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Anybody Ever Bought A Bare Frame & Did It All Themselves?(22 posts)

Anybody Ever Bought A Bare Frame & Did It All Themselves?tincanman99
May 16, 2002 11:02 AM
I have an opportunity to buy a bare titanium frame. My friend got at an auction and now wants to sell it. It has no decals, no paint, no nothing. Wants $500 for it.

Its incredibly well made and he says it was made by an aerospace company that was building bikes on the side. Anyway the frame is a 56cm and the top tube is 56cm so it fits (better than my Klein).

Are there pro/cons of just building the whole thing up yourself. I don't particularly care for the titanium look but I know a guy at an autobody place that will put an awesome custom paint job on it for like $50.

Am I missing something or can I just get an Ultegra kit and the miscellanious bits and put it mostly together myself and have a bike shop do the rest (bottom bracket and headset)?

Any tips or advice?
May 16, 2002 11:14 AM
I've done this for the last 3 bikes I owned.

You're on the right track. Get a pro shop to face the frame and install the headset & BB for you. I have the tools and expertise to do headset install/removal, but they're expensive and unless you're a pro mechanic or have (or plan on building) lots of bikes in the next couple years, they're not worth it. A BB is a fiddly job that can easily go very south very quickly if you don't know what you're doing. Do *not* try to install a BB without having the frame faced and tapped first - big mistake!
May 16, 2002 11:24 AM
I've built up two frames and echo that advice. Also I would add that cutting the fork steerer tube is best left to a shop... but it's a good idea to get some extra headset spacers and experiment a bit with height first on rides (you can switch them off from above to below the stem and vice versa to achieve different stem heights) before the final cut and stem install.

It can be fun and educational and will impart greater confidence in regular maintenance etc. But I wouldn't do it to save money--there's no way you can match the wholesale prices that bike companies pay for components for built-up bikes. If you're savvy you can get the best component prices online at the various discount places like Cambria, Jenson, Supergo, Excel, etc., or use extra parts you may have accumulated.
Any other tips for BB installation?Stampertje
May 16, 2002 11:34 AM
My LBS will install the headset and run the BB threads - anything else? (This is my first time, too.)
May 16, 2002 1:22 PM
do it first, before you've downed too many beers in the build process :)

But seriously... Go slow and be extra careful, because IME a bottom bracket is the easiest thread pattern on the bike to jimmy up and crossthread. Make doubly sure the threads are clean of all paint and leftovers from tapping by flushing it out with spray cleaner first. Teflon tape in the threads will stop all manner of creaking, clicking, backing out, etc... and if it's a ti/steel or ti/al mating, make sure you use ti-prep to keep it from seizing. If it's an Italian BB, then teflon (plumber's) tape on the driveside threads is a necessity, not an option.

...and as I've posted many times before, don't ever blue (or any other color) Loctite a bottom bracket. Unless you favor the idea of removing it with a 6' torque extender and a sizeable person hanging onto each end of the frame.
Too many beers...Stampertje
May 16, 2002 11:33 PM
...I knew I'd forgotten something!

That aside, I'm not completely sure what you mean by spray cleaner. Would pressurized air or even a soft rag also do the trick?

Thanks for the advice. With any luck I can get this thing built just before I leave on a 7 week work trip... :(
Me too...floatch
May 16, 2002 11:23 AM
What's cool about this route is you can make sure your bike is exactly the way you want it. Also, it's nice to ride a bike you can really call "your own." I ride a store-bought roadbike now, mostly stock. My MTB is completely custom. I picked every part built it myself.
When ordering a build kit, make sure you get the right front derailleur, BB size & threading, stem length, bar width, seatpost diameter, headset size, fork size and style, etc. You can really blow it and spend months sending parts back and forth if you order the wrong stuff. THINK before you order!
re: Anybody Ever Bought A Bare Frame & Did It All Themselves?gtx
May 16, 2002 11:24 AM
probably easiest to just send it to someone like and have him put it together for you, or have a shop install the bb/hs and do the rest yourself. Building a bike is pretty easy if you have the tools and are mechanically inclined. A decent work stand is important. You can make your own hs press for about $3 from hardware store stuff (threaded rod, two nuts and a bunch of washers) and a bb tool is about $10. For cutting the fork it is nice to have the Park guide, which is a bit pricey--again, you could just pay a shop to do this. Sounds like that frame was made by TST--should be nice, but make sure it is prepped--faced and chased. Enjoy.
re: Anybody Ever Bought A Bare Frame & Did It All Themselves?Akirasho
May 16, 2002 11:25 AM
... some great satisfaction can come from building up a bare frame yourself, and in the case of a "killer" deal on the frame, and the amount and type of components you might have on hand (from previous projects or a donor bike) or another "killer" deal on a gruppo, you might save a buck or two...

Personally, I can't imagine a technical reason why you can't build up the frame yourself. Aside from LFR's suggestions, it only takes a small number of specialty tools (which you might be able to bum from someone else) to do the entire job.

As far as paint is concerned, just make sure your painter can handle the relatively tight spaces and curves of a bike frame (different from painting large swaths of flatish body panels). It takes a bit more finess to apply an even coat to all areas.

I've only purchased a handful of bikes fully assembled, the majority of what I own now were perchased as bare frames and built up.

