How to Build Up a Bike




Introduction: How to Build Up a Bike

About: I like to tinker with just about anything, sometimes it works out in the end. Have fun looking at the projects, try tearing something open and let me know how it goes. cheers, -Joe

This is a guide to building up a bike from parts. It should help you get the parts and tools you need to get you pedalling along in no time. It assumes that you have tinkered with your bike, but are not an expert. Hope it helps!


Step 1: Parts

Here is a list of parts you'll need:
Rear derailleur
Front derailleur (optional)
Brake Levers
Cable guide
2 x derailleur cables
2 x brake brakes
4' derailleur housing
4' brake housing
bottom bracket
seat post
seat clamp
brake hangers front / rear if you use cantilever brakes

I got most of this from Redstone Cyclery

Step 2: Tools

chain tool
allen keys
wire cutters
pedal wrench
nuts/bolts (or headset press)
adjustable wrench
bottom bracket tool
screw driver

Step 3: Seat Post.

Insert the seat clamp, then the post. Grease the heck out of the part of the post that will be in the frame to keep it from rusting together. Then put the seat on.

I then clamp it in the bike stand using the post, but thats up to you...

Step 4: Install Headset

Install the headset first. I install the cups using a large bolt, some washers and a nut. The presses it in to place. There is also another instructable I put on here that details the exact process for this step if you are not familiar.

Grease the cups up, then press the race on. I bang it on with a adjustable wrench.

Step 5: Fork

Ok put the headset together, grease the bearings, put your stem and any spacers you are going to use on the fork and make a mark with a marker. This is where you are going to cut the steerere tube. NOTE If you have a threaded stem, then just try not to cut it, make it easier, just use some spacers.

Step 6: Cut It Loose

So now you take that fork out and cut it about 3mm below the mark you just made.

I used a steerer tube cutting guide, but you can use a zip tie to mark the spot and cut it with a hack saw. Remeber measure twice cut once, cause you can't stretch a steerer tube.

Step 7: Star Fangled Nut

Now you have to drive in the star fangled nut. I thread it on the bolt. Then use a hammer and tap it in about 1cm.

Step 8: Put It Back Together

Ok, put it back together.

Tighten the top cap until its snug, but not too tight. Then tighten down the stem. You'll check it later.

Step 9: Bottom Bracket

Insert the bottom bracket.

Grease up the threads. The drive side is REVERSE threaded. Don't forget it goes backwards.

Start it by threading it in by hand. Don't use the tool yet.

Step 10: Tighten the Bb

Now its time to use the tool and tighten the bottom bracket. Tighten the drive side, then the non drive side.

The drive side will sit snug against the bottom bracket shell. The non drive side may not go all the way in. But it should go in most of the way.

Step 11: Cranks

Put the cranks on. I am a follower of the "no grease" school of thought when it comes to the cranks. But do what works for you. I tighten the hell out of the cranks, you should to.

Step 12: Pedals

to put your pedals on, grease the threads. On the pedals, the non drive side is reverse threaded. Most pedals use a 15mm wrench to install.

Step 13: Cable Guide

I needed to install a cable guide on the bottom of the bb shell.

Step 14: Derailleur

I am going with no front der because this is my commuter. So I just put on the rear. Go slow, make sure you don't cross thread it here, its just an easy spot for that...

Step 15: Brakes

i am using cantilever brakes. So I'll use the middle hole for the spring tension, its a good guess. You might have to use a different hole though. This is a thing based on preference as well as trial and error. But middle is a good choice.

Step 16: Chain

Time to put on the chain. Use the largest gear in the back, and the largest in the front, make sure you have just enough chain to spin smoothly.

Use your chain tool to drive the pin through.

Then use the inner step to loosen the link up by giving it bout 1/8 of a turn.

Step 17: Kinky

if your chain is stiff and looks like this, repeat the last step again to loosen it up.

Step 18: Cables

You need to cut the cable housing for your brakes and shifters.

The key thing here is to make sure you have enough housing so it won't bind and keep your bar from turning all the way. Also make sure it does not interfere with the brakes, thats no good.

See how I have the bars turned as far as they will go and I'm holding the housing against the cable stop? Thats the way to do it.

Step 19: Rear Cable

The rear der needs a small loop of housing, like shown here. Two short and it won't shift all of your gears.

Step 20: Tuning

So you can run your cables to your brakes and derailleur now. When setting the rear one up you want to first set the limits.

There are two screws on the back of the derailleur, the lower one is the inner (biggest) gear and the higher one is the outter, Remember this "Linner Houtter".
By setting the limits you keep the chain from going up into the spokes or down in to space between the dropout and the smallest gear.

Then you can fine tune your derailleur by using the barrell adjuster. The key is to get the teeth on the pulley to line up with the teeth of the gear you are suposed to be in.

Step 21: Knock

So at tis point you should pretty much have a built bike. But we need to make sure the headset is tight. So put the bike on the ground, grab the front brake and move the bike back and forth, do you notice any knock in the headset? If so, loosen the stem, tighten the top cap until the knock goes away, then tighten the stem back up.

