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  1. #1
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    tips on how to build a bike on a budget

    this spring I find my trusty entry level mountain bike needing an overhaul. The rear wheel is in pretty bad shape (LBS says I should replace it due to my size (225#, 6'2)

    Due to a crash last year the seat needs to be replaced, and the bottom bracket makes a funny noise when I ride I think some water got in it, and also it gets loose every 50 miles or so.

    Finally, I need a new set of tires, as the ones I have are all but bald (knobbies and mostly road riding)

    In speaking with a few bicycle buddies, they have suggested that the type of riding that I do (fitness, pleasure) I would be better suited to a faster bike, and both of them have suggested a CX style bike to tackle the crushed limestone and paved trails that my rides find me on.

    A member of my family has offered up a few old parts (providing he can find them) these include a bar with shifters, and the front and rear derailleurs. He promised they were not pretty, but would get the bike rolling.

    So here are my questions...

    I would need the frame set, crank, cassette, seat and seat tube, head set, wheel set, tires and tubes? Am I forgetting anything?

    How can I do this on a budget? I have been looking around online and in reading some forums, it appears that people build bikes on a budget of around $700, but everything I am looking at it would cost me at least $1000 or more. I can't get "congressional approval" on a $1000 purchase when in her eyes, I could repair my bike for $300ish.

    Please help me to point out where I can save every dollar possible? are used parts from ebay a reliable source? used frames, used wheels? Nashbar has a $100 CX frame along with a $120 Carbon CX fork, this is cheaper than the $400 I was seeing for most frame sets when searching online.

    Finally, I would probably have to have this built for me, would most LBS's allow me to bring them a box of parts and put it together? If so, how much would they charge me to do it?

    $100 Nashbar frame
    $120 Nashbar fork
    $ 50 Nashbar Crank (compact double)
    $ 30 Nashbar ISIS bottom bracket
    $ 57 Shimano 10 spd cassette
    $ 30 Nashbar 10 spd chain
    $ 35 Nashbar Carbon fiber seat post
    $ 60 Saddle (this one is a guess)
    $170 Veulta HD wheel set
    $ 80 tires and tubes
    = $732 - is this about as cheap as I can build this bike? and if so, are these quality parts for the build? plus labor.

  2. #2
    Senior Member commo_soulja's Avatar
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    Why a new frame/fork? Keep your current mtb frame change the wheels/tires and gearing for the riding you're mostly doing. That'll save you $220 in your budget.

    Don't pay the shop to build it. Ask your friends to lend a hand and tools to do it yourself. You'll learn more about your bike than paying a shop to do it. And offer helping friends a beer or two.
    Mythical Creatures Touched Me in my Bathing Suit Area.

  3. #3
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    If you are going to spend all that money, why not just get a new bike, you will get a bike with warranty, and no compatibility issues, Bikesdirect will pointed out as a good place to get good value full builds.

    Thinking with your seize / weight, you should be looking at a 29er, with front suspension, a CX bike has drop bars, which will be harder to use if you do ever go off road, and get some semi slick tires for it.

    A LBS should be able to do a parts build, but would probably put a big premium on it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    I think you'd be much better off buying a past year's model that is new at the LBS. In my experience a lot of Nashbar parts are low quality, and $700 for a Nashbar bike is waaaay expensive.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
    If you are going to spend all that money, why not just get a new bike, you will get a bike with warranty, and no compatibility issues, Bikesdirect will pointed out as a good place to get good value full builds.

    Thinking with your seize / weight, you should be looking at a 29er, with front suspension, a CX bike has drop bars, which will be harder to use if you do ever go off road, and get some semi slick tires for it.

    A LBS should be able to do a parts build, but would probably put a big premium on it.
    a new CX bike is probably going to cost me well over $1000. Bikes direct has some options that look promising for around $800 give or take, but then I need to change the tires at around $60 a piece, and I don't think the wheels are as good as the ones that I picked out (and at 225 pounds, I will probably be looking at replacement wheels in a year)

    the two bikes that I really like are the Surly Cross Check and the Surly LHT, both come essentially as kit bikes, but the frame set for either runs around $400. That would add to my cost.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nick Bain's Avatar
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    If you don't know how to build a bike then you shan't be ordering parts and attempt to piece it all together. Tell your wife that the time lost on this will take away from foot rubs/ talking etc. It would help if we knew what bike you have. That way its easier to figure out if you should get a new bike at 500-1000. You probably don't need a suspension fork.

