How to Build a Mountain Bike in 5 Quick Steps
When you’re considering building a mountain bike, you may find yourself overwhelmed and confused by all the steps, equipment, and parts you need. You may feel like you just don’t have the time!
I’m here to tell you that it’s easier than you think, it can be more affordable than buying a top-notch performance mountain bike, and you can do it all in your spare time!
I was terrified to build a bike myself, but I did it, and it is one of my most cherished memories. You will need to prepare some equipment and parts, and plan for what you want!
Let me show you how to build a mountain bike!
Parts and Equipment
Before we jump into the how to build a mountain bike part, you need the equipment for getting started on your project! These articles are just as important as building the bike itself.
Knowledge About Mountain Bikes
To build a mountain bike, you should at least have some basic knowledge about mountain biking. You can read some of my favorite mountain biking blogs for information on how to ride mountain bikes, tours to cycle, places to visit, parts and equipment reviews and more.
You want to build your knowledge on brakes, derailleurs, shifters, suspension styles, frames, pedals, and anything else you can get ahold of. Learn about the parts of a bike, know your bike by part names, and read about recommended products, parts, and pieces for your bike.
Mountain Bike Building Manual
For help throughout the process and for referencing when you need it, a manual will always help.
I used a maintenance guide to help get me through certain parts of building my bike, but you can use any manual that will assist you with how things should look, where parts should go, and how to fix things that aren’t working.
Paper and Pen
You’re going to want to write down all the information you come up with for your bike. This is where you’ll want to know the parts you want to buy, your budget, how much things cost and the idea of your completed bike.
The internet is going to come in very handy for you because I know it did for me. The truth is, almost everything you want to know is going to be found on the internet.
This will be great for researching the parts you’re interested in, checking out frame styles and designs, and figuring out a budget for your bike.
Building Your Bike
We’re finally to the part where you will learn how to build a mountain bike and how to get yourself to that point. There’s a lot of work to put into the process of deciding and researching, but it’ll pay off when your build your mountain bike.
Decide on the Type of Mountain Biking You Want to Do
There are three types of mountain biking you can choose to do that will affect how you build your mountain bike. You can choose XC (which is Cross-Country), All Mountain and Trail, or Downhill, and they all have various aspects to choose from.
Cross-country mountain biking is the most common type of mountain biking, and it is also the least extreme. This discipline of MTB is also an Olympic sport that focuses on defined trails to narrow singletracks that test endurance and technical skills.
This is the route to take if you are looking for a bike built for climbing and quick-handling on a hardtail suspension.
These bikes are usually fitted with knobby tires to grip the terrain and provide you with stability and balance as you focus on riding.
The front suspension fork for these bikes should have, at the very least, a travel of 80mm and up to 120mm. The longer the travel of your fork, the better your riding experience.
All Mountain and Trail MTB:
This is the adventurous form in mountain biking that involves more technical skills than XC. The trails in this part of MTB require more jumps and bigger drops that you must maneuver. This MTB gets your adrenaline racing!
This type of MTB usually involves full-suspension bikes with wider tires and longer travel for both the rear and the front. The travel usually is between 140mm to 170mm, and again the longer the travel, the smoother the ride. These bikes are made to be put to the test!
This aspect of MTB is for the advanced extremists who love speed and adrenaline. These tracks are some of the roughest single-track descents with rocks, massive drops, and crazy nature getting in your path.
Downhill racing is very intense just to watch!These riders need excellent balance to get through the path under high speeds. These bikes usually have a unique geometry build to the frame, longer travels on the front and rear, and bigger rotors for the disc brakes.
These bikers need all the support they can get. Travel on these bikes ranges from 200mm to 203mm. These bikes are rugged!
Select a Budget for Your Bike
You will first need to establish your budget for your mountain bike. With mountain bike prices ranging from under $200 all the way above $12,000, you need to set a budget. There are usually five categories for budgeteers, which are: The Penny Pincher, the Budget-Minded, the Mid-range, the Upper mid-range, and over $3500.
The Penny Pincher: $500 and less
If this is the category for you, you will have slim pickings when it comes to buying supplies. Hardtail aluminum and steel frames will be your cheapest bet, along with used parts.
Try finding pieces and parts on Craigslist or look for an earlier model of a bike for sale to remake as your own.
