So, most of the parts have arrived and I’ve started to build the bike.

I started with the front end of the bike – forks, headset, stem, bars and brakes. The first thing to do was to fit the forks and stem, and I hit the first hurdle straight away. Fitting the bearing cups in which the bearings are seated requires a headset press (costing somewhere over £100) to do properly; ill-fitted bearing cups will apparently cause the steering action to stick and the bearings to wear out prematurely. A trip to Leith Walk Cycles sorted this out.

I test fit the forks, frame and stem together and again another problem cropped up: the fork’s steerer tube is, according to one’s perspective, either A) helpfully elongated to compensate for the short, rigid forks or B) just too damn long. With the stem in place, about an inch of steerer tube still projected above it. A couple of headset spacers from Chain Reaction Cycles have arrived today, so this’ll be sorted out this evening. As with all of the other slightly dubious bits of this build, a few test rides will soon make it obvious whether or not I should just have the steerer cut down to size.

The brakes were next, and apart from the chain, are probably the most complicated bits that I’ll have to do myself. The actual installation was straightforward enough: screw on the calipers and levers, cut the outer tubes to size and thread the cables through everything. Of course, the hard bit will be correctly aligning them and ensuring that both blocks engage the wheel rim at the same time when the lever is pulled, but that’ll have to wait until the rear wheel is built (again by Leith Walk Cycles, who are coming out on top in terms of maintenance costs pretty much every time at the moment) and I’ve got tyres and tubes fitted.

In a sense, it’s a pity that there’s so little to do: at least a few of the jobs involved in putting a bike together (headset bearing cups, wheel building, installing a bottom bracket) are either so involved or require such specialised tools that there’s nothing for it but to have the local bike shop (LBS) do it. This then introduces irritating bottlenecks – I can’t buy a bottom bracket until I get the completed rear wheel back to make sure that the chain will fit with the minimum amount of deflection, and neither can I fine tune the brakes; I then can’t fit the chain or pedals until the bottom bracket is done. And all this is taking forever and a day because every cyclist around is having their bike serviced for the summer and the shops are all inundated with repair jobs.

It’s a hard life, I can tell you. At least my credit card can breathe easy for five minutes.