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    Ziemas, thank you for that. I didn't know the quality on nashbar's stuff was bad.

    any idea on where I can buy lower quality Shimano parts? IE, tiagra parts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Bain View Post
    If you don't know how to build a bike then you shan't be ordering parts and attempt to piece it all together. Tell your wife that the time lost on this will take away from foot rubs/ talking etc. It would help if we knew what bike you have. That way its easier to figure out if you should get a new bike at 500-1000. You probably don't need a suspension fork.
    I currently have a Scott reflex 50 mountain bike. Lock out fork (which is pretty much ALWAYS locked out) flat bar, 24 speeds, Shimano Acera parts.

    I would like something with drops and the ability to put a wider tire on it so I can ride crushed lime stone. preferably something with taller gearing than a mountain bike, as I live in IL and find myself riding around in the big ring on my crank all the time, leaving very little when I want to go faster on descents.
    Last edited by clearwaterms; 04-25-11 at 07:52 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clearwaterms View Post
    Ziemas, thank you for that. I didn't know the quality on nashbar's stuff was bad.

    any idea on where I can buy lower quality Shimano parts? IE, tiagra parts?
    I often buy last years stuff on closeout. Try Price Point, they usually have some good deals, as does Bike Island.

    Right now Price Point has a SRAM X7 build kit for $229.98. Personally I prefer SRAM over Shimano. Lot's of other deals there too.

    http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/192...d-Kit-2010.htm

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Also BD has touring bikes in your price range. They'll take wider tires.

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

  11. #11
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    It's far cheaper to buy a finished bike. Where I live I can buy a brand new entry level road bike for $600. Shop around for bikes before buying parts. A touring bike which is a little better for riding with a heavy load can be had for less than $1000.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  12. #12
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
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    It's an awfully good time building a bike.

    I'm with Commo; you should be able to get your bike to be the thing you need.

    You can get slicks or subtle knobbies for your MTB. Change the gearing and you'll be awesome.

    You'll be able to transfer your saddle in any event. Good saddles are quite pricey, and if your butt's not complaining, it's a good place to stay in your budget.
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    Passionate lover of construction

  13. #13
    Godbotherer dwellman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clearwaterms View Post
    this spring I find my trusty entry level mountain bike needing an overhaul. The rear wheel is in pretty bad shape (LBS says I should replace it due to my size (225#, 6'2) [...]
    = $732 - is this about as cheap as I can build this bike? and if so, are these quality parts for the build? plus labor.
    I know what you're thinking. And I understand, I've been there too. 99 times out 100 is is cheaper to buy a complete bike than build out of parts or upgrade out of parts.

    Case an point: bike shop had some Cannondale frames they built up themselves with parts and were selling for 899. I'm doing something similar with my Cannondale and I'm already up to $825 and I have yet to do
    • wheels
    • cables
    • housing
    • tape
    • tires
    • tubes


    Granted this is an almost no compromises build (full Rival versus the shop's Tiagra / 105 /Ultegra mish-mash) but still--

    Their bike is rideable.

    Mine is not.
    "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize"
    "So I do not run like someone who doesn't run toward the finish line. I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air."
    "And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
    "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

  14. #14
    Godbotherer dwellman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
    It's an awfully good time building a bike.
    And then there's that. It IS fun. But also frustrating having to wait for almost a week and a half for a freakin' front derailluer. Bet the rear caliper I ordered yesterday comes before the FD I ordered last Thurs.
    "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize"
    "So I do not run like someone who doesn't run toward the finish line. I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air."
    "And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
    "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

  15. #15
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    The ONLY way you save money by finding all the parts and building is if you put it together yourself. As soon as you take the Big Box O' Parts into a shop to have it built into a rideable bike your money savings over buying a bike ready built flies out the window. Building up a bike from parts like that is NOT a $50 job. The way to save money and still get a good build is to shop around the local outlets and find stuff for super cheap that no one else wants or to buy stuff only when it's on idiotically low close out sales from the online outfits. Oh, and from the look of the prices in your list of parts you're not really a very good shopper. Much of what you picked for price is clearly higher end options. But then you're teaming these things up with lower end stuff. So the resulting bike would be a patchwork of items that raise the price without forming a consistent level of overall parts group. Two glaring examples is that you do NOT need to pay as much as you picked out for a perfectly decent cassete or for tires and tubes.

    Let's look at the bike style for a moment as well. You're riding for fitness and fun. That's all well and great. But have you ridden a drop bar bike? Will you be comfortable leaning that far ahead and down? You may be better off with a "fast hybrid" or city bike. These come in some nice setups and can be had for around the cost of your list of parts.

    For example Giant makes a 29'er off road bike called the Roam that comes with Avid disc brakes and 700c wheels for a MSRP of just $620 and that has a list of parts that are far upscale from the ones you've found. Kona makes a "Dew" series of light and fast asphalt commuters that have rims wide enough to easily allow using fatter road or trail tires for the limestone trails. The cost for those starts at only $450 for the basic Dew.

