Road bikes are starting to increase in popularity, and as a result, they’re starting to become considerably more expensive. That’s why so many people are resorting to building their own road bikes.
If you aren’t careful, building a road bike can also end up racking a pretty hefty bill. That’s why it’s essential to learn how to build a cheap road bike.
To properly build a road bike for cheap, there are certain aspects that are necessary. You need to know exactly what you’re looking for and from where you can source the parts.
By understanding the different components where you can save money, you can enjoy a high quality bike at a fraction of the price that manufacturers are offering.
If that’s got you interested, then keep reading to find out more about everything you need to know to learn how to build a cheap road bike!
Is a Cheap Road Bike Build Worth the Effort?
Before getting into the details of the build, many people are unsure about whether it’s actually worth putting in the effort. While building a bike takes time and effort, you can easily go and buy a ready-made bike from the shop.
However, there are certain benefits available to building your own road bike. One of the main reasons behind why people choose to learn how to build a cheap road bike is the overall fit.
A road bike that you’re going to build for yourself will definitely fit better than anything that the manufacturers have to offer. You can do your research and find the frame which offers the most optimal fit.
Aside from just the standard frame, you can also find the most optimal seat design to ensure that you never feel uncomfortable on your road bike. If you’re especially tall or short, you’ll probably have to change the saddle on your factory road bike.
When the seat and frame fit together properly, it becomes much easier for cyclists to pedal more efficiently. Aside from the pedalling efficiency, a custom frame and seat make the bike feel much more comfortable.
Another advantage of building a bike yourself is that it helps you develop a more intimate knowledge of all the different components and accessories. Once you’re understanding of the parts increases, your overall skill and experience as a cyclist will improve.
Not only will you improve as a cyclist, you’ll also get significantly better at bike maintenance. While these are all decent bonuses that you can expect to receive after learning how to build a cheap road bike, the main reason why it’s worth the effort is the freedom your own build provides.
Instead of having to do extensive amounts of research in order to find the most ideal bike with all the parts you feel are necessary, you can build your own bike. It leaves you free to add all the parts and accessories that you think will fit best with the bike.
Now that you understand the reasons behind why building a cheap road bike build is beneficial. However, it isn’t as simple as buying the cheapest possible parts on the market. Without proper understanding of where to cut costs and what parts to spend on, you can end up with a less than ideal bike.
Here’s everything you need to know about where you can cut costs and where you shouldn’t compromise at all!
Where do brands cut costs when it comes to budget road bikes?
Generally, the cheapest road bike that’s going to be available in the market typically come from larger manufacturers. That’s because these manufacturers have the capacity to order most items in bulk and get access to significantly better prices.
However, a lot of the low price offerings from these brands are often misleading. Brands will take advantage of the novice cyclist’s lack of understanding and try to offer the ultimate budget cycle at a ridiculous price point.
The main reason this happens is because most beginner cyclists don’t understand what they should look for when buying a new bike. Most new customers will prioritize the frame material, groupset, and the front fork.
By only focusing on these priorities, brands can take advantage of cyclists to cut their costs and provide customers with a bike that’s not really all that. The bike will feature a high quality frame but will come with cheap additional accessories. These will often break and detract from the performance of the bike.
Alternatively, another tactic that the major bike brands use to cut costs is to create limited edition versions of standard wheels. These accessories are generally cheap but brands market them as limited edition and can significantly cut their costs.
In addition, in their budget road bike offerings many bicycle brands will provide less than ideal tires. An aspect that many beginner cyclists fail to realize is that the bike’s tires are essential towards ensuring a smooth ride.
Lastly, brands will look to cut their costs on additional bike accessories like the stem, handlebars, and saddles as well. By ensuring that they can easily cut down on costs and customers can replace the parts as they see fit.
What should you prioritize when learning how to build a cheap road bike?
There are a few key areas that you should focus on when looking to get a decent cheap road bike build. By focusing on these few areas, you can ensure that you learn how to build a cheap road bike that covers all of your needs.
The overall bike fit is the most ardent requirement that many people tend to ignore when learning how to build a cheap road bike. Even when you’re buying a road bike it’s essential to consider the bike fitting.
