Building Your Own Winter Bike

Cold, windy and dark? It might be time to accept that the Summer is over. That expensive bike that you bought in the summer, and carefully clean and polish after every ride suddenly seems too valuable to risk sliding on leaves or black ice. If you can afford the risk of writing off your expensive bike, then great. Ride it all year round, and enjoy it. We would certainly love to! Here at the Omloop offices we found an old frameset stashed away in a bike box. Suddenly the thought of building a bike which can accommodate wider, gripier tyres, and mudguards becomes very appealing. We decided to document the process in order to show would-be bike builders how straight forward it can be. See our chart at the end for a list of required components.
First, inspect the frame and forks for signs of damage. Our headset is already installed. The tool for this can be expensive. Cheaper is a packet of biscuits in exchange for help at your friendly local shop. If your frame is old, make sure the fork turns freely in the frame. If not, it might be that the bearings need replacing.

A quick look through our inventory tells us we have all we need for a build. Which components you decide to install will depend on what kind of riding you intend to do, and which components you already have. It's then a matter of putting it all together. We already had Tiagra 9sp shifters, cassette and front derailleur, so we are building around that.

This frame requires long reach (57mm) brake callipers. This is so that the frame can accommodate mudguards and wider tyres. Ideal for a winter bike.

We put the bars and stem together next, then mounted the shifters. By peeling back the rubber housing, you can gain access to the Allen bolt, which will loosen or tighten the shifter to the bars. It's easier to set the shifters' height when the hanblebar is on the bike. So save wrapping the bartape until then. Ensure that the diameter of the stem and handlebar match. There's nothing worse than sending parts back for reasons such as this. The same applies to the seatpost. Our frame includes a shim, meaning we could use a 31.6mm or 27.2mm seatpost. We have an old Probikekit carbon fibre post, which we'll be using. Always be careful not to overtighten bolts. You could crack the seatpost, or worse, your frame! We recommend you use a torque wrench.

When attaching the stem to the fork, tighten the top bolt first. This removes any vertical play between the steerer tube and frame. The side bolts are designed to remove any horizontal play.

Then, we installed the Hollowtech II bottom bracket(BB). You might have to check the width of the bottom bracket shell, and whether you require a BSA or Italian threaded BB. We are using a 68mm wide, BSA BB. Chances are, you will too. The chainset axle slides through the BB, meaning you only have to attach the left side crank, and tighten it up.

You may need a band or braze on front derailleur. Braze on means a hanger is attached to the frame, and that's what we have. Simply attach it to the frame. Adjustments can be made later.

Attach the rear derailleur next. Our frame already has the hanger attached. If you don't have a hanger, you might have to check with the frame manufacturer, who could advise you where to purchase the required size.

Using a cassette lock ring tool, mount the cassette onto the hub, ensuring the spindles line up (it's hard to get this wrong). We're mounting Shimano R500 wheels. They are sturdy and good value for money.

You can then mount the chain. We are using a chain previously used on this bike. If you are installing a new one, the old chain can act as a guide for the correct length, although this method can be imprecise. Refer to the Park Tools website for a guide on chain sizing. We recommend using a 'missing link' to fasten the chain.

Now it's time start putting the cables in and tuning the brakes and derailleurs. Below you will find a link to a guide on how to do this. The bar tape too! Wrapping bar tape for the first time seems daunting, but it just takes patience, and technique! See the link below.

We are ready to ride. This will be our winter bike until the sun starts to shine again. During the first ride, we had to tweak the gears a little, and make some small saddle adjustments. Overall it's a comfortable bike and should withstand the worst of weather we dare to ride in. Mudguards will soon be installed, as will wider, gripier tyres.

Hopefully you are now convinced that building a bike is not as daunting as it seems, and is a rewarding experience. The cost of tools will certainly pay for itself, as you'll no longer have to pay your local shop to do simple jobs. The most difficult part of the build is tuning the derailleurs. However, once you have learned how to do so, it means you can tune your bike on the go, strip it down for maintenance, or transfer pieces between frames.

How To guides

The Minimum Required Components for a build

Component Our build's compenent
Frame & Fork 2008 Giant SCR2
Seat Post PBK Carbon Fibre 27.2mm
Hanblebar FSA Omega Oversize
Stem BBB Parts 70mm
Chainset Shimano Tiagra 50/39/30
Cassette Shimano 9sp Tiagra 12-25
Shifters Shimano Tiagra 9sp Triple
Front Derailleur Shimano Tiagra Triple
Rear Derailleur Shimano Tiagra 10sp Medium Cage
Chain Shimano 9sp
Brake Callipers Tektro 57mm Drop w/Shimano Cartridge pads
Wheelset Shimano R500 w/Schwalbe Tyres
Saddle Selle Royal Viper
Pedals Shimano R550