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.
mtn. biking 101
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
    mtbr member
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    Build myself or Bike Shop?

    Hey all,

    Decided to start up a custom build for a Kona Honzo. I have all the parts coming in and have everything ordered, just waiting for shipping. I'm not new at all to mountain biking, but have never built a bike and am admittedly not too mechanically savvy.

    I was thinking of buying all the tools, about 100$ worth, and building myself, but am worried I might mess something up on a fairly expensive build. On the other hand, my lbs told me they would charge 150 and have it done within a day.

    I have watched a lot of videos and read a bit, but still worried about installation of disc brakes, setting up derailleuers, chain length, bottom bracket, etc.

    Would you recommend trying to build, for somebody with no knowledge of building bikes? Or have lbs do this one as its kind of an expensive bike, and maybe practicing on a cheap build down the road sometime?

    Thanks,

  2. #2
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    Take a shot at building it yourself.
    You've been thinking about it, so give it a try.
    You'll just be installing parts + following manufacturer's set up instructions.
    Between the Park Tool Website + You Tube for videos and posting questions on MTBR,
    you can build your bike.
    Many parts are just bolt ons and final adjustments are pretty simple.
    If you get uncomfortable, you can always bail out and take it to the bike shop.
    If you have your bike shop press the headset, you can get a decent set of home mechanic tools-more than enough to put a bike together for well under $100.

  3. #3
    DLW
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    I'm building my first bike as well. I am mechanically inclined and have most of the tools, but the reason I want to build myself is to learn the parts, how they work and how to fix something if it should break or get damaged on the trail. It's just a good way to learn how to do it all yourself.

    However, $150 seems pretty reasonable to build it if your not into that aspect. Bike shops probably charge $100 around here for a tune up. You could build it then take it in to get tuned if your not comfortable with that part, at least you'll make the investment in having tools to work on it from here on as well.

  4. #4
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    Yah definitely thinking about it. Was planning to just have the fork installed at lbs with headset. What I'm most worried about is the derailleurs, brakes and all the cabling. Just read its hard to get them lined up correctly.

  5. #5
    FKA Malibu412
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    Build it yourself after the shop chases and faces, installs the headset and cuts the steer tube and installs a star nut. Don't cut the chain. Take it back to to shop to check your work and align/adjust anything as needed.
    Everything that kills me, makes me feel alive

  6. #6
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    If you don't want to build it, just pay the $150 and be done with it. That said, I recently put a drive train kit on my 26" bike, and just Thursday installed a new fork on my 29" bike. Both projects were my first attempt, both were successful, and both left me feeling that I have a much better understanding of how my bikes work, and how to maintain them.

    Pricepoint's currently got a great deal on what looks like a useable tool kit for $40 (link), but in addition to the right tools, you're going to want things like grease, zip ties, a star nut for the fork, as well as a reasonable bike stand to build the bike with. (Put another way, the tools and parts have a tendency to add up, and starting a project without all the right tools is not fun.)

    I don't think you're going to save money after buying all that, but the difference is you're going to have all those tools and that experience going forward, so if you're up for the challenge, I'd say take it on. If you hit any speed bumps, definitely go to the LBS, and hopefully they'll let you know where you went wrong and help ensure the bike is road worthy.

    I'm not particularly mechanically inclined, but I've enjoyed both projects more than I'd expected to, and I would probably try to build the bike if I were in your shoes.

    Edit: As a P.S. I'd like to add that I don't know how good the above tool kit is, nor if it includes all the tools you'd need. I would recommend avoiding cheap tools, as having good tools, and having the right tool for the job, are both things that dramatically improve your chances of being successful and enjoying the build.

  7. #7
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    If you have a buddy that knows what they are doing to help go for it....but if you don't know which end of the wrench to use.... I would pay the $ to have the LBS do it.

  8. #8
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    If you've maintained your own bikes in the past, I don't think building will be that big a deal. Otherwise, have the shop do it, and start by learning to maintain your bike. I think it's easier if you have a sense of how it should work.

    As others have said, have the shop prep your frame. The bottom bracket shell should be faced and chased too.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  9. #9
    Cycle Psycho
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    The person you pay to build up your bike may be passionate about bicycles, but they'll be less passionate about YOUR bicycle than you should be. Most likely, they'll be in a bigger hurry to finish your bike than you would.

    If you're incompetent, then by all means pay someone else, but if you can handle your tools, and building it yourself will cost you LESS in tool purchases than paying for their labor, then why let someone else have all the fun?

    For some people (like me) it's a labor of love. I also think you'll need all those tools anyway, whether someone else builds it or not, just for maintaining your bike and switching parts in the future. Tools are a good investment, while paying for labor is not.

    With the help of these forums, you can do anything. I learned how to lace wheels by reading the internet, and wish I had done it sooner.

    I don't know what tools $100 gets you, but I suspect it would involve still paying the LBS for facing/chasing - and possibly headset installation, etc. You can ghetto-rig a headset press with large washer and a rod with nuts, or buy a decent tool. I love my star-nut installer, and feel it was well worth the slight cost. Being self-sufficient, and not wasting gas, wear and tear on your car, or asking for rides to the bike shop on their schedule, and their wait-times, and then dealing with shoddy work is much more convenient as well.

    I say you need the tools whether or not you build it, and since you're buying all these tools anyway, it makes sense to build it yourself.

    You don't need a crank puller, or a chain whip, or crown race remover, etc if you're ASSEMBLING a bike. It really doesn't take much. A work stand is very nice to have, and some hex (and torx if required) keys . . . what else? A cassette tool. The bottom bracket tool that corresponds to your kit. A screwdriver for setting your derailleur stops. A pedal wrench. Maybe a chainring nut holder tool. A floor pump, some "Tar Arns", and that's about it. You might want to get 8, 9, and 10mm sockets or wrenches for things like fenders, racks, etc. If you want to take it further, grab the star-nut setter, headset press, Crown Race Setter, Cable cutters, A hammer, some master-link pliers, maybe even a chain breaker. Later, you can get the pullers and removers, cone wrenches, a truing stand with spoke wrenches, and whatever else.

  10. #10
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    I would take it to the bike shop and have them build it, but see if you can help out or at least watch them do it. I'm sure they wouldn't mind, you'll be able to learn, and plus they probably won't cut any corners with you breathing down their neck
    "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

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