too short. Plus, then you have to dilemma --- do you keep your bike pristine and fork out $700 for a new one, or do you get an equally good Look, Reynolds, etc for half the price? Its a cool looking fork, but come on, $700? Guess you could always hope to find someone with a smaller frame and swap them.
If you can affordColnagoFE
Mar 27, 2001 2:12 PM
a C-40 you gotta go with the Star! I have a Master XL with the Flash fork. Sorta a poor man's Star but they still want $300+ for it if you buy it without a frame. As it was I paid a $100 upcharge for it. I think they include it standard now. I think it's a very good fork, but a Ouzo Pro or something similar would probably be as good or better for less $.
He's a lawyerAHobie17
Mar 27, 2001 5:00 PM
He's a lawyer, you know he gets paid whether he wins or looses!! The client gets screwed. So I say to Fk'n bad. Should have watched what he was doing and paid attention.
you're a moronfuzzybunnies
Mar 27, 2001 6:45 PM
The lawyer in question is someone who frequents this board offering sound advice in both bikes and law to the people here. Cut him some slack, he seems like a decent person and doesn't deserve the comments. TTFN
IT WAS DOUG SLOANDivine Intervention
Mar 27, 2001 7:48 PM
You all shut up, it was Doug Sloan, President and CEO of

Keep you Star Carbons, and Ouso Pros....generic forks are the way to go.
Yup, sounds like a moron!OutWest
Mar 27, 2001 10:21 PM
Doug doesn't deserve stupid remarks like that.
I agreepmf
Mar 28, 2001 5:08 AM
That nameless lawyer is a nice guy who made a mistake. I wouldn't even have the guts to try cutting it myself.
Learn from my mistakeDog
Mar 28, 2001 5:50 AM
I can tell you exactly what I did, and maybe all can learn from it. I assembled the uncut fork, headset, spacers, stem, and then measured down from the top of the uncut steertube. I have cut many forks, and I always in the past marked the cut with a felt marker; this time, I couldn't find my marker, so I measured instead. I recall that it was something like 3 7/8's inches. Then, I disassembled and set up the fork for cutting. Here's where I messed up. I was thinking to myself, "3 7/8's inches is just under 4 inches - sort of a double check." Then, I measured down 4 7/8's inches, and cut away. Of course, it came out exactly 1 inch too short. Even without spacers, the steerer only came up about half way through the stem.

Lesson: never cut a fork by measuring - always mark it!

When I discovered what I did, I felt like a moron. I very sheepishly had to go back to the shop and tell them I needed another fork, knowing that the retail on the Star fork alone is $750. Nearly everone in the shop at the time got this "I feel your pain" expression on their faces. I've had whole bikes that cost much less. They got me one, but it was indeed painful. But, lesson learned.

what to cut it with?screamingbunny
Mar 28, 2001 6:26 AM
Just ordered a GIOS all carbon front fork. I've cut MTB forks in the past, steel and alloy steerers but never a carbon. Do you just use a hack saw like the others or do you use something different? THAX
Carbide grit hacksaw bladeBipedZed
Mar 28, 2001 6:35 AM
Available at Sears. Basically tiny carbide particles bonded to a hacksaw blade. Cuts a carbon steerer very cleanly and quickly with little effort.
just curiousColnagoFE
Mar 28, 2001 11:55 AM
did you let them cut the next one? it's bad enough to have cut the first one wrong but it would be terrible to cut two of em wrong! i'd have been mighty nervous cutting that second one!

are you able to use the other fork at all? someone with a short headtube use it? or is it useless now?
cut it, tooDog
Mar 29, 2001 5:41 AM
Yes, I cut it, too. You gotta get right back on the horse, right? Of course, you mark it with a felt marker, and you can't go wrong.

The short fork is looking for a good home -- maybe someone with a 49 cm bike.

My respect for Doug is only increased.Spoke Wrench
Mar 29, 2001 6:43 AM
He could easily have hidden his mistake from the rest of us and that would have been the end of it. That would have been the softer, gentler way. Insted, he took responsibility for his actions and shared them with the rest of us so that we could benefit from his painful experience. I for one respect that.

Thanks, Doug.
Mar 28, 2001 7:40 AM
True, for some defense cases, the lawywer gets paid, win or lose. But, it can become difficult to keep or attract clients if you lose too much. Even when losing, that doesn't necessarily mean that the client gets screwed and that it was the lawyer's fault. Sometimes, clients deserve to lose, it's just a matter of 'how much?' Sometimes, injustices are done, and the lawyer deserves to be paid for the service anyway.

Sometimes, as I do now and have in the past, lawyers accept plaintiffs' cases on a percentage basis. The lawyer gets a percentage of the collected amount, and if we lose, we may have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in time and expenses and get nothing back. This is nearly universally encouraged, as it enables people who have been wronged or injured to have representation who otherwise would not be able to afford it. It's a huge risk on the lawyer's part, though. Did you see Erin Brockovitch?

Besides all that, how lawyers get paid has nothing to do with assembly of bike, as far as I can tell, nor the justice of a mistake affecting a lawyer vs. a bike shop employee (yes, they do it, too).

Maybe we need to revisit the Forum Pact.

tangentDoug Smith
Mar 28, 2001 12:37 PM
Doug, I was surprised to read that you accept plaintiff cases. For what it's worth, based upon the general tone of your posts, I had you pegged as a transactional/business attorney. Of course, maybe if I had checked you out in Martindale, I would have learned different.

Also, as a fellow lawyer, I think many need to realize that not all of us are drowning in money. There are many attorneys who make a nice living, but who are not rich by anyone's standards. Forgive me if I should have let this slide, but I was annoyed by the "he's a lawyer, he can afford" it attitude. I certainly would feel a $750.00 mistake pretty hard.

That being said, let's get back to bikes.

Doug Smith
Mar 27, 2001 11:42 AM
Funny, I've actually been thinking about this lately. Since you seem interested, I find it extremely satisfying to build up a bike from the frame alone. While you are riding it around noticing the smoothness and grace of the machine it's nice to know you are the sole person responsible for it's flawlessness. That being said, you have to know not only what to do when building up a bike, but more importantly WHY you are doing - for what purpose you are turning that wrench. OK, on to pragmatics.

The ideal situation would be to build it yourself with the guidance of an experienced mechanic (and some of his/her speciality tools) right next to you. Since I feel I know you somewhat from this board, if I lived in the DC area I would be glad to help you build it and offer lots of tips and guidance. Unfortunately, I'm in Denver. If you know any skilled mechanics that you could bribe with some good beer or other party favors, that would be the way to go. ;-)

In lieu of that, I would recommend letting an experienced mechanic press the headset cups, and install the fork once you have the stem (and stem height) selected. While this is useful knowledge, this requires a bunch of tools you won't use much unless you swap forks/frames alot. Installing a threadless fork is a process which is irreversable and potentially expensive if you mess up - not to mention an error could lead to serious injury while riding.

Once the headset/fork is installed, there really isn't anything else that couldn't be reversed or redone inexpensively (relatively). At this point, assuming you are going Campy, you will need (assuming you have a decent workstand):

hex wrenches 3,4,5,6,8mm
Cable cutters (if you are buying these get the Shimano cable cutters - the industry benchmark)
pedal wrench
Campy cassette/BB tool
electrical tape
file (for finishing cut housing and filing off fork tabs)
(maybe some other wrenches - I haven't worked with new Campy stuff)

At this point it's a matter of bolting things up and adjusting. Cutting cables and housing is not very difficult, just make sure you get extra length and extra cables. Be sure to grease threads before assembling to the frame.

Go slow, take your time, and email me personally if you have any questions.
Do it yourself but with patience and research...Bill B
Mar 27, 2001 12:05 PM
Bill, I have built up four bikes and have enjoyed it each time. If you presumably get all the right parts from the start and are willing to spend some time researching either through the net or at your library there is nothing that you can't do on the build. You just need to go slow and with any cutting measure twice and cut once! I can now put a bike together in less than an hour usually from striped frame to ready to roll. I'd go for it but spend the time before you get everything reading all you can find on the subject! Good luck!
Mar 27, 2001 12:10 PM
You guys are (I'm misting up over here) the best. (sob) The best.
But seriously, folks, thanks for the words of encouragement and advice. I think I'll take the more or less middle road -- get him to press the headset, and I'll give it a go from there, with the LBS cutting the steerer (and, I guess, installing that pain-in-the-butt campy chain). I've got most of the tools, and a cable cutter would seem to be a reasonable purchase. No better way to learn how something works, right? And, how disgusted would the LBS have a right to be? The more I mess up, the more money he'll make.
That's how I learned to do many thingspmf
Mar 27, 2001 12:21 PM
Tried myself. Screwed up. Took it to the LBS and asked what I did wrong. Bike mechanics are usually nice guys and will be happy to show you how to do stuff. That way you'll remember it too. Things like headsets that require expensive tools aren't worth it though.

You ought to learn how to install the chain. That's basic maintenence.

And nooooo, duuuuuuude, we're just bored at work right now.
well, I appreciate it. For the Record (pun intended), I havebill
Mar 27, 2001 12:28 PM
no problems installing a chain, which I've done before, but I don't feel like laying out $60 for the Campy permalink chain tool.
One more recommendationBipedZed
Mar 27, 2001 12:33 PM
Get the Campy chain tool and install the chain yourself. Otherwise it will be a hassle. You'd have to bolt on the rear derailleur and the front derailleur (maybe, don't know if Campy cages will come apart), then take the bike to the LBS and have them install the chain. Then you'd be able to continue with adjustments. Bolting parts on is the easy part, getting everything adjusted perfectly is what takes time.

Here's the order I'd do things (assuming you have wheels and cassettes already):

1. Install BB and adjust.
2. Install cranks/pedals
3. Install rear derailleur and front derailleur
4. Install chain
5. Install brake calipers and adjust pads
6. Install stem and handlebar (make sure headset is adjusted correctly)
7. Install shifters
8. Route, measure, and cut housing
9. Attach cables
10. Adjust derailleurs
11. Adjust brakes
12. Crimp cable ends
13. Tape bars
14. Adjust seatpost and seat.
I've printed out all this stuff. Thanks. nmbill
Mar 27, 2001 1:08 PM
Bottom BracketAHobie17
Mar 27, 2001 1:12 PM
If you are going to install most every thing BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT THE BOTTOM BRACKET. If you crossthread it you're SCREWED. Depending on the frame, it may have metal fillings left. I've put many bikes together and have found out the bottom brackets sometimes have metal left inside. Buy the way I'm self taught and have yet to screw one up. Just be aware of what your doing and DON'T FORCE ANYTHING!!
Is your wife still on board?Peetey
Mar 27, 2001 12:34 PM
Hey Bill,

I hope I haven't missed any intervening chapters, but does this mean that you're buying the Pegoretti and the wiffey is OK with that?
To say that the wife is "on board" would be, truthfully,bill
Mar 27, 2001 1:06 PM
stretching it. She, however, has made it clear that she doesn't want to know anything more than she knows right now, which is that, odds are, another machine eventually will be taking up laundry space in the basement. Which is as close as I'm going to come to getting her on board. And I'm taking it as an "on board." Although she might be upset if she knew how close the eventuality was.
My wife's idea of acceding to something is to stop carping about it. She hasn't carped, and I'm counting it as a win. She and I agree on this: what she doesn't know about this bike will not hurt her. Or me.
The Pegoretti is on order.
Ignore those guys; listen to ME....Cory
Mar 27, 2001 2:23 PM
No, actually I didn't read anybody else's response, and so can answer unfettered by reason or facts.
I think you pretty much nailed it with your idea to have him install the BB and maybe the headset and do the rest yourself. There's nothing much you can screw up, other than cutting the fork (I'd probably chicken out and have the pros do that). If you get something out of adjustment, go back and adjust it--it's not likely to hurt anything.
A good book like Zinn's or the Bicycling manual will tell you most of what you need to know. I built my first mountain bike out of the Bicycling book, and just did a new Atlantis except for BB and headset. It's not rocket surgery, just pieces going on pieces.
Have him put it all in a box and ship it ...Breck
Mar 27, 2001 4:52 PM
Fondle all the parts when you get them ... jes kidding.

Have your LBS install the headset and the fork steerer tube to fit ... only. Observe how they do it. Install the rest your self as this will bring you the most familiarity with your bike and major assemblies. Get a bike manual and jump in. It is really not all that difficult; tackle one assembly at a time.

The bike will build itself.
Kinda' like a marriage ... yikes!

The Board will help with those areas you are uncertain about. Your most troublesome part will be derailleur set up and adjustment.

We are here to serve. How does that commercial go?
"It's your Army" ... or something like that.

