A few months ago I challenged myself to build a single-speed bike. It didn’t cost me that much money but taught me so much about bicycle mechanics. I now feel so much more competent when it comes to taking my bikes apart, servicing them myself, and upgrading components. It was a great process as all it really required was a bit of time.
When I go to university in October I will be requiring a bicycle as my main mode of transport. I do not want to take any of my current bicycles because they all mean a lot to me and are too expensive to leave locked up on the street during lectures. When thinking about this a month ago it therefore seemed really simple to me, I would just build another bike. I wanted a simple machine that wasn’t too flashy and I was hoping to build this one on the measly budget of about £50. When it comes to bikes £50 is not a lot of money at all. I figured if I just spent £50 on it then if it did get stolen (touch wood) I wouldn’t have lost a lot of money.
So I began my search, on and off, looking for a cheap steel frame. Eventually I found exactly what I was looking for on eBay, a newly re-sprayed steel frame, forks and bottom bracket. For all this I had to part with the grand sum of £4! A local pick-up and there I had it, I was on my way to building my bike. I already had pedals, cranks, seat, tyres, and a front wheel in my garage left over from other bikes. I knew it was now possible. I might be actually able to meet my measly budget and have a half decent bike at the end of it!
After a while scouring the internet to find the cheapest priced components I had purchased a stem, handlebar, chain and rear wheel. The rear wheel even came with a flip-flop hub, so it was ready to roll. I had just gone above my target of £50 but not by much, so I was still really happy.
Next I began the task of fitting it all together. First I inserted the 1” quill stem and then attached the handlebar to it. Next I put inner tubes and tyres onto the wheels. Then I fitted these to the frame and began sizing the chain and cutting it to the correct length. Once the chain was the correct length, I loosened the rear wheel and pulled it back in the horizontal drop-outs to give the chain a good tension. Now that this was my second time building a bike up from scratch the process went really quickly. Before I knew it I had just built my second bike. Re-using many parts I already had in my garage I am really pleased with the final product.
I strongly urge anyone that wants to know more about how their bike works to try doing this. If you have any questions just ask. It is really easy and there are some fantastic video tutorials on YouTube detailing everything you need to know about bike mechanics. It is a really invigorating process to go through. You can restore life to an old bicycle and you can learn a whole lot in the process. Next stop for me is to build a geared bike, however I don’t think that will be for a long while.