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  1. #1
    vaa
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    To build or buy complete

    That is the question.

    So all the bikes I've ever had have been hand me downs that I had to fix and never fit me well. I haven't been around bikes in about 3-4 years and things have changed quite a bit in the industry. Still, I think I can build a bike on my own after selecting the parts. Selecting the parts is where everything goes awry. I need help with what components go/work with what. I know I want a 29er.

    The frames I have in mind are a Niner E.M.D9 or a Salsa Mamasita.

    The other option is to just buy a complete bike. I've looked at building a E.M.D at Wrench Science and it was about 4k. My guess would be that I could build one for less with the parts I like/think are the best. I've looked at a Gary Fisher Paragon, Stumpjumper line and the Marin Nail Trail. They are all about 2k and I would guess that I would upgrade parts on those(that's the type of person I am).

    I don't mind spending a little bit more than 2k to build my own since it would be over the winter a piece at a time but my budget is about $2500.

    What do you guys think? Can a good 29er be built for 2.5k or should I buy a complete bike and call it a day?

    Recommendations needed please.

    Thanks
    V

    Oh yah, I will be using this for riding local hiking trails at state forests. No racing.

  2. #2
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    if you plan to use new parts then save your money and buy a built bike. almost impossible to save money if you are buying new. plus if you are buying a frame you havent ridden then you need to account for buying some parts that you end up not liking or they adversely affect the fit and will need replacement. price it all out and make sure you include any tools you need, grease, every little part, tube, sealant, and what you are going to pay the shop for, trust me buy a built bike and trade out what you dont like and you will save hundreds.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoutcat
    if you plan to use new parts then save your money and buy a built bike. almost impossible to save money if you are buying new. plus if you are buying a frame you havent ridden then you need to account for buying some parts that you end up not liking or they adversely affect the fit and will need replacement. price it all out and make sure you include any tools you need, grease, every little part, tube, sealant, and what you are going to pay the shop for, trust me buy a built bike and trade out what you dont like and you will save hundreds.
    Most excellent advice from scoutcat...

    Building your own from the ground up is a very rewarding experience. BUT...as stated above, you don't always know what you are going to get as far as fit and ride (unless of course you take something for a ride and turn around and buy piece by piece). Being able to take a test ride and zeroing in on a good frame to build around/upgrade upon is probably the best way to go. Of course the price of entry may be steep some times as some of the higher end frames are already decked out with high end chi-chi factor.

    Buy a pre-built at entry level component spec and replace as needed/desired. She may be a porker from day one (like my Marin) but you will get some saddle time and figure out what you don't like and do like and replace accordingly.

    I built up a Psyclewerks Wild Hare many many years ago from scratch and it took quite awhile before I was actually happy with it after replacing a lot of components. Components that I "thought" I would like...

  4. #4
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    What they say is true. Factories spend less on new parts in bulk and save you a little on each.They also know what should work correctly on their frames (with personal preference exceptions) Plus if you are a cheap bastard like me you will spend forever trying to save a buck here and there on every part instead of riding and being happy.

    By the way vaa, you have duplicate threads. Perhaps you could delete the one that has no posts yet.
    Quote Originally Posted by turnerbikes View Post
    Of course the easiest way to fix this is to go for a hike.
    DT

  5. #5
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    You have gotten some very good direction so far and by no means can you build a complete bike for less than what a manufacturer can put one together.... making sure you buy a bike that comes with the best Frame/fork combo is a great way to start and you can buy a very nice hardtail in the $2500 Ballpark- If you are hungry for custom upgrades You can always do a few upgrades such as cockpit stuff (stem/seatpost/bars...) etc... which is one of the places complete bikes use their own brand parts to save some $ (not to say all are bad). At that price point for a HT you will get a very durable bike with a higher end drivetrain etc...

    The only way you can build a bike for even close is if you get the Frame/fork used and search out the other parts new/used (in like new condition...) and scour [email protected] and other online sites- but like scoutcat said be sure you will need to recycle the parts you end up not liking or stem/bars etc... that are too long or have a sweep you don't like. Once you have done it a few times you realize you can build exactly what you want but you end up fixating on the unimportant and spending $$$ silly things...just because-
    I Just wish I could ride more!


  6. #6
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    The other option is to just buy a complete bike. I've looked at building a E.M.D at Wrench Science and it was about 4k.
    i am not sure what type of build you are looking for, but speedgoat has a well speced emd for under $2000 shipped. link i would bet that they would work with you on changes/upgrades.

  7. #7
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    Remember that after you buy all the tools, grease, bike stand, etc they are yours to keep and use to fix said bike and your next project build. It will cost more but will save money in the long run if you can do all your on maintenance. A few places sell build kits which can save you some money of getting each piece separate.

