1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Advantages to custom build?

    I hear about a lot of people building up bikes from the frame up. What is the point of that? Why not get a branded bike? When buying parts and frame online from Nashbar, Jenson USA, and Amazon, it is apparent that there is no price advantage. In fact, one gets a better deal (dialed in geometry, warranty, looks, components) with companies like Trek than building custom. At least, in the 800 to 1000 dollar range.

    So, back to my question. What are the advantages of building custom bikes from the frame up? Am I missing something?

  2. #2
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    you're right. there's no price advantage in building from the ground up with all new parts at full retail.

    if you're creative in sourcing parts, however, combining deep clearance sales on new stuff, dealer takeoffs (essentially new), ebay (used or new), craigslist, bike swaps, or what you've got in your parts bin already (that won't cost you a dime to use), you can save some money.

    the big advantage is that you get exactly what you want.

    When buying bikes in the 800-1000 range, you're going to get cheaped out on some parts like wheels (and other things like stems, handlebars, seatposts, etc). I have two wheelsets that cost me between $400-$500 new and they're great reliable wheelsets at a reasonable weight. I can't say the same for the stock wheelsets on less expensive bikes. I've trashed the stock wheels and any cheap replacements on any of the less expensive bikes I've owned.

    From now on, it's only quality wheels for me.

    As for seatposts, I am a convert to the two-bolt system used by Thomson and Easton. I have a Thomson on my mtb and an Easton on my commuter. Those seatposts are solid and offer precise adjustments that just don't budge. The cheap single-bolt-from-underneath posts that come stock on most bikes are crap. I've stripped out several of them so they no longer hold a seat. It's a minor thing, but if I get what I want to start with, I don't have to get rid of a cheap post later.

    Also with things like grips, saddles, pedals, and tires, I'm going to replace what came stock eventually because I have preferences here. Again, starting with what I like from the beginning saves me from having to deal with the take-off parts.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sauprankul View Post
    I hear about a lot of people building up bikes from the frame up. What is the point of that? Why not get a branded bike? When buying parts and frame online from Nashbar, Jenson USA, and Amazon, it is apparent that there is no price advantage. In fact, one gets a better deal (dialed in geometry, warranty, looks, components) with companies like Trek than building custom. At least, in the 800 to 1000 dollar range.

    So, back to my question. What are the advantages of building custom bikes from the frame up? Am I missing something?
    Price advantage is not in the cheaper bikes, but the mid range bikes. The reason is that if you are just looking to save money the big mfg can get better deals on parts. However when you are looking to spec the bike a certain way than doing it yourself is a better deal. This way you only buy the components you want and don't get stuck with something you need to upgrade later.

    I built my bike years ago and I am happy I did. I could select everything I wanted to optimize price and weight. I got a 23lbs hardtail with full XT group for about $1400. I simply could never find the combination of parts I wanted on any built bike. That mean either spending the same and getting a less component here and there or spending more to get certain upgrades I did not want.

    It is not however good for a newbie to try to build a bike. Just too many places to make a mistake. Already built takes the guess work out. Building as a second bike is ok since then you can get an good idea of what you want on the bike.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  4. #4
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    If its your first few bikes its probably not gonna make a whole lot if difference in fact it's cheaper to buy complete bike than piece every thing together.

    The upside is obvious, you get to spend more and get the parts you want. That's why I don't see the point of buying a 5k+ complete stock bike.


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  5. #5
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    you have to know what you want before you can build one, otherwise its not worth the money/time.

  6. #6
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    So, custom building IS ONLY for experts who know exactly where they want better parts that manufacturers don't offer at certain price points. Well, I guess that means no custom bikes for me! (Still a newb)

  7. #7
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    It's custom build not custom bike, custom bikes(frame) required even more homework than one would think. Custom frame cost more not only money but effort of getting the right build.

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    you can do it if you want. it's a rewarding experience knowing that you put it together from a box of parts. but that feeling doesn't last all that long. it's eventually just a bike and you have to live with what it did to your bank account. since that's going to cost you, you'd better get more out of it than that.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sauprankul View Post
    So, custom building IS ONLY for experts who know exactly where they want better parts that manufacturers don't offer at certain price points. Well, I guess that means no custom bikes for me! (Still a newb)
    I wouldn't say for experts but if you know what you want and it doesn't come stock on any bike then it doesn't make sense to buy a complete bike just to replace all those parts.

    On my last bike I can say that you won't find almost any part on a production bike. Especially not on a production single speed bike. I wanted a SS only frame, with a 5" 29er fork with remote lockout. And I went with a all white or blue theme so most of my parts are anodized blue or powercoated white. I am in the final processes of custom coating the parts I couldn't find in colors (cranks, break brackets, etc). And certain parts you aren't going to find on any production bikes, 180mm cranks, 800mm wide bars, 450mm tall seatpost.

