I built up a road bike from scratch for the first time.
I ordered a carbon frame and fork (FM098) from the well known (but not name-brand) Chinese manufacturer Dengfu.
This was a big learning experience for me - I’d done small repairs before but hadn’t built up a bike from scratch. I had to buy a number of tools, but the overall cost was less then $100, and tools like the torque wrench I now use quite frequently in maintenance.
I also bought a bike stand, which if you are maintaining your own bikes is really worth having.
I measured the bike I was riding at the time and essentially copied the measurements when speccing out the new bike. Three key items I did adjust are:
- Stem length - for a more aggressive position
- Saddle to handlebar drop - also for a more aggressive position
- Gearing - I changed the gearing with the plan that I would be riding a lighter bike, without racks, and solely on road
The Park Tool measurement chart is really useful for copying the fit from one bike to another.
I had an issue with the seat post when I first built up the bike. Even with fiber grip and proper torque, the seat post would sink into the frame until it feels like you are sitting on the wheel.
I contacted the manufacturer who asked for some measurements of frame and seat post and offered to exchange the seat post. At this point I was too anxious to be riding my new bike to wait for round trip shipping to China. Instead of exchanging it, I built up the surface of the seat post with epoxy. I haven’t had any issues with slippage since.
You can see I installed a battery (for Di2 electronic shifting) inside the seat post. I wasn’t sure how to pad it out best, but wrapping it with some shipping material and zip ties seems to have worked - it hasn’t slipped out of place yet.
Some things I learned when building up the bike:
- You will be missing one key item (steerer tube expansion plug) and run to 5 bike shops to finish your bike that day
- Electronic shifting is great - much less fiddling then mechanical, very smooth, battery charging is not too much of a hassle
- Creaks from carbon are really hard to diagnose the source of
- A Derailleur hanger tool is really helpful to have. The frame came with a slightly bent hanger which a shop straightened out for me. I’ve since bought my own tool and straightened the hanger a couple of times when shift quality degraded. Either the hanger that came with this frame is pretty soft, or I bang my bike into things too often.