  8. #8
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    Build it yourself.... buy everything you can slightly used, except frame, cranks, ring gear and cassette. Accumulate all the parts first, buy the frame last. You should be able to build something very, very nice for under $1500 with fair to good components, that will ride great.

    You can save even more money if you buy the frame used, not abused, if you have cash and patience.

  9. #9
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    Speak to Leif at Wrench Science - they can do an EMD9 in your flavor for a *lot* less than 4k. I got mine from them a few months ago and he was a super guy to deal with.

    V.
    EMD9, drop-bar Bandersnatch, Surly LHT, a couple of Ridleys
    ... and a lot more bruises than can be counted

  10. #10
    vaa
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    Thanks for all the great advice. That Speedgoat site is really good. The have what I was looking for in the price I was looking for. As for wrench Science, I just built it using their dropdowns so I may have to give him a call to see what else he can do.

    I do plan on wrenching on my own bike and still have a lot of tools. I will prob need to get some specific ones for the new things that have come out(eg. headset and bottom bracket sockets and brake tools).

  11. #11
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    The nice thing about the Wrench Science site is that it allows you to build your bike with only compatable parts. If you do decide to build it yourself, you can use the info from the WS site to narrow down which parts fit and which ones to search out used. WS's customer service is awesome by the way. For not being a "LBS" they will still make sure you are well taken care of.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe
    The nice thing about the Wrench Science site is that it allows you to build your bike with only compatable parts. If you do decide to build it yourself, you can use the info from the WS site to narrow down which parts fit and which ones to search out used. WS's customer service is awesome by the way. For not being a "LBS" they will still make sure you are well taken care of.
    Although I have not actually purchased a bike from them I will say that I was impressed by their knowledge and eagerness to match or beat others prices when I talked with them a couple years ago.
    Quote Originally Posted by turnerbikes View Post
    Of course the easiest way to fix this is to go for a hike.
    DT

  13. #13
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    If you're not in a big hurry you can get the build you want pretty cheaply. Just make a list of the parts you know you want (wheels, crankset, etc.) then watch for sales. I get 10-15 sale emails a day from all the online shops. I would skip used stuff, no telling how used it is and do you really want a semi new bike ?
    just a few examples from the past year
    xtr crankset $289 from chain reaction also 09 saint rd $85
    Xtr brakes $155 Ebay
    Reba 120 maxle $340 CR
    Xt shadow rd $55
    the list goes on, everything goes on sale somewhere sometime

  14. #14
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    I started out thinking I would build my 29-er. But it looked like just for the price of frame and fork of the Vassago Jabberwocky, I could pretty much buy a complete Redline Monocog.

    So I did. I'll work on my teching skills by riding and maintaining the bike I guess.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duzitall
    Although I have not actually purchased a bike from them I will say that I was impressed by their knowledge and eagerness to match or beat others prices when I talked with them a couple years ago.
    And their after-sales service is superb as well - it is pretty much the same sort of interaction as you can expect at a good LBS (ie you arent just a name and email address), except that it is over email/phone.

    I'd happily pay a premium over another mail order vendor to deal with them. Very strongly recommended indeed!

    V.
    EMD9, drop-bar Bandersnatch, Surly LHT, a couple of Ridleys
    ... and a lot more bruises than can be counted

  16. #16
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    I'll never buy a built bike again! (someday i'm gonna eat my words on that one)

    Very few built bikes are spec'd with components that I find useful. The control of every detail of the build is a fun and rewarding if you do it right. Also, like Dan0 said, you can choose to put a higher spec version from last year on your bike for the same price as a pre-built.

    The big questions are how different would you build up the bike compared to what's being offered pre-built and what is the cost difference? Also, you really need to work out the geometry before the build, test ride a lot of similar bikes and compare how those geometries feel to the geometry of the bike you're buying... Every stat counts and changes the feel of the bike.

  17. #17
    vaa
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    Quote Originally Posted by trees4me
    The big questions are how different would you build up the bike compared to what's being offered pre-built and what is the cost difference? Also, you really need to work out the geometry before the build, test ride a lot of similar bikes and compare how those geometries feel to the geometry of the bike you're buying... Every stat counts and changes the feel of the bike.
    Once again, thanks for all the great info guys.

    Trees- Very good points. Like I said, I'm in no real hurry so I think I'll do what you recommend. I know what I get for the price on the prebuilt bikes so I can compare what I would like vs what the bike would come with and see how much the cost on person build would be.

    Now, what parts do you guys recommend? Mainly wheels/tires(I'm thinking of going tubeless), cassette and brakes. I think I know what I want for the fork, derailleurs, seat & seat post, crank & bottom bracket, headset/bars and stem. What else am I missing anything? I'm sure that there are plenty of items.

