Building a New Bike

For a long time I have wanted to build my own bike. I wanted to do it for several reasons: To prove to myself that I could do it, to ride a bike which I had built, to learn how to build a bike so that I could repair/service my other bikes, and so that I could ride a bike that I had built to my own specifications with parts I had found.

 

So if that was too much of an overload for you, I wanted to do it for several reasons. However I was initially at a stall, I admit it was quite a big one, I knew nothing about building bikes, getting parts or even servicing bikes. The only thing on my side was a brief understanding of how a bike works and the parts involved in that. I did not have a lot of money to do my ‘project’ with so I set out with a total maximum budget of £200 to buy all the parts and have it in a cycle-able condition.

 

The next step was to decide what to buy for my measly budget. What type of bike did I want? For a while I had been captivated by single-speed bikes, I loved the idea of them and how customisable they could be, mainly how cool they looked. It would give me the opportunity to make this bike my own. I loved watching films such as ‘Line of Sight’, about cycle couriers, all this added to my single-speed obsession. I was keen to do this, so decided that I would build a single-speed ‘track styled’ bike. This would mean I also would not have to buy any gears, so that would help keep cost down.

Budget and style of bike sorted; next was the big one, components. With such a small budget I had pretty much ruled out carbon frames or any new frames for that matter. I had always wanted a steel framed bike because apparently they give the best ride. Therefore I began the task of finding a second-hand steel frame. This took the longest, literally months before I found a suitable one. I knew what I was looking for, frame size (58cm), wheel compatibility (700C), colour (Any normal colour), horizontal dropouts, and I had a price (£50 was about what I was aiming for). I trawled eBay and Gumtree until eventually I found the bike that I was looking for, for a price I wanted to pay. It cost me £35 with £15 shipping, bang on what I wanted. I now owned a Raleigh Equipe. It even came complete with chain, full 10 speed Sachs Huret gears, saddle, handlebars, and wheels. Not too bad if you ask me. It was all there, although not all of it was in usable condition.

 

Raleight fixie build bike bicycle project

As it arrived, my project begins

Right from the off I knew what wheels I wanted, yes they would be the most expensive, more than the bike, however I thought that they were the most important. I decided to go for a pair of ‘No Logo’ wheels with deep rims and a flip-flop rear hub. This means I can have either a fixed gear or a single-speed set up. They look badass, really awesome. I was so excited for these and couldn’t wait to put them on the bike. The current brakes I decided would be in great condition once I gave them a good service –I still didn’t really know how to do this. I bought a new chain which was £6, a new seat for £10, and a new seat post for £5. These taking my total spend to £156.

No Logo wheels fixie fixed gear single speed

I decided I had enough components now that I could start building up my bike. However before I could do that I had to take everything off the frame and give each part a good clean. This was a slow process and took up a whole afternoon. It was worth it though. I now had a whole bike ready to be built. Finally the build could begin.

Raleigh fixie build bike bicycle project

To understand how to do all of this I consulted a few great videos on YouTube, trust me they are amazing. I now feel hugely competent at doing anything bike related. First I put back on the bottom bracket and cranks. I have decided to keep the previous cranks for now; I may update them at a later stage. I then put back on the handlebars and brakes. After that were the wheels, then it was time for the seat and seat post. Then it was time to put on my chain. I decided to go for the smaller chain ring because it is pretty hilly where I live and it also lined up straighter with the single-speed sprocket, meaning it is less likely my chain will fall off. I got the chain the correct size. Then using the horizontal dropouts on my frame I was able to pull the rear wheel backwards causing the chain to be pulled tight, I still left a little bit of play in it, a few inches up and down. The bike was now ride-able and finished.

 

Raleigh fixie build bike bicycle project

Almost done, just the chain to put back on and the brakes to adjust

I have since purchased paint so that I can spray my bike black which I plan to do at a later date. However for now I am pleased with what I have achieved. A great vintage framed bike, which I have salvaged and made ride-able for just £156. I am now planning on selling the group set, seat post and wheels that came with the bike so I can get some money back. I feel I have proven that yes it is possible to build a bike, cheaply and starting with little knowledge on how to do it. The internet proved to be an invaluable tool. Overall I have found it an utterly rewarding experience; it was great fun over Easter putting my bike together. I can now ride something that I have sourced, serviced and built. If you have any questions on building your own bike please ask. I am by no means an expert but will try and point you in the right direction.

Raleigh fixie build bike bicycle project

The finished product, for now, I still will re-spray the frame black and get a new crank

Raleigh fixie build bike bicycle project

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18 responses to “Building a New Bike

  1. I had a Raleigh Equipe about 25 years ago. Served me well and cycled it all over the place. Had the most horrendous fall on it when I ended up bending the front chain ring as it went into my elbow bone! Brings back some memories. Looking forward to seeing the finished bike once sprayed.

