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  1. #1
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    Help me build a budget lightweight 26” hardtail

    Haven’t bought or built a bike in years. So I need the forums help in building a new bike for cross country mountain biking

    Budget $1k-1.5k U.S.

    Weight goal 20-22lbs or lighter

    26” wheels (I still like them)
    1x drivetrain
    Front suspension
    Flexible on brake options

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    While a 26" frame and wheelset will weight less than their 29er or 650b counterparts, I think you may have a tough time hitting your target weight, at budget.

    For reference, here's a Pinkbike listing for a used Scott Scale (2011-2012? Not indicated). Seller claims 21 lb range, but that's still $2200 USD, and several years used:
    https://www.pinkbike.com/buysell/2366237/

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by phlegm View Post
    While a 26" frame and wheelset will weight less than their 29er or 650b counterparts, I think you may have a tough time hitting your target weight, at budget.

    For reference, here's a Pinkbike listing for a used Scott Scale (2011-2012? Not indicated). Seller claims 21 lb range, but that's still $2200 USD, and several years used:
    https://www.pinkbike.com/buysell/2366237/
    What if I went with a rigid carbon fork, single speed, and pedals are not part of the pricing equation

  4. #4
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    For sure, a 26" carbon frame, with rigid carbon fork, and SS is probably the lightest combination of anything out there, but good luck finding a new SS frame. I had a look at combos of "26 inch" and "singlespeed' in Pinkbike, and just got a bunch of dirt jumpers unfortunately.

    You may have a chance via a Chinese ebay carbon frame, but again I'm not sure of the availability of 26" these days, let alone SS frames.

    Hopefully someone else can chime in here who has a penchant for 26er and SS.

  5. #5
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    Well, I’m willing to step up to 27.5 if it makes a difference.

  6. #6
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    This is pretty challenging.

    I'm finding a fair number of both 26" and 650b frames via eBay, but I can't vouch for the quality. Some folks have had great success with frames from this source. Pricing is about $230 for a carbon frame via this method as you'd want carbon for your weight target. Could not find any singlespeed frames.

    Re known manufacturer, I had a quick look at Specialized as I'm most familiar. The least expensive XC frame I can find from them is the Chisel, $750, but it is ALU (so won't help with weight target), 29er only, and no singlespeed. Other manufacturers may offers some, but again my quick check offered minimal results.

    If you can find a frame, or someone else can suggest one, you've got a shot, but I'm afraid I'm stumped.

    From there you'll need to leverage China again for the rigid carbon fork, carbon wheelset, bars. If you get the drive train cheap enough you might just be able to sneak under your budget. Either that, or find a used bike close enough to what you want, and tailor it to your needs.

  7. #7
    Hardtail Steel Forever
    Reputation: jestep's Avatar
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    Are you completely going from ground zero?

    Go buy a late 90's / early 2000's high end steel or titanium bike. My 3x8 Bontrager privateer from 1996 was like 22 lbs completely stock. I don't think this is extraordinarily difficult. Light frame and fork and some decent wheels and it's almost harder to mess up than get right at that point.

    If you're looking at single speed, as an example, I built up a Voodoo Djab for about $1500 a few years ago and it's just a hair over 16 lbs.
    WTB: Med Bontrager Ti Lite, PM Me...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jestep View Post
    Are you completely going from ground zero?

    Go buy a late 90's / early 2000's high end steel or titanium bike. My 3x8 Bontrager privateer from 1996 was like 22 lbs completely stock. I don't think this is extraordinarily difficult. Light frame and fork and some decent wheels and it's almost harder to mess up than get right at that point.

    If you're looking at single speed, as an example, I built up a Voodoo Djab for about $1500 a few years ago and it's just a hair over 16 lbs.
    That's the challenge - I think this is a fresh build.

    Re the weight, I'm going to challenge you on your recall. Not sure if a steel-frame bike even in 26" form comes close to OP's target weight.

  9. #9
    Hardtail Steel Forever
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    Here's a few of my builds for myself and family members over the last few years. These are obviously not modern geo bikes with a lot of travel except the BMC, and I think we changed that fork so probably add 300g or so but it is FS, but I'm confident it's possible within that budget depending on what you're willing to sacrifice. Caveat, do not under any circumstance get an older frame with a 1in headtube, you'll blow your budget to pieces trying to make that one work. Second, you can't need everything right now, some of these required watching ebay for a while. But there were a number of good steel frames under 5lbs, about 20 - 30% heavier than a ti equivalent, the voodoo djab and bizango were identical except the material for example.

    I think the benefit of this route right now is nobody wants 26in bikes, so you could theoretically pick up what was a very high end bike back in the day, replace a few components and be quite a bit under budget without much work at all.

