Make sense to build a bike?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Make sense to build a bike?

    I'm looking for a 29'er for next season. Since I'm in no rush, I'm wondering if it makes sense to think about building one.
    I've never built a bike, would it be overly difficult?
    Would it get a lot more expensive than if I bought a comparable stock bike? I could at least spread the cost out over a few months and get exactly what I want.
    Just looking for pro's/con's on this idea.
    Thanks. NEXT

  2. #2
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    yes it makes sense.

    pros - get what you want

    cons - sometimes it cost more when you add it up, but you get what you want so you don't replace stuff later. if you are savy shopper and are not too particular, it can cost less too.

  3. #3
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    It makes sense if you are particular to specific items. Usually building a bike cost more than buying a complete rig. But for me I prefer to build my own and get what I want the first time. Also if you're prone to upgrade like me you'll end up spending the extra money regardless.

  4. #4
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    A few months ago I was in the same position, do I buy, or do I build?... I posed the question and spoke with some buddy's that ride a lot and got answers for both sides.

    Years ago I built up a Colnago and saved a bundle in the end, so figured I could do the same again - but this time with the popularity of online sales, fleabay, here, etc... maybe do even better.

    The second reality was that I did not have a huge wad of $$ to buy a complete bike at once, but as you are thinking I could spread out the pain over a few months.

    I managed to get a smokin' deal on a frame and the ball started rolling. So far, I am ahead $1600 and the bike is nearing completion (ahead of schedule I might add! ) so I am trying to be good and cool my jets as there is 9-12" of snow where I often ride so riding is pretty much slowing down up here.

    Mind you, what I have left are the wheels... and a few odds and ends and it will be rolling. In time I will source out carbon bits once I finalize positioning, etc...

    Here's a link to my thread on the build:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=670939

    As for how hard to build? if you're decent with a wrench and somewhat mechanically inclined I would not shy away from it and there are plenty of video's out there, or better yet Park Tool has a section on their website how to do various tasks. For my own piece of mind I picked up the Zen Mtn Bike Maintenance Book - haven't used it yet! but I have it just in case.

    But, I do think the key is being patient and finding parts either on sale or slightly used that you would be happy with or want.

    D
    Somewhere lost in the Bush!

  5. #5
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    Depends on the build you want. If you can find a complete bike with the majority of the components you want then most likely you will pay less. If you are upgrading wheels and cranks then you may as well build. Just make sure you take your time sourcing parts as there are many opportunities to save quite a bit of $$. Everything goes on sale eventually so don't pay retail!!
    If you want all the comforts of home, stay there.

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  6. #6
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    I say build. It may actually be cheaper with better components.

    All my bikes are to some degree custom builds. Two I bought the frame and built it up part by part and two I bought as complete bikes used and stripped it then rebuilt with better parts. My Specialized Rockhopper was bought used off Craigslist in very used excellent shape. It was a base model with V-brakes and now it's better than a top of the line RH from a bike shop--for a fraction of the cost.

    I built my Niner Air 9 from the frame up for around $500+. I got the frame for $325 in great condition. I'd say the only cheap part I have are the wheels, Mavic TN 719. Much of the savings came from using a bike for donar parts.

    Some people may say it's a waste of time and money building a bike. And some may call you crazy to strip a perfectly good bike. For me it's fun and I learn something about bikes/building bikes every time I do it. My last build required me to use the shop to install crankset/BB, install crown race, and adjust rear derailleur. I did the rest myself. Each time I learn to do something by myself.

    Oh, and the bike is totally "unique."

  7. #7
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    Building a bike is easy. But, building a bike is expensive, even if you're not the one buying the parts. The tools you'll need add up, for they're specific to the build, but incredibly necessary. Keep that in mind. After you buy the bottom bracket wrench, the chainring bolt wrench, the chain whip, the cassette lockring wrench, the etc... etc.. etc.. basically add this in to your cost. Not trying to deter you, for building a bike really does let you get EXACTLY what you need for your riding style andt it lets you adjust everything EXACTLY the way you want it. Just telling you the downside so you know and can plan for it. I didn't know about all the special tools when I built my bike and ended up a bit over budget...
    I like beer.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, it helps to have some basic bike tools. I never bothered with getting any crank or BB tools. I think if you're building for the first time, it's better to have a shop install the BB/crankset.