    • Yeah my frame is from the late 80’s. Ouch that sounds very painful, I can imagine it took a while to get back on the bike after that! Yes, I will do another post once sprayed 🙂

  2. Well done Alex! I will be attempting to do the same later on this year once I source all the parts – so far I have the frame. The satisfaction of putting one together yourself must be a good feeling.

    • Thanks Chris, I’m glad you are, it really is great fun and such a good feeling! I found eBay really good as well as bike shops for finding specific parts cheaply. Let me know how your build goes and good luck with it 🙂

  3. Ahhhh. Exactly how I started. Its a really good way to start learning hands on. If you are looking to learn how to service your road bike as well the Zinn books are really good. After building a fixie I then bought another old road bike and did the same with gears. My current project is a touring bike but from new this time 🙂

    Don’t spray it though. It will never come out looking right and you can’t just paint over the rust and current paint job. If you really want it done, get a professional powder coat down where they will do all this for you. Otherwise it will look like a stolen bike and the paint will flake off very quickly!

    There’s normally a pretty good market for old bike bits on the fixed/single speed forums. I managed to sell some 8 speed campy shifters within hours of posting them on londons fixie forum (LFGSS).

    • Thanks for the suggestion I’ll look them up. Yeah I think my next project will be to build a new TT bike. However I don’t think that will be in the near future because it will require quite a bit of money.
      Yeah I know if I was going to re-spray it I would sand it back down getting rid of all current paint then re-spray. I have heard of mixed results. I might pop down to my local car garage and see if they would do my bike. I’ll bear that in mind though, thanks.
      Cheers for that link, I will look into it for selling my old parts 🙂

      • Sorry if I seem like I was lecturing on the paint job! I have just seen a lot of bad jobs done and I would hate it to go wrong and look bad if I was doing it. The car garage is a good idea though I hadn’t thought of that 🙂

        You might want to see if you have the same sort of forum a bit nearer to home too, but I know that guys from all over the UK look at the london forum. I acutally sent a couple of parts to a guy in Ireland for a project he was doing.

        My touring frame has arrived now and I spent friday eve in the LBS reaming the frame and putting the headset in. Exciting but frustrating as the only parts I currently have are the headset, BB, chainset, front wheel and front mech. I cant ride it yet!

      • Haha no not at all. I enjoy hearing other peoples views, especially as you seem to know more about it than me. Yeah so do I which is why I am hesitant about doing it.
        Ooh that does sound exciting! Yeah I can imagine, do you know where you will go on your first tour with it?

      • Somewhere local (Byron bay to Brisbane area) as a test run. Needed if I’ve built the thing! More seriously, planning Sydney to Melbourne through the “alps” and a foodie tour around Tasmania.

  4. Good job. I’ve never felt any need to build my own bike, but I do want to learn how to service it. I can fix the brakes and mend punctures, but that’s it. Anything more complicated than that is beyond me at the moment. I’ve tried using bike books but they’re too difficult to follow. I need someone to show me what I’m supposed to do. Those YouTube videos sound like just what I need. Thanks for the tip!

    • Thanks for commenting, yeah I was very similar and they helped SO much. It was a bit nerve racking at first when I totally took everything apart as I was unsure if I would be able to put it all back together. The challenge of it though made it really fun. With the videos it was a piece of cake as well! Give it a go and let me know how you get on 🙂

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  7. Hey Alex,

    I have just done exactly the same as you – for the same reasons and with the same intentions. Strangely enough I too am working from the starting point of an old Raleigh Equipe although mine is in working order.

    Unfortunately my finances are even more limited than yours and so it will be a slow process (one part-per-paycheck) till I get to your stage. It’s reassuring to know that it is possible to do this with YouTube tutorials and a bit of guess work..!

    Were you not tempted to replace the bars? I think they might be first on my list after a saddle…!

    • Hi Chirs,

      I was tempted to change the bars and I still may in the future. Since this post I have cut off the black tape and used some ‘brasso’ on the steel. This has given the bars a new lease of life and they now have a lovely chrome finish, as do the retro brake levers. I quite like the look of them now without any bar tape on them, you can see them here: (https://twitter.com/alexscycle/status/340889421274546176/photo/1)

      Thanks for commenting and good luck with your build Chris!

  8. Hi Alex,
    I too am rebuilding a Raleigh Equipe. It is a 1985 model and cost me £27 with £3 delivery from a local chap who advertised it on gumtree. Only the Raleigh head badge was on the bike. i checked up on the serial number and had to decide if it was a ’75 or ’85 bike. I think the latter. I have totally stripped it and will be getting it sand blasted and powder coated to make it look nice. I am unable to find any Equipe decals or stickers, but there are plenty of Raleigh stickers on the bay. I have also bought another vintage racing bike to repair (not too much needed doing to it) so I can ride to the powder coaters with the frame and forks (saves walking, lol) . I just have not taken any photos of it. i always forget to take my phone or camera with me to the shed. Your rebuild has inspired me to get on with mine.
    Thanks for sharing your build.

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