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I'm pretty mechanically inclined, but I've not done much wrenching on bikes. I've been looking for a 29er, and while there a re a lot of good choices, I find it intriguing to try building my own bike. I just can't seem to find the exact combination of components I want. I know it won't likely be cost effective to build my own, but money is not really an issue here. I'm more interested in the learning experience and the fun of doing it.

I'm looking at a 29er hardtail, geared, front suspension, top shelf components, for a 5'10" Clydesdale.

Can I do this myself? Recommendations?
 

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buy a complete bicycle and tear it down and build it back up from scratch if you're just interested in learning.

building bikes is really easy though. you only need about 10 bucks worth of tools that you probably already have.
 

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I did...never worked on a bike in my life. Although I do have a mechanical engineering background and worked on cars pretty consistently ever since I could drive. It is fairly straightforward and as long as you follow instructions you are GOLDEN!

It is cheaper to buy complete though.
 

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spec4life???..smh...
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tomsmoto said:
building bikes is really easy though. you only need about 10 bucks worth of tools that you probably already have.
not true...once you get into the build you will find that sure you probably have things lying around like metric wrenches but some things require special tools that could cost in the hundreds so you will be better of just taking it to the lbs and letting them do those parts...

aside from that id say building you own bike from the beginning would be a great experience and would definitely enhance your knowledge of the bike....

As far as 29ers go a good frame might be a sette from pricepoint.com or if money isnt an option iv always wanted a niner....

Look over at the top of the tooltime forum for a step by step walk through of a build....good luck
 

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riding skill doesnt relate to mechanical ability whatsoever

There are many people that have been riding for years who couldnt even run a brake cable

Ive built a bike from scratch without ever really fixing anything on a bike before....

but im mechanically inclined, having previously been a technician at an automotive dealership. Once youve fixed an automatic front wheel drive transmission, everything else is cake.
 

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habitual line-stepper
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go for it! the thing that took the longest for me was accumulating all the parts. my bike is nowhere near top-shelf in components, but i don't feel that i totally skimped out either. as far as a new bike being cheaper, comparing my component spec to similarly spec'd manufacturer offerings, i saved between $200-400. plus i have that warm and fuzzy feeling knowing i did it all myself everytime i hoist her back into the truck after a ride ;)
 

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spec4life said:
not true...once you get into the build you will find that sure you probably have things lying around like metric wrenches but some things require special tools that could cost in the hundreds so you will be better of just taking it to the lbs and letting them do those parts...
... hundreds? my most expensive tool was probably the pipe cutter to cut forks, at a whopping 15 bucks. i built up my first bike with a 99 cent hex key set from walmart and a crescent. my lbs knocks star nuts in forks for free, so i havent bothered to buy that tool. i ended up buying a nice t handle set, and some other nicer tools.. but they're not necessary to build up a bicycle.

even the tools you cant get around, like crank pullers and bearing cup tools are 15-20 bucks.
 

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Class Clown
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I guess it depends. I have grown to become a "right tool for the job" kind of guy, and tend to want to have those nice specialty tools. Wheel building for instance - there are some ingenious ways to do this on the cheap, but some people like to have the truing stand, tension meter, etc. I've used a couple sawhorses and a long 2x4 to hold my bike up but some want to have the professional repair stand.

In any case I say go for it. You will learn alot and be able to maintain your bike better with that knowledge. If there's bits and pieces you can't/don't want to do you can always visit your lbs.
 

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Pretty in Pink
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I built my first true Mt bike from the frame up. I say you should purchase the correct tools for the job as well, nothing like marring up a new frame with tool marks just trying to get everything tight. Make sure you use parktool's website as reference, dont skip the things you might think are small and un-important, nothing like trying to take apart something that has seized 2 years down the road, when you could have put anti seize on it when you built it up.

I vote for Salsa.
 

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theres very few things that need special tools. for the rest, a cheap hex key IS the right tool, or a every day socket or wrench is the right tool. building a bike up from scratch, you'll probably just need a BB tool.. everything else is run of the mill stuff.

its really not rocket science guys.
 

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a bottom bracket tool and a chainring lock tool are the only specialty tools that you'll absolutely need to put a bike together from the ground up. putting in a headset will be difficult but you can manage, same for the star nut. I'm also assuming that you're just buying a wheelset and not trying to build up the wheels too.

personally I have never built a bike from the ground up but I've done a lot of mechanic work. mostly I have parts wear out and instead of taking my bike to the shop I buy the new parts, but any necessary tools, and do the work myself. I not only get a good sense of accomplishment having done the work but I also learned something new about how my bike works and I know how to fix problems that may com along. I haven't even been in this a year, I bought my bike new and whole, and I can fix most problems I come across with just what's in my garage. so far I have 2 different bottom bracket tools, a chainring lock tool, and quicklink pliers in my "specialty" box. other than that I just have a whole host of regular tools...2 rolling tool boxes of them.

being able to do all your own work is extremely gratifying. I'm not sure that I would do an entire buildup for my first bike, but if you're set on it then there's no better way to learn.
 

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I got into building by first beginning to do my own maintenance. As I worked on more and more parts of the bike over time, I finally got to the point of being comfortable at building one up from scratch. It's fun to do, and very rewarding in terms of personal satisfaction.

I wouldn't trivialize building by saying that requires "only $10 worth of tools". That may be true if you're good at improvising, but I suspect that most people who get into doing their own work will accumulate somewhat more than $10 worth of specialty tools. I'm probably middle-of-the-road. I improvise a few things, and I buy tools as I can. I leave super-expensive tools such as facing tools to the bike shops.

Buy some good books. There is one by a guy named Zinn that I like. Also check out Mel Allwood's book, which happens to be my favorite.

It sounds like you have the money. Parts are expensive when you by them onesie, twosie.

Be sure you can accept the risk of making a mistake. That is key, imho. Before pressing that headset, look yourself in the mirror and say: "I can live with having to buy a new frame because I pressed that headset in crooked." Seriously. Everything is a lot easier and more fun once you get yourself past the fear of making a mistake.
 

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I've been riding for a couple of years and just built up my first bike. The wrenching part is easy - it's pretty obvious where stuff goes and the main trick is knowing which way to turn them to tighten or loosen (mostly with the pedals and bottom bracket). My biggest challenge was knowing the right questions to ask as I ordered my parts, and what to look for, in order to make sure everything was compatible. All the kinks are sorted now, but it was a little frustrating at first.

Have you checked out Vassago for your frame? If you go with one, order it from Addictive Cycles. Super nice guys and they'll take great care of you.
 

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I kind of dove in some years ago. Just as long as you go slow and don't let wanting to ride at all costs push you faster than you're prepped to go, then you'll be good.

You absolutely can do this yourself, but always remember: Cut once, measure twice. Have a bunch of extra headset spacers on hand in different sizes, lots of shifter housing, cables, hacksaw blades for the steertube, in case you break them, grease suitable for a bike, and the appropriate tools for the specific parts you're using.

A headset only requires a big clamp (or a bar clamp) and some blocks of pine on either side.
 

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crash test dummy
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Not a beginner but...

I've built a couple bikes from scratch. The three things I don't bother with, however, are fork and headset installs, and wheelbuilding. My LBS does that stuff so quickly and cheaply it makes no sense for me to invest in tools I might use once every 2 years or so. You can get away with homemade tools, but it can be a PITA to remove a crown race without race remover. As for wheelbuilding, I know in advance I simply don't have the patience for it.

So other than those three things, bikes are really simple machines. Everything just bolts on. These are the few tools you might need in addition to metric allen wrenches (all very useful tools to have):

- cable cutters - more for the housing than the cables (the Park Tool ones are AWESOME)
- needle nose pliers
- chain whip
- cassette cog remover (will also work with shimano centerlock hubs)
- large adjustable wrench
- bottom bracket tool (for shimano external bearings)
- torx bits (for installing some brake discs)
- 8mm and 10mm allen wrenches, and something you can slide onto them to increase leverage (for installing / removing some cranks, like Race Face)
- a repair stand - it freaking sucks to work on a bike without a decent stand. It can be done, but it sucks.

All of those are tools I use time and again.
 

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i learned to build and true wheels after constant disappointment in the EXTREMELY poor work from literally every single lbs ive had a wheel trued at. all the shops just true it up with what seems like total disregard for spoke tension.

i think its mike T.. he has links in his sig that explain how to very very easily learn to build and properly tension wheels. you'll be amazed how retensioning brings new life to wheels.. they'll also last dramatically longer and handle better.

I wouldn't trivialize building by saying that requires "only $10 worth of tools". That may be true if you're good at improvising, but I suspect that most people who get into doing their own work will accumulate somewhat more than $10 worth of specialty tools. I'm probably middle-of-the-road. I improvise a few things, and I buy tools as I can. I leave super-expensive tools such as facing tools to the bike shops.
all in all, i probably have 200 bucks worth of bike maintenance and repair stuff. my first bike in a box really was put together with 99 cents worth of hex keys. the cassette and bottom bracket tools were just a few bucks.

im not saying 10 bucks worth of tools is a stocked bike repair setup.. im just saying go for it! you might have to swing by the hardware store for a few minor things for your very first build, but go for it. it wont be hundreds just to get started.
 

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Go ahead and build it if thats what you really want to do its not hard. I would suggest getting the tools you need now to do the build. I spent about $200 on tools and that included a stand. I bought Park Tool brand. In the end you will want them anyway to do repair work even if you get a bike already built.
 

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What are the specialty tools?
 

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The one thing I found hard to deal with is getting the proper parts initially. I assumed things were much more standardized than they were. For example, I remember getting a crank and a bottom bracket and figured it would work because they were square taper. However, the bottom bracket shell of my frame didnt match the bottom bracket and the spindle lenght was wrong for the crank. Same mistakes can be made with seatpost diameter, front derailleur, etc. Many problems can be prevented by proper research and planning, but unless you are super organized things will go wrong and you'll end up waiting several weeks for a part to come in because the part you had was incompatible/missing. Also, bike manufacturers often know well what will work together in terms of steering and geometry (stem lenght, handle bar width). If you are an experienced cyclists you have a good idea of what works for your body and riding style, but you may not right now. As has been stated though, these things are not an issue if you have both patience and money. enjoy
 
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