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Thread: Build or buy?

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    Build or buy?

    I have a spare wheelset lying around. It has a Campy cassette body but from what I've read, both Shimano and Campy shifters work well enough with Campy 9 speed cassettes.

    So I was thinking - which would be cheaper?

    a) Build a cheap 9 speed commuter with the wheelset I have already. I would need a frame, components, etc. Basically everything but the wheels.

    b) Buy a complete commuter bike? I'm looking for something with gears. I find myself shifting frequently when commuting. It just makes things faster. Any recs for cheap commuter bikes? I like drop bars too btw; I used to ride a flat-bar bike and after going to drop bars I will never go back.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    Jit will be less expensive to buy a full bike than everything but the wheels. OTOH I find building a bike infinitely more enjoyable than buying one
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about your information on Campy/Shimano compatibility. There are some combinations you can mix and match, but I don't think 9-9 works.

    Check this link for details: Rear Shifting | CTC

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    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    Building always ends up costing more than you think. Buy something online and reassemble it yourself. Best of both worlds.

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    If you have a strong vision of what you want to build, going that route can be truly satisfying. Saying that building a bike is more expensive than buying one when discussing among raving lunatic bike enthusiasts doesn't really do justice to the full extent of the bike buying, accumulating, lusting, and ultimately satisfying-side of cycling. Tell me where to send the fistful of dollars to stop the obsession. Haha
    I know that half of what I buy I don't need. The problem is, I don't know which half.

  6. #6
    rhm
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    It's almost always cheaper to buy a complete new bike than to build a complete bike from new parts. When you add existing parts to the mix, the math changes. The cheapest thing is usually to buy two used bikes, one of which might have the components you want and the other having the frame you want, and build the bike you want from that. Build another bike with the rest and sell it.

  7. #7
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Adding to what Rhm said, which is all spot on IMO, it is possible to build the bike cheaper if you leave some functionality off, given that you already have the wheels. I built mine for $310, including about $40 extra for the carbon fiber fork, BUT it was a 1x8 configuration with a downtube shifter. Adding brifters later along with the DR and crankset the total was more than buying a new bike with better components.

    The upside is having less cost up front, and where you cut cost or go a little better is based on your own decision and not whatever was cheapest for whoever made the bike.

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    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    I'll echo that if you have some parts hanging around, go for it. But if you have to buy a whole drivetrain, expect that to cost you a pretty penny. Some of the discount UK sites will have pretty good prices and free shipping if you want to go Shimano. I'm a little confused though by what you mean when you say a Campy cassette body. Are you saying you have a wheel with a campy cassette and freehub body? What hubs do you have in the wheels - can you get a shimano freehub body? They aren't terribly expensive.
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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    Senior Member rmfnla's Avatar
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    Building a bike is rarely cheaper unless you already own lots of parts...
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

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    I disagree that a new bike is always cheaper.

    Cost of parts for a re-build I did a few years ago (bike was a 105 triple, 9 speed, non-disc):

    Ultegra 6705 crank: $110
    6700 rear derailleur: $60
    6700 front derailler: $45
    10 speed chain: $11
    Ultegra flat-bar shifters (R770): $90
    XT disc brake: $50
    1600 gm easton disc wheelset: $300
    Nashbar carbon disc fork: $100
    Serfas 190 gm titanium rail saddle: $50
    100 gm OEM stem: $50
    Thomson elite post: $70
    Easton carbon bar: $50
    Tektro brake: $30.

    (All parts were new but heavily discounted.)

    I used an available frame but I could have easily bought a decent carbon frame for 500-600 (nashbar had a nice carbon disc frame for $600 recently)

    Total cost of build: ~$1500 for a 19 lb carbon flat bar bike with front disc brakes.

    Cost of the far heavier and 105-based carbon fiber cafe-centry pro at bikesdirect $1400:

    Save up to 60% off new Hybrid Carbon Bicycles | Road Bikes Cafe Century PRO
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    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Best bet for a commuter if you want to save money is to buy used.

  12. #12
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Cheapest: used bike off CL
    Cheaper: build from used parts off eBay/CL, including your wheelset
    Retail: new bike
    Expensiver: build from new parts

    Here's my experience: CrossCheck from REI: $1235.18. CrossCheck I built from eBay, locally handbuilt wheels, and a few parts I had: $1229.86. Savings $5.32.

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    Senior Member jfowler85's Avatar
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    Build it!! If you know where/how to shop for the parts, it's not difficult to stay within a budget that will put you well below what an equivalent new bike would cost. I've built 3 rigs for commuting since I started doing this and each has been pretty cheap. My latest build is a Devinci frame, carbon fork, 105/dura ace and got it all put together for around $600.