    But it takes time to figure out what little things you like or don't like. And you will figure things out as you go along. You will find your favorite grips, tires, seat, pedals, type of shifter (thumb, grip shift), bar width, crank length, gears (1x9, 2x10, 3x8, SS), type of wheels, type of hubs (QR, 10mm, 15mm, 20mm, 24mm), hub points of engagment, etc. The list goes on and on. And the more you know out of this list of what you like the more you see that everything doesn't come on a single bike. So do you buy a bike and start swapping brand new parts for new parts or just start with a frame and get exactly what you like.

    So you don't have to be a expert, you just have to know what you like and what works best for you.

  10. #10
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    Is just a matter of taste, on a regular budget MTB you really wanna get a brand bike because of the warranty and the bike will be ready to be ridden once you go out of the store.

    I went with a custom build because I chose exactly the parts I wanted, once I was done with the bike no upgrades were required at least in a couple of months. I ended up paying kinda the same amount than a brand bike but this bike was built at my own taste

  11. #11
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    I've built several bikes this year. The main advantage I find in building my own bike is that I can build a cheap bike with expensive components. I can chose where to save the money and where to spend it. I can build it one way and then improve it as parts come available.

    On a mainstream bike I either get all crap components or spend thousands to get decent stuff.
    I like steel frames and rigid bikes - you can't buy a decent complete one. I like 1X9 and prefer alt bars - I'm an old guy so I like a higher stem so instead of paying for parts I'm going to take off, I do it the way I want. My main bike is a 29er with SLX cranks, X7 derailleur, X9 shifter, Reba forks and Sun Ringle Expert wheels. Quality parts like that on a complete bike would cost thousands.
    The last two bikes I've built have had most of their components supplied by donor bikes I've got from the internet with bent frames or obsolete shifters. I was able to sell the frame and wheels from one of the donor bikes for more than I paid for it.
    I'm going to put another bike together over the next couple of weeks. I'm going to share the wheels from other bikes. The brakes and levers are used, the SLX crank is an OEM, shifters are from Ebay, need to pickup derailleurs yet. Seat post was on clearance, frame, bars and stem from the UK, Salsa rigid fork was from the Reba installation.

  12. #12
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    If you were to build a higher end bike it would most likely not cost you more to build it the way you want. I just put 1000 into my bike switching parts. If you were to build it the way you want it you don't have to pay for the parts you are taking off. Like others have said I seem to always end up with a bunch of left over parts that you can put on the new bike for free. It does take time and patience to find the parts at a reasonable price though.

  13. #13
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    Sometimes I think that if I ever get around to buying a new bike that's in the same class as one I already own, I'll do it from a bare frame. I've developed more preferences around certain aspects than I ever expected, and I wouldn't be too surprised if I'd spend more buying a stock bike and then getting it "just so" than if I did it from the ground up in the first place.

    Really depends, though. If you just want to ride it and not fuss too much, the major items to get a bike dialed are the pedals, tires, saddle, and stem. Some people might need a new seat post or handlebar. Assuming you bought a bike with the right drivetrain, brakes, fork and tires in the first place, you shouldn't need to change out enough big-ticket stuff to spend more on the small changes.

    If I do a ground-up build on a 'cross bike, though, I think I'd be looking at a different rear derailleur, different handlebars, different wheels and different brakes than I'd get on a stock build. Wheels are a big-ticket enough item that at that point, I'd probably be better off just building from a bare frame. Then I also don't take the little hits from swapping the other components.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sauprankul View Post
    So, custom building IS ONLY for experts who know exactly where they want better parts that manufacturers don't offer at certain price points. Well, I guess that means no custom bikes for me! (Still a newb)
    I am proof you don't need to be an expert to build a bike. It does help to do your homework and you need to be sure of what you want. I'd suggest riding for a while if you're a newb and figure out what you want a bike to do for you.
    It's such a fine line between idiocy and genius.

  15. #15
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    Don't judge:
    If I ever do want to build a bike, is there any to get parts + frame directly from China online? And have it shipped here in the U.S.? I know I should be supporting American companies, but still. Can somebody post a link? I know I'm not the only one who wants to know. Thanks.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by sauprankul View Post
    Don't judge:
    If I ever do want to build a bike, is there any to get parts + frame directly from China online? And have it shipped here in the U.S.? I know I should be supporting American companies, but still. Can somebody post a link? I know I'm not the only one who wants to know. Thanks.
    The safest would be ebay. If you are going to put the bike up yourself, you should know what you are getting. Some parts can be lower model but some you'd want higher performance.