It doesn’t matter if you try to buy one of the more expensive bikes on the market, all the bells and whistles in the world won’t improve the performance if it doesn’t fit well. Generally, finding a bike that fits you properly isn’t a lot of trouble.
The design of bike frames is such that most people will fit on most bike frames on the market. Unless you have unusually long legs or a very short torso, you’ll be able to take your pick between the many different sizes that are available on the market.
Aside from the size of the bike, another aspect that has an impact on the overall fitting is the saddle. If your bike saddle is either too long or short, you’ll struggle to find a position that lets you pedal optimally.
Due to these reasons, you should place your utmost focus on ensuring that the bike you’re building will fit properly.
Back in the day, most cyclists only had the option of choosing steel frames. However, modern cyclists have access to significantly better materials. They have the option of choosing between lighter materials like aluminum and carbon.
However, aside from the frame material, it’s important to focus on how they’re using the material. Even if the frame uses the highest grade aluminum, if it isn’t incorporated in the frame properly, then the bike won’t ride properly.
Similarly, most cyclists tend to believe that carbon is the lightest bicycle frame offering on the market. However, if the carbon frame features a poor design then it won’t be able to perform on the same level as a high quality aluminum frame.
When you’re considering the frame material, it’s also important to consider what additional components you’ll be attaching to the road bike. Make sure that frame material you pick offers additional support for other components and accessories.
Aside from the frame material, another important factor to consider when building your own road bike is the tires. If you end up picking less than adequate tires then the overall ride of your road bike will really suffer.
The right set of tires can completely transform the overall ride quality of your road bike. Aside from picking high quality tires, it’s also important to ensure that you maintain the optimal tire pressure.
By maintaining the optimal tyre pressure, you can ensure that your road bike will perform at the best possible level.
Along with the tires, it’s essential to focus on the wheels as well. If the wheels of your bike aren’t high quality then no matter what frame or tires you pick, the bike won’t perform at a decent level.
If you pick a decent set of wheels, you can help transform the overall quality of your bike frame. It can help take a bike frame from average to decent.
By prioritizing these different aspects, you can learn how to build a cheap road bike and ensure that it remains high quality as well. Instead of spending your time trying to find the perfect gear shifters or pedals, focus on these different aspects.
How to Build a Cheap Road Bike?
Now that you know what to prioritize, we can get into the nitty gritty of exactly how to build a cheap road bike.
Step 1: Start with the frame
The first step in any kind of bicycle build is picking the right frame. For any bicycle, the frame serves as the main body. Putting every bicycle component aside, the frame has the most significant impact on the overall ride quality.
If you pick the wrong frame or end up spending too much money, you won’t have the budget to get all the other components that are necessary.
When it comes to bicycle frames, it’s only natural that one that costs around $1000 will perform better than one that costs $100. However, with a $100 frame, you can devote the rest of your budget to getting high quality parts.
Essentially, you should pick a frame that properly matches what you’re looking to achieve with the bike.
Additionally, when you’re going for a cheap road bike build, it’s a good idea to stay away from carbon fiber frames. Generally, carbon fiber is incredibly expensive and you won’t find a decent frame for under $1000!
If you find a good price on the frame, it’s most likely to be a too good to be true situation. That’s why the best idea is to go for an aluminum frame.
Step 2: Pick the right wheels
Most people will tell you that when it comes to road bikes it’s all about picking the lightest set of wheels possible. However, that’s not always the case. When you’re going for a budget road bike build, cheap heavy wheels can also do the job.
The cheap wheels tend to be a lot more durable than the lightweight options on the market. Their durability means that they’ll last for a significantly longer time.
It’s also important that cyclists don’t fall into the trap of buying the super light cheap wheels that are starting to become increasingly popular online. While these might be incredibly light, that’s not the only thing that cyclists should consider when building their road bike.
It’s also important to consider the stiffness of the wheel. If the wheel is lightweight but doesn’t have the necessary stiffness, then it won’t be able to effectively transfer the power. That’s because if a wheel isn’t stiff enough, then it’ll start to flex.
As the wheel flexes it’ll start to lose a lot of power output.
Step 3: Choose the correct fork and headset
After getting the frame and the wheels, you should shift your focus towards ensuring that you pick the right fork and headset combination. When you’re looking to pick the correct fork, there are two main aspects that you should focus on!