Comrade! I gave it a go last Saturday.E3
Mar 27, 2001 5:11 PM
I'm just like you. I bought an overseas frame with the intention of transplanting the parts off of my current bike onto the new frame. I shared your same worries, as the most I've ever done was overhaul a hub and remove chain links.

My tool kit is a Nashbar tool kit with only the essentials. So, I gathered up my Zinn book, instruction sheet for my new DA STI levers and cables, and a couple of printed postings from this messageboard and headed to my garage.

My two main concerns were: 1) Removing and subsequently pressing in the headset cups and 2) cutting new cables/housing and installing the new DA STI levers.

On the advice of this messageboard, I removed the cups easily with a screwdriver and hammer by tapping around the perimeter of each cup inside the headtube. I installed the cups on the new frame by using a long 1/2" bolt with 2 nuts and two large washers as a press. It worked great and they seated evenly.

For the cables, I paid close attention to how the old cables were routed and used the old housing as templates for the new. The best advice I used from this messageboard was to use a Driemel tool to smooth and even the ends of the cut housings. This worked great. I used a sturdy set of wire cutters to cut the housings and cables. They're strong and tough to cut.

Everything else mounted pretty easily. I took my time and tried not to get in a hurry, which is when I usually screw something up. I'll admit, I was surprised that everything worked and that I didn't have to redo something. I feared having to haul the whole damn thing to my LBS (50 miles away) and grovel.

This stuff may be routine for many of you, but I got a real sense of accomplishment from this experience. I am much more confident to do my own basic repairs and have a better understanding of my bike.

Take your time, use a good manual, and consult this board if you have problems.
Bottom BracketPing PONG
Mar 27, 2001 11:38 PM
What is so tricky about changing a bottom bracket ?
You need a tool, and you need to be sure not to cross threads - same as any other screw in component.
Piece of cake.
re: What of my bike should I build myself, what should I leaveMJM
Mar 28, 2001 6:17 AM
About the only thing I would not do (and it's simply because it's not pratical to buy the proper tools) is press in the headset cups and pound the base plate on the fork. Bottom brackets are no big deal, the tools required are cheap and you'll always be able to service it yourself in the future (just make sure the threads are chased, if it does not thread easily, DON'T FORCE IT).

I'm amazed at the things people pay large $$ to have a shop do, when you can do it yourself and pay attention to the details that a shop may not. If you can read and follow instructions, you can put together a bike.

Just my experience and $.02
here's what I sayET
Mar 28, 2001 12:34 PM
Either take a maintenance course first, or let the LBS put the whole thing together. The entire buildup is what, $150? That's such a small percentage of the total that it's not worth risking messing up, which I might add will cost you way more, could even ruin the bike.

Bill, can you get it assembled also in Italy? That way you can tell everyone that the bike was handmade *and* built in Italy. :-)
Methanks all for their thoughts. I am inclined to ignorebill
Mar 28, 2001 1:18 PM
the prudence urged by my brethren with less, rather than more, confidence in my abilities, without judging those on either end of the debate.
Which leads to an interesting point (raised by a poster up the line). I know nothing of the importer's abilities. While, whatever they are, I'm sure that they are far greater than mine, I've got pride of ownership on my side, and I may throw caution to the wind and give it a shot. With the exception of the BB, about which I have been prodigiously warned, probably can't hurt nothing that a little money can't fix. It's not about saving $150; it's about building a bike.
Learn from doingDog
Mar 29, 2001 6:19 AM
bill, if you have the time and can get the right tools, do it yourself. Despite some setbacks, I thoroughly enjoy building, reparing, and improving my own bikes. I now do 100% of it myself (well, I buy prebuilt wheels). Sure, it takes about $500 in tools to have everything you need, but you'll have a great feeling of accomplishment during and after doing it, and you'll learn valuable information about how a bike works and goes together by doing it. Then, if something breaks or goes out of adjustment later, you can quickly and easily fix it yourself. Bottom bracket starts making noise? Yank it out, lube/Teflon it, and throw it back in -- 30 minutes. No need to take the bike in to the shop and wait a few days.

Just have patience, and count on the fact that you WILL make a few mistakes. That's part of it.

I can't stress enough, though, to get the right tools. That makes all the difference in the world. Then, take your time.

If I can do it, anyone can.