Let me start by saying this is not about building a frame, this is about
putting components onto a frame to build a bike. Sounds easy, but it took
me a while the first couple times I tried it. And I couldn't find any kind of
how-to on the internet. So the third frame I put together I decided to
I got this frame off eBay. It sat in its box for a couple weeks after I got it, because I knew once I opened it I would start working in it. Finally one night while watching "Snatch" on DVD I pulled it out.
The next day I set it up in the "work stand". I say "work stand" because it's
made out of 3/4" electrical conduit and a piece of water pipe. And a C-clamp
with some angle iron welded on to hold the bike. I made it the last time I
worked on a frame.
The frame is a K2 Animal, size Way Big. My current bike is a K2 Proflex 5000, size Large. It's not quite big enough for me, so I got the new frame. It's the same geometry, so everything should transfer over from the old frame.
I had stripped everything off the old bike that morning, so I had all the parts
ready to go on.
I carefully set up my work area. For a work table I used the box that the frame came in, set on top of a folding chair. The first thing to go on was the bottom bracket, so I got it ready, along with some Never-Seize for the threads and taper, and the special Shimano bottom bracked splined tool that I got from Nashbar and use with a 1/2" drive ratchet I got at Harbor Freight. Quality all the way.
I put Never-Seize on the threads of the bottom bracket shell. Before I put
this frame together I considered having the shell chased and faced, or whatever
it is, by a LBS, but I figured the factory probably did a decent job, and I
didn't want to get too perfectionistic about it.
Then I stuck in the bottom bracket and screwed it in, making sure to remember that the right side is left-hand threaded. Then I put in the other side.
I knew what size bottom bracket to use because I was just moving parts over from the old frame, but if I had to figure it out, I would measure the width of the shell (in my case 68mm) and check the crank directions to find the recommended axle width of 113mm, to find that I needed a 68x113 bottom bracket.
[I got a suggestion from the internet to put antiseize on the inside of the left bottom bracket cup. Makes sense.]
Next to go on was the front derailleur, because on this geometry frame it's
easier to put it on before the chainring block the derailleur post. I reused
the derailler from the last frame, in this case bottom-pull, top-swing
derailleur. It is bottom-pull because the front derailleur cable come up from
under the bottom bracket shell to the derailleur, and top-swing because the
derailleur post is short, and the derailleur has to stick up higher to reach
It clamps on pretty easily. I just put it in an approximate spot to start, and adjusted it after the crank and chainring went on.
Time to put the cranks on. More Never-Seize on the square-taper bottom
bracket spindle. I used square-taper because it seems to be good enough. The
various kinds of splined spindles might work better, but there's a lot more
square-taper stuff out there, and it's less expensive. The cranks are held on
with an allen fastener, which is the largest one on the bike. They are
supposed to be torqued to about 25-30 footpounds, but I didn't actually get
the torque wrench out. I did last time, if that counts.
The pedals were already on the cranks from the previous installation, otherwise I would just have screwed them in with a wrench. I think the right side pedal is left-hand thread. I used platform pedals with toe clips, but I want to change over to clipless.
Now it was steerer tube/headset/fork assembly time. Once again, although I
considered having the head tube milled and faced, I decided against it. I did
opt to have a shop move the headset from the old frame to this one. I had a
piece of steel tubing about the right size, and I thought about cutting slits
in it to make a rocket tool and doing it myself, but I ended up just taking it
to Bikes and Bargains, where they did it for $6. An excellent decision.
I lubed it with some marine grease left over from the jet boat, because I figure all the bearings on a bike may be exposed to water. Plus I already have the grease. So I greased up the races and the bearings and slid the fork up into the head tube. I already had the race on the steerer tube because I was reusing the fork. I had to put the race on when I first got the fork, and I used a piece of electrical conduit (1"?) that I had around that happened to be just the diameter of the race. I used the chop saw to cut the tubing off square, ground it smooth, then slipped it over the steerer tube onto the race. I put the end of the tubing on a piece of wood on the ground, put a chunk of 2x4 on the underside of the crown, and hammered on the 2x4 to drive the race onto the base of the steerer tube.
Now the handlebars. They were mostly pre-assembled. Why? Because they came
off the old frame. I run a 6" Hayes in front, and a Shimano V-brake in back.
I have a Hayes for the rear, but can't use it because there is no disk brake
mount on the swingarm. I have plans to buy or make an adaptor. Big plans.
The shifters are 9-speed Shimano rapid-fire, which I thought were great from the first time I tried them. And the handlebars are a cheapo 2.5" steel riser. They give me the upright position I like, but a carbon or aluminum replacement would be nice. The stem is a 130mm 15 degree. I am thinking about going to a 100mm stem to get more precise steering, and this larger frame might let me do it. The grips are simple knobby rubber grips from Nashbar or Jensen.
Now I moved to the back of the bike. First to go on there was the rear
derailleur. Shimano again, mountain bike. Does the job with no problems.
