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  1. #1
    Senior Member telebianchi's Avatar
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    $350 build vs. $1000-$1500 new

    Ultimately I know there is no right or wrong and the choice will be mine and mine alone, but I'm thinking some of you may have been through similar decision processes so I thought I would ask for experiences and opinions.

    Current Ride: 1997 Specialized Ground Control Comp. Seals are shot on a 2000 Judy XC fork. In 2009 I put a new Risse shock on the rear which was a true upgrade, but the rear end is still loose in turns. Other various fixes over it's life. Ancient design. It's done.

    I could buy a new 29er at about $1000 or a FS at about $1500. Either would be lightyears ahead of my Specialized.

    Or, I could build up a perfectly serviceable hardtail using a frame and fork from Performance/Nashbar/Jensen/eBay and all the other parts from my old bike. A quick look found frames from $99-150 and forks from $95 (Marzochi) to a RS Tora SL at $179. Including extra bits and pieces, I'd be riding for about $250-$350.

    I do a lot more road riding than mountain biking, but love being able to get into the woods on two wheels. XC trails (Lake Fairfax, Fountainhead for anyone in the DC/NoVa area).
    May your tires or beer never be flat.

  2. #2
    Fred at large
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    You would be better off buying a complete bike than building one. Buying components separately costs more than the whole bike would cost.

    $350 build? You're crazy. NOTHING you could build for $350 would even come close to the level of a $1500 bike unless you can get new components for less than wholesale cost.
    I am Fred, hear me slurp my Grande Mocha.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    I'm just about finished doing the the same project. Picked up Nashbar frame to use my existing components. I love the result! Currently it's a full rigid. The front fork weighs more than the rest of the frame. I'll probably replace it with a carbon fiber rigid fork from Nashbar as the budget allows. Most of my riding is street with some dirt trails mixed in. If I did more dirt I'd pick up a suspension fork.

    No way is it going to be as good as a new bike. This was a compromise due to fiscal reality. Probably could have picked up something used off of Craigslist for less. No matter, I really enjoy riding this bike.

    If you choose to go the Nashbar frame route, you'll need to know which of your components will work & which need to be replaced. For example, the frame requires a top pull front derailleur- not nearly as common as a bottom pull.

  4. #4
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    For example, the frame requires a top pull front derailleur- not nearly as common as a bottom pull.
    Hruh? Even in 1997, I think most LX and up Front derailers were top pull.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  5. #5
    Redheaded Stepchild samburger's Avatar
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    Before you bother reading the rest of my post, I'll just go ahead & say that many of the MTB websites have amazing deals on complete bikes, one of the best being wheelworld.com.


    My current build:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/679484-New-Mountain-Bike-Build!/page5

    Or for a summary:

    Building a project bike on nothing but mid-high end close-out deals with some bits & pieces from CL. My parts list as of now consists of:
    -KHS XCT535 frame--wheelworld closeout for $300. Still available.
    -Marz Ti 44 fork--hucknroll closeout for $320. Still available.
    -DT Swiss spokes/nipples & X430 rims laced to XT hubs with an XT cassette & tires & tubes that I can't recall the name of specifically, all in barely used condition--$150 from CL. Deals like that are few & far between, but can be found.
    -Avid Juicy 3 brakes--lightly used from ebay for $80.
    -WTD Silverado saddle--$40 from chainlove. This deal can be found fairly regularly.
    -Truvativ Hussefelt bar & stem--$13 S&H, donated from a very generous member of BF.

    That puts me at just short of $900 so far, & all I have left are derailleurs/shifters & a crankset/BB. Oh, & I need to get a 6-bolt to centerlock adapter, as well as a post-mount to IS adapter. This will probably run me ~$30 for both. I've gotten the approval of most of the veterans around here on the frame & components so far, so I assume they're of good quality (though I can't speed from personal experience...yet). The complete bike built around my frame sold for $1600 with lower grade components & a much cheaper fork, & after all is said & done I'll probably hit ~$1200 total (though under $900 out of pocket...fork was a Christmas present). If you have $1500 to spend outright, you could easily build a similar bike, or one that better suits your style of riding.
    just a n00b with an ego

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    telebianchi, If all you want is to ride less technical trails a rebuild can make sense, if the trails you wrote about are technical, then new is the only way to go, as I see it.

    Brad

  7. #7
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    I'm just about finished doing the the same project. Picked up Nashbar frame to use my existing components. I love the result! Currently it's a full rigid. The front fork weighs more than the rest of the frame. I'll probably replace it with a carbon fiber rigid fork from Nashbar as the budget allows. Most of my riding is street with some dirt trails mixed in. If I did more dirt I'd pick up a suspension fork.

    No way is it going to be as good as a new bike. This was a compromise due to fiscal reality. Probably could have picked up something used off of Craigslist for less. No matter, I really enjoy riding this bike.

    If you choose to go the Nashbar frame route, you'll need to know which of your components will work & which need to be replaced. For example, the frame requires a top pull front derailleur- not nearly as common as a bottom pull.
    Any pics to post up? I'm thinking of a similar build as well.

    I'm trying to look for basic light weight (not high dollar weight weenie stuff) for XC and urban. Still not sold on a suspension fork as the ones for $175 may be pretty sucky. I had an '04 Hardrock that just felt so heavy and the RST fork didn't do much. I sold it and now want to try something again.

    I think the PO should be comparing his build to bikes that cost the same as his build new.


    So can he/we build a better bike for $350 with closeout deals or is it better to just spend $350 at the LBS?
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Senior Member telebianchi's Avatar
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    Thanks for the opinions and experiences, folks.

    Sounds like getting a frame & fork would be a viable option for me. Now I just have to decide for myself whether I want a nice and fully brand new bike for $1000-$1500, or do I want a reasonable bike with some old parts for $350 and have $650+ left over to spend on other toys. I still have to do a test ride or two on a modern FS and a 29er (which I've never ridden) to help make my mind up.

    To clarify, if I get a new frame/fork I would move the parts (wheels, drivetrain, bars, brakes) from the old Specialized and live with the fact that some of those would need replacing at some point sooner than with a new bike. I also know I would likely have to buy a few extra things to fit a new frame. That said, the only two thing on the old bike I've ever worn out vs. damaged were a set of v-brakes whose bushings and arms got sloppy and upgrading the rear shock. Everything else: fork, rear wheel, rear derailer, saddle got replaced due to me taking a spill on the bike. Other stuff (cassette, chain, chainring, cables, pads) have been replaced as regular maintenance.
    May your tires or beer never be flat.

  9. #9
    Redheaded Stepchild samburger's Avatar
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    Pics of my build are on my build page, the link I posted in my last post. I don't think the money saving aspect would carry over to a $350 budget quite like it does with a $1000-1500 budget. The first reason being that low end components don't go on closeout sales as often, because they're so cheap already. The second reason being that it would be hard to find a frame alone that would fit your budget. You generally don't see manufacturers selling frames alone for bikes under ~$1500. My frame was an incredible deal at $300, but that would be almost all of your budget. In that price range, I would stick with buying a complete bike. If that was my budget, I would either go with a nicer used bike from CL or go to bikesdirect.com & get a nicer hardtail. Either way, you aren't likely to shed a significant amount of weight without spending a significant amount more.
    just a n00b with an ego

  10. #10
    Custom User never's Avatar
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    Actually Nashbar has their mountain frame on sale right now for $100.

    And if you have good contacts at an LBS, you may be able to get a deal on a new/leftover crash replacement frame from the manufacturer. I previously built up a Norco Manik and got the brand new frame for about $150US at the time.

  11. #11
    Redheaded Stepchild samburger's Avatar
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    But what does that leave you for everything else on the bike? $250 for a fork & components better than you get on a Hardrock or equal entry level bike? That still seems like a bit of a stretch to me. It's another $120 just to get a Tora on closeout, & that's just a step up from a Dart series or similar fork.

    I'm not saying it can't be done, I just think it would take a bit more patience than a higher budget build.
    just a n00b with an ego

  12. #12
    Custom User never's Avatar
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    Since he's planning on using the stuff off of his existing bike, I don't think it's a stretch.

    To the OP, wait until you ride your other options before you decide. Also try to ride a HT with a fork similar to what you might be putting on your build.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by never View Post
    Actually Nashbar has their mountain frame on sale right now for $100.

    And if you have good contacts at an LBS, you may be able to get a deal on a new/leftover crash replacement frame from the manufacturer. I previously built up a Norco Manik and got the brand new frame for about $150US at the time.
    Paid $80.00 for my Nashbar frame. You have to get on their email list & watch the specials. I enjoy the build process, otherwise I'd haunt C-list for a used MTB. A lot can be done on a $350 budget. Patience & knowledge is required.

  14. #14
    Redheaded Stepchild samburger's Avatar
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    For the OP, $350 wouldn't be a stretch at all. But to the other guy, I got the impression he doesn't currently have a mountain bike to use the components of. $350 for a full build seems like a stretch. Though you obviously have more experience than I do, so be aware that I'm just trying to get an understanding, not argue.

    When it comes down to it, just do what sounds the most appealing to you. I personally like building a bike & learning more about bikes because I'm still new to the maintenance aspect of bikes in general. But the majority of the people out there would rather just get a bike & ride it, so if that floats your boat just search around for good deals & report back here for more advice.
    just a n00b with an ego

  15. #15
    bici accumulatori pinerider's Avatar
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    If you're building up a new frame, you should go with disc brakes, tough to do with your budget, but I upgraded last year to xtr hydraulic disc brakes and dual control shifters ($125 used) and they are amazing!! Requires a new wheelset too!
    I have a steel hardtail, the steel frame with tubeless tires really help with cushioning the ride, full sus not required!
    ...!

  16. #16
    Senior Member telebianchi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinerider View Post
    If you're building up a new frame, you should go with disc brakes, tough to do with your budget, but I upgraded last year to xtr hydraulic disc brakes and dual control shifters ($125 used) and they are amazing!! Requires a new wheelset too!
    I have a steel hardtail, the steel frame with tubeless tires really help with cushioning the ride, full sus not required!
    Well, this is part of why I'll just save up a bit longer (like through spring...I'm already close) and get a new bike. If a frame/fork falls into my lap somehow I'll move the old parts to it. But as I gave it some more thought, it just makes more sense for me to get a new bike. Well worth the money assuming I can get it to last 14 years like the old Ground Control.

    Thanks again for the comments. Very helpful in my thought process.
    May your tires or beer never be flat.

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