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  1. #1
    Senior Member turtle jesus's Avatar
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    Would it be cheaper to make a bike from parts?

    I was thinking could you get a better bike if you bought a frame set, wheels, etc and assemble it yourself instead of just buying a regular bike? Like building a classy kilo tt for the same price of the bd kilo. Or is it cheaper to buy one because they order in mass, etc

  2. #2
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    No.

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    No, it will be at least 2x more.

  4. #4
    Veteran Bastard Scrodzilla's Avatar
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    It would actually be cheaper to buy your bike from WalMart.

  5. #5
    Senior Member turtle jesus's Avatar
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    Man that's what I thought :/

  6. #6
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
    It would actually be cheaper to buy your bike from WalMart.
    Exactly!

    What are you trying to accomplish?

    If all that you want is a bike to ride, WalMart is the cheapest legal answer.

    If you're also looking to have some fun, building your own will be more fun during the vision/design/parts acqisition/assembly process and it'll also be more fun to own and ride. It's gonna cost more, but you're getting a lot more fun for your money.

    Bikes Direct is probably somewhere in the middle.

  7. #7
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    If all that you want is a bike to ride, WalMart is the cheapest legal answer.
    Only if you are between 5'-8" and 6'-0" tall. Walmart bikes come only in one intermediate size, such as 55cm for the Schwinn Varsity. Short and tall people need not apply.

  8. #8
    Ride for Life wearyourtruth's Avatar
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    while it's a lot more fun (imo), unfortunately if you are talking new vs new, it's never cheaper. i'm not even sure if it's possible to break even. the problem is that all the little parts start to add up real quick.

    just a rough numbers game:
    frame: $200
    wheelset: $150
    tires: $50
    cranks: $60
    BB: $25
    chain: $10
    pedals: $30
    seatpost: $20
    saddle: $30
    headset: $30
    stem: $20
    bars: $30
    grips/bar tape: $15

    you're already at $670 without a brake for what is a pretty basic (but not ****ty) bike.

    the only way that it's even remotely FINANCIALLY advantageous is if you already have a bunch of spare parts and are just filling in the gaps, i'm not even sure if you could compete with BDs prices if you worked at an LBS and got wholesale QBP.
    before posting, a "noob" should always ask themselves "could this have been answered by first visiting Sheldon Brown

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  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wearyourtruth View Post
    i'm not even sure if you could compete with BDs prices if you worked at an LBS and got wholesale QBP.
    I'm sure. I've worked at bike shops and had access to QBP wholesale prices. I can remember sharing the cost of a new bike with a co-worker and dividing up the parts for our respective projects because it was cheaper that way.

    The prices that you have listed are also on the lowish side. Generally, when I'm building up a bike, I want it to be at least as nice as a bike that I could buy complete. Start upgrading things like a nicer stem, nicer handlebar and nicer tires and the price can shoot up pretty fast.

    That's still what I would do, however, because - well - just because.

  10. #10
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    It's always cheaper to build ONLY if you have a lot of spare parts already on hand.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
    .litespeed.classic.litespeed.firenze.bianchi.pista.dean.colonel.plus.more.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
    It's always cheaper to build ONLY if you have a lot of spare parts already on hand.
    Two issues:

    1. There's always something that I don't have on hand - like a seatpost that fits for example. Front wheels are a dime a dozen. Rear wheels are rare. A decent flip-flop hub rear wheel might as well be hen's teeth.

    2. There's always something that I want to upgrade. I always think that a crappy stem for example looks - well - crappy.

    When I built my fixed gear conversion my goal was no out of pocket costs except for paint and hubs. Didn't happen. I'm thinking I've got a little over $200.00 in it and it's still just a Raleigh Technium conversion. On the other hand it meets my riding needs and it was a lot more fun than buying a BD bike would have been
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    Last edited by Retro Grouch; 04-04-10 at 10:31 AM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
    It's always cheaper to build ONLY if you have a lot of spare parts already on hand.
    And/or a lot of connections. When I lived in Australia, I brought my tandem into the shop I worked at. One of the guys that worked there started adding up the retail cost of all the components, plus their best estimate of the custom titanium frame. It was over $8k. Pretty sure you could buy a complete for less.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turtle jesus View Post
    I was thinking could you get a better bike if you bought a frame set, wheels, etc and assemble it yourself instead of just buying a regular bike? Like building a classy kilo tt for the same price of the bd kilo. Or is it cheaper to buy one because they order in mass, etc
    Cheaper only if you can build it from a mix of:
    a) parts on hand.
    b) used parts from eBay and/or CL.
    c) New-Old-Stock from eBay/CL/online-bike-shops.