These aspects are the material of the fork and whether the fork matches the type of bike that you’re looking to buy.
Bike forks are generally available in the same materials that are common among modern bikes. You can choose between carbon fiber, aluminum, and steel.
Each available material will boast certain different properties, so it’s important to assess all the factors before finalizing your decision. Carbon fiber is known for being both lightweight and very durable. Alternatively aluminum is popular for being light and rigid.
The material of choice for most cheap road bike builds tends to be aluminum. However, it also makes sense for cheap road bike builds to use steel for their fork. Steel might be heavier than the other available options but it’s also another popular choice down to the durability.
Steel is an especially popular choice for family heirloom road bike builds that you’re looking to pass down several generations. It might not be the lightest but the durability will put your mind at ease.
Step 4: Connect the Stem
When you’re attaching the stem to the frame, the most important things to consider are the size and compatibility. Your job’s made much easier thanks to the utility of modern stems which will fit into the tube and you can tighten them in position.
Another thing to keep an eye on is ensuring that your stem is capable of accommodating the size of the handlebars you’re looking to attach. A good idea is to buy the stem first then look at handlebar options to see which ones are available.
Step 5: Handlebar Time
Most cyclists fail to realize the essential nature of the handlebars. Handlebars are one of the essential contact points that control how you interact with the bike.
To get that signature road bike look, you should go for drop bars. After you decide on the type of handlebar you want, you can then decide the type of shifters and brakes you’re going to attach.
Drop bars will generally feature a dedicated area where you can attach the shifters and the brake levers. The benefit of learning how to build a cheap road bike is you can decide exactly what components and where you’re going to position them!
Step 6: Connect your Brakes
When you’re learning how to build a cheap road bike, you’ll notice that there are three main brake types that you can choose between. These are; Hub brakes, Disc brakes, and Rim brakes. Generally, people tend to choose between disc and rim brakes.
However, hub brakes can be a lot more fun. If you’re looking to go for the brakes that’ll provide you with the most stopping power at a reasonable price point, then disc brakes are your best bet!
After installing the brakes, it’s also important to learn more about essential maintenance to ensure that your bikes last for as long as possible!
Step 7: Attach the Wheels and Tires
Your cheap road bike build is probably starting to take shape and it’s easy to get excited. However, the job isn’t over yet. You’ll need to attach the wheels and tires. The wheels include the hub, a rim, and the spokes.
When you’re picking wheels, it’s essential to not end up picking the lightest possible option. Make sure that you pick wheels that are lightweight and stiff as well.
On top of the wheels you’ll have to attach the tires to ensure that they also fit effectively. Make sure that you pick tires that match effectively with the type of bike you’re building. If you’re learning how to build a cheap road bike then you should look towards getting slick narrow tires.
Step 8: Insert the Seatpost and Saddle
We’re getting close to the end of how to build a cheap road bike, most of your bike is in position! To complete the frame of your bicycle you need to add the seatpost and the saddle.
It’s essential that the seatpost that you pick fits in properly with the seat tube on the frame. The best option is to go for the same material that you went with for the frame.
After picking the right seatpost for the frame, you need to decide on what type of saddle you’re going to buy. It’s important to pick a saddle that’s super comfortable. That’ll help ensure that your bike feels exceptional while you’re riding around.
You don’t have to worry about the saddle fitting well as they’re super compatible and sizing won’t definitely be an issue.
Step 9: Attach all additional components
Now that you have the main structure of your bike all ready, you can begin attaching all the different additional components. These components include the crankset and gearing options.
When installing these additional components, you need to ensure that your gearset is compatible with the derailleur.
Rather than trying to look for some tips and tricks that might help improve the fit, you should make getting the right fitting a priority. That way you can effectively ensure that every part you attach to the bike is compatible and you won’t have to spend too much time worrying about the fit.
After going through all these steps, you’re well on your way towards learning how to build a cheap road bike.
Instead of going for the cheapest possible product or option that’s available on the market, you can adopt a smarter approach to your cheap road bike build. By understanding what areas you should compromise, and which should be your points of focus, you can make a cheap road bike build for the ages.