    99 Privateer build, this was for my brother.
    Component Description Qty Weight Each (g) Total (g) Total (lbs)
    Frame 1999 Bontrager Privateer Comp 1 2050 2050 4.52
    Fork 1999 Rockshox SID (1 1/8") 1 1330 1330 2.93
    Headset Ritchey 1 110 110 0.24
    Front Wheel Mavic 517 CK 1 700 700 1.54
    Rear Wheel Mavic 517 CK 1 800 800 1.76
    Tubes Maxxiss Ultralight 2 125 250 0.55
    Front Tire Maxxis Crossmark 21 1 600 600 1.32
    Rear Tire Maxxis Crossmark 1.9 1 480 480 1.06
    Stem Race Face Deus XC* 1 136 136 0.30
    Handlebar Easton Monkeylite XC Low Rise 1 180 180 0.40
    Seatpost Titec 27 x 350 1 210 210 0.46
    Seat WTB Volt Team 1 200 200 0.44
    Brake Leavers Avid FR5 2 75 150 0.33
    Grips Lizard Skins Lock Ons 2 60 120 0.26
    Front Brake Avid SD Ti 1 130 130 0.29
    Rear Brake Avid SD Ti 1 130 130 0.29
    Crankset XT M760 1 765 765 1.69
    Bottom Bracket XT M760 1 105 105 0.23
    Cassette 9Sp M760 1 275 275 0.61
    Chain PC971* 1 298 298 0.66
    Shifters XT M770 1 250 250 0.55
    Rear Derailleur XT M772 1 225 225 0.50
    Front Derailleur XTR M950 1 109 109 0.24
    Cables XTR 1 300 300 0.66
    Pedals A530 1 380 380 0.84
    10022.50 10282.50 22.67

    My original Bontrager Privateer at this point:
    Component Description Qty Weight Each (g) Total (g) Total (lbs)
    Frame 1997 Bontrager Privateer S 1 2050 2050 4.52
    Fork 1998 Rockshox SID 1 1150 1150 2.54
    Headset Cane Creek S2 1" 1 110 110 0.24
    Front Wheel Velocity Synergy, Sapim Xray Spokes, XTR 960 hub 1 735 735 1.62
    Rear Wheel Mavic 517 Rim, Dt Swiss Spokes, DT 240 hub 1 840 840 1.85
    Tubes Maxxiss Ultralight 2 125 250 0.55
    Front Tire Maxxis Crossmark 1 570 570 1.26
    Rear Tire Maxxis Crossmark 1 570 570 1.26
    Stem Sette Edge (110mm) 1 140 140 0.31
    Handlebar Easton CT2 Monkeylite Riser (610mm) 1 160 160 0.35
    Seatpost Thompson Elite 27 x 330 1 220 220 0.49
    Seat WTB Silverado Carbon 1 185 185 0.41
    Brake Leavers Avid SD Ti 2 185 370 0.82
    Grips Lizard Skin Locks Ons 2 60 120 0.26
    Front Brake Avid SD Mag 1 120 120 0.26
    Rear Brake Avid SD Mag 1 120 120 0.26
    Crankset Racefact Next 1 600 600 1.32
    Bottom Bracket Raceface 1 105 105 0.23
    Cassette XT M785 11-36 1 340 340 0.75
    Chain SRAM 1091 1 255 255 0.56
    Shifters XT M785 1 255 255 0.56
    Rear Derailleur XT M786 1 235 235 0.52
    Front Derailleur XT M785 1 155 155 0.34
    Cables Avid Flak Jackets 1 300 300 0.66
    Pedals Ritchie V3 Comp 1 390 390 0.86
    Total 10345.00 22.81

    Daughter's full suspension 26in:
    Component Description Qty Weight Each (g) Total (g) Total (lbs)
    Frame 2010 BMC TF201 1 2700 2700 5.95
    Fork SID 100mm 1 1450 1450 3.20
    Rear Shock Fox RP23 1 213 213 0.47
    Headset Hope Zs3, EC44/40 1 80 80 0.18
    Front Wheel mavic crossmax st 1 630 630 1.39
    Rear Wheel mavic crossmax st 1 945 945 2.08
    Tubes Tubeless 2 0 0.00
    Front Tire Specialized Renegade 1 500 500 1.10
    Rear Tire Specialized Renegade 1 500 500 1.10
    Stem 60mm Uno 1 90 90 0.20
    Handlebar Easton EC90 1 150 150 0.33
    Seatpost Bontrager Al 1 200 200 0.44
    Seat WTB Deva 1 300 300 0.66
    Brake Leavers Included 2 0 0.00
    Grips ESI Racers Edge 2 25 50 0.11
    Front Brake Shimano Deore Hydro (inc levers and rotors) 1 485 485 1.07
    Rear Brake Shimano Deore Hydro (inc levers and rotors) 1 485 485 1.07
    Crankset SRAM NX 155mm (inc GXP BB) 1 700 700 1.54
    Bottom Bracket Included 1 0 0.00
    Cassette Suntour 11 sp (11-46) 1 410 410 0.90
    Chain Sram PC-1110 1 250 250 0.55
    Shifters M8000 11 sp 1 126 126 0.28
    Rear Derailleur M8000 11 sp 1 272 272 0.60
    Front Derailleur 1 0 0.00
    Cables Avid Mountain Pro 1 120 120 0.26
    Pedals RockBros 1 175 175 0.39
    Total 10831.00 23.88