Bikes and Bargains recommended GT-85 lubricant to me for chain and related lubrication. It works well, doesn't collect sand if it's wiped down properly, and smells good. I squirted some into the derailleur pivot points before putting on the derailleur. Pretty simple installation, just one allen screw. I wasn't ready to mess with the B-screw adjustment yet.
Time to put on the chain. Guess where it came from? It was already the right
length, but to size it on the other bike I had wrapped it around the biggest
gears on chainring and cassette (but not through derailleur) and then added a
I ran the chain through the front and rear derailleurs, and then used a trick my friend Rob showed me to keep the ends together. Just hold them together with a zip tie, and you don't have to fumble to keep them together while you put in the chain pin.
I only had one chain pin, so I had to get it right the first time. I use a
Shimano HG chain, which requires you to use a new pin each time you join the
chain. You stick the pin in part-way, then use a chain breaking tool to drive
it the rest of the way in, then break off the tip of the pin with pliers. I
use a Park chain breaker, which is the only Park tool I own. It fits
comfortably in my hand, and works well. It's just one of those tools that
always works correctly everytime, and I like to use it. There was a loose pin
next to the
one I inserted, so I pushed it back in place because I didn't have a new one
to replace it. But it would rear its ugly head again...
The last thing to go on the rear of the bike was the brakes. As I mentioned,
I use a Shimano V-brake back here because I can't fit the Hayes. Installation
is pretty simple, just grease the brake posts, slide the arms over the posts,
and screw them on with allen head screws. Put the spring pins on the arms
into the middle of the three holes in the brake posts (learned that from
reading the Shimano directions).
Next I planned to run the brake cable from the handlebars to the caliper, but I was thwarted by a difference between the old and new frames. The old frame had brake cable guides that included a bare cable run, which the new frame uses a full casing from front to rear. So I couldn't reuse the old casing and cable. Which I shouldn't do anyway. So I made a mental note to get to the bike store later.
Now back to the front of the bike to run the cables. I started by removing
the old shifter cables. There is a plastic plug that unscrews from the back
of the Shimano shifters. Then click them all the way down and thread the
old cable out the back. Thread the new cable in the same way. New cables
are cheap -- I think $1.25(?) at the bike shop.
Brief digression to admire the goldfish. Earlier in the day we set an upside-
down fishbowl on top of the goldfish pond. We filled it with water so the
fish could swim up into it and look out. And as I assembled the bike I saw
that the first adventurous fish was in the fishbowl, looking out.
The obvious next step was to run the cable casings. So I did. I use Shimano
SIS casings, which have a plastic liner with a wires wrapped around it like a
cable. You need special cutters to cut it, and I have the Shimano cutters.
They are the only Shimano tool I own, and they make a great cut. It's another
tool like the Park chain tool, always work and are nice to use. They also
have a slot to squeeze the cable back to round after it is cut, and they can
crimp cable ends onto the cable. Oh, and they can cut cable, too.
I cut the casings to go between the shifters and the cable guides on the down tube. I made sure they were long enough that the handlebars could turn 180 degrees either way from the front. And I used ferrules on the ends of the casings.
With the front casings in place, I could run the front derailleur cable. I
greased the cable and ran it though the casing. I brought the cable down
from the cable guide, to the plastic cable guide screwed to
the underside of the bottom bracket shell. I ran the cable up from the plastic
cable guide to the derailleur, and attached it. I didn't cut it off yet,
or try to adjust it. I did take the opportunity to move the front derailleur
to the right height, and set its cage parallel to the chainring.
Now I ran the rest of the casings to the rear derailleur. For the middle one
I made sure it was long enough to follow the swingarm even at full travel, and
for the one that ran to the rear derailleur I made sure that the loop was big
enough for the cable to run without excess friction. I greased the cable in
the spots where it would run through the casing, ran it back to the derailleur
and attached it. Again, I didn't cut it off or try to adjust it.
Now I made a quick run out to the Bicyclery to get a rear brake cable and
casing. I got there just before they closed.
It was easy to run the cable; I just had to cut the casing to the right length. I greased the portion of the cable that would run in the casing, installed the cable in the lever, and then ran the cable through the casing. Then I ran the cable though the "noodle" at the brake and attached it. In the photo you can see the casing running along the top tube and back to the V-brake. Then I put on the rear wheel, adjusted the brake, cut off the excess cable, and crimped on a cable end.
With the back wheel on, I could adjust the derailleurs. I won't go into the
details here, as there are lots of books and website that describe the process.
I trimmed the derailleur cables and put ends on, inserted the seat post, and
secured it with the clamp. Almost done.
I put on the front wheel, and took the bike down from the workstand. I rode
it up and down the street, shifting worked fine, brakes worked fine. It
needed a little tweaking on the rear shifter indexing, and it was set. Good
thing, too, as I was meeting Rob at 9am the next morning to ride.
Fortunately I took the bike for another test ride the next morning. I put some hard pedaling into it, and managed to break the chain. Good thing I found it here and not on trail. We had to stop by the bike store on the way to the trail, and I got six pins, just in case. And for next time. I fixed the bike at the trailhead, and we were off. The bike needed a little rear shifter adjustment about halfway through, but other than that it performed flawlessly. Yay.