Building a Road Bike from Parts -- Need Advice!


New Member
Ok here's the deal. I am looking to build a road bike from parts. Up until now my bicycle knowledge has been pretty perfunctory, but I'm learning fast, and hope to start this project by the end of the month. Right now I'm doing lots of research, and am anxious to start ordering parts. My budget is around $1,000.

About me: I'm a relative neophyte to the bike scene. I've been riding for nearly a year now; currently, my single speed is my primary means of transportation. I don't race, tour, or off-road--nothing special. I'm just looking to design a neat commuter bike that is 1) light and 2) comfortable. I ride on the relatively hilly streets of Seattle.

I have decided to go with a flip-flop hub with a freewheel on one side and fixed on the other. Despite the urging of friends and bike snobs everywhere, I'm not convinced a fixie is right for me (I like coasting), so this way I can decide for myself, and preserve both options.

I've done my homework, and have worked out measurements, size requirements, gear ratio, etc. I'm going to consult with a professional before purchasing anything. I still however, have some more general questions, this being my first salvo into bike construction.

1) How much, proportionally, should I be spending on individual parts? I've heard various opinions (wheels should be 50%, frame should be 30%), but no real consensus. My biggest priority in this department is weight. My current single-speed is a tad over 20 lb. and I would like to cut that down a bit (under 16 lb. if possible for my budget, not including removable parts like lights and luggage rack). Which parts should I invest the most amount of money in, and which can be purchased on the cheap?

2) What are our opinions on frame materials? The frameset is the first purchase, so along with considerations of price, I'm wondering about material options. Again, weight is the core issue. The best deals I've found online are carbon frames. In fact, I've found that if I'm buying a used frame, the lightest, cheapest material available is carbon (even cheaper than most aluminum and titanium frames) even though retail-wise this should be more expensive. I'm wary of the bugaboos associated with carbon (maintenance, compatibility with other parts), but honestly don't know enough to make an educated decision.

3) Painting. As long as I'm making a custom bike, I'd like to get a custom paint job. Is this something I can do on my own? Or is it worth it to pay for a professional to do this? Are there any dangers in painting it myself? Has anyone attempted this before? Warnings? Advice?

I'm ready and motivated to get this project underway. I have most of my specs worked out, a work space and tools provided, and now it's time to make some decisions. The first purchase will be a frameset, perhaps as early as next week. Please give me any and all advice you can muster. Thanks!


Chandler's Ford
Looks like you've already given it a lot of thought!

There is some good information about the different frame materials a little way down this page.


Legendary Member
Ok, here's the question: why?

If you enjoy fettling, all well & good. But if what you actually want is the end result - ie, 'a neat commuter bike that is 1) light and 2) comfortable' - you'd probably be much better off keeping a good eye on ebay, biding your time and doing some serious research, then wait for the right basic machine to come up before adapting it as necessary to make it just perfect for you.

My own preference for a light, comfortable fixie is a really good steel frame with light wheels, drops and a front brake and, er, that's it. Building that up from bits would have been very expensive. But buying the right 'starter bike' made it a lot cheaper....and much easier toboot.

More helpfully, probably, since you sound like a man on a mission, is 3) from everything I've read, painting is one thing you really do need to have done by a pro.
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