Playing at being a bike mechanic

Saving money, learning the trade

After being told by the mechanics at De Rosa that the simplest way of upgrading my classic De Rosa was to buy a new bike, I came up with the idea of doing the upgrade myself; buying the new parts and fitting them at home. This meant I could get what I wanted, at a much more affordable price than buying through my local shop. So, after a pre Christmas splurge, I kitted myself out with a Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset plus a few other bits and pieces and set myself a New Year target of getting it all fitted by the end of February….

Fast forward two months, the end of February is near and the bike has recently started to take shape. A few issues with not having the correct tools set me back a little but a trip to England allowed me to purchase the necessary items so I could finally make a start instead of sitting looking at all the parts and wondering if they would ever get fitted.

The first job was to take everything off the bike down to the frame only which was not too difficult but I made sure to photograph all the parts before dismantling them, just in case I needed to put them back on or back together at some point!  All the nuts and bolts went in a special jar and all the parts were labeled so they could easily be returned totheir  rightful place if necessary.

Once everything was off I cleaned the frame and made a bike stand from some flower box brackets and an open window ledge!!


A contact on instagram recommended watching some videos on YouTube hosted by Erwan Campes who basically put a brand new bike together using the same components as me so I checked out his videos and followed them as best I could with the limited tools I had in my toolbox. However, I soon realised that a lot more specialised tools were necessary and went out and bought a torque wrench and other items that I needed to undo or tighten parts of the bike, without which I would not get very far.


With the new tools I set to work putting on the new crankset then the new bars and stem. All was going swimmingly until I started tightening the 3T stem and it decided to split at the front, rendering it useless. Fortunately those good people at Wiggle replaced it free of charge although at the time of writing I replaced my old 3T bars with the old 3T stem but added the new shifters.

I then added the rear and front derailleurs as well as the rear cassette. The seatpost went back on with the new Selle Italia saddle and now the wheels are back on, it’s only the cable installation that is left to do.

The bike is looking good and although I asked myself a few times why I was doing it, it has saved me a lot of money and will hopefully be a big improvement on what I had previously and all the components are new which is good if I ever did want to change the bike as I could just buy a frame and change over all the components.


Once I had completed all the cable routing the only left to do was install the chain but with not having any of the correct tools for this and not really knowing how to do it, it made sense to take the bike to a qualified mechanic to show me how this is done. Fortunately I was put in contact with the best mechanic and Vaughan not only told me what needed doing but he made the changes as I watched so I could learn and be able to do it myself next time. With the chain on and everything checked over, I was all set. Thanks to Vaughan I now have what seems like a new bike although there seems to be some scratches on the forks which, if they are more than paint scratches and actually cracks, then the forks will need replacing too!!

As it stands the bike has seen me through the start of the season and with one eye on a new bike, we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks….


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