How to Build a Mountain Bike: A Complete Guide

We explain the process step by step and give you a list of tools and components required.
John Watson
John Watson
John is an experienced cycling enthusiast and a great asset when it comes to writing skills. He's a Bachelor of Arts and a talented journalist. John is in charge of our blog read more
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Jessica Kingston
Jessica Kingston
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Jessica is our expert consultant on all things connected to biking - gear, technique, you name it. Being a pro cyclist in the past, she knows exactly how things work in and read more
Last updated: August 21, 2023
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A tailor-made mountain bike is rarely available from dealers and is also difficult to find on the Internet. So if you prefer a custom-made structure, you will have to assemble or build your mountain bike to get the desired result. A comprehensive planning phase is necessary to ensure that this works without any worries.

If you are wondering how to build a mountain bike and want to do it yourself, first of all, you need to understand what you need for the procedure. It is important to ensure the compatibility of the individual parts. In addition, the result must be worth it in terms of performance and function. In advance, you should therefore carefully consider whether it is worth putting together an MTB yourself or just buying a ready-made one. This article should serve as an aid, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of an individual setup and supporting you in the various steps.

Is Building Your Own Mountain Bike Worth It?

The market offers a large number of excellent complete bikes from relevant manufacturers in different price categories, which are almost optimally configured. In many cases, this solution is sufficient for users. If necessary, optimization is carried out at one point or another by changing components. However, if you want a completely tailor-made bike with individual equipment, it’s definitely worth putting it together yourself.

However, it is not enough to order the desired parts of a visually appealing mountain bike frame. A lot has to be planned, compared, and ultimately also calculated in advance to be able to put a functioning configuration on the wheels in the end. Therefore, we have written you a comprehensive “How To” article.

But, first, is it cheaper or harder to build a DIY mountain bike by yourself? What are the advantages and downsides you should know before starting?

Is It Cheaper Than Buying One?

Without mincing words, it’s more expensive building a mountain bike by yourself than to buy it in a store. Manufacturers cut costs with mass production. For example, the same toolset is used for thousands of bikes. But you may need to get the same toolset for just a single bike (except you’re setting a bike manufacturing workshop).

So, how much does it cost to build a mountain bike? Well, according to DIY builders on MTBR, the cost can range from $1200 to $2000 Trusted Source How much does it cost to build a bike? | Mountain Bike Reviews Forum So I am looking into buying a second bike for some more xc/am style riding. My other bike is a vp free. So I am thinking of starting with a frame and… , with $1500 possible if you are patient and can negotiate your prices. Note that even ready-made full suspension mountain bikes have this same price range. Most are sold under $2,000.

However, GMBN Tech has answered the question more in-depth.

Is It Hard to Build from Scratch?

While buying a bike is easier, building a bike is not that hard – it’s not rocket science. What it takes to build a bike is first of all time and space. Building a bike is neither simple nor fast, at least for those who do not usually do it as a profession. It is a delicate job that requires attention and precision, and which may inevitably lead to errors.

Assembling an MTB is a very demanding process. Before embarking on such a project, you will need to have the bike building materials, accessories, and equipment – not to forget a good dose of manual skills and the necessary experience with purchases and the different standards. It will be necessary to buy the components at physical and online stores. This way, you’ll be able to get all the indispensable parts to assemble your bike.


Anyone who has the necessary knowledge and technical skills can put together or assemble an MTB themselves and thus benefit from the possibilities and advantages that arise from it. The following list gives a rough overview of the positive aspects that result from an individual structure:

  • Tailor-made mountain bike
  • Your specifications can be implemented across categories
  • Bike becomes a one-off and is not a “mass product”
  • Greater success in recovery after theft
  • Combination of different brands of components is possible
  • Alignment can be decided by yourself (stability and/or weight)
  • Access to higher quality parts that are not installed on OEM bikes
  • Mixing components from other segments (e.g., downhill brakes on the enduro)
  • Costs can be controlled
  • Components can be bought gradually
  • Compromises are possible (e.g., SLX drive with XT rear derailleur)
  • Self-construction strengthens workshop knowledge
  • The bike is known down to the tiniest screw
  • Maintenance and repairs are much easier
  • Tools are available for later maintenance
  • Tools are also available for making other bikes in the future


To be able to build or assemble an MTB yourself, some requirements are necessary that not everyone brings with them. Therefore, the following disadvantages stand as strong counterarguments to the advantages mentioned above:

  • Individual construction is more expensive even with the same components
  • OEM prices from complete bike manufacturers are not available to end customers
  • Tool must be bought at a high price
  • Sometimes special tools are required
  • There must be an overview of what is currently available on the market
  • Selection and search take a lot of time
  • Compatibility of the parts must be given and ensured
  • Tuning is sometimes very time-consuming because there is no tuning from the bike manufacturer (chassis)
  • Basic technical knowledge must be available
  • Manual skills are also required
  • Planning, procurement, and construction usually take several weeks
  • Replacing faulty or incorrect parts also takes time

Essential Components of a Mountain Bike

Starting from two broad lines, you need first of all a large series of tools for the workshop cycle and a good dose of manual skills. As for the workshop, you will certainly need some fundamental MTB tools, without which it is not possible to assemble the bike.

