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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After months of constantly changing my mind as to what I should get for a bikepacking bike, I've decided I'm going to get an On One Inbred Slot Dropout 26er (steel hardtail £140) and build it up from there.

At first I thought it would cost me more this way, but I know I would end up changing all the parts on a complete build anyway so hopefully it will end up cheaper, but if not then I'm fine with that.

I have basically no experience in bike mechanics, but I am the sort of person who will research small details for hours on end so I reckon I'll be alright with it. For difficult jobs or things which require specialist tools, such as chasing and facing the frame I will get the LBS to do it.

So... Is this a bad idea? If so, why? If not, is there anything I need to consider before I start?

Thanks :)
 

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If you've got the money, build what you want. Doing it yourself will most likely also prove to be invaluable experience for trail side repairs on bikepacking trips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What's wrong with a complete bike? For a first bike it really does not make much sense to do a custom build.
The main reason is that I can't find anything that I want with the right specifications. I've thought about buying a complete build for a first bike but I wouldn't be happy with it and would want to start changing it straight away.

The other reason is that I really like the idea of having a bike which I have built myself and is unique to me if that makes sense?

I do have an old road bike btw so I'm not a COMPLETE noob, but this would be my first mtb/decent/new bike.
 

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.

The other reason is that I really like the idea of having a bike which I have built myself and is unique to me if that makes sense?
That makes sense. As long as you know the build kits on complete bikes are a great value. You can build one up with parts bought on line reasonably inexpensive. Lots of good info and videos on line too, to help you put it together. You'll need to buy some bike tools, but it's nice to have those anyway.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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There are a few threads in which new riders do scratch builds. See if you can hunt down some of those. Off-hand, I remember Agwan and some guy with a Yeti. Seems like results are pretty variable.

I realize the market's not exactly glutted with off-road touring bikes. But I think Surly makes a couple. Doing a scratch build without having done any bikepacking, you'll be throwing darts a lot, and I bet a couple of your choices end up not making sense once you've done your first couple tours. Let Surly save you a little money on a complete and at least you won't have paid as much for the build, though I suspect it will still have a couple choices that aren't really "you."

There aren't a ton of Surlys on the trail, and nobody owns a bike for a season without changing something. I bet by this time next season, you'd still have something unique.
 

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IMO, there are 3 reasons for building a bike over buying one.

#1: You either already have a decent amount of parts to build it, or you can source quality used parts for low prices, and can build the bike for half the price it would cost new.

#2: You get to build the bike exactly the way you want it, without having to pay for parts that will be thrown out or replaced. However, without a decent amount of experience, it is unlikely that you know what works best for you and your trails, and it will change over time. Do you know whether you want a coil or air fork, 11-34 or 11-36 cassette, 680mm or 710mm bars, or Kenda Slant 6's or Panaracer Fire XC's? There is a huge advantage here for the experienced rider to build a perfect bike for themselves, but much of it is lost if you don't know what would be best for you.

#3: It is a necessary evil because the frame you want isn't offered as a complete bike, hence "build kits" that make it relatively simple.

And I suppose another valid reason is for the enjoyment and accomplishment of assembling your own bike, as a hobby in and of itself, but IMO as a new rider this time would better be spent out on the trails than in the garage.

If you do choose to build one, be aware of parts compatibility such as BB type, fork steerer diameter, stem-bar diameter, rated fork travel, drivetrain flexibility and more. It's not super complicated but it is easy to end up with parts that won't fit together.
 

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Being that you have not dealt with MT bikes, do you really know what you want over another? I did the same thing thinking I wanted things ones way over another but since then my taste have changed and have redone the bike 3 different times. Started with 3x9 then 2x10 now 1x10 with shimano brakes then to Avid, back to Shimano.
 

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Do it.

No reason not to, any money you waste will come back tenfold when you never have to pay someone to work on your bike again.

Like this?

 

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I've done several builds. They are easy and can be done with basic tools. Only bike specific tool I really needed was a bottom bracket tool to install the external cups. Otherwise, pretty much everything else was done with hex wrenches. My LBS pressed in the head sets. Nice and simple and lots of satisfaction riding a bike you spec'ed and built.

