Now that I've been riding a while, I'm interested in building my own bike. In this case, it will be a bike for commuting and getting around town. It will probably be a flipflop fixie/single gear, but the kind of bike isn't important to this question.

What resources (books, web sites, magazines, shops) do you recommend for information about building a bicycle from scratch?

  • 2
    Most tasks when building a new bike are the same things you'd do while repairing a bike, especially overhauling or replacing a component. So practice there.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 20:07
  • 1
    Well, first take a welding class. Or you can use bamboo and you just need to know how to use epoxy. Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 2:18

6 Answers 6


My main resources for pretty much anything include:

Sheldon Brown In particular:

sheldonbrown: how-to-fixed-conversion

sheldonbrown: fixed-conversion

Loads of general wrenching info at Park Tool

And of course a friendly local bike shop.

Look out for a bike co-op or skills-sharing non-profit/community organization. They may run classes and provide parts and tools.

  • Beat me to it. Sheldon Brown all the way! Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 7:06
  • If the Sheldon did not have the answer, there isn't one.
    – mattnz
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 3:38

Although it's mostly geared towards chopping up existing (steel) frames and converting the resultant bits into either recumbents, trikes, quads, electric bikes or choppers, there's a fair bit of generally useful info at the Atomic Zombie site and in their forums.

The same couple who run the Atomic Zombie site also have a couple of bike building books out:

Bike, Scooter, and Chopper Projects for the Evil Genius

Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza

Some other books include:

Bicycling Science

Bicycle Design: The Search for the Perfect Machine (Richard's Cycle Books)

Art of Wheelbuilding

  • Thanks for the answer. If I could select two, I would have picked this as well.
    – adurity
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 19:15

Is there a bike co-op near where you live? Many offer classes. It's a great way to learn hands-on how to build bikes and breathe new life into old steeds.

Also: So far, no one at any local bike shop has turned me down when I've expressed interest in learning and asked if I could watch them build bikes and ask a few questions. Seeing the process demystifies it and makes it seem doable.

  • I think I can hang out at my local Mike's Bikes on Wednesday nights. I'll give that a try.
    – adurity
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 19:13

First, get yourself a decent torque wrench with allen head bits in all the sizes you use for bike parts.

Second, print out a sheet of common torque values and keep it handy. There's one at the link above. You can destroy parts by over-tightening and you can build a bike that'll fall apart underneath you by under-tightening.

Get yourself a maintenance manual. The web is a great resource, but professionally edited manuals organize information far better than any mailing list. If you can afford a used copy of Barnett's Manual, you should have them available. They're the best reference when trying to build out a bike. Some co-workers that I used to ride with and I pitched in for a set that we kept at the office and we'd come in on the weekend to work on bikes. "Zinn and the Art of {Road,Mountain} Bike Maintenance" are much shorter (and cheaper) alternatives and are fine if you're using fairly standard components.

I know I just recommended paper manuals, but I found it helpful to download installation instructions for components and use my PDF viewer to zoom in on the diagrams. The printed ones are too small for my eyes to really see small details which might help you tell whether parts that come in pairs have any chirality to them.

Finally, take your time. Don't plan to start building out your first bike 2 weeks before a tour. Start getting parts and working on it early and try to do anything that might require specialized tools or skills like reaming or press-fitting first. Some things like prepping a head tube will probably require a trip to your LBS.


Check out the classes at bikeschool.com. Excellent frame building classes, and great mechanics classes as well.

  • Why is a school for bike mechanics and frame builders not useful? It's how I got started, and I've been in the business 15 years now.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 14:32

If you're after a book on bicycle building you may want to have a look at this one http://www.timpaterek.com/ It is meant to be quite a comprehensive resource. Am considering buying for myself.

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