I just took a newly built-up bike for its inagural ride last night. WOW!
The bike I've been riding since '04 is a pretty good bike, built around a late 70's Raleigh brazed and luggeed steel frame, using good quality and condition older components. It was what seemed reasonable to do in 2004, given that it had been close to 20 years since I did any serious cycling. It felt pretty much the way I remembered.
The new build is a bit more current, new alloy frame, carbon front fork, decent rims built on Shimano hubs. It's 21 lbs and OH MY! It seems the state of the art has progressed a tad since 1977!
Anyway, it's a sweet bike, a blast to ride, and I had to crow a bit about it because this is the most complete self-build I've ever done (thanks to Sheldon Brown for his great article on wheelbuilding...).
I'm keeping my old bike for commuting to work, but the new one is for the fun rides and tours. Now I've got to build for my wife and daughter!
Oh yeah, by careful shopping for components, I've kept the total cost down to $350, including shipping. If you're mechanically inclined, financially constrained, and are looking for a really nice bike, read Sheldon's webpages, buy a few good tools, and Do It Yourself!