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  1. #1
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    rant 'why so much more expensive to build', and bike pump problem

    I always feel I'm encroaching on someone starting new threads [just me]...and there's so much archived stuff that it defeats the purpose for time saving device to search it all out [not just lazy either]...

    Anyway, first the 'rant':

    I would love to 'build' a bike up from scratch. I have to imagine it becomes at least an interest in most all cyclists at some point. It would be a great way to learn the bike from inside out, a hobby in itself. But as we all know, it is much more expensive building up, one component at a time. Haven't got titanium yet, so I've been twising my budget this way and that trying to find some way to 'build' up from a bare frame. But I just cannot justify the expense of a scratch build, which would be at least double the cost with far less quality parts than if I just purchased a complete bike . Plus, making mistakes, which would be inevitable for someone like me [always seem to it wrong before I get it right]...jacks the cost up even more.

    Not much to say beyond that; something we all know and the markets are what they are. But, I just wanted to express my frustration. Sometimes I feel like cattle being driven to market rather a human being making choices. I'll of course, just go on buy the complete bike if I buy anything and continue to be ignorant of how things work.

    ---------
    Second issue [may as well add it here and save a new thread, a minor problem, but a new one for me]....

    Just recieved some new wheels [from Bicycle Wheel Warehouse, looks like another great build] with deeper aero rims, so I got some 60mm presta tubes from LBS. The specialized tubes have a polished sloping [skinnier at valve opening] portion on the presta valves before a small section of threads exist, and I cannot for the life of me get my floor pump to clasp tight enough on this valve to stay on beyond about 70psi [it just pops off].

    I guess I'll need to replace the tubes, but not with a different size, but a different brand that has the full length of the valve threaded and same width throughout length [not sloped and polished].

    Or is it my pump, or something I don't know about presta valves? I have other 60 mm valved tubes, but they are all threaded the complete length of the valave and not sloped and my same pump has worked fine with. The pump is about 10 years old, so maybe the clasp has worn out or something? New tubes or new pump? I'll see what my LBS mech has to say.

    Anyone else run into this problem? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I'm sure you could learn just as much disassembling and reassembling a pre built bike...

  3. #3
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    The "markets" aren't some evil being that just enjoys making you frustrated, they are just giving a much better price to customers who buy in large quantities. You want a lower price for your components? Buy 10,000 sets at a time.

    BTW, there is a financial half-way between buying a complete bike and buying every item individually. You buy the frame and fork and then a complete "build kit." Your LBS can help you put one together through QBP or internet dealers like Colorado Cyclist also offer them. You get to select your components, chose things like crank length, handlebar width,etc., etc. but the cost, while higher than a compete bike, is lower than buying ala carte.

  4. #4
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    1st rant - possible solution - buy the finished bike, take it home, disassemble the thing, and rebuild it yourself. Substitute parts as desired. Gets you a custom bike, and spare parts to boot.

    2nd issue - possible solutions - first try different depth of insertion of the pump head. Try shallower, just a bit past the threads for the presta cap. This might seal just fine. Next try deeper insertion with pump head. If those don't work, get a presta-to-schrader adapter, and pump using schrader. If the grommet works on other tubes just fine, then I'd say the last resort would be to swap the tubes. But maybe the grommet is worn and if the pump is unable to hold high pressure. I usually pump with just one arm and my feet on the base of the pump. So alternatively, use the other hand and keep the pump head on the valve.

    Personally, have I run into this problem? Never. But I only have been using standard Silca floor pumps, or TopPeak Joe Blows, a Japanese old Maeda floor pump, and a Nashbar floor pump and with exception of the silca, all of them had levers on the heads to lock and compress the grommet around the value. And I stock extra grommets too. I guess I've been lucky.
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