The type of tools varies according to the standards you will have in your frame, therefore there is no precise list valid for all assemblies. Each assembly requires different types of tools and may require more or fewer tools than other projects.

We will deepen the topic shortly.

This is the first variable to keep in mind before thinking about mounting a bike. If you have already started a small domestic bike workshop, you may be at a good point: otherwise, if you have to buy all the tools it promises to be a really important expense.

Custom Mountain Bike Build Checklist

How to Build a Mountain Bike: A Complete Guide

So let’s first look at the mountain bike parts list and components needed:

  • Frameset (Frame, Seatpost, Fork, Headset). You have a choice between a hardtail, dual suspension, or fat bike. The material can be aluminum, steel, carbon or a combination. You’ll also need to choose the wheel size, with 29” being the current industry standard. Keep in mind that brake systems might not work on all frames.
  • Rear derailleur hanger, which connects the derailleur to the frame. Typically made of aluminum, this part is an essential component.
  • Front and rear derailleur – Front and rear derailleurs are part of the shifting groupset, so focus on performance.
  • Wheels. Look for something light but not flimsy.
  • Hubs, spokes, rims. If you want to build everything from scratch, you’ll need to consider the hubs, spokes, and rims. Wheel building is not for beginners, so make sure you know what you’re doing. The hub material, performance, and stiffness all matter.
  • Tires. There are also lots of choices out there when it comes to tires, so consider your riding style and terrain to determine the tread type that works best for you.
  • Wheel axle. Thru axles are now standard, but the quick release is an older option.
  • Headset. The set of bearings that allow your fork to rotate. Most are threadless.
  • Front fork. In most cases, you’ll want a suspension fork for the front fork. There are many models to choose from, so do your research.
  • Rear shock. For dual-suspension bikes, you’ll need a rear shock. Some frames may come with one included.
  • Stem. It attaches the headset to the handlebar, so the length and angle are important considerations. The handlebar itself should be chosen based on width, sweep, rise, overall geometry, and material.
  • Handlebar. The stem attaches the headset to the handlebar, so the length and angle are important considerations. The handlebar itself should be chosen based on width, sweep, rise, overall geometry, and material.
  • Shifters & brake levers. They can be purchased separately or in group sets.
  • Handlebar grips. Don’t forget about handlebar grips – they’re highly personal.
  • Brakes and brake pads. Disc brakes are a popular option, but cantilevers and V-brakes are also available. Don’t forget about brake pads!
  • Seatpost. When it comes to the seat post, you’ll need to decide between standard or dropper post. Consider different materials, like aluminum vs. carbon fiber.
  • Seat post clamp. The seat post clamp must work well, and it’s also an opportunity for weight weenies to shave off a few grams.
  • Seat. The seat itself is highly personal, so choose one that fits you comfortably.
  • Chainrings. They  are the cogs at the front, typically sold in sets of 1, 2, or 3, and they can be part of a groupset.
  • Crank arms. Crank arms may also be part of the groupset, but you might want to swap them out. Length and weight are key considerations.
  • Bottom bracket. It is where the cranks attach, so look for something solid here that is compatible with your frame.
  • Cassette. The cassette is a cluster of cogs at the rear, usually bought with a groupset.
  • Chain. The cahin, typically from leading brands like Shimano and SRAM, also comes with the groupset.
  • Pedals. They can be flat or clipless, depending on your typical riding terrain.
  • Cables and housings. Don’t forget about cables and housings for non-hydraulic brakes and shifters.

Tools and Products to Build a Bike

A good checklist of tools and products for building a bike includes:

  • Cable cutter for bikes
  • Pedal spanner and box wrench of various sizes
  • Inner tube sealer
  • Hacksaw for metal
  • File
  • 600 grit abrasive sandpaper
  • Carbon grease/assembly paste
  • Bottom Bracket Equipment (Square Pivot; Integrated Cups; Press-Fit)
  • Thread locker
  • Bearing assembly/disassembly toolset
  • Brake and gear cable passage tool

How to Build a Mountain Bike from Scratch (Step by Step)

Building a bike starts with choosing the components for the assembly. Let’s take it a step by step.