The postive side... because of home wrenching, I feel confident in handling most any roadside repair that doesn't envolve welding (unless there's a welding unit laying on the side of the road)...

When you get it finished, post some pics.

Good luck.

We abide.

Remain In Light.
11 bikes! Did I count right? You are SOOO lucky!Ken of Fresno
May 16, 2002 1:26 PM
And is the 5th one hanging up from the right a Quintana Roo Tiphoon? If so, please let me know what you think of it. I'm in the process of putting one together. I'm really looking forward to riding it.

(still in the light)
11 bikes! Did I count right? You are SOOO lucky!Akirasho
May 16, 2002 1:40 PM
... well, those are only the ones in this photo... there are a "couple" more... yepper, I'm lucky!

The fifth from the right is an Airborne Spectre... sorry, I have no experience with the TiPhoon. Good luck with your build and rides!

We abide.

Remain In Light.
May 16, 2002 12:06 PM
The main advice is to get the right tools, and take your time. It's fun, and you can set it up exactly how you want.
Yep. That's the way to go. But educate yourself first.Ken of Fresno
May 16, 2002 1:06 PM
I prefer building from scratch. You get to make sure that everything is exactly what you want and the way you want it. Usually saves some money in the process too. I'd get a book like either one of these for a reference though:

Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair
Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance

Amazon just recently lowered their prices. Now they're pretty much unbeatable.

Enjoy your project,
Built up three and have torn down/rebuilt several timesbrider
May 16, 2002 1:10 PM
All my road bikes I've built from bare frame. If you use an internal only BB, then the facing is optional, but DEFITELY have the HS faced, the fork steerer tube cut, and the BB threads put in by pros. You can actually do a decent HS race setting with a long bolt (3/8 inch minimum) and some washers and nuts. A Park or Campy HS tool will run some serious $$. Doing the assembly isn't that difficult, but do take your time. It's supremely satisfying, and you will be so much more confident of the build and maintenance.
Just didDaveG
May 16, 2002 1:19 PM
Recently finished building up a Torelli frame I bought on ebay. Good experience and very rewarding. I didn't even screw anything up! Get a good book and solicit help from others with more experince. Get a shop to face the BB and install the headset. If there's anything you don't think you can handle, get the shop to do it. Messing up the frame would be BAD.
Just didtincanman99
May 16, 2002 1:28 PM
Whats facing the bottom bracket mean?
... facing.Akirasho
May 16, 2002 1:48 PM
From Sheldon Brown...


The process of finishing the flat surfaces of the frame and fork to which bearing assemblies attach. Correct facing of the head tube, fork crown, and bottom bracket shell ensures correct alignment of the headset and bottom bracket bearings. This is necessary to ensure good bearing performance and reliability.
Facing requires highly specialized milling equipment, among the most expensive of bicycle tools. Even minimal tools to do this job cost several hundred dollars.

Most LBS have these tools on hand and facing only takes a few minutes with an experienced hand.

Facing is difficult to impossible on most titanium frames (because of the hardness of the material... it's rough on tools)... they should come from the maker faced and chased. Pay particular attention to using a Ti (copper based I believe) compatible anti seize compound when assembling most metal to metal components onto a Ti frame (I also wrap a layer of plumber's teflon tape on my BB threads).

We abide.

Remain In Light.
re: Anybody Ever Bought A Bare Frame & Did It All Themselves?Carbon fiber fanatik
May 16, 2002 3:24 PM
All my bikes are built by me only. I will not let anyone wrench on my bikes. There are two ways to become one with your ride.. to ride it in the first place and second, build and maintain it yourself. Confidence in my equipment, at least for me anyone dosent come from another wrench. I say go for it... You wont regret it.
May 16, 2002 4:58 PM
Building your own bike from scratch is great. You know all the parts on it are exactly what you want, and you know it gets put together right. I just built up a new road bike from parts I picked. I would second the idea of being careful with the bottom bracket installation, headset, and cutting the steerer. Use a hack saw to cut the steerer, not a pipe cutter- it can put undue stress predisposing the steerer to failure. Use a torque wrench, especially for the stem bolts. A good idea if you are uncertain about anything might be to enlist the help of a local mechanic to guide you in your build. Buy a pizza and some beer and local mechs are usually pretty friendly. Just make sure to let them guide, not do. That way you are getting hands on experience, and an extra set of experienced eyes to make sure everything goes smoothly. And don't knock back too many brews while building! Good luck.
Stripped, repainted and built a Shogun Kaze from scratch.BAi9302010
May 16, 2002 5:21 PM
About 2 years ago, I bought a steel shogun Kaze time trial bike (completely unbuilt) out of the classifieds. Took me a while, but I stripped off the old paint and repainted the frame myself by hand and then built the bike up, all in my basement.
Just did it this past February or was it March?Ron B
May 16, 2002 5:48 PM
Bought a frame and fork and built my new bike up from all of the parts on my old frame. It's so nice being able to work on my bike and not have to leave it at a shop.
re: Anybody Ever Bought A Bare Frame & Did It All Themselves?mackgoo
May 16, 2002 9:38 PM
Do it. You'll get a fine sense of acomplishment and you really understand how things work.