  5. #5
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    You can build a bike from scratch a number of different ways. If you buy your parts new, it will cost way more than buying a whole bike that has been assembled by a manufacturer who buys the parts for far less than you can. If you buy used parts, or cannibalize bikes picked up at yard sales, e.g., you can get what you want for less than the cost of a new bike at a bike shop. One strategy is to be patient. Don't try to put the ideal parts on all at one time. Instead, use a less desirable part until the one you want comes along at a good price.
    Bike co-ops such as Bike Church in Philadelphia are a great resource for low-priced parts, and they get in some pretty fine bikes from time to time. They also offer a knowledge base, space & tools to do just what you are talking about...
    Michael Shiffer
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  6. #6
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    If you've been tinkering with and buying and selling bikes for a long time, you've amassed a whole lot of bikes, partial bikes, and parts. At that point, it makes sense to build a bike, because you have everything or almost everything you need, and finishing a bike costs less than a whole bike. That's why I've built most of the bikes I ride. The only bikes I haven't built are my three-speeds.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  7. #7
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    i elected to learn by rebuilding a vintage 80's bike from scratch. i spent more than if I bought a whole bike but I got a good amount of riding out of it and then I sold it for $300. there are tons of deals to be had on there if you scour the internet. if you want to build up from scratch and are fussy about components then you will have a hard time doing it on the cheap. But if you look for deals you can do well. I got a gently used ultegra sl crank and bb for $100, a motobecane frame and fork for $150. I got 2 deep v rims for $40 each, bought the spokes needed for the build off of ebay. got a new carbon seatpost in an ebay option for dirt cheap. when all was said and done, the bike wasnt really any more expensive than if I bought it right from bikes direct.

  8. #8
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    1st rant: I don't see why it should be surprising. Buy a new car sometime. And then go back to the dealer, and order all of the individual parts, and build the car.

    1st rant part 2: I build a lot of bikes, and it doesn't cost me very much. Why? I never use new parts (other than consumables: tires, cables, tubes, bearings, grease), and I pick up donor bikes and swap parts. The typical thrifty build starts with finding a deal on a donor bike, swapping all of the parts: wheels, derailleurs, shifters, etc. I build up my keeper bike with the desirable parts, and rebuild the donor bike with the parts I swapped out. I typically am able to resell the donor for more than I paid for it, making the upgrade/build "free". Just finished rebuilding my Prologue with all nine speed Dura Ace parts this way.

    I almost always buy complete bikes, even if I just want the frame. The reuse/recycle/resale of parts I don't want go a long way towards funding the build.

    But if you want to buy a frame, and then go to your favorite bike shop and pick up new parts, you will very likely be upside down on the build. Realize that the OEMs pay a small fraction of what you and I have to pay for parts. The only way to come close to what they get their stuff for is to find used parts, or better yet, a donor bike.
    Last edited by wrk101; 09-09-11 at 03:55 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    The "markets" aren't some evil being that just enjoys making you frustrated, they are just giving a much better price to customers who buy in large quantities. You want a lower price for your components? Buy 10,000 sets at a time.

    BTW, there is a financial half-way between buying a complete bike and buying every item individually. You buy the frame and fork and then a complete "build kit." Your LBS can help you put one together through QBP or internet dealers like Colorado Cyclist also offer them.
    With US wholesale prices often higher than UK online retail prices that's likely to be an expensive proposition.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    With US wholesale prices often higher than UK online retail prices that's likely to be an expensive proposition.
    Try ordering from Germany, Shimano for example is far cheaper there than in the UK.

  11. #11
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    As some have said building doesn't have to be more expensive if you have time and don't mind some used parts. I did my last build for what I thought "reasonable" buying a lightly used Ultegra group. I did buy new wheels as they had to be strong for commuting. I could have reused my old rack, cages, pedals, things like that but figured new bike might as well splurge on new accessories too. I also still have all the parts that came off the frame. Without a doubt cheaper than a full Ultegra bike would cost me locally.

    I'm already stock piling new parts for another as I find them cheap.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  12. #12
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Try a frame swap. I did a couple of those for my son as he grew. Watch eBay for a warranty frame that's mostly compatible with what you've got. Move parts over. Bingo! You get a shiny new ride. Toss in one or two upgrade along the way for added fun.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    With US wholesale prices often higher than UK online retail prices that's likely to be an expensive proposition.
    Yeah, I recently discovered that and overcame my concerns about delivery and customs problems. I've placed three orders on Wiggle and two were delivered within a week and the third was just ordered yesterday. No problems what so ever and the savings, particularly on tires (tyres?) and Campy cassettes, were wonderful.

    I've never ordered from anywhere on the Continent. Germany huh? Any specific suggestions?

  14. #14
    Roadkill byte_speed's Avatar
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    I have two floor pumps - Park model? & a Nashbar pump. Neither grips a presta valve without leaking or occasionally popping off. I used a presta-schrader adapter for a short valve stem in a 30mm rim and noticed that both pump heads work fine with the adapter. Now I use it even when not needed with the short stem valves and no more problems.