    And these two examples are just from a quick look around. If you shop at your local stores or at the online shops I don't doubt that you can find a bike that's on sale for a price that will get you onto the road a lot cheaper than the option of building a bike. Or if you're sure that a drop bar bike is for you again there's options at your budget point out there if you shop a little deeper than you have so far

    Now before you think I'm just tossing your whole enthusiastic approach ito the outhouse I'd like to add that I applaud your enthusiasm. But at this point and with your present level of knowledge where you would require your LBS to build up your bike it's just not the economical path to take to get a bike that you want to think that it is.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  16. #16
    Godbotherer dwellman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    . Two glaring examples is that you do NOT need to pay as much as you picked out for a perfectly decent cassete or for tires and tubes.
    Lemme back that up with an example. OP has
    $ 57 Shimano 10 spd cassette
    SRAM PG 1050 for $35 shipped?

    And I think the CST Caldera Pro is a decent enough tire for less than $20 each. So OP had ~$137 for cassette tires and tubes. There's no reason OP can't get that down to $82 for cassette ($35) tires ($40) and tubes ($7).

    That's a 40% swing right there.
    Last edited by dwellman; 04-25-11 at 10:15 AM. Reason: add something
    "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize"
    "So I do not run like someone who doesn't run toward the finish line. I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air."
    "And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
    "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

  17. #17
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    find some used sat-in-the-garage-but-we-never-used-it bike for $150....

    Or, spend less than that on a new rear wheel and a BB overhaul and support your LBS that diagnosed the problem... and grab a saddle off some bike that someone's throwing out.

    You should get more tinkering experience and tools before attempting a build.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    The ONLY way you save money by finding all the parts and building is if you put it together yourself. As soon as you take the Big Box O' Parts into a shop to have it built into a rideable bike your money savings over buying a bike ready built flies out the window. Building up a bike from parts like that is NOT a $50 job. The way to save money and still get a good build is to shop around the local outlets and find stuff for super cheap that no one else wants or to buy stuff only when it's on idiotically low close out sales from the online outfits. Oh, and from the look of the prices in your list of parts you're not really a very good shopper. Much of what you picked for price is clearly higher end options. But then you're teaming these things up with lower end stuff. So the resulting bike would be a patchwork of items that raise the price without forming a consistent level of overall parts group. Two glaring examples is that you do NOT need to pay as much as you picked out for a perfectly decent cassete or for tires and tubes.

    Let's look at the bike style for a moment as well. You're riding for fitness and fun. That's all well and great. But have you ridden a drop bar bike? Will you be comfortable leaning that far ahead and down? You may be better off with a "fast hybrid" or city bike. These come in some nice setups and can be had for around the cost of your list of parts.

    For example Giant makes a 29'er off road bike called the Roam that comes with Avid disc brakes and 700c wheels for a MSRP of just $620 and that has a list of parts that are far upscale from the ones you've found. Kona makes a "Dew" series of light and fast asphalt commuters that have rims wide enough to easily allow using fatter road or trail tires for the limestone trails. The cost for those starts at only $450 for the basic Dew.

    And these two examples are just from a quick look around. If you shop at your local stores or at the online shops I don't doubt that you can find a bike that's on sale for a price that will get you onto the road a lot cheaper than the option of building a bike. Or if you're sure that a drop bar bike is for you again there's options at your budget point out there if you shop a little deeper than you have so far

    Now before you think I'm just tossing your whole enthusiastic approach ito the outhouse I'd like to add that I applaud your enthusiasm. But at this point and with your present level of knowledge where you would require your LBS to build up your bike it's just not the economical path to take to get a bike that you want to think that it is.
    thank you for the excellent advice - I appreciate it. I didn't expect that this would be easy. I guess I need to go to a bike shop and test ride a few things and get a better sense of what it would cost to purchase a bike already built the way I want it or to build one up from scratch.

    As for the drops, I have ridden a bicycle with drops on it, and having only ridden on the top of the bar I had no problems with it. At 31 years old with alot of time spent on sportbikes (motorcycles) I am used to being leaned way over, so that isn't an issue.

    I like the idea of a fast hybrid, a buddy of mine is looking very closely at the Specialized Crosstrail (29er wheels, MTB gearing, front suspension)

    My thinking is that a hybrid is an excellent bike if I can only have one single bicycle. However, if I can own two (since I already have a mountain bike) a hybrid is really just a 1/2 step towards the road bike. I will have to go to a bike shop and do demo riding.

    correct me if I am wrong, but a touring bike would still have drops, but also have a more upright and stretched out frame that would be more comfortable to ride for distance.

