Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Bikes: Haro V2 [rip / stolen], PEUGEOT '93 SELECT
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i say save some $$ and convert your old roadie into a cross. Depends on whether or not you want to go compete / race.
If you are just taking it out to the trails usually a hybrid is great and most LBS will tell you the same. Mind you, it is all up to you. What I mean is that if you already have your mind set on buying another bike, just buy the other bike and ride it. If it doesn't suit your bill then return it within the acceptable return time that your LBS will allow, or keep it and sell it off or trade it for something you are more looking for.
I am finding that my first bike is a hybrid mtb / bmx that suits me nice as a commuter / trail bike. I bought it new condition used for 225$ CAD, and now I'm building my cross bike more suited to what I want to do. Building your own bike will always get you what you want, but you have to accept it as a project and realise it can take some time and might go above your expected budget on what you originally bugeted for a new bike. Sometimes not.
I asked around a lot at all the LBS in my area, asked all the cyclist enthusiasts I could find. They all agreed 'find a cheap old roadie bike, ala PEUGEOT or GT or Norco or whatever, and build on it. Get only the pieces you feel you need on it. Best off, if you want to really work out, convert it to a single speed.'
Luckily I found a PEUGEOT, ironically as if it were a gift from the god(s), abandoned at a construction site behind my apartment. It has some (key word some) good parts on it. Thus making my fixie job a lil easier. Mind you I have a lil bit harder of a time finding some compaitble parts for my PEUGEOT (because french bikes usually don't have standard part sizes) but all in all I am finding this to be very decent cost wise. so far I have spent on average a max 20$ USD per component (shimano 105 brake set) 8$ for bullhorns + 6$ for dura ace right bar end shifter, + 40 for the shimano 105 compact double(new, yes new) crankset, 6$ for shimano 105 downtube shifters. I still need to get my cables, tires, hubs, maybe replacement rims & spokes, a new cassette (5 speed).
Like I said, it really is a matter of if you want to put the time into building custom or have the budget for new. Most LBS stores will advise also to just get a new bike and swap out parts that you don't want for ones you do want. WATCH OUT THO!!! Ususually they do this to catch you on the labor charges so they can make a buck on you aside from just selling product (cause otherwise they would just be any other store if they just sold product).
Weigh out your choice of build vs buy. By experience, I would say you would most likely go for the straight buy if you are not intending to race / compete.