building up a bike or buying new
OK here's my situation. I need a cross bike. My options, as I can see, are the following:
1. Buy a new, complete bike. This is way expensive, and I'd prefer to avoid it.
2. Buy a used, complete bike. Ideal, but hard to find one in my size (54cm) and in my area. Ebay tends to be expensive, and a problem IMHO since you can't test ride and know what you're getting. Craigslist is great in NYC but around where I live, there's very little moving through.
3. Buy a new frame and build up. Way too expensive. Forget about it.
4. Buy a used frame and build up with random parts from here and there. Definitely an option. I've already found a frame for five bucks that will work. The problem is the components are going to add up really quickly. I have an old road bike that I don't really use but I don't really want to cannibalize it for parts either. But shifters and derailleurs are way too expensive to buy new, and I can't seem to find them used either! I could buy a used bike and strip it, but that would run me a few hundred, and I that's getting pretty pricey. I don't want to mess around with crappy components, especially for cross, with everything taking a beating, so I would have to invest in at least something worth while.
Any thoughts? Experience? Silver bullets? Help!