The next part of building up a new bike on the cheap
Part 2 of this build up reveals how a modern mountain bike can be assembled with just a multi-tool… and YouTube.
This is the next chapter of the series where I have a go at putting together a decent hardtail by using as many spares – and as fewer new bits – as possible.
Why build up your own hardtail?
There are many reasons for building up a hardtail out of new bits and your existing pile of spares.
Maybe your main bike has just died. Maybe you’re after a hardtail to see you through the winter months, saving your shiny full susser for spring. Maybe you just have so many spare bits lying around that it seems wrong not to turn them into a full bike.
Maybe you’re just suffering from N+1 syndrome.
In my case, it’s a combination of the last two maybes. You can more about my reasons/excuses in Part 1 of this series (see link above). There you can also read why I chose this particular frame to build up.
The frame in question is an NS Bikes Eccentric Alu EVO 29. A 29er frame with decent geometry and without a massive price tag (£217.99 at the moment).
The build up begins
It took me a surprisingly long time to begin the build up in earnest (blame my busy family life) but once I found a window of opportunity things progressed impressively rapidly.
Modern mountain bikes really are hugely more straightforward to build up than they used to be. There’s a distinct lack of hammers and crowbars required these days.
Even the two most typically troubling spots – the headset and bottom bracket – went in swear-free. The Shimano BB52 bottom bracket had no binding spots. The Brand-X headset, being an integrated style, simply needed cartridge bearings dropping in, a split crown race slipping on the fork steerer and a headset top cap slapping on. Done.
Normally, I’d be wary of integrated headtube frames because you can’t run an angle-slackening headset in them. But the head angle on the Ecccentric Alu EVO 29 is 65°, so am happy with that.
Other wins include: the WTB Vigilante rear tyre fits (well, just about), I had a seat-clamp lying around that fits, the Specialized Roval wheels went up tubeless with only a track pump. And I also found a spare bottle cage.
It hasn’t been entirely plain sailing.
One issue has been getting non-Boost parts to play nicely with the Boost frame. Namely, my existing non-Boost wheelset and non-Boost chainset.
The wheelset issue was cured by getting a Boost converter kit from eBay (axle spacers, disc rotor spacer and long rotor bolts). The resulting fix does mean that the spacers fall out every time I remove the rear wheel from the frame (ugh) but I’ll see how that goes. I don’t change rear tyres very often and hopefully I won’t puncture very often as I’m running tubeless. I imagine there’s some way of quasi-gluing the spacers in place if it proves to be unliveably annoying.
Now then the non-Boost chainset I hadn’t actually even thought about. It wasn’t until I watched the chainring get nearer and nearer and eventually fouling the chainstay as I tightened up the cranks that I remembered! Oops. A quick ransacking of my brain unearthed a memory of someone flipping a cinch chainring around on early fatbike to get it to clear. So I did that and it appears to have worked.
I imagine the resulting chainline of the converted wheelset and flipped chainset is less than optimal. Hey-ho. Suck it and see.
As predicted in Part 1, there have been a number of things that I had forgotten.
Some of them were ‘how to’ things that I’d forgotten. I can never remember the orientation of spacers on bottom brackets. God bless YouTube and, especially, Google Image Search.
The internet is surely one of the biggest reasons why building up a bike by yourself is much more feasible than it used to be. Not only can you find the little niggling bits that bike shops never have in stock (Boost conversion kits, for example) but you can also quickly Google something when you come across a stumbling block.
There were also numerous other ‘ah, okay, damn’ moments when I realised I needed some more parts. Seat post shim, cabling for the dropper post, headset spacers and handlebar end plugs.
I had also forgotten that my earmarked handlebars, stem and grips are currently being used on another test bike. So I had another rummage in my parts bin(s) and turned up a nice old Race Face Atlas alloy bar and stem and a set of Lapierre grips (lying around from the aforementioned test bike).
The main temptation is to rush or bodge something.
It’s really tempting to raid the parts bin again and stick on some weepy disc brakes. Similarly it’s tempting to forego gears altogether and run it as a singlespeed (at least for awhile).
But I’m not going to do that. Been there, done that. All it does it start your relationship off on the wrong foot with your new bike.
I will admit to not sorting out the seized-in left hand pedal. After all, the flat pedals (Nukeproof Neutron EVO) still actually work and are decent enough performers.
Brakes and gears. I’m on the lookout for some budget brakes and drivetrain. I’m probably going to go with something that isn’t from the bigger brands. We shall see. I need to do a bit more research.
In the meantime if you have any questions or comments about my hardtail build – particularly about what brakes and gears to go for – please leave a comment below or on our social media channels.
Stay tuned as the next few weeks as the build completes and the first ride happens.