After 20 or so years of riding mountain bikes, setting up my first road bike was a bit of a shock. Having gone from finding the right frame size and simply moving the seat post up or down and changing stem length on a mountain bike, I had so much work to do to get comfortable for the road.
A mountain bike is simple, choose the wheel and frame size and the rest is easy. Set the saddle height and change the stem if you need to. That’s all there is to it. Suspension and frame geometry takes care of the rest. Road bikes on the other hand…
If you have ready any of the other topics on Road Cyclist, you will already have an idea that setting up a road bike is completely different. Setting saddle height takes an article of its own. As does stem length, cleat position and so much more. I have still yet to write about frame geometry, crank arm length, pedal types, saddle types and the myriad of other fit elements!
Anyway, back to the subject at hand and why you should build you own road bike.
Specialised not just Specialized
If you’re interested in road bikes, you know how specialised they can be. We have gravel bikes, urban, pure racing, TT, sportive and loads more. Most bikes can lend themselves to most types of use but are not marketed as such.
If you have a specialised use in mind, building your own bike, to your own specifications, can deliver the exact experience you’re looking for.
Many new cyclists have no idea how to change a groupset, or even a tyre. That’s great news for the LBS, but not so much for the cyclist. That LBS isn’t going to be with you in the middle of nowhere to help with a mechanical or be around to help you on a group ride when disaster strikes.
Knowing your machine is a key part of being a cyclist. You need to know how the bike works, how it’s put together, where that creak is coming from and how to fix everything. That’s especially true if you cycle in countryside away from built up areas!
One size does not fit all
Bicycle manufacturers do a good job of delivering bikes that have the widest appeal, yet it won’t be everything you wanted. Building your own bike allows you to put whatever frame you like with your groupset of choice. It will allow you to try disc if it has the mounts, or not. You can specify your own wheels and finishing kit and built the machine you want to ride, with the characteristics you want it to have.
While it’s possible to change parts on a bought bike, why pay for bits you’re not going to use?
In a world where every mamil seems to wear Team Sky kit and ride either an S-Works Venge or Dogma, being a bit different is a great way to express your individuality. I’m a great advocate of going your own way. That’s why I like building my own bikes. A visit to Bespoked, the handmade bike show will soon convince you that there is a lot more choice than your bike shop would have you believe.
Finally we come to cost. The cost of making your own bike can be much cheaper than buying one off the shelf depending on how you spec it. Buy clever and you save money, get carried away and you will likely spend more.
Whichever way you go, you will get a lot more bike for your money. A bike you designed and built. A bike you know from the ground up and a bike you can repair instinctively whatever might happen.