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Customizing Your Ride: The Basics of Bike Building

Bike building is the process of assembling a bike from individual parts. Instead of buying a ready-made bike, you pick and put together each component yourself. This allows for a custom fit and design tailored to your riding style, preferences, and budget. In this article, you will learn the basics of bike building, guiding you every step of the way.

Getting Started

Before you start building your bike, it’s important to understand the different parts and how they work together.

Understanding Bike Anatomy

  • Frame: The main structure of the bike. It holds all other parts together. Frames come in various materials like steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium.
  • Wheels: These include the rims, spokes, hubs, and tires. They affect speed and ride quality.
  • Drivetrain: Comprises the pedals, crankset, chain, cassette, and derailleurs. It’s responsible for moving the bike.
  • Handlebars and Stem: The handlebars control direction. The stem connects the handlebars to the frame.
  • Brakes: Essential for safety. Types include rim brakes and disc brakes.

Consider where and how you’ll ride. Do you need a bike for commuting, racing, or mountain biking? Your riding style will influence your choices in frame material, wheel type, and other components.

Choosing the Right Components

Choosing the right components is crucial for your bike’s performance and comfort. Let’s delve into the details of selecting each part.

Frame Selection

The frame is the bike’s skeleton. Choose a material based on your needs:

  • Steel: Durable and comfortable but heavy. Ideal for touring and general riding.
  • Aluminum: Light and affordable but less comfortable on rough roads. Good for racing and commuting.
  • Carbon Fiber: Light and strong but expensive. Preferred for high-performance racing.
  • Titanium: Light, strong, and comfortable but very costly. Great for long-distance and high-end bikes.

Also, consider frame geometry. Different shapes affect comfort and handling. Racing frames are more aerodynamic and aggressive while touring frames are more relaxed and stable.

Wheelsets and Tires

Wheels and tires affect how your bike rides:

Wheel Types:

  • Rim Wheels: Traditional, lighter, but less effective in wet conditions.
  • Disc Wheels: Heavier but provide better braking, especially in bad weather.


  • Width: Wider tires provide more comfort and grip, ideal for off-road.
  • Narrow Tires: Better for speed and smooth roads.
  • Tread Patterns: Smooth for road use, knobby for mountain biking.

Drivetrain Components

The drivetrain moves your bike:

Gearing Options:

  • Single Speed: Simple, less maintenance, good for flat areas.
  • Geared: Versatile, better for varying terrains, but more complex.


  • Crankset: Converts your pedaling into motion.
  • Chainrings: Attach to the crankset, choose based on terrain.
  • Cassettes: Attach to the rear wheel, determine the range of gears.
  • Derailleurs: Shift the chain between gears.

Handlebars, Stems, and Grips

Control and comfort are crucial when biking:

Handlebar Types:

  • Drop Bars: For racing, multiple hand positions.
  • Flat Bars: For casual riding, straightforward control.
  • Riser Bars: For mountain biking, better control on rough terrain.

Stem Length/Angle

The stem’s length and angle dictate how high and low you can reach the handlebars. A longer stem can improve aerodynamic efficiency and high-speed stability by stretching you out. A shorter stem improves comfort and control by promoting an upright stance, ideal for casual riding and city streets.


Bike grips provide comfort and control and come in several materials and forms. Foam grips cushion and reduce hand fatigue on lengthy rides. Rubber grips grip well in wet or muddy circumstances due to their resilience and traction.

Brakes and Brake Levers

Safety first:

Types of Brakes:

  • Rim Brakes: Lighter and cheaper, but less effective in wet conditions.
  • Disc Brakes: Provide better stopping power, especially in bad weather.

Hydraulic vs. Mechanical:

  • Hydraulic Brakes: Better performance, require less force to stop, but are more expensive and harder to maintain.
  • Mechanical Brakes: Easier to maintain and adjust, but require more force.

Tools and Equipment Needed

To build a bike, you’ll need some tools:

Essential Tools

  • Wrenches: For tightening bolts.
  • Screwdrivers: For adjusting small components.
  • Allen Keys: For most bolts on a bike.

Specialized Tools

  • Bottom Bracket Tool: To install and remove the bottom bracket.
  • Headset Press: To install the headset.
  • Torque Wrench: To ensure bolts are tightened to the correct torque.

Building Your Bike

Follow these steps to ensure a smooth and successful assembly process.

Step-by-Step Assembly Guide:

1. Preparing the Frame

  • Start by thoroughly cleaning the frame to remove any dirt, grease, or debris. This ensures that all components will fit and function properly.
  • Carefully inspect the frame for any signs of cracks, dents, or other damage that could compromise its integrity.
  • Apply a thin layer of grease to all threaded areas, including the bottom bracket shell and headset cups. This helps prevent seizing and makes future maintenance easier.

2. Installing the Bottom Bracket and Headset

  • Use a bottom bracket tool to screw the bottom bracket into the frame. Make sure it is properly greased and tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Grease the headset cups and press them into the head tube using a headset press tool. Insert the bearings and the fork, then tighten the headset top cap to eliminate any play while ensuring smooth rotation.

3. Building up the Drivetrain

  • Slide the crankset through the bottom bracket and secure it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure it rotates smoothly.
  • Mount the front and rear derailleurs to their respective hanger mounts on the frame. Make sure they are aligned correctly.
  • Attach the chainrings to the crankset and run the chain through the derailleurs. Use a chain tool to connect the chain links.
  • Fine-tune the derailleurs to ensure smooth and precise shifting. Adjust the limit screws and cable tension as needed.

4. Mounting the Wheels and Tires

  • Place the wheels into the dropouts, making sure they are properly aligned. Secure the wheels using quick-release skewers or thru-axles, depending on your bike’s design.
  • Mount the tires onto the rims, ensuring they are seated correctly. Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure indicated on the tire sidewall.

5. Attaching Brakes and Handlebars

  • Attach the brake calipers to the frame and fork. Center the calipers and ensure that the brake pads align with the rims or discs.
  • Insert the handlebars into the stem and tighten the stem bolts evenly. Adjust the angle and position for optimal comfort and control.
  • Attach Brake Levers and Shifters: Mount the brake levers and shifters onto the handlebars. Ensure they are positioned for easy reach and adjust cable tension as needed.

6. Adjusting and Fine-Tuning Components

  • Set the saddle height so that your leg is almost fully extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Adjust the fore-aft position for comfort and efficiency.
  • Adjust the handlebar height, angle, and reach to find the most comfortable and ergonomic riding position.
  • Ensure that the brakes engage smoothly and stop the bike effectively. Test the gears to confirm smooth and accurate shifting.
  • Go over all bolts and screws to make sure they are tightened to the recommended torque settings. Perform a thorough safety check before taking your bike out for a ride.

Build Your Bike Today

Building a bike is a fun and rewarding process. By understanding the basics and following this guide, you can create a custom bike that fits your needs and style perfectly. Get started on your bike-building with Progear Bikes today and enjoy the ride!

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