As far as people saying you probably don't know what you want in a build since you're new to mtb's...well, you'd be in the same boat buying a complete bike anyways. You'll almost never find a complete bike that's perfectly spec'ed and if you do, it's likely going to be highend. There's always a compromise. So I say build a bike with what you think you want. Research the parts to make sure everything works together and you aren't buying junk. Slap the bike together and ride and if you need to change out some stuff, so be it. Sell the take off parts or save them for another build.
 

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Though I like working on bikes and have put together tons of them, I wouldn't go that way unless I had another bike to ride in the meantime. Specially if you plan to spend a lot of time wandering the internet making choices on parts.

If you buy a complete version of a bike built around a frame you like, you get to take your time researching, buying, and installing exactly what you want on it while also getting out and RIDING. You'll make more solid choices regarding the parts for your final build after you have some saddle time to help you figure out what actually works best for you, as well as pick up some wrenching experience along the way. In the end, you'll end up spending some more money, but you'll end up with a better bike, a spare parts pile,which is always handy, and most important, you'll be out riding a lot sooner
 

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Do you have a budget? You can get up to over a 1000$ real quick. Some shops will do parts swaps on new bikes,it will cost more ,but will get closer to what think you want.
 

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Every bike I have, I've built from the frame up. For me, half the joy is not only riding it, but also putting it together. But the initial investment to work on a bike can be a bit pricey when you're looking at tools, which you will need. There aren't a lot of ways to get around installing a bottom bracket or rear cassette without a special tool. Another thing that will help immensely is a work stand which can run you $100-200. I use to think that having one wasn't necessary and it isn't but boy does it make it so much easier and saves time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the input guys :)

As for the difficult/LBS jobs... would this just include chasing and facing the frame and installing the headset and BB? Is there anything else? (I'm gona buy a complete wheelset).
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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If you do hydraulic disc brakes, depending on how you buy them you may need to fill and bleed them. In the past, this is something I've let my shop do. It's not supposed to be that hard but it requires a couple special tools.

You should be able to install the BB yourself, IMO. Depending on type, you'll probably need a special tool. But this is a part that wears out or gets damaged on occasion. Again depending on type, there are a few different tools it can be. So choose your crank first, then get the tool you need.

You can install the headset yourself too. I've only done it on a throwaway bike, so I just threaded everything in the appropriate order and then tightened the top cap until I had it all seated. People also make some pretty slick DIY presses with allthread, nuts and washers. The right piece of hacked-off PVC is supposed to make a good crown race setter if you need one.

Complete wheels often still need strain relieving (easy) and truing (less easy, but not too bad.) I like to use a truing stand, but there are a lot of ways to get a good reference, including zip ties on your frame and fork.

Doing the shift and brake housings nicely is important. A bench grinder is a great tool for this. Something like a Dremel works okay, and a flat hand file will do in a pinch.

Parktool.com has a new bike build checklist that covers all this stuff in detail, and with good pictures.
 

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Thanks for the input guys :)

As for the difficult/LBS jobs... would this just include chasing and facing the frame and installing the headset and BB? Is there anything else? (I'm gona buy a complete wheelset).
Chasing and facing is all I typically have done.
 

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Out of curiosity, what's special about the build you have in mind? Have you considered a 29er - more choices in cyclocross type tires.
I have bought several frames from OnOne UK. There is an option to have them install a headset before they ship. I usually do that as their headset prices are good and it's cheaper than the LBS.
Order a seatpost clamp when you buy as the size is not common - not rare but not common.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Out of curiosity, what's special about the build you have in mind? Have you considered a 29er - more choices in cyclocross type tires.
I have bought several frames from OnOne UK. There is an option to have them install a headset before they ship. I usually do that as their headset prices are good and it's cheaper than the LBS.
Order a seatpost clamp when you buy as the size is not common - not rare but not common.
Ah, that's useful to know about On One. Can they do the BB as well?

And, nothing particuarly special about the build I have in mind, just want to get the right combination of parts. I have decided against a 29er, as strength is a primary concern for me. And if I decide to take it to a developing country, I will hopefully have a better chance replacing parts.
 

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Why would strength be a concern with a 29er?
 
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