    A good set of allen wrenches, chain whip, and cassette tool (that locks the lock ring) are good starting tools. I wouldn't bother with such things as a pedal wrench. Don't forget lubrication and the small stuff.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickav21
    Building a bike is easy. But, building a bike is expensive, even if you're not the one buying the parts. The tools you'll need add up, for they're specific to the build, but incredibly necessary. Keep that in mind. After you buy the bottom bracket wrench, the chainring bolt wrench, the chain whip, the cassette lockring wrench, the etc... etc.. etc.. basically add this in to your cost. Not trying to deter you, for building a bike really does let you get EXACTLY what you need for your riding style andt it lets you adjust everything EXACTLY the way you want it. Just telling you the downside so you know and can plan for it. I didn't know about all the special tools when I built my bike and ended up a bit over budget...
    The first bike build will be a little more costly due to purchasing the required tools. Each subsequent build will be cheaper and way more fun than just buying a bike. In the long run, wrenching your own bikes will save you time and money (but, only if you enjoy working with tools).

    Tools will probably run you a couple hundred bucks total, (starter tools kits are available for under a $100 @ JensonUSA, Pricepoint, Nashbar etc.) You probably already have some tools that will work too.

    Purchasing a bike stand is another thing to consider. It is definitely handy but, not absolutely necessary. You can build a bike stand or buy a good one for under $200.

    So, yes it does make sense to build a bike instead of buying a already built one. It CAN be cheaper if you are patient but, you gotta' have the tools first.

    Good luck, enjoy.
    The truth will set you free... But first it will piss you off

  10. #10
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    Seems to me that if you're particular about most bits on your bike and ended up swapping out a lot of what came on your last ride, then build your next one.

    But, if you kept your last bike mostly stock save for maybe the bars and seat, you'll probably be able to find something off-the-rack to suit you.

    Of course, if you just enjoy building bikes, then that's cool too...

  11. #11
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    If you don't already know exactly what frame / components you want and why, then you're not ready to build one yet.

    My take: Your first bike in a new type that you haven't owned before - just get an off-the-rack bike, and go middle of the road on budget.
    - If you love it, cool, upgrade components as they wear out.
    - If you don't love it, it's easy to flip on MTBR or Craigslist.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlgbgly
    Make sense to build a bike?
    Not really but it sure is fun. I've built several myself and love them. They usually come in over budget with more hassles than I anticipated. In the end the sense of accomplishment outweighs the ease of buying a complete bike. Good luck

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlgbgly
    I'm looking for a 29'er for next season. Since I'm in no rush, I'm wondering if it makes sense to think about building one.
    I've never built a bike, would it be overly difficult?
    Would it get a lot more expensive than if I bought a comparable stock bike? I could at least spread the cost out over a few months and get exactly what I want.
    Just looking for pro's/con's on this idea.
    Thanks. NEXT
    IMO it more comes down to how much you want to spend. At the cheaper side of the spectrum I don't think it is possible to match what is offered by the manufacturers stock on their bikes - unless you buy a lot of used parts (which may be fine with you). However, as you go further up in price, it starts making less and less sense to go with the stock build. There certainly hits a point where I don't think it makes sense to go stock any more. If you tend to suffer from upgraditis - particularly if you are going to upgrade immediately off of the stock build - then the price point where a custom build makes more sense drops even lower.

    I'm not a great wrench by any means, but short of the pressing the headset in (which I won't do because I'm not going to risk messing up the frame), I can assemble the rest of the bike myself. It's rewarding and you then know your bike and how to work on it much better in the future.

    If money is an issue do yourself a favor and put a spreadsheet together and make sure you list out everything that you will need - it really adds up quickly when you factor in every single part. Then, poke around on the internet, and look at ebay/Craiglist if you are considering used parts (and sometimes cheaper new parts) and see how much the full build adds up to. This will give you a pretty good idea of how much it is going to cost. If you aren't in a hurry you can assume that you will be able to find some better deals than what is immediately available.

    BTW - although this isn't the question that you asked, the best deal is going to be somebody else's custom bike that they are selling. Used bikes aren't holding their value very well right now. If you can find somebody else's custom build on ebay/craigslist/mtbr classifieds that you like, that could be the cheapest way to go. It just depends how particular you are.

    Good luck!

  14. #14
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    good points all, and I forgot to mention tools as well, but has been said. With some of the parts, such as the BB I got, the seller included the tool. I've borrowed some others and the headset press I managed to make out out of tools I had for my motorbike.

    with the Colgnago I put it all together (headset was already installed) and then took it to my LBS and had them do tthe final tune-up. In this case, I'm doing it all, but I'm also a bit more knowledgeable now than I was then.

    d
    Somewhere lost in the Bush!

  15. #15
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    It's really a joy to ride something you pieced together yourself. You know everythings torqued/loctited/lubed correctly because you did it yourself. Zinn and the Art of mountainbike Maintenence is a worthy purchase for the info and tips.
    Good luck!

  16. #16
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    Yes, go ahead and do it. You will end up with nicer components for the same price range as compared to overpriced bikes at your Local Bike Shop.