    I also have a Silca that works great without the adapter, but I broke the gauge on it.

  15. #15
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    On the pump head, ensure the retaining cap for the grommet is screwed down all the way.

    As mentioned by others, patience is the most important aspect of reducing the cost of a personal bike build. Knowing your product also helps to identify when to buy cheap, and when and what to avoid.

    The other positive to personal bike builds is that the bike can be customised to your preferences entirely. That can range from seat through to wheelset to crankset and shifters. You can have a bike that suits your riding style, uses, strengths and ambitions. Even better, you can then swap out the components as you need for changing conditions.

    I have built five bikes for Machka and me over the past several years. I have a fixed gear with a frame I retrieved from the dump, but cost another $450 or so to build into a reliable bike that I enjoy riding. I have a CF that would have marketed as a complete bike for $5000 but cost me less than $3500 for all components, and our Ti bikes cost about $2500 each with frame, Ultregra components and wheels (DT Swiss). And out of all the leftover components, I was able to do an emergency build up of a "Frankenbike" with an MTB frame and 700C wheels for Machka to do a 300km randonnee after her bike was stolen.

    But for all those builds, I was patient, knew what I was looking for, scoured eBay and other sources, got lucky on the rims... and acquired a toolset that I will keep as long as I live.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  16. #16
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    But for all those builds, I was patient, knew what I was looking for, scoured eBay and other sources, got lucky on the rims... and acquired a toolset that I will keep as long as I live.
    Took me about a year to get my ultegra group on Ebay for a price I was willing to pay. You do have to know what you are looking for and what will fit especially when dealing with seatposts, BB etc. I also won't buy anything used on Ebay without really good pictures. Before buying the group I took advantage of some sales (Ultegra RD-6600 GS new $34) and would have gone the piece at a time route if a good used group hadn't showed up. Those parts will now slowly get built into something else.

    Less than $1K into this including original bike and new powdercoat & decals. Full Ultegra and new open pros on Ultegra
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by dedhed; 09-09-11 at 10:02 PM.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  17. #17
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    I look on the additional cost of my personalized build as "tuition" and I'm willing to pay for the pleasure of "doing" instead of just "having." It's a personal rationalization/choice and if I calc it by the hour, it's cheaper than a movie.... I get to hang with some people who know more than I ever will and in the end, I have something unique; something personal. It's like food-it tastes better when I grow it myself.
    Nobody slower, and nobody lovin' it more...

  18. #18
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gyozadude View Post
    If those don't work, get a presta-to-schrader adapter, and pump using schrader.
    This works great. Easily better than 95% of the Presta pump heads I've used.

    The hassle of threading the head on is more than offset by the perfectly secure and airtight fit.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I've never ordered from anywhere on the Continent. Germany huh? Any specific suggestions?
    Rose Bike are great, but not sure what there shipping is like to the US, also Bike24 and Actionsports.

    Rose has lots of the little parts / spares that the UK sellers never stock

  20. #20
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    1. I crashed and cracked my original carbon frame. When I bought a new frame, I swapped all the parts myself. I've been riding it for 5 years now without ever bringing it into a shop to do maintenance.

    2. I just noticed yesterday that my new tubes have a smooth valve, whereas the old one I replaced had a threaded valve. Sure enough, I had a hard time getting the pump to stay on. My pump needs a replacement grommet in any case.

  21. #21
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    The key to building a nice modern bike from scratch at a good price is to get the frame for a deep discount. Like you've observed, you just can't put together the components cheap enough as you can buy them as part of a complete bike. Also, and this hurts, the more expensive the frame the greater the value of the total build. An then there's tools bike stands, etc. I was lucky to find a beautiful Tom Kellogg Custom Spectrum Titanium Frame that fits me perfectly about 3 years ago for $925 including the painted-to-match Reynolds Ouzo Pro Carbon Fiber fork. I've never spent close to that for a whole bike, much less a frame and fork. I figured with a deal like that on the frame (close to $4000 to have one made for me), I would be all set for about $2k for the complete bike. Nope, more like $3500 for frame and parts and another $300 for tools (and I already owned a lot of tools and a bike stand). But you know what? I have a $6500 bike for $3500 spent that I love *SO* much that if I ever were to lose it I would pony up the $6500 or $7000 it would cost me to replace it. That's the real payoff. You spend a lot oof money. You invest a lot of time. But to ride a great bike that you know you built yourself makes you feel like you somehow ended up with a bargain.

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