Avoid full-suspension bikes at this price point, as they will be low-quality and will cost more to repair and upgrade than it’s worth. One of the brands you should look for in a mountain bike under 500 is the Merax Finiss.
The Budget-Minded: $500-$1,000
Being in this bracket allows you to get a better hardtail bike or even an entry-level full-suspension mountain bike. You can look through your options on Craigslist or consider parts you want your bike to have to upgrade on a cheaper model.
In this price range, you can find mountain bikes under 1000, such as the Diamondback Atroz which is a full suspension bike with high-quality parts.
The Mid-Range: $1,000-$1,500
Now your options are wide open for you to explore bikes with full suspension, carbon frames, high-quality parts, and lightweight frames. You’ll want to be careful with used bikes above this price range; some people will trade out parts and pieces to make a high price off you.
A brand you might want to consider from this price bracket is Beiou. Their Beiou Carbon Fiber 650B Mountain Bike is a high-quality, high-performance bike with a lightweight carbon frame and a hardtail suspension.
The Upper Mid-Range: $1,500-$3,500
You can get a pretty great bike for this budget range, and anything you want really comes into play. With this budget, you can find high-quality, high-performance, full suspension bikes easily. You can even find top-performance hardtails and electric bikes.
You should consider Diamondback brand bikes for their performance and quality that cyclists love and enjoy.
At this price range, you can get anything you want, and you really won’t have to worry about parts and pieces being used or new. You can get the bike of your dreams, seriously.
One of the top brands for this budget is Diamondback. They have high-performance, quality, and parts that produce a top-notch mountain bike.
Consider the Parts You Need for Your Bike
This is the most important part of your consideration. This is where you need to break down each part and decide what brand you want to go with, the style you like, and equipment you prefer.
The frame you choose on has many distinct parts to choose from. First, the body style, do you want aluminum steel or carbon? Steel is the heaviest and cheapest, aluminum is the middleweight, and Carbon is the lightest and most expensive.
The second part of the frame is the suspension. Do you want a hardtail or full-suspension? Hardtail provides you with front suspension, and full suspension takes care of the impact over the whole bike.
The frame gives you the support your bike needs to handle impacts, crashes and all the riding you do. The suspension makes it easier for the frame to handle the impacts and shocks. The better the suspension, the better your bike frame.
You’ll also need to choose a frame height that fits your body. Frames come in many sizes, so you’ll want to make sure you get the proper size for your completed bike.
The fork provides your bike with front suspension and travel. The fork should be the second thing you decide on and should match your type of riding. This needs to be matched up with your tires to make sure you get the proper clearance.
The fork also comes in steel being the heaviest and cheapest but made to last, aluminum is light and rigid, and at the mid-price range, however, it’ll enhance the bumps in the road, and carbon is your lightest and strongest material that will soften your ride to a smooth and comfortable one.
3. Wheels and Tires
The wheels need to be known so you can make sure they are compatible with your fork. The tires you choose should also reflect your biking style. You wouldn’t put cycling tires on a downhill bike, that would get your hurt and ruin your bike.
You can usually find tires in all budget areas. Brands like Shimano, SRAM, and Kendra all have tires in various price points to fit your needs.
You also need to decide the width of your tire for the type of biking you’re doing and the fork you’re using. Decided if you need knobby tires, wide tires, fat tires, or thin tires. You will also need to decide if you want aluminum or carbon rims, or you can even choose to go tubeless!
4. Seat Post
You can’t pick any seat post you want; you need to make sure the seat post is the correct size to fit inside the seat tube on your frame. You also need to decide on whether you want steel, alloy (aluminum alloy) or carbon tubing.
Carbon is the hardest to repair and the most expensive, but it will make your ride smooth. Steel won’t break, is easy to fix, and is inexpensive, but the ride will be bumpy. Alloy provides a nice middle area to being a fair price, decent quality, and easy to work with.
If you are looking for something cushier for your ride, try a suspension seat. It adds suspension to your seat to absorb shocks and makes for a smoother ride.
5.Pedals & Crank
The crank connects the pedal to the chaining and gives you the ability to move. Cranks have a variety of sizes, so you want to make sure the fit with the chaining system and your pedals.
The cranks should be chosen based on how much you will ride, where and how you will ride since these affect your speed and power directly.
