It doesn’t matter how long you have been mountain biking, or how many bikes you have owned, every true Mountain Biker dreams to build up a mountain bike piece by piece, part by part, write the Stirlings.
There are normally three reasons why you would want to build up an inanimate MTB frame into a thrashable two-wheeled machine. Ironically, having a limited budget or having an unlimited budget are both reasons to do this. Riders on a limited budget will often buy a frame and slowly built it up as the cash rolls in. Whereas, those with an unlimited budget will pick their dream frame and kit it out with all the trick parts they have read all about. And then there is the guy in the middle who is just bored of buying bikes of the showroom floor and wants a challenge, a project, and a mountain bike that is unique. All these reasons (and many more) are good enough to embark on the rewarding journey of building up a dream bike, but the decisions of what parts to use and what components to choose must never be taken lightly – that’ll ruin all the fun of fussing over each addition to the build.
To start the build, your first decision is what frame to buy. This is the most important decision. Use your head to choose the right type of frame; Full Suspension or Full Suspension (no that’s not a typo); Marathon, Trail or Enduro; Aluminium or Carbon; Wheel Size; Price Range; Brand; and finally Colour. Then use your heart to choose which frame from the shortlist will put the biggest smile on your face. Some brilliant boutique brands sell their frames in South Africa such as PYGA, Santa Cruz, Banshee, Transition, Niner and Yeti, and some of the big brands (yes, Specialized) also have frame options too.
Now that you have your frame, you must find out the following 10 pieces of key information* that will influence your choice of parts going forward:
- What size wheels does the frame take?
- What type of rear axle is used on the frame and therefore will the rear wheel hub need?
- What is the frame manufacturers recommended travel range for the front suspension fork?
- What size seat post does the frame take?
- Can the frame take an externally and/or internally routed dropper post?
- Can a front derailleur be mounted to the frame?
- If it can take a front derailleur, what type of mounting system does the frame require?
- What style and type of headset does the frame require? Try to buy the headset with the frame.
- A straight head tube (rare) will usually need a straight steerer fork. Most frames today have a tapered head tube.
- Finally, what type of BB does the frame need? This will influence what crank type you choose too.
* A lot of this info should be found on the manufacturer’s website often in their FAQ section.
Next month the real fun begins when we talk you through each component decision putting to use years of custom bike build experience, both for our own dream bikes and a few special customer ones too.