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  1. #1
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    building bike yourself vs buying new bike off the shelf

    hi folks,

    im new to this forum so hi to everybody! i got question which i thought was simple and obvious but it isnt..

    ive sent an email to local cycling store asking:

    Do you sell all parts needed to build a bike yourself? And can you please tell me how much I could safe building bike myself?


    As a reply i got a message saying it cost twice as much to build bike yourself than buy new one off the shelf..

    WHAT?!

    is that really true? I just cant believe it!

    You guys know it best. Please I need advice!

    Thankssss

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I don't know about twice as much, but it'll almost always be more.

    Take cranks, for example. Trek places one order with Shimano or whoever for a ton of cranks. You're going to buy one. It's actually less work for Shimano to process Trek's order and they don't have to mess with all of the individual part packaging. If Shimano loses a crank order to it's competition, some sales person is going to go to bed without dinner. If they lose your order, they won't even notice. Given those facts, who do you think is going to get the more favorable price Trek or you?

    Bike store folks frequently bemoan the fact that it's sometimes possible for anybody to buy Shimano parts cheaper from mail order and internet vendors than bike stores can buy the same part from mainstream suppliers like QBP. I assume that's because the internet outlets are getting the "ton" price and the bike shops are basically only buying ones and twos.

    The bottom line is that it's possible to build a bike for less, but you have to devote yourself and be real good at finding the good internet bargains. For most people the reason to build their own bike is for the satisfaction of having done it yourself.

  3. #3
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    The bottom line is that it's possible to build a bike for less, but you have to devote yourself and be real good at finding the good internet bargains. For most people the reason to build their own bike is for the satisfaction of having done it yourself.

    I'll have to second RG's comments. Chances are it will be less expensive to buy new than to rebuild. It IS possible to spend less on a rebuild but you'll have to be savvy in your internet or LBS purchases.

    Of course, if you like a particular frame OR what to learn something, then paying more to rebuild a bike can certainly be worth it. It depends on what's important to you.

    Twice as much...? mmmm...yeah I can see it being twice as much, doesn't have to be.
    Originally posted by Bones_McBones: Wow Digger, wow! You've earned my respect.... I know ashoposo got werked up. You are the gutter pig of Trollheim.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Of course it will be more expensive. I can't think of anything that wouldn't be more expensive to build myself. Have you tried to get something repaired and the price of the repair just doesn't make sense because you can buy a new one almost as cheap?

    This doesn't even include the tools you will need to build it.

    But I do like building my own bikes. But I also like building older bikes, so it isn't that expensive. The tools you will need to build the bike will come in handy if you ever need to do a repair or service.

  5. #5
    Last one to the top... Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Another confirmation that building your own is more expensive.

    So, if cost is your issue, buy off the shelf, or used.

    If having your perfect bike is the issue, spend whatever it takes to build with your ideal components.

    In fact, even on the micro level... It is typically cheaper to buy a built wheel set than to buy the hubs, spokes and rims to build your own set.

    The end consumer simply can not exercise the economies of scale to make building pay off financially.


    The same would go for a car, motorcycle etc.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
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  6. #6
    It's faster than the bus Catgrrl70's Avatar
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    I just went through this decision. I found that it would be great if I had the time, the energy, the will, the fervor, the knowledge to build the bike myself. However, I just didn't - after two weeks of research, the conclusion was reached that no way did I want to build it from scratch.

    But I also knew what I wanted - a cross bike for commuting. So my default was the Surly Cross-Check. However, upon talking with a few LBS locations, my local LBS and I decided to work together to build a bike around a Soma Smoothie ES frame. They helped me pick out what I needed, swaped some parts from my now "backup bike," and talked with me through the entire process. Yes, I spent a little more than I would have than if I stuck with the Surly...but add in taxes/shipping and the better components my LBS used on the Soma and my Soma is a million times better, at least in my eyes, and wasn't much more expensive ($200 more). See if you can find a LBS who is willing to do this, it may be an option for you. Have a price in mind and let them know.

    And don't talk with them over the phone. Go in person and insist on what you want. If they don't want to help you build it, it's not the place for you. (Some shops were $600-$800 above what I ended up paying b/c they quoted me only the most expensive, race quality components that I didn't need).

  7. #7
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Most those who build generally do this because they love to tinker and cost is not a factor. They love to customize their list of components to spec on their builds. They also generally have a lot of spare parts on hand, therefore, in most cases these projects usually come out costing them somewhat less than a new bike off the shelf.

  8. #8
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    I personally love being on a bike. I have the basic tools I'd need to make minor adjustments to a bike, but I neither have the space, the time nor the inclination to ever build one myself. This also goes for computers, home entertainment systems, houses and cars. I compensate, however, by doing a lot of research.

    I can see why it would be more expensive to build your own, because you have to ship in individual parts, etc. But I can also see why one would take more pride in picking out components and having something customized completely for them.