    Thanks again

  18. #18
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    Well it sounds like you made your decision to build vs buy- it is a lot of fun and in the end you will have a sweet bike with exactly the parts you want- I have built up quite a few bikes in the piece by piece way over the past few years and am a bit over analytical so forgive me...There are a zillion different parts choices and everyone has their favorites I will try to give you a start...

    Frame... up to you but the Seat post, clamp and Front derailleur (most have shims to fit a few tube sizes though)

    Fork... Rigid or Full Susser- QR, 15mm (Fox) or 20mm T/A (Rock Shox & Manitou)
    Fox F29 Reba SL, Race, Team Manitou absolute

    Wheels VERY IMPORTANT If you go tubeless Stans Arch or Flows are a decent choice Or the Bonti Duster or Rhythm But if you can go with a front hub that can do QR, 15mm or 20mm T/A that way you have a lot of fork choices Hope pro II is light and not too cheap

    Drive train (Cranks, shifters, derailleurs, cassette) Shimano XT or Sram X9 is top notch but not silly priced like XTR or XO- I run both XT and XTR and most components are not a huge difference. you could skimp a bit on the front derailleur and go bling in the rear like all the big bike manufactures do....

    Tires Do your resarch but Maxxis Ardents, Panaracer Rampage and Schwalbe Racing Ralphs are some top picks - though it really depends what you ride...

    Stem/seat post it is hard to go wrong with Thomson elite stems (X4 for 31.8 or OS) and seat posts but a carbon or TI may be nice if you go hardtail-

    Seat...wow every body has a different bum... WTB Rocket or Fizzik...

    Bars I like Carbon so Easton or Salsa... 29er try to stick with flat or low rise...

    Headset Cane Creek S-3 or S-8 to 110 or King for Bling I like the 110 because of the design but can't fault a king-

    Brakes.... I have been happy with the Avid Elixir CR's but the XT's and Formula's K24 or above....

    Go with Lock on gips... ODI are nice- Ouri?

    Salsa seat clamps and skewers are solid and easy to deal with


    Of course this is a very brief summary but a start
    I Just wish I could ride more!


  19. #19
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    vaa... I just went through this same thought process. Building is going to be more expensive, but you will be able to spread it out over time.

    My plan was to plan it out and scour the off season sales for the pieces I wanted over the winter. It's not a bad plan if you have the discipline to stick to it... and realize that in the end it'll be more costly than just buying one built up.

    I was looking at an EMD and CO Cyclist built one up pretty much the way I'd have built it. If I remember right, it was about $2700, but I think there might have been a couple hundred bucks in there they would have been willing to come down. I was very tempted!

    In the end, the Felt Nine Race that I had been eyeballing went on sale at a price I couldn't resist, so I bought it. The bonus was that the Felt was my first choice with the EMD a close second in fit and feel.

    This all happened within the past month and, as far as I know, CC still has that EMD sitting there....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by knottshore
    Well it sounds like you made your decision to build vs buy- it is a lot of fun and in the end you will have a sweet bike with exactly the parts you want- I have built up quite a few bikes in the piece by piece way over the past few years and am a bit over analytical so forgive me...There are a zillion different parts choices and everyone has their favorites I will try to give you a start...

    Frame... up to you but the Seat post, clamp and Front derailleur (most have shims to fit a few tube sizes though)

    Fork... Rigid or Full Susser- QR, 15mm (Fox) or 20mm T/A (Rock Shox & Manitou)
    Fox F29 Reba SL, Race, Team Manitou absolute

    Wheels VERY IMPORTANT If you go tubeless Stans Arch or Flows are a decent choice Or the Bonti Duster or Rhythm But if you can go with a front hub that can do QR, 15mm or 20mm T/A that way you have a lot of fork choices Hope pro II is light and not too cheap

    Drive train (Cranks, shifters, derailleurs, cassette) Shimano XT or Sram X9 is top notch but not silly priced like XTR or XO- I run both XT and XTR and most components are not a huge difference. you could skimp a bit on the front derailleur and go bling in the rear like all the big bike manufactures do....

    Tires Do your resarch but Maxxis Ardents, Panaracer Rampage and Schwalbe Racing Ralphs are some top picks - though it really depends what you ride...

    Stem/seat post it is hard to go wrong with Thomson elite stems (X4 for 31.8 or OS) and seat posts but a carbon or TI may be nice if you go hardtail-

    Seat...wow every body has a different bum... WTB Rocket or Fizzik...

    Bars I like Carbon so Easton or Salsa... 29er try to stick with flat or low rise...

    Headset Cane Creek S-3 or S-8 to 110 or King for Bling I like the 110 because of the design but can't fault a king-

    Brakes.... I have been happy with the Avid Elixir CR's but the XT's and Formula's K24 or above....

    Go with Lock on gips... ODI are nice- Ouri?

