🚲 Here's what I have learned in the course of building my own bike (and things I wish I knew before)
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Build a custom bike

One summer, I decided to build my own single speeder.

It was a very rewarding experience and not as hard as you might think. Below is what I have learned in the course of building my bike. And a few things I wish I knew before. It focusses on fixies / single speeders.

My main resource was Sheldon Browns bike bible (and Youtube).

Decisions, decisions, decisions

  • You can use a frame size calculator for the frame size. There are also sizing charts that give you a rough idea.
  • One of the main decisions with a single speeder is the number of teeth on the crankset and rear sprockets. You can use a gear calculator or just order exactly what you like to ride your on other bicycles.
  • Road or track frame is a question of geometry and wether or not you like the clean look of the latter.
  • Freewheel or fixed wheel.


There's tons of different standards for each part. Here's a couple of parts to watch out for their compatibility. Check the product description or specs for them.

When buying parts, ask the supplier if everything fits together. They're usually open for that kind of favor.

Frame, bottom bracket, crankset

  • The frame defines if the bottom bracket is threaded or unthreaded and also its size. The frame manufacturer states the standard in the specs.
  • You either have a cup-and-cone or cartridge bottom bracket. That has an impact on the crankset you can choose.

Crankset, sprockets, chain

  • There are different chain sizes that must match your front and rear sprockets.

Fork, headset, stem, handlebars

  • You either have a threaded or unthreaded fork. They require different types of headsets.
  • Also watch out for the diameter of the headset.
  • The stem defines the diameter of the handlebars.
  • The handlebars might have a larger diameter in the middle than where you install the brake levers. So have an eye on the brake lever diameter as well.

Brake lever, brakes, brake cable

  • There are brakes that work at the rim or the hub. For each option, there are various types of brakes to choose from.
  • Not all brake levers work for all brake systems. Check the product description for indication of the compatible types.
  • Also watch out for the brake cable end. There's different types of nipples (pear / barrel).

Frame, hub, rims

  • The wheel size depends on your frame size.
  • Rear hubs are distinguished between threaded hubs and freehubs.
  • The rear hub can take a fixed sprocket (fixed gear) or freewheel.
  • The tire and tube has to fit your rim in terms of size.


  • The frame specs define a certain seat post diameter.
  • Your frame might or might not have guides to install the cables. You can get cable clamps if not.


There is nothing insanely difficult about assembling the bike parts and you can find a youtube video on everything. Some parts need more attention to detail and professional tools though. Always follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Also I advise to have everything checked by a professional bike mechanic.

If you don't want to do the sensitive stuff yourself, ask your supplier to pre-install some parts for you.


First you'll install the crown race on top of the fork. There are dedicated tools for that but also plenty of people doing it without. Installing the headset requires a headset press tool. If you can't get a grip on proper tools, you can also go for the hammer method. I would not recommend the latter, the headset is a quite fragile piece.

Cutting the steerer tube

The steerer tube above the fork is usually too long. Cut it to the desired size. There's various tools that help you with a clean cut. This is vital because you'll have a hard time installing the headset on destroyed threads.

Bottom bracket

Another thing you'll likely need a tool for. Heavily depends on the type of bottom bracket though.


  • Having a bike stand is comfortable, but not necessary.
  • Advise on cutting cable housing.
  • Both the quill and seatpost have a mark that must not be visible anymore when insterted into the tube for optimal stability.

Everything else is pretty straight forward and does not require special tools.

Shopping list

Here are the components needed to build a bike like mine:

Part Size/Variant Color
BLB Classic-R Track Frameset Size 56  Champagne
Tange Seiki Threaded Headset 1" Silver
BLB Lil Quill Stem 60mm  Silver
Zoom Bullhorn Bar 400 mm, ø 25.4mm
Brooks Cambium Bar Tape Cotton Handlebar Tape slate
Promax Retro B-Lever Brakelever ø 23,8mm Silver
FS-Track Brakes Type-B (Caliper) Silver
Brake Cable Set Rear Black
Brake Cable Set Front 17 Teeth Black
Tektro - Cable Clamps ø 28.6mm
BLB Seatpost 27,2mm Silver
Brooks Cambium C17 Natural Rubber Saddle slate
Miche Primato Bottom Bracket (BSA) Length: 110mm
FSA F. Gimondi Crankset 48 Teeth, Crank length: 170 mm
FS-Track Urban Pedal Silver
BLB Superior Freewheel 3/32"
Taya Kette OCTO 3/32"
Miche Primato Pista Small Flanges Hub Front 36 Holes
Miche Primato Pista Small Flanges Hub Rear Fixed 36 Holes
H+Son TB14 Rims 36 Spokes
Michelin Dynamic Classic Wire Bead Tires 23-622
Schwalbe Tubes 15 Presta, SV15, 40mm