There are three types of pedals to choose from caged, platform, and clipped. If you are just starting out, the caged or platform pedals are the best option since they provide easy-release. Clipped pedals attach to your shoe, so if you are in an accident or need to jump from your bike, this doesn’t provide you an easy out.
You also should decide if you want pedals that are plastic or metal. Plastic pedals will break easily, with metal pedals will not break easily but will add weight to your bike.
The headset is how your front wheel moves. It’s comprised of a set of bearings, cups, and races that connect the fork to the frame of your bike. First, the races are pressed down onto the fork. The cups are put into the holes in the headtube, and the bearings go inside the cups. Modern headset bearings are sealed and of higher-quality.
Sealed bearings tend to be harder to mess with, and they add grease to your headset over time, while unsealed bearings last longer since you can care for them easier. Brands to look for in bearings are Paul Components, Cane Creek, and Chris King.
7. The Saddle
This is one of the easier purchases to make. You need to get a seat that is comfortable for extended rides fits your bike, and is something you want. You don’t want to be cheap here because you will have to sit on this for hours at a time on some days. Make sure you get what you want.
8. The Stem
The size and compatibility of the stem you chose matters a lot. The stem will have to fit around the steer tube of your bike since these usually slide over the steer tube and have an adjuster in place. The fork of your frame is cut, and a star nut is put into place before the headset bolts down on top and holds everything together.
The stem should accommodate your handlebars. You don’t have to know what handlebars you want to buy, but once you choose a stem, you’ll need to make sure they’re compatible.
9. Handlebars, Shifters, & Brake Levers
Handlebars are so imperative for your comfort while riding! You need to hold these the entire time you are riding, so they need to be comfortable and easy to use and reach. The handlebars are how you get a feel for your whole bike; it’s your control system.
You can choose between drop bars, swept-back bars, flat bars, and more depending on your riding style, your discipline of mountain biking and their comfortability.
Once you choose your handlebars, the shifters and brake levers tend to be decided to fit your handlebars. SRAM twist shifters are particularly popular for flat bars.
10. The Brakes
Brakes are crucial to your bike. Without brakes, you can’t stop, and that can be bad. Since you will be riding at high speeds, you’ll want brakes that are powerful and controlled to provide you with a secure stop.
The two main brakes are rim brakes and disc brakes. Rim brakes are cheap and light, but they wear down quickly, can skip, and don’t do well when wet. Disc brakes stop the wheel from the center, providing a better stop, but these are heavier and cost more.
Hydraulic disc brakes are the most common brakes for mountain biking since they provide precision and accuracy when coming to a stop, but these are very expensive.
11. The Bottom Bracket
This will be the trickiest part of the whole building a mountain bike. Depending on your frame, this will be even harder or easier to do. Look at the thread pitch, which is the distance between each thread in the shell. The shell is where the bottom bracket will fit into your bike, so the thread pitch must be the same.
There are over five standards of measurement, which makes this hard to do, but once you determine your thread pitch, buy a bracket that fits your frame and that you like. You’ll want high-quality and lightweight for a better pedal stroke.
New Parts Vs. Used Parts
Building a bike from scratch can be cheaper than buying a bike with the parts you already want or desire. This alone cuts hundreds of dollars just by building your own bike. If you want to save more, try buying used parts.
Buying used can make some people uneasy. My sister doesn’t like buying used things because she thinks they’re given away because they don’t work. This isn’t true at all!
Using used parts can help you stay under budget on your bike building.
When buying used, look at the shape a part is in, how often it was used, and how long since they first purchased it. Try to haggle and even see if you can get free bonuses of other parts or supplies.
Buying new can save you the hassle of having to track down parts, invest time and research into what you’re looking for and how to tell good from bad, and having to reach a price you’re happy about.
There are a lot of experienced mountain bikers who have built their own bikes and have given advice for new bikers.
You can find help, resources, and valuable information from forums and websites. Many mountain bikers from all over give you useful information to reach your destination, whether on skills, how to build a mountain bike, and so much more.
Build Your Bike
You are now ready to buy your parts, find your space and build your bike. With all the information I gave you, I hope you can find all the parts you want, know what to invest in, and compare your options for your maximum benefit.
Have you started building your mountain bike? What do you like about the information provided? Do you have any suggestions? I’m glad I could help you learn how to build a mountain bike.
Featured image source: wall.alphacoders.com
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