Step 1: Choosing the Components

If you are wondering how to build an error-free MTB, you need to focus on the orderly choice of components. On the market, many standards are not compatible with each other, for this reason, you must follow a specific order for purchases.

To give an example, it will be useless to choose the small parts, bearings, or wheels if you have not even identified the frame first. Sometimes for some components, you will have to make choices that intersect with multiple controls, as in the case of wheels.

The key component for assembly is the frame, so you necessarily start from the choice of the chassis, only then will you start choosing the components to match according to the construction standards.

To mention a few aspects, you have to look at the frame, the diameter of the wheels and the respective standards, the minimum and maximum suspension travel, the type of attachment, the headset, and the bottom bracket change completely.

Once the frame has been chosen, its standards are checked, start with the bottom bracket and the headset. Then you will need to purchase a suitable fork, for example with a straight 1: 1/8 or tapered connection.

When purchasing the suspensions, you must keep in mind the manufacturer’s indications, which indicate the maximum and minimum travel foreseen for the frame. The same thing for the rear shock absorber the attacks, length, and compatibility (trunnion or metric for example) vary.

Each frame houses a precise wheel diameter that you will have to respect, and which influences the hub standard. For example, if the rear stays have a standard width, you will not be able to buy wheels with a Boost hub (wider) and vice versa.

Step 2: Wheels

The wheels are quite demanding and before buying them you have to make several evaluations. Make sure the tires are sturdy. If you plan to ride on bumpy roads, you need to be sure the tires are wide, and the tread offers plenty of grips. They also need to be thicker than road tires, to avoid ending up with a flat spot and needing to replace the tire.

You will only need to install road tires on your MTB wheels if you will be deploying the bike for racing on asphalt. Better still, if you want to use the same bike for the mountain trail or terrain and as an urban bike, it would be much better to have two wheelsets, one an MTB wheelset and the other a road wheelset, or simply install a hybrid wheel.

You can find reinforced tires that provide more support when riding off-road. Choose those that are 29, 26, or 27.5 inches Trusted Source 3 Ways to Customize a Bike - wikiHow Riding a bike can be great exercise and fun activity to do with friends and family. Customizing your old bike’s look and performance can be a fun and cost effective way to spice up your ride. Whether you’re looking to conquer a new… as these are the standard sizes. The dimensions are shown on the shoulder of the tire itself. As for the width, mountain bike tires generally respect values ​​between 1.8 and 2.2 inches (4.5 and 5.5 centimeters).

After looking at the standard and type of axle you can (almost) choose the wheelset. It remains to understand which transmission you want to mount, to go and get the correct freewheel body.

For example, Shimano drivetrains ranging from 9 to 11 speeds are fitted with the standard Shimano freehub body, which will also be compatible with some of the SRAM drivetrains such as the two 12-speed models SRAM SX Eagle and SRAM NX Eagle. If, on the other hand, you want to mount the new 12-speed Shimano groups, you need a micro spline body. Instead of the SRAM GX, XX1, and X01 groupsets, the SRAM XD body is needed.

And if you think about a tubeless configuration, you will have to buy the tape of the internal diameter of the rim and a set of valves. If you want to know how to tape a tubeless rim, here’s the procedure.

It is really difficult to find an MTB wheelset ready to match your MTB with all the standards included. A winning solution is to buy a custom MTB wheelset, which is assembled according to your requests.

From hub to rim, types of pin and body. Save money, make a solid wheelset by keeping an eye on the price and weight.

Step 3: Transmission

To choose the transmission, you will first have to evaluate if you have a standard or boost rear stay, in which case the width of the crankset changes. See what type of bottom bracket can be mounted on the frame and the relative compatibility of that type of bottom bracket with the crankset. Check out the GANOPPER 170mm Crankset if it will work for you. It’s one of the most recommended by our experts in terms of durability, performance, and product offer.

You will also have to choose the length of the cranks, but it is a choice absolutely unrelated to other standards, which depends on your preferences and the type of bike.

As mentioned before, pay attention to the correspondence with the freewheel body in which you will engage the sprocket set. The rest of the components are matched for the number of speeds, including gearbox, command, chain, and sprocket set. Sizing the chain is quite important. We recommend buying a complete groupset rather than mixing components from different price ranges. In addition to functionality, you usually save money compared to buying loose and unpaired components.

Step 4: Brakes and Discs

How to Build a Mountain Bike: A Complete Guide

The brakes are a fairly free choice, you just have to pay attention to the standard of the rotors, better known as discs. The frame and fork are designed to accommodate discs of a certain size, sometimes minimum or maximum mandatory. You have to see what kind of attachments are present on the fork and rear stay: Post Mount or IS Trusted Source what is the difference between post mount an I.S mount for calipers? - Singletrack Magazine (international standard) attachments.