  19. #19
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clearwaterms View Post
    .......As for the drops, I have ridden a bicycle with drops on it, and having only ridden on the top of the bar I had no problems with it. At 31 years old with alot of time spent on sportbikes (motorcycles) I am used to being leaned way over, so that isn't an issue.

    ......My thinking is that a hybrid is an excellent bike if I can only have one single bicycle. However, if I can own two (since I already have a mountain bike) a hybrid is really just a 1/2 step towards the road bike. I will have to go to a bike shop and do demo riding.

    correct me if I am wrong, but a touring bike would still have drops, but also have a more upright and stretched out frame that would be more comfortable to ride for distance.
    ... and with this thread your learning begins....

    I'm from the opposite camp where riding my bicycles got me used to leaning forward so that I suddenly found sportbikes to be "not so bad after all... Did they make the clip on's higher this year?" So I went the opposite way and got into a few sportbikes thanks to conditioning on my bicycles. But it's apparently a very happy two way street given your account.

    If you're keeping the mountain bike then yeah, a cyclocross or touring bike would be a great compliment to the mountain bike. And you're right on both counts that Cx and touring bikes are not as extreme as a finely fitted road racer. So either would be a nice path to follow to compliment the off roader. And in actual fact there's not a lot of difference to the cockpit of a CX and touring bike. The main differences being that the touring bike would likely have longer rear stays, more brazeons to mount racks and fenders and a slightly longer wheelbase as a result. But if you pick a CX bike from the right maker they often come with the brazeons to turn the CX bike into a sporty light touring and commuting rack bike. The nice thing about either CX or touring bike setups over a pure road racer is that they have the fork, frame and brake clearance to mount fenders and trail friendly tires.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  20. #20
    Macaws Rock! michaelnel's Avatar
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    There are lots of different kinds of drop handlebars. Some are designed for speed, some for comfort.

    On the Soma Doublecross frame I built up into a general purpose bike, I used the wonderful Nitto Noodle Bars. They are super Japanese-manufactured quality, they are wide and when you set them up right they are super comfortable when riding on the tops or the hoods. Here is a good description of them on the Rivendell site: http://www.rivbike.com/products/show...dle-bar/16-113 ... although if you shop around you can find them a LOT cheaper.
    ---

    San Francisco, California

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by commo_soulja View Post
    Why a new frame/fork? Keep your current mtb frame change the wheels/tires and gearing for the riding you're mostly doing. That'll save you $220 in your budget.

    Don't pay the shop to build it. Ask your friends to lend a hand and tools to do it yourself. You'll learn more about your bike than paying a shop to do it. And offer helping friends a beer or two.
    Commo,

    If I wanted to do this and keep my current MTB, what would you recommend for gearing? Tires? wheels?

    I currently have an 8 speed derailleur and would like to keep that if possible. Currently I ride around in the largest cog on my triple all the time and cycle between the 4th and 8th gear. The big cog on my current front crank is a 42 tooth.

  22. #22
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    If you wanted to mod the mountain bike it's possible to do so. First off if you're able to spin out in the 42-11 combo to where you feel like you're pedalling too fast then switching to a 44 or 46T front ring would be a nice option.

    Mountain bikes, depending on the models, tend to have fairly tight cockpits unless you go one size over for what you should have for trail riding. If you do that then the cockpit will be spaced out a little more and make it easier to angle forward and get more aero. But generally MTB's tend to a tighter fit which makes it easier for hanging off the rear while descending serious slopes. So in some ways a mountain bike does not have the best geometry for aggresive and quick road riding. But if you find a cross country race bike then it'll be a lot closer to a road bike like cockpit geometry.

    The thing is that a lot of the stuff that makes a mountain bike into a very nice road burner and commuter makes it less than ideal for technical off road riding and vice versa. But it depends on what you mean by "technical off road riding". For some it means swapping to fat tires and riding the same position as on the road. For others it's all about tight downhill turns, tight woods trails with logs or small to stupid long drops. But if you're just not riding that sort of off road stuff then many mountain bikes can be turned into pretty nice road commuters.

    It sounds to me from this thread that you're sort of ready for the next step though. And you'd only get there for sure with a good road bike or a good road frame as your foundation for the rest.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  23. #23
    Senior Member Nick Bain's Avatar
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    I miss how easy the 10 and 12 speeds were, almost nothing to go wrong there.
    heres a nice cx. prolly 2-3k though.
    Steve_Offerman_CX_Bike.jpg

  24. #24
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    Pick up a bike with a frame in your size, and another bike for it's parts, and mix and match.

    Get both at a Police Auction and the cost would be really low.

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    I get some really good deals by being patient on eBay and the local Craigslist, but it takes a while to accumulate the parts needed to build a bike. But eBay has been very good to me.

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