    If cost is a factor, look at a ready-to-ride bike, try it out, imagine what components you'd like to switch out and decide if you need to do it for comfort, practicality or for aesthetics. If it's one or two items, like the bars or the seat, buy the bike, if you think it'll be a lot of items, build it up then if you really think it's worth it to you.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Look at the $50 Wal Mart bikes.
    Assume you have a free frame to start with.
    Price the absolutely cheapest new components you can find.
    You won't even come close to completing the bike for $50.

  10. #10
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    It is not about cost but getting the bike you want.
    No matter how much I have paid for a bike there is always something I dislike about it. After much pondering I decided for this fact it was time to finally get around to building up a frame as a project. On Monday the frame should be here and then the part hunting begins.

  11. #11
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    OR
    Go into your LBS, pick out a bike that's close to what you want. Tell them what you would like changed.
    Ask them to work out a package price for the changes you want to make. If they won't do it, find a shop that will.

  12. #12
    Senior Member shider's Avatar
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    Building your own from all new parts (no holdovers from previous bike or ebay used parts) will be much more (50% tp 100% more easily) than buying a new complete bike for the most part. However I think there is a crossover point around $4000.00 where things even out. Over 4 grand it seems that you can buy your frame and the component group you want for about the same (or maybe even a little less) with some careful shopping around.

    For the most part though I echo the previous comments. Building your own can make a lot of sense if you are going to want to choose your specific components (assuming they differ from a given mfg's choice of parts) or if you just enjoy building it yourself.

  13. #13
    slower than you Applehead57's Avatar
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    I agree with the thought that it's usually cheaper to buy a complete bike.
    I haven't done that, but I meant to....

    I've upgraded parts as I move from frame to frame. And the end result is a nice Gunnar Sport.
    "Lack of opportunity does not constitute virtue". Diana Tickle.

  14. #14
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Definitely more expensive to build your own new bike versus buying one.

    You can build yourself some really nice bikes frome used frames and parts. Hit all the thrift stores, go garage sailing and cruise the neighborhoods early in the morning on trash days to find those "killer deal" bikes. Strip them down and build up your own using the best parts.

    All the bikes I've built up have been fun projects with an eye on the cost of individual parts gathered over time. Only when I total them up do I realize just how expensive the "fun project" has become. But whatever, it's only money.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DocM's Avatar
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    As someone said, if you're good at cruising the internet, you can pick up parts cheap enough, but if you factor in time spent searching, shipping, and all of that stuff, you would be really hard pressed to match a pre-built price. That said, I like building up my own bike for the feeling of self-sufficiency I get.

  16. #16
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    I agree it's almost always cheaper to buy a complete bike than to buy a frame and a specific gruppo to assemble yourself. The bike manufacturer buys Ultegra groups by the hundreds, at least, and he can get a better deal than you can.
    Having said that, though, I built my Atlantis four years ago for about $300 less than it would have cost to order it complete from Rivendell, and I'd do it again.
    Only reason it worked, though, was that I had some old bikes and parts around, and I cannibalized heavily. I bought the frame, fork and headset (installed) from Riv for $950, along with a rear wheel, brakes and some small parts, like housing stops for the bar-end shifters. The front wheel, cranks, shifters, stem, saddle, and bars were already around the garage, and things like bar tape and cables came from local shops. It's a mix of parts--Suntour barcon shifters, LX front derailleur, XT rear d., DiaCompe brakes, 105 front hub--but it's worked flawlessly for 12,000 miles.

  17. #17
    Ridin' Velomancer's Avatar
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    I build a couple of bikes a year... I buy nearly new or new parts in closeouts or auctions. Frames I get from eBay. I pay 30-50% of retail and I get to choose what I want to put on. If you're patient you can get some amazing bargains. I scored a brand new Stronglight Pulsion CT2 crankset for $150 'cos the seller spelt Stronglight AND Pulsion wrong and it didn't pop up in the search; a new WH-R600 wheelset for $49.99 that only had three bidders for some reason (the seller wasn't very happy, but just said "you got a REAL good deal there"). I got a new Specialized Toupe saddle because the seller typed BUY IT NOW $30 instead of $130 and I saw it before he did. I've has a couple of sales like that too, a pair of pretty good SPD pedals for less than a dollar, Ritchey Aero bars, Dura Ace bar end shifters and Profile levers went for $80... so it's swings and roundabouts I s'pose. At the moment I'm ahead.

    Components are MUCH more expensive buying separately... just as car parts are. Have a look at the online bargain bikes with old Italian names... It's sometimes worth buying a good frame on Ebay and a complete bike CheapoBikes.com then stripping it, put all the components on the cool frame and the cheapo frame on eBay. Just make sure forks, BB, headsets sizes match both frames. Changing a headset may not break the bank but Forks can get expensive.

  18. #18
    Member satori's Avatar
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    what if you get new parts and/or completes at cost rather than retail? does the consensus that getting the complete is always cheaper hold true?

    btw, new here, howdy howdy howdy from coloRADo

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