    Salsa seat clamps and skewers are solid and easy to deal with


    Of course this is a very brief summary but a start

    I'd say you pretty much nailed the build on my AIR 9, all of the components listed are solid choices, even better if you can buy them as take offs for the savings.

  21. #21
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    I am thinking about upgrading my Monocog Flight 29er. It seems like buying a complete bike from bikedirect and swapping the parts onto the Flight frame would be the best deal.

    I was thinking about ordering the Cliff 29 Pro. Thoughts on this idea?

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...liff29team.htm

  22. #22
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    Smile Build it Yourself

    Sounds like you've decided to build it yourself which is what I personally prefer. But I'm gonna give you my experience. I've done both in the past. My first bike was an on sale manufacturer bike and over time I ended up buying new parts, but because I was learning what I liked and disliked. My next bike was a whole bike purchase but I swapped parts from the new bike to the old bike and then built up the frame the way I wanted it, not the manufacturer wanted it.

    My main problem with whole bikes is that the manufacturers select parts based on a "price point kit" they can put together. They have to please the general masses. Yes its great for the price point buyer, but if you are really looking for a bike that is truly unique to the parts you prefer, then building one from the frame up is the only way to do it.

    Case in point, I'm waiting for all my parts to come it for a Niner EMD build. My newest bike, which makes my 4th Mountain bike (and by the way I'm on my second road bike which is a combination of spec vs custom parts). Niner doesn't build "bikes", they build frames for this very reason. YOU get to build YOUR bike, not theirs. Its custom to your liking.

    Bottom line - Their bike = their price point. Your bike = Your very own Bike to YOUR liking.

    Can you building an EMD for under $2500. Hell yeah you can. You can build a SA-WEET EMD for $1500 if you really watch sale prices.

    Good Luck! I plan to post pics of mine this weekend. Its Christmas at my house this week

  23. #23
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    How about a little of both?

    You said that you've been away from bikes for about 3-4 year and you're right, lots of things have changed. Maybe what you should do is find out what frame style/size/material you want and see if you can get a lower/entry level model. Especially at this time of year, bargains are to be had everywhere! Ride that thing good and hard for the months that are left until it gets too cold (and then layer up and ride some more!) and get to know what you like/dislike about your ride. My good friend (MurtaghStyle here at MTBR) bought a Mamba for around 900 bucks, but the frame is really what he was after. Since that day, upgrade-itis has hit and now that entry level Mamba (which is the same frame as the Paragon) is sporting a 100mm G2 Fox (fleebay), Thomson post/stem, Avid BB7s and Gordo 36's on Hadley hubs (killer deal on those, and I'm jealous). All that for roughly the cost of what a Paragon is MSRP. So maybe buy the foundation, and as you run across some deals, or decide that things aren't what you like, upgrade and personalize your ride.

  24. #24
    vaa
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdeco1
    I am thinking about upgrading my Monocog Flight 29er. It seems like buying a complete bike from bikedirect and swapping the parts onto the Flight frame would be the best deal.

    I was thinking about ordering the Cliff 29 Pro. Thoughts on this idea?

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...liff29team.htm
    I was thinking about the same thing. But I would opt for the Fantom Pro SL. Seems like better component set for the same money. Ride that bike until the spring and then get a frame after I test out a few.

    I think wheels would have to be upgraded since I weigh 225+gear.

  25. #25
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    Buy a HARO Mary SS (in powder blue) then put a Carbon Niner fork (in powder blue) and some sweet wheels (Blue Kings) on it and call it a day. You could probably also get a King headset (Blue) on there too! Those bike ride nice.
    My Bikes Kick Ass!!!

  26. #26
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    I built my EMD for around $2k using mostly new and some lightly-used EBay parts, and got a nice rideable result with some decent pride of ownership (plus showed my kid how to build a bike, not just buy one).

    Of course, if you were to add even $5/hr to that for all the hours and hours and hours I spent here on MTBR getting ideas, checking things out, and reading reviews... I don't even wanna think about it. It's part of the fun, and an investment in knowing what you want and how things work.

  27. #27
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    Buy the Signature EMD from Speedgoat for $1979 shipped. Not a bad deal imho.
    And though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours...I simply am not there.

  28. #28
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    Rome wasn't built in a day, Neither should your bike. Buy components, find what you can used at a discount, get a great set of hubs in your wheel build, spec out the drive components the way you like, and be patient with your time in finding good values, and the bike will come together the way you want it for a great price.

    If you have the money and seek instant gratification, buy complete, take the loss on selling all the junk that comes from the factory on the bike, and put what you really want on it later, and deal with the flakes that want to buy your used parts. Some of those folks are a huge waste of time, better to just sell it on ebay and not deal with some mountain bikers. I always seem to find the ones that have money for dope, but don't have money for the parts I have for sale, that they want so badly. Priorities, I guess.

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