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I have an XC MTB, a road bike and a trainer, which I maintain. I also do maintenance for the kids and wife's bikes.

Today I replaced a cassette in my road bike - something that required special tools but was rather easy.

I think I might be ready for the next level - to put a whole bike together.

I'm thinking a single speed (freewheel or switchable) would be the easiest to build, perhaps with a front brake only - get a frame, ready made wheels, hubs, chain, sprockets etc and I should be good to go?

Am I being too optimistic? What it the hardest part of building a bicycle?

  • Yes, a single-speed would probably be the easiest "first bike" to put together from parts. Be aware, though, that you'll likely spend quite a bit more money buying the parts separately than you would if you just bought an entire bicycle. – Andrew Henle Jan 26 at 0:11
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    Build a penny-farthing! – Daniel R Hicks Jan 26 at 4:27
  • In fact, a unicycle should be simpler… But in reality yes, less the number of parts less amount work and tools are needed. – Grigory Rechistov Jan 26 at 6:03
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    I would think in 2019, the hardest part of building a bike is sourcing compatible components. Everything built in the last 2 decades suffers designed obsolesce and parts for bikes more than 2 decades old are becoming harder to find. – mattnz Jan 26 at 6:08
  • Exactly - the compatibility of component is what worries me a bit - I'll probably stick to standard road bike parts as much as possible... – Lech Rzedzicki Jan 26 at 8:36
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I would suggest that before you decide to build a single speed/fixie consider if this is a type of bike you are likely to use when it's complete. One aspect that has to be considered is the cost of the specialty tools required for the assembly. While many enthusiasts consider the cost an investment, it is none the less an expense. Part of the problem with your first build may be determining what tools you will need prior to the actual assembly. Do you need a headset installation tool or will it be a drop-in unit. what bottom bracket type and what brand will require different tools. Will the wheels have serviceable bearings requiring special wrenches or pressed in bearings. None of this is insurmountable but can be frustrating. My suggestion is to take your time picking up components when the price and quality meet your expectations. Shop around noting the average price so you can take advantage of exceptional deals. Them acquire what ever tools you need to mount the specific component. I have done this several times and the time frames ranged from 30 days to 7 months.

  • Given that this would be my third bike, I'm not THAT concerned about how often will I use it - it's more that my existing bikes are being in constant use and I don't really want to risk playing with those. A brand new build would free me up from the stress. The cost of the tools is a very good point! – Lech Rzedzicki Jan 26 at 8:34
  • +1 for pointing out that assembling a collection of compatible components takes some knowledge and searching, also tools needed. – Argenti Apparatus Jan 26 at 15:08
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Am I being too optimistic?

Arranging a bike from parts is perfectly doable at home, given some time and patience. There is a plenty of tutorials on the net to help you, so go for it.

What it the hardest part of building a bicycle?

Given that you omit the wheelbuilding part, and do not mention installation of a headset, I would said that the latter is the trickiest, if you do not have right tools. With proper tools, however, it is a 30 minute first-time job, including a tea/beer break.

  • Press fit BB bearings also require an expensive tool. You should be able to get a LBS to press in bearings for you. – Argenti Apparatus Jan 26 at 16:59

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