How To Build a Cheap Bike

Updated: Sep 28

WORDS & PHOTOS | Patryk Wirenski

Pat takes us step by step through the adventure of putting their bike together starting with nothing but a £7 frame and sheer detirmination.

Cycling can be very expensive and out of reach for a lot of folks, so here I’ll go through how I’ve built a road bike on a small budget. I’ve done some of my longest, challenging and fun rides on this bike.

First being the challenge organized by Choose Love and Thighs Of Steel. This was to spell out REFUGEES WELCOME along the south coast of England and raise funds while doing so. Then at the end of October I joined Steezy Collective in riding a coast-to-coast route called The Way of The Roses. A challenge organized by Chris Hall and Cold Dark North to raise funds for Movember and Women’s Aid.

This all started with a red Peugeot frame that my partner found on Facebook marketplace, listed for only £7.

It came without any other components, just a frame and a fork. Initially it was going to be a single speed conversion for her but it ended hanging on the wall for a couple of years.

This brings us to early 2020 and the beginning of working from home. It was during this time that I found more spare time and decided to dust off this frame and start putting it together as a geared road bike. Trying to spend as little money as possible was my goal. The first vital component to get was a headset, this came off another old frame, which had been cracked and was no longer used. With the help of online tutorials

and some new bearings, which cost only a few quid, this made its way onto the Peugeot. I’ve been tinkering with bikes for a few years at this point so have amassed a small selection of spare parts like bottom brackets, cranks, brakes levers etc. This definitely helped to bring the costs down.

Finally, being a bit of a hoarder had paid off.

The issues started when I tried putting a seat post in and quickly realized that it was a standard size, I began researching the frame and found an old catalog online with all the specs.

Unfortunately for me this was a rare sizing of the seat tube and I found nothing that didn’t cost at least 5 times of what the bike cost. With my determination to keep costs down I bought a £15 seat post with a diameter about couple millimetres bigger than the seat tube and decided to sand it down to size.

Next on the list were wheels and these can get expensive, so I started scouring the marketplace and Gumtree without much luck.

Failing that, a great place to find bike parts is your local waste-recycling center. There some items are re-sold for a few quid and I was lucky enough to find a decent set of used wheels that otherwise could’ve ended up on the landfill. With a quick clean out of the old grease and fresh bearings, the wheels were ready. Other good options for getting second hand bike parts are places like cash converters if you can’t find anything online.

At this point the cost added up to about £40 and a bit of time spent servicing and tinkering. The only things I’ve bought new were the essential things like gear and brake cables, brake pads, chain and bar tape. The only other component that you need new is a cassette. as I wanted this bike to be set up with no front derailleur, I opted for 10 speed with 11-36 gearing from microshift, this cost £30.

Coupled with an old shimano SIS rear derailleur gifted by a friend, a downtube friction shifter that came with one of the old frames I converted to single speed a few years back, the bike was ready for less than £100.

Bearing in mind it takes time to find bargains and then also the know how of doing it all yourself, it still not accessible for everyone.

There are options for those without the knowledge to achieve this too, look out for places like London Bike Kitchen, or my local charity organisation, Montys Bike Hub. They have workshops where you can learn those things from these great community based initiatives.

You can also follow my own community workshop on Instagram and get in touch if you have any questions.



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