Building a road bike from scratch
During the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, I started looking for DIY projects to build. As I didn’t have a bike at the time, I wanted to build my own bike myself. However, I went the ebike way since for my daily commuting. At the time I wasn’t familiar with bike mechanics even if I did own a bianchi bike when I was a kid. So I wanted to learn how to make it.
Watching Oldshovel youtube channel was a huge inspiration for this project. Go check it out:
This build is intended to be a cheap build: no fancy hightech parts, no carbon frame or state of the art derailleur. I set a total budget of 300€ for the whole project and tried to focus on a mix of new and used parts.
Knowing where to look
Not knowing anything about bike mechanics and technology was a big barrier for me. The easiest way to learn is to scroll through youtube channels and try to understand how each part fits within the bike and what is its purpose.
When it comes to finding the right parts, I recommend starting by looking on ebay or any other marketplace that is relevant to your location. You can also go to your local bikeshop. They are usually eager to help.
1. Frame 💵
I bought this really cheap: 10€. it was in a really good condition. I cleaned and spraypainted it mate black (extra 10€). Do not forget to:
Clean the frameApply a prime coatUse a good quality and quantity of spray paint (I recommend Spray Bike products)
2. Wheels and tires 💵 💵 💵
It is important to choose the right wheels after finding the frame. There are many sizes to choose from and you need to make sure that you have enough clearance in your frame for each wheel. In my case, I settled for max size my frame allows which is an ETRTO of 700x28c (not possible to mount gravel tires on this one :sniff:). I decided to spend a little bit to have a decent quality pair of wheels. After some online searches and discussions with my local bike shop, I settled for the Compagnolo Calima Pair.
Make sure that the freewheel is compatible with the cassette you intend to install
cost: 130€/pair and they are handmade in
3. Brakes 💵
The braking system depends on the type of frame and type of wheels you choose. In my case, I couldn’t go for diskbrakes (also disk brakes are expensive). I choose a pair of caliper brakes which do the job for a roadbike. You could go for V-brakes if you want: V-Brakes vs. Caliper Brakes
4. Fork, headset and stem 💵
Here you should be careful to buy compatible headset and stem (check for diameter on the fork and the frame). I went for a generic fork that has the advantage of being threaded.
30€ for the fork20€ for the aheadset stem (Neco Cane Creek – 1 1/8 ‘Aheadset)10€ for the spacers10€ for the stem diver10€ for bicycle grease
5. Handlebar 💵
– 30€ for the handlebar
– 12€ for the tape
4. Gears and shifter 💵 💵
First, take a look at How Bike Shifting Work
To keep things simple, I decided to go for a 1×9 system, i.e. removing the need for a front derailleur. On the back, a 9 speed cassette with a ratio of 4:1 which should be good for going long distance but allows max speeds of around 45km/h:
– 25€ for cassette (Shimano SORA 9speed 11-28)
– 30€ for the derailleur (Shimano Alivio 9speed)
– 15€ for a 9 speed chain
– 30€ for the front chainring (SHIMANO Deore M540 44T 104BCD)
– 15€ for a used crankset80€ for a set of shifters (Soekodu 1)
5. Accessories 💵 💵
One of the most important parts about biking is to have adequate lighting so I made sur to find a rechargeable set of lights that have up to 280 lumens.
Generally speaking, we’d recommend a minimum of 200 lumens for urban commuting and 400 lumens for riding on unlit roads. If you’re after lights for riding off-road on trails, you’ll need something brighter, with greater power and battery life.
The rest of accessories is totally up to you
You can assemble the bike on your own in your garage while getting help from Youtube or an online blog. However, I recommend reaching out to a local biking association which most of the time gives you access to tools and help from more experienced people in the field of bike maintenance and repairs. It saved me alot of time and headache to sign up for my local association
Initial Estimation: 350€ Final Cost: 547€
What I have learned
Here are the main takeouts from this project:
– I could have made some savings by buying more used parts 🙁 this explains why I went over budget
– Don’t pay attention to people’s dogmas (funny enough, the same applies to software engineering when it comes to choosing a tech stack over another). Some shops will only swear by Shimano, others won’t sell anything other than SRAM. Make your own choices and always look for the parts that gives you bang for your buck. You should of course, take into account part compatibilitis which are a real issue in the world of biking
– I could have bought a ready bike from any shop but nothing beats the feeling of doing it yourself. You need to know how stuff works to know how to repair them.
Traveled KMs : 300 and counting