    VooDoo single speed:
    Component Description Qty Weight Each (g) Total (g) Total (lbs)
    Frame Voodoo D Jab 1 1450 1450 3.20
    Fork 98 SID 1 1/8in 1 1250 1250 2.76
    Headset Raceface Deus 1 105 105 0.23
    Front Wheel DT240s, ZTR355, DT Revolution 1 580 580 1.28
    Rear Wheel DT240s, ZTR355, DT Revolution 1 680 680 1.50
    Tubes Tubeless 2 0 0 0.00
    Front Tire Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.25 TLR 1 525 525 1.16
    Rear Tire Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.1 TTLR 1 495 495 1.09
    Stem Wren 80mm 1 78 78 0.17
    Handlebar Raceface Next 1 130 130 0.29
    Seatpost Thomson Masterpiece 1 197 197 0.43
    Seat WTV Devo Ti 1 205 205 0.45
    Brake Leavers Avid SD SL 2 76 152 0.34
    Shifters None 1 0 0 0.00
    Grips ESI Ergo 2 33 66 0.15
    Front Brake Avid SD SL 1 165 165 0.36
    Rear Brake Avid SD SL 1 165 165 0.36
    Crankset Next SL 1 445 445 0.98
    Bottom Bracket Hope 30mm 1 85 85 0.19
    Cassette Wolftooth 18T 1 40 40 0.09
    Chain KMC X11 1 200 200 0.44
    Rear Derailleur Paul Melvin 1 76 76 0.17
    Front Derailleur 1 0 0.00
    Cables Jagwire Link 1 120 120 0.26
    Pedals xpedo MF8 Ti 1 210 210 0.46
    Skewers Bolt on Ti 1 35 35 0.08
    7454.00 16.43
    WTB: Med Bontrager Ti Lite, PM Me...

  10. #10
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    Impressive builds - suspect when the components were new (like the 240s hubs in one build) would be rather expensive all told. Agreed that there could be some used finds today that might suit. OP mentioned "new" bike, so unsure if used is an option - it may have to be regardless.

    The other piece, is all but your SS are over the weight range he's targeted. It's not as easy as most think to automatically throw together a sub-20lb bike.

  11. #11
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    I would consider used

    I love that voodoo d jab build....what other similar lightweight singlespeed frames should I look for in this budget build

  12. #12
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    if you go with a factory direct carbon company like Ican, XMCarbonSpeed or Workswell you could get a quality frame and fork on the cheap. use a chain tensioner to build up a single speed. I have gone this route with a fat bike frame using 29+ wheels and tires and i am in the upper 22lbs range. this is with RF Turbine cranks and mid-level brakes.

    This would leave you a ton of $$ to find or build some light weight wheels (stans crest) and find some light drive train components.

    I know people dont like the tesnioner but it makes your life so much easier. i can use any frame, and swap cogs from 13T to 22T with out having to dink with my chain. I am using the Shimano Alfine double jockey wheel one which is like $20.

  13. #13
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    Thanks!

    What chain tensioner are you using?

  14. #14
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    I am using the Shimano CT-s500. looks like they are 26$ now

    https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-CT-S5...alfine+ct-s500

    i can post some pics later this evening if you are interested.

  15. #15
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    I could manage it but it would take time. 2 yrs ago you could get a 1200g fuji slm frame for $175 but these days Chinese is your only option. Manitou Minute expert fork, cheap hubs on Stans rims, used parts. For 1.5k definitely doable. For brakes, looks at M6000 ispec ii. Like $90 a set if you hit the deals.

  16. #16
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    Sorry OP that I can't be of much help as this is out of my wheelhouse. I also seem pretty pessimistic based on my previous posts.

    In any event, looks like some more relevant posts coming in. I'd be very keen to see what you come up with, so if you can post some build pics, and a parts list, could be a great thread.

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