  17. #17
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    I'm halfway into my build. I have the time to get the job done right the first time, and the resources to help if I get in a jam. But it's going pretty easy right now. Cutting the fork was the tough part, and that's a no-brainer if you've replaced a hot water heater.

    I am seeing some good deals on lightly used bikes, and I can't touch their low cost if I were building it myself. So if price gets you, get a really good used bike. If you want to learn about the ins and outs, build it. I'm enjoying the build.

  18. #18
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    If you are really picky you might want to build, but suggest you try to get the frame/fork as a combo from a LBS and go from there. The Fork is what will kill you on price. Dealers and bike builders get a huge discount on combo setups. If you are going to build consider a Bikesdirect Ti Frame/Fork combo or a Niner Frame/Fork from LBS and hunt for parts patiently. Or, just get the basic bike and upgrade a part at a time. All my bikes are 1/2 to full build ups (including building wheels).

  19. #19
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    Build It!

    If you have the ability to wait it out.
    If you have the ability to find deals, research, and compare.
    If you know specifically what you want, and have priorities well thought out.
    If you can conceptualize the desired outcome and follow through.

    Otherwise, buy something complete for instant gratification, LBS support, and the try before you buy benefit.
    Watch out for CC consequence, lingering self doubt, working more and ridding less.

    IMHO, after going the slow route, I find the end result worth every day waiting and every dollar spent.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by swill'n; 12-14-2010 at 08:18 AM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by swill'n
    If you have the ability to wait it out.
    If you have the ability to find deals, research, and compare.
    If you know specifically what you want, and have priorities well thought out.
    If you can conceptualize the desired outcome and follow through.

    Otherwise, buy something complete for instant gratification, LBS support, and the try before you buy benefit.
    Watch out for CC consequence, lingering self doubt, working more and ridding less.

    IMHO, after going the slow route, I find the end result worth every day waiting and every dollar spent.
    <a href="https://s1003.photobucket.com/albums/af158/ArdentZeal/?action=view&amp;current=IMG_0042-1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://i1003.photobucket.com/albums/af158/ArdentZeal/IMG_0042-1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
    Good luck.
    Pimpin' bike! Love the simplicity of a hardtail. Btw, what kind of pedals are those? And how much do they weigh?

  21. #21
    I'm Slow
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    Take a look at cost. Is buying a complete bike and swapping out the 2-3 parts you really wanted cheaper, or building on your own. Also buying a complete bike and riding it then swapping out parts you really want when you get the cash.

    I built my own I came out about ~100 more than I would have buying new, but I got a full set of what I wanted. Things to think about in final cost are the little items. Cable housing, stem spacers, seat clamp, grips, etc.. All small but add up at the end, its easy to just look at frame and fork prices first. Also leave some money for tools if you don't have any, and buy yourself a good torque wrench.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by djork
    Pimpin' bike! Love the simplicity of a hardtail. Btw, what kind of pedals are those? And how much do they weigh?
    https://www.kore-usa.com/products/pe...composite.html
    Kore composite platforms, 358g. Not to bad for under $20. Switched back to SPD once I got my groove back. Stella!
    https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...2&category=666

  23. #23
    U sayin' Bolt ?
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    Hmmm
    If you are gonna start buying parts today , you might be able to snap up some deals quick. The best time to buy anything, whether its parts or a new or used complete is, in my expirience, December.

    Do not worry about your first full build being overly difficult or BB/cassette tools being expensive because they aren't and if you need help assembling just use youtube for a plethora of instructional videos. Also FWIW, I never needed a chainwhip, just a rag and a man's grip. The most expensive tool you will need is cable cutters if you can avoid having to buy a headset press.

    Also I am wary of used forks and wheelsets, and especially wary of anything on craigslist as there is no rep, recourse or way to keep people from wasting your time.

    All in all, I will likely keep doing my own builds as I have had good luck and come out of the fold building a NOS gunnar 26er frame up for under 900 total , and most recently a new custom steel softail 29er w/ new reba team u-turn maxle and barely used Cking hubs w/ arches for just over 2600.

  24. #24
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    Love building my own. There are downsides, but I hunt for deals and end up with bikes/builds I would never be able to get otherwise. But if you don't really know what you want, then ride and buy what feels good too you then build later. Also, it depends on what you are looking at. I'm excited to build my 29er, but was just happy to find my Cross Check completely built for a great deal. I'm not really worried about upgrading it either. Don't buy a bike specific tool kit, though. Go to Harbor Freight and get some t handle hex wrenches, find a good torque wrench and bits, a couple of small screwdrivers. Chain whips and tools can be bought separately and will be better quality than you get in the kit (ask me how I know...) and you won't spend anymore than your would have on the kit and you'll have more usable tools. BTW, you could make your own headset press but I wouldn't for my first build. The LBS can take care of that for you quickly and cleanly with much less worry.

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