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To DIY or not

Old 06-19-21, 11:21 PM
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swami69
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To DIY or not

How much of a price difference to build your own bike vs. buying one already built, for the same quality?
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Old 06-19-21, 11:38 PM
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I think it depends on what type of bike you are talking about, and what parts you want to use.

I would buy one already built. You can do minor things to it after that.
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Old 06-20-21, 12:28 AM
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You'll most likely get slightly better value buying off the shelf, but you'll get EXACTLY* what you want building one yourself.

If there's a stock bike that's pretty much what you want, that you don't need to "upgrade" anything, then buy stock. Building yourself you've also got to factor in the tools you'll need if you don't have them already.

Having gone down both routes, buying off the shelf is FAR easier and quicker, but there's a certain satisfaction and love involved in building something up yourself.



* Probably won't be able to build exactly what you want right now because of COVID stock shortages...
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Old 06-20-21, 06:26 AM
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Unless you're re-using parts you've got or buying some used parts, buying the bike will be cheaper than buying parts almost all the time.
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Old 06-20-21, 07:01 AM
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I my experience the price difference can be pretty severe. The biggest killer seems to be frames.

At one point found a Surly LHT frame on Craigslist for about half the new price. Did a build sheet pricing out the remaining parts and it was substantially more than a new, complete bike. Some of the stuff I already had. The only thing that made sense was to go high end. If you are going to pay more than msrp for a bike with stock parts might as well go all in and get the best of the best.
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Old 06-20-21, 08:55 AM
  #6  
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Usually cost a good bit less. No possible way to give a number. A better question is how much better is a bike that you build for $1500 (or whatever) vs a $1500 bike from a shop. Much, much better.
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Old 06-20-21, 08:56 AM
  #7  
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If you have to buy everything you need, then buy the already built bike.

If weight or lack thereof is your thing, they'll have the lighter and better wheelsets, handlebars, seat posts and all around better stuff on them.

If you can scrounge and can go with less expensive heavier stuff and feel good about it, then build your own. But you won't be much less, especially if you have to buy everything.
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Old 06-20-21, 09:07 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by swami69 View Post
How much of a price difference to build your own bike vs. buying one already built, for the same quality?
Well, the quality will be the same.

DIY will probably cost more, unless you are very savvy about finding and combining new and used parts, and are already equipped with all of the tools. You have to figure the cost of tools into your project, but on the other hand, you would have to buy those tools anyway if you plan on doing DIY maintenance in the future.
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Old 06-20-21, 09:24 AM
  #9  
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I've listed on here, in detail, a couple theoretical builds for All City bikes where the home build comes in less expensive for the same level of components or the same coat with higher level components.
These were done using Google sourced online for sale components.
That was pre-covid and pre-inflation so not sure what it would result in now.


Point is, you can absolutely save money for some builds. And other builds you will pay more to build it yourself.

Something to consider- many enthusiasts buy a bike and then swap out the saddle/tires/bar tape. This is an extra $60-300 depending on what is swapped and what is chosen to use.
Then you have a group who also very quickly buy an entirely new wheelset too which is another $500-2000 depending on what they choose.
Compare that to the home build which will source the end products the first time and not effectively double buy.
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Old 06-20-21, 09:38 AM
  #10  
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If you can find a bike off the rack that has everything you want, it'll almost assuredly be cheaper than buying a frame and all of the same parts (not to mention tools and your time - and a mechanic's time if you run into something you can't do yourself) to build it up. On the other hand, if you're going to have to change a bunch of stuff from the stock build anyway (or have parts you want to reuse or a line on a great deal on a frame or...) you may be able to build your own bike less expensively. At the very least, it will be exactly what you want (or at close to it as you can get with the compromises you choose to make).
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Old 06-20-21, 10:03 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by swami69 View Post
How much of a price difference to build your own bike vs. buying one already built, for the same quality?
Yeah, I build my own but that’s to get what I want, not to save money. It helps to have lots of parts. I also keep things simple with older tech and parts. Buying parts is, in general, significantly more expensive than buying a bike with a similar collection of parts.

Otto
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Old 06-20-21, 03:00 PM
  #12  
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A few years ago, when I last went to a shop to ask about a new bike, the guy there asked me about my riding and my current bike (1973 MKM frame that I built up from parts in 1981-82). He took me to $2,500 bikes, and he told me I would be unhappy with a $1,000 bike. Scared me out of buying a new bike. Until a year ago, I could buy an equivalent bike in components and condition for maybe $300. You do the math.

My bike has rim brakes, pinned flat pedals, 21 speeds with friction up front and SIS in the rear, and downtube shifters. I guess I could ride faster on a lighter bike with brifters, 11 speeds, and clipped pedals, but I don't race.
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Old 06-20-21, 05:20 PM
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hard to beat a complete production purchase for overall cost. Doesn't matter pre or post pandemic for pricing as both are impacted by inflation & supply issues.

Building one is more for those that have to have it a certain way (even though color options are still limited) or those that want the "T-Shirt" of building one.
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Old 06-20-21, 08:46 PM
  #14  
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Now that sram and shimano have locked down a lot of shipping from Europe its harder to pay less building your own, but as others have mentioned, if you're going to change a bunch of things that can skew the results. Because Campy is fairly affordable purchased from the EU, I went with that and was happy to find I liked it better in general. A chorus/record build with custom wheels the way I want them and buying the stem, handlebars, saddle, and post I wanted for weight savings and strength from the beginning meant I wasn't buying the same bike prebuilt for less. Really if you want something like a thomson carbon bar with elite stem and post from the getgo its a good example of where it can skew the price in favor of build your own. Course buying them for the prebuilt bike means having a deeper parts box.
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Old 06-20-21, 09:31 PM
  #15  
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If you have not built a bike before, and you don’t have the tools, nor do you have a stash of parts, buy a complete bike.

If you are building a bike to get something unique or want the experience of building, go ahead and build.

I have never heard of a first time builder ever building for less than buying complete.

Seasoned builders might be able to source parts, and more importantly, not make novice mistakes in buying the wrong parts.

There are exceptions…. Someone gives you a $1000 frame and a new wheelset, building will probably be cheaper.

Another exception is moving almost all the parts from a bike you already own. My first build was taking the upgraded parts from one bike and putting them on a new frame, and I built my own wheels. I kept the old parts that I had upgraded to put back on the old bike.

John

Edit added: I did have to buy a Park truing stand but it has paid for itself more times than I can count.
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Old 06-20-21, 10:14 PM
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Old 06-20-21, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by swami69 View Post
How much of a price difference to build your own bike vs. buying one already built, for the same quality?
Building your own costs more. Component compatibility is also an issue, then one must choose silver or black. And sometimes those DIY videos don't work like they should in real life.
On the other hