I've seen a lot of answers here about building a fixie specifically, but I'm looking to build up a road bike. I currently have a Surly Pacer frame and fork, a Richie handlebar and stem, and that's about it.

Can anyone recommend a series of videos or a website that would help me navigate some of this? I know I will probably have to have the help of a professional eventually, but I want to learn as much as I can before that. I plan to go to the swap meet that our cycling club holds every February for used parts, and I want to go in educated.

Any advice is helpful. I've done some searching around but haven't found anything that looked particularly good.

4 Answers 4


Park Tools are the biggest maker of bicycle specific tools I know and the repair section of their website is pretty good and covers a lot of what is in their Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair.

Surly themselves have some good info in their spews. One that may be relevant to you is Care and feeding of your steel frame.

Sheldon Brown is another oft quoted resource, but it may not be that easy to find exactly what you're looking for there, or get a good overview. He can be good for some little niggly details though. I'd try the Park repair site first.

It definitely pays to have the right tools, but tools can be expensive, particularly for a one-off job. Park aren't the only maker and can sometimes be more expensive, so shop around.

One other option if you don't want to buy a whole shop full of tools is to look around for a bike co-op. Not sure where you are but there is a famous one in SF The Bike Kitchen, and in my home town there is The Nunnery. Usually you can borrow tools, get advice or help, there may be classes and so on. Try a search for Bicycle co-op [your home town].

Good luck!

  • That's an impressive website. I'm looking forward to playing with that some more. I did find out that Wright Brothers here in Seattle has a co-op space. My brother is going to help me with the build, so when we are closer to getting started, this might be the place to build. Thanks for the great advice!
    – ananka
    Oct 29, 2011 at 17:24
  • @ananka I went searching for some YouTube videos I remembered that were good and found they have taken them off YouTube and made it a subscription service at bicycletutor.com/memberships It is $50 a year, or $5.95 a month. I just remember them when they were free so can't vouch for the value. I'm not affiliated with them btw.
    – Jason S
    Oct 30, 2011 at 0:00

I don't know any videos off the top of my head, however you may wish to consider buying a book instead. Zinn and the art of road bike maintenance. I have the mtb version of it and it is a great resource for everything about bike maintenance and building a frame up into a rideable bike.


  • My library has this, so I can take a look before I decide to buy. Thank you for the recommendation.
    – ananka
    Oct 28, 2011 at 22:06
  • Follow up--this book looks great. Lots of detail and really spelled out for those of us that aren't up on the lingo.
    – ananka
    Nov 8, 2011 at 1:55

Two options, first, if you want to really learn to a pro level, check out United Bicycle Institute, or a similar mechanics school. You will have to attend in person, but they are worth it, if you are the kind of person who wants to know everything you can. Usually around $1000-1200 USD for a 2 week course.

2nd, Barnett's, which is one of those schools, offered their textbooks for sale, and now also has a CD version of the Barnett's Manual with all their data related with hyperlinks.

FTR: I went to UBI, and found it helpful. I am not affiliated with any of these companies.

  • I've taken a couple of beginner classes at REI and am planning to try to find the time to go to a couple of the more expensive and more in depth classes at my local bike shop soon. I'm not sure I can take 2 weeks off work and life to take a 2 week intensive course. I'll check out the site and the books, though. Thanks for letting me know about these.
    – ananka
    Oct 29, 2011 at 17:02
  • I'd heard of Barnett's since the mechanic at my LBS went there (from Australia!), but I didn't know about the CD so thanks, I might get one. Those courses sound great but are quite an investment in time and money if you're not planning to do repairs professionally.
    – Jason S
    Oct 30, 2011 at 0:04
  • Agreed. The CD is awesome, since it links all the related data in a pretty easy to follow format.
    – zenbike
    Oct 30, 2011 at 12:54

Most of it is just bolting stuff together; if you know what a bike is supposed to look like, it's pretty self-explanatory.

Here are the areas that aren't self-explanatory, and require some specialized knowledge and/or tools. You'll get more useful information if you ask specific questions about these items.

  • Headset installation.
  • Brake adjustment.
  • Shifter adjustment.
  • Bottom bracket installation.
  • Chain installation.
  • Cassette removal (installation is easy - it just screws on - but you then need special tools to remove it).
  • Wheel truing and building. (Definitely not for beginners - but if you just buy new ready-made wheels, you won't have to worry about it.)
  • I have learned a little bit about brake and shifter adjustment. I'll look specifically for these other things--that will help me navigate the videos out there. Thanks for the key terms. I don't think I'll be building my own wheels this time around.
    – ananka
    Oct 29, 2011 at 17:05
  • Actually, with a halfway decent reference book wheel building is well within the abilities of a beginner. It takes patience more than anything else. Oct 29, 2011 at 18:19
  • I might change my mind after I've seen it done. Reading about it makes it seem daunting.
    – ananka
    Oct 29, 2011 at 18:22

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