    As the above poster has noted, you'll easily blow a budget on things like custom wheelsets, retail gruppos, and being too impatient to wait for sales/discounts. Give yourself some room to look for unsold stock from previous years, and check out sites like backcountry and sierra trading post. The more flexibility you have, the easier you'll find the process...my latest build took me from classic road geometry with tight clearances to compact with room for 40c studded tires and fenders. I didn't plan on that happening, but I saved bunches of cash and am able to experiment with something new, which I enjoy.
    Last edited by jfowler85; 05-22-15 at 09:10 AM.
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    Buy a bike and offset part of the cost by selling the wheels.
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    Anyone have experience with probikekit? They have a 105 groupset for less than $400 which could make building viable. The also have a set with wheels for around $800.
    Shimano 105 5800 11 Speed Groupset - Black - 53/39 | ProBikeKit.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by ratell View Post
    Anyone have experience with probikekit? They have a 105 groupset for less than $400 which could make building viable. The also have a set with wheels for around $800.
    Shimano 105 5800 11 Speed Groupset - Black - 53/39 | ProBikeKit.com
    Yes...they and merlin are one of my top sources for cheap shimano parts. (The 105 5700 groupset was available for a touch over $300 about a year ago, BTW.)
    "I entreat you, get out of those motorized wheelchairs, get off your foam rubber backsides, stand up straight like women! like men! like human beings!" -E. Abbey

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    (Or offset the whole cost....)

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    Senior Member jfowler85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ratell View Post
    Anyone have experience with probikekit? They have a 105 groupset for less than $400 which could make building viable. The also have a set with wheels for around $800.
    Shimano 105 5800 11 Speed Groupset - Black - 53/39 | ProBikeKit.com
    PBK often runs first time buyer discounts...might want to google PBK coupon codes.
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    I'd say buy it. I'm usually of the build it camp but I would take a turn key bike and go out riding instead of spending that time building up the bike.

  20. #20
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    Building is nice because you can skimp on things you don't care about, and splurge on the stuff you do. eBay is the greatest! But then again, I use a lot of cheap components.

  21. #21
    Senior Member snow_echo_NY's Avatar
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    i also vote buy.

    agree with you about drop bars.

    good luck!

  22. #22
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
    I disagree that a new bike is always cheaper.

    Cost of parts for a re-build I did a few years ago (bike was a 105 triple, 9 speed, non-disc)...
    Total cost of build: ~$1500 for a 19 lb carbon flat bar bike with front disc brakes.
    I agree with this and am going to use it as an excuse to spam a picture of my "newest" bike.



    I had the wheelset, tires, crank (minus a chainring), chain, handlebars and pedals already. Everything else cost me $769.

    Reynolds 853 steel frame
    Carbon fork
    105 (5700 series) shifters and derailleurs
    105 (5800 series) brakes
    Thomson Elite seatpost
    Nitto Tecnomic stem
    Specialized Phenom saddle

    Not bad for under $800. I bought the frame and fork on craigslist with a few other parts included that I'll probably resell. I got the saddle used on CL. Everything else (except the part

    Bikes Direct has a kind of comparable bike for $799 (Save Up To 60% Off Pro Level Steel Road Bikes | Commuting | Commuter Bikes | Motobecane Gran Premio PRO) but they cut corners where I indulged (520 steel; Tektro brakes; generic stem, saddle and seatpost; Claris hubs; entry-level FSA square taper crankset).

    Even if I include the price I originally paid for the pieces I already had my build comes in at under $1250. I know that's a decent chunk of change for a bike, but for a bike of this quality I think it's a bargain.

    The one caveat is that I'm not sure this type of plan scales effectively to more entry level bikes. It's harder to find lower end parts discounted as heavily as higher end parts. For instance, at Ribble Cycles (the UK website where I got a lot of my new parts) Tiagra and Sora shift levers are only a couple dollars (literally) cheaper than 5700-series 105 and even Claris shifters are only $20 cheaper.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    but they cut corners where I indulged (520 steel; Tektro brakes; generic stem, saddle and seatpost; Claris hubs; entry-level FSA square taper crankset).
    Its fascinating how many fixate on the OEM drive train gruppo* (that is always available for 50-70% off at the usual bike sites) but not on the components that are most important for comfort/utility (e.g. the stem, bars, fork, seatpost, and saddle). And I strongly believe that no decent bike should ever be sold with a saddle.


    *often with a crap crank and the cheapest chain and cassette money can buy snuck into the mix.
    "I entreat you, get out of those motorized wheelchairs, get off your foam rubber backsides, stand up straight like women! like men! like human beings!" -E. Abbey

  24. #24
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
    It has a Campy cassette body but from what I've read, both Shimano and Campy shifters work well enough with Campy 9 speed cassettes.
    No, it's much more complicated than that.
    I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter. --Blaise Pascal

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  25. #25
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
    I have a spare wheelset lying around. It has a Campy cassette body...
    It looks like you can get a Campy 10-speed groupset (crankset, bottom bracket, derailleurs, brakes, cassette and chain) from the various UK website for under $400. If you can find a decent frame (or possibly a used bike with crappy parts) for a good price, you can probably pull together the other bits you'd need to make it economical.

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