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  17. #17
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    So are there any sites dedicated to factory direct bike products (Or products in general?)? I would prefer something like that. Ebay... do factories post there?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sauprankul View Post
    So are there any sites dedicated to factory direct bike products (Or products in general?)? I would prefer something like that. Ebay... do factories post there?
    You'd get better value buying from Bikedirect. If lower price is the main concern then building up a bike would not be a good idea.

  19. #19
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    Actually I'm looking to build OVER my current bike. Fork, brakes, wheels, cassette, rd, shifters, crank set, all as I outgrow them. Not necessarily all at once. Buying retail would make this cost way too much to justify. (Might as well buy a new bike).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    It's custom build not custom bike, custom bikes(frame) required even more homework than one would think. Custom frame cost more not only money but effort of getting the right build.
    While this is very true, the other side to this, is that you can get pretty much what you want.

    The only thing you can do to get exactly what you want, is to engineer your own parts.
    I do that in many cases, where I find I can't get exactly what i want, and it sure is rewarding in the end.
    It just takes a lot more effort, and in most cases more cash as well.


    Magura

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by sauprankul View Post
    Actually I'm looking to build OVER my current bike. Fork, brakes, wheels, cassette, rd, shifters, crank set, all as I outgrow them. Not necessarily all at once. Buying retail would make this cost way too much to justify. (Might as well buy a new bike).
    Buying a single piece or a few pieces at a time from Asia may not be cheaper because of the shipping cost and wait time. Buying last year model on special would be much cheaper. The cheaper components that you can get from Asia would mainly be from Shimano, not Sram. Fork are almost as expensive as a sales price here but you have to pay for shipping.

    If I have a thousand to spend and I want a better quality bike, I'd start shopping for a better brand, good components equipped used bike. You'd get better bang for the bucks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Magura View Post
    While this is very true, the other side to this, is that you can get pretty much what you want.

    The only thing you can do to get exactly what you want, is to engineer your own parts.
    I do that in many cases, where I find I can't get exactly what i want, and it sure is rewarding in the end.
    It just takes a lot more effort, and in most cases more cash as well.


    Magura
    Well, it's hard to argue with the fact that you build your own DH custom frame, I still enjoy reading that thread.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post

    Well, it's hard to argue with the fact that you build your own DH custom frame, I still enjoy reading that thread.
    In the nearest future I promise some better entertainment for you.

    For the first time I am working on something that even has me excited about it


    Magura

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by sauprankul View Post
    So are there any sites dedicated to factory direct bike products (Or products in general?)? I would prefer something like that. Ebay... do factories post there?
    no. you can get OEM parts from Asia on there, but they're usually not THAT much of a better deal when you factor in everything else. they are not from the factory. they come to you via resellers. sometimes you can find off brand stuff there, but some of it can be super questionable.

    I agree that you can save more by waiting for sales or clearance prices on NOS product stateside. follow the deal-a-day sites for bike parts and you will occasionally find what you're looking for there. the best way to save money is to be flexible. If you have an exact product you want, chances are it won't go on deep discount while you're looking. if you're willing to accept something similar, you might be in business.

    you're stuck on this buying each part individually business and it's just not going to save you any money unless you open yourself up. you will be buying a lot of stuff at retail if you want it new. NOS stuff can be tough to find. look for used stuff and OEM takeoff stuff and then you can save some money. if you're lucky, you might score used stuff for free. I got a nice wheelset for free once that was damaged. I replaced the drive side spokes and had a very nice wheelset for a SS build. That bike saved me a lot of money. the only new stuff I bought was the BB, headset, and the brakes. the frame was a used POS from ebay. wheels were free (cost me about $50 in parts to repair them). cockpit stuff and tires came from my parts bin.

  24. #24
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    I just finished my custom build. I decided to custom build for a few reasons, the first and foremost being that I wanted to have a bike that was specced the way I wanted it. I also wanted to learn the art/science of bike mechanics, and a custom build is a great way to learn. I understood that I would not be saving any money, but be warned, unless you are open to cruising sales, digging through ebay, and are able to take the build slowly, you are going to lose money on a build verse buying built. If I was building my only bike there would be no way I could do it and come out with the parts i wanted. I took a few months to gather all my parts so I was able save a few dollars looking for sales. I also managed to go new with everything, something I could not afford if I rushed the build. I also cut my steerer wrong, so I had to add in that expense, luckily I unloaded it on ebay for just a few $$ less than I spent on it. Overall, I would go with a custom build again, it's nice to have a bike I built, knowing that no-one else has exactly the same. Just don't rush it.

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