These are two different attachments that require their respective thicknesses. Sometimes with the Post Mount connection, it is not necessary to add shims, if the manufacturer foresees a certain disc size in the design phase. For example, on the chassis of the Cube Stereo 150, the Post Mount connection allows you to insert a 180 mm disc without adding shims, while on the Stanton there is an IS rear connection in which it is mandatory to insert the adapter that changes according to the size of the disk.

Yes, you must also check that the attachment is present on the hub of your wheels. There are discs with classic 6-hole attacks or center locks. And if you find yourself in trouble, some adapters convert the two standards, but it is better to prevent this type of problem from the outset by making the right choice, to avoid waste and increase in weight.

Don’t forget to install a kickstand under your bike to avoid leaving it flat on the ground or resting it on a wall when parked.

Step 5: Stem and Handlebar

The handlebar and the stem must be combined, as there are different standards on the market regarding the diameter. For example, we find 31 or 35 mm diameter handlebars. The stem and handlebar must therefore match.

Step 6: Seat Post and the Saddle

How to Build a Mountain Bike: A Complete Guide

When choosing the seat post and saddle, you must make sure you buy the diameters provided by the manufacturer. If you then mount a dropper post you must check that it is of the right diameter and that your frame is prepared for the passage of the cable, internal or external. Also pay attention to the total length of the seat post, which must be right and commensurate with your height and frame size.

If you buy a long seat post travel, make sure that when mounted with minimum insertion and fully extended stem, it has a total measurement less than your correct saddle height.

If, on the other hand, the seat post when mounted and fully extended, exceeds the minimum height that you must use, this is not correct. You must opt for a model with less travel. For example, the ICAN P9 29er Enduro Frame has a 150 mm frame travel and a seat post size of 30.9 mm, which may be too high. 120 mm is usually enough for trail riders.

This is because even the saddles are sometimes higher or lower and if you don’t have enough room for adjustment, you will find yourself with the saddle too high, and you will be forced to change the seat post.

The saddle is very subjective and should be chosen based on the shape and width of the pelvis. You can then choose a comfortable MTB saddle that fits your body with an easy measurement procedure that you can also do at home. However, according to most reviews, the most comfortable saddle model must be the Bike Saddle from Giddie Up, which, thanks to its memory foam and waterproofed construction, is the most reliable option out there.

Step 7: Small Parts

You will also need smaller components and hardware, such as shims for the steerer tube. You will need to purchase shifter cable ends (although they are sometimes included in the box) or you may need washers. So make sure you have considered every necessary component.

Step 8: Purchase

Now that you know how to build an MTB, you can proceed with the purchase of the components. Remember to buy following the hierarchical scale. If due to unavailability, you can change it by also varying the standard, without compromising the compatibility with the components already purchased. Try to buy by concentrating everything in as few stores as possible. This way, you will save on shipping which sometimes becomes free when certain amounts are reached. For example, if you buy 5 pieces in one store, you may be entitled to free shipping, while if you choose 5 different stores you will pay 5 times the shipping.

Step 9: Assembly

When you have all the components, you can proceed with the assembly. If you want to do it yourself, make sure you have all the tools, space, and adequate mechanical knowledge. There are many tutorials on YouTube, but make sure in advance to find exactly what you need.

If you do not have time, space, or skills, an assembly at your trusted workshop can be cheaper, safer, and more practical. If you do the assembly wrongly or you are not sure of the assembly done, you may need it checked by a professional (for a fee), or worse, cause damage to the components or yourself. So keep in mind that safety must always come first.

Assuming you have all your tools and components ready, in the video below, you’ll find out how to assemble the components, step by step. Check it out!

Final Thoughts

The most convenient way to buy a bike is usually to get one that is already factory assembled. However, there are times when it is more convenient, and you get what you dream of by getting the parts separately and assembling the bike. You can put together a new bike, combine used parts with new ones, or put together a recycled one. Knowing how to build a mountain bike yourself may not help you save money compared to buying a complete bike. But you’ll appreciate the customization, performance, and technical knowledge you get from it.

The contact points between the bike and the rider are the grips, the pedals, and the seat. To a large extent, the comfort level of the bike will be directly related to these contact points, so it is worth looking for comfortable and suitable options for the use you intend to give your bike.


How much does it cost to build a bike? | Mountain Bike Reviews Forum
So I am looking into buying a second bike for some more xc/am style riding. My other bike is a vp free. So I am thinking of starting with a frame and…
3 Ways to Customize a Bike - wikiHow
Riding a bike can be great exercise and fun activity to do with friends and family. Customizing your old bike’s look and performance can be a fun and cost effective way to spice up your ride. Whether you’re looking to conquer a new…
what is the difference between post mount an I.S mount for calipers? - Singletrack Magazine
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