Step 22: Test It

You should be ready to test ride it now. Double check everything is tight, check the brakes, the cables, the bar and the stem.

Ride it and have fun.

Step 23: Commuting

So I built this up for commuting to work on.

Some of the things I added were lights and fenders, but most importantly I added pinhead locking skewers. They use a fancy keyed removable quick release. I don't want my wheels or seat jacked...

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    42 Discussions


    1 year ago

    also where's the accelerator and the brakes and the wheel. and is there meant to be an engine also why is there two wheels not 4 wheels. also tried to put it together and then somehow hit my son with a crowbar was this meant to happen. 3 hours later trying to build my bike and somehow i'm drowning in the pool *laughing emoji*


    1 year ago

    are the wheels necessary to ride a bike? thanks jennifer


    8 years ago on Step 22

    Sweet ride!

    Thanks for the guide. I'm considering building up my own bike using a Velo Orange Polyvalent frame and internal gearing. I was worried about the headset and bottom bracket installation, but you made it look not too bad in your pictures.

    Have you considered bash guards or a chain guard? I have a single chainring commuter too, and I'm about to try to install a VO chain guard after work today. I think it should work fine, since it mounts to the chain stay in the rear. I'm also considering bash guards on either side of the chainring to keep the chain on. I've had some problems with losing my chain after hitting a nasty bump or shifting too much.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I use a chain gaurd on almost all of my bikes. I like the Spot Brand.

    I also have used a Paul's Chain Keeper:

    I use the Paul's on my 1x9 mtn bike. It works nicely.

    I actually tried a VO chain gaurd about 5 years ago on a bike, but I had not luck with getting it to work. However it was just a NOS one from the 60s that VO was selling. I imagine their newer ones are very nice.



    10 years ago on Step 3

    wouldn't greasing it make it want to slide around in the frame?


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    Bobby, if you don't grease it, it will eventually rust and seize up in the frame. Then both the frame and the seat post will be ruined. No one other than you (including potentially you in the future, if you gain or lose weight) will be able to adjust the bicycle to fit them properly.

    The seat post is held in place by appropriate tension on the clamp, not friction inside the seat tube.


    10 years ago on Step 9

    the pictures look very and the instructions to build the cycle look easy enough i have just joined the web site and still cannot print the instructions so i'll look elswhere for a better user friendly website where it doesn't take as much time to print the instrutions as it does to build the bike


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm pretty sure that you have to be a member to print instructions, but I think it would be worth it.

    gmanguy 11
    gmanguy 11

    9 years ago on Introduction

    i get my parts from but thats not for mountain bikesits BMX bikes


    10 years ago on Step 11

    WARNING! If you are installing an aluminum alloy crank on a tapered steel axle bottom bracket you should never ever "tighten the hell out of the crank" or lubricate the tapered joint since excessive tightening/torque will distort the aluminum crank arm taper and create noticeable play in the crank arm joint which will produce annoying crank arm slip on every rotation of the crank arms under load in high gear. If you've already damaged the tapered joint by over tightening the crank arm bolts, a temporary fix is to shim the tapered joint with thin tempered aluminum alloy sheet (not aluminum foil) to eliminate play. Ultimately, you may need to replace the crank arms since the damaged tapered joints will continue to distort under load over time. (Note: This is not an issue if you have a crank that does not have a tapered steel axle or have an inexpensive crank with steel crank arms.)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    According to Park Tool and FSA, a traditional aluminum crankarm with and M8 bolt will need about 350 N-m of torque, which is essentially tighening the hell out of them. Besides, how often do you need to take off an alu crank?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    what thread size is the star flanged bolt in the steerer tube thing becuse ive lost my screw and need a new one but i cant find the right size



    The difference between presta and schrader valves: Schrader has a spring enclosed inside the valve which closes off the flow of air automatically whenever the plunger is not depressed. Presta valves do not close automatically. The plunger needs to be screwed down manually to keep air from escaping at low pressure. In all my experience, I have never seen any substantial difference between the two valves. Schrader valves are often thought of as "mountain-only" and presta as "road-only." I have presta valves on all my bikes, even the mountain bike. If you're interested in switching any presta-drilled rim into a schrader-drilled rim, all that is required is a 5/16" drill bit (and a drill, presumably).


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    not true because a schrader is used o cars,bmxs and fixies not just mtbs


    13 years ago

    Totally agree with the locking skewers! I once went to pickup my girlfriends bike from a friends house where she had left it. I cycled about half a mile across a links style golf course here in Edinburgh and when I arrived at the pub and lifted the bike on to the railings/fence to lock it, both wheels comedically fell off! Some prankster had removed the skewers and left the wheels. I am pretty sure that some deity was smiling on me that night because I usually take every opportunity to catch some air off a bunker or slope. I now do quick bike checks everytime i get on one.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    it would of been hard for the back wheel to fall of becuse of the chain

    I smell bacon
    I smell bacon

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    LOL. I'm gonna do this to my mate. every ten weeks i do something to his bike. Also stealing someones seat can be fun...


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    i did that to a jerk at school, it sucks when it happens but i had a good reason.