    This is how my bikes are built.
    I do it mainly because am picky as hell about the components,
    and no one sells a complete bike with the components I want.

  14. #14
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    It can be done but it can't be done quickly and you'll have to be willing to use some 'gently used' parts and possibly learn to rebuild a few things. It also requires a pretty good amount of knowledge because you'll need to know if something is good deal or not. That's harder than it sounds and remember - never trust the sellers description, especially if they say anywhere "I think it's a" or "someone told me it's a."

    If you go the complete bike route you should plan on replacing saddle and stem as part of the cost of the purchase. Maybe not immediately but in a few weeks or sooner if you already know what you like fit wise. If you're not used to road bikes expect to change the fit several times as you get used to riding it so don't splurge on premium stuff right away. It's best if you know someone who can help you find a good fit. There's nothing hard about it but some of the best practices are a bit counter-intuitive. A poor fitting road bike can hurt if you setup it up aggressively.

    For me, I bought a complete bike and have been swapping out parts as I see fit. Helps that I have access to a pretty good tool box at home and the local bike co op for the expensive specialty tools.

    I've been pricing a SS 29er, the cost to I came up with to build one exactly as I want it with a mix of sturdy pretty good and good enough components was higher than buying a complete bike with lots of expensive racy bits.
    ClintonRH
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  15. #15
    . xavier853's Avatar
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    I like to build my own bikes. Yeah at times it can get rather expensive, but if money really isn't too big of an obstacle it is very fun. I like taking the time to piece everything together and feel like I actually accomplished something that I will enjoy for years.

    Of course, I wouldn't suggest this if you don't have knowledge of what you are doing or don't enjoy getting down and dirty with your bikes. Not everyone does

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    With the ever-lowering cost of an entry-level fixed gear (and the accompanying ever-lowering bar), and the currently tough market for fixed-gear specific parts, the answer is no, its far cheaper to buy it complete.

    It gets MUCH cheaper if you're already a road cyclist that likes to wrench on his own bikes.

    Grivooga- Something similar is happening with 29ers, but thankfully it looks like manufacturers are both innovating (IE Specialized's frames; Cannondale's forks) and dropping prices with mass production at the same time. I think buying an off-the-shelf 29er in the near future is a good way to go.

  17. #17
    Senior Member filtersweep's Avatar
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    I have wasted a lot of money trying to save money over the years. I own five bikes. Only one was built. It was a mountain bike. I have no emotional attachment to it. When i see how cheap some bikes are, it makes me wonder. I would not buy frames that cheap!

  18. #18
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    It can be possible, I've builda a fixedgear for 250 Euro. But, than I've bought everything second-hand from forums and craiglist and such. The frame was a road-frame with good geometry but partly stripped from paint so I had to re-paint it (rattlecan, turned out nice though). I also know a Bike shop-owner so I got the wheels ten Euro cheaper and a brake for free.

    So, what you should do is become friend with your LBS and get as much parts as possible from him/her and then buy rest of it secondhanded. (you get good vintage stuff if you spend some time)

    Thanx for reading and have a nice day!
    Still learning the basics man!
    Gott'a fail 1000 times for every victory!

  19. #19
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    Interesting story, somewhat relevant:

    There was a competition between military contractors for a certain type of helicopter (I can't recall the specific model), and one company underbid the competition by a long shot. Having the seemingly much cheaper option, the military of course sprang for this company's helicopter, and said company won the competition. The company building the helicopter actually sold it to the military below cost, but you know how they made up for it? Spare parts. Their spare parts were absurdly more expensive than any of the competitors. In the end, the life cycle costs of the helicopter was probably more than it would have been to go with a design from a competing company.

    The moral here: individual parts will always have a markup compared to buying in bulk. When someone absolutely needs a certain part, the company providing the part can always charge more than for a large production run. I bet the big bike manufacturers get a very large discount on individual parts compared to the casual consumer because of the volume in which they order them.

  20. #20
    Junior Member rutibegga's Avatar
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    I thought it would be cheaper to buy a frame and build it up. I even gave myself a budget.

    It turns out, if you have the choice, you're never going to stay within budget because you're always going to choose the better parts over the lower end ones. Go figure.

    That being said, I built my bike up four years ago. I ride pretty much daily. The only thing I've replaced are tires. It was worth every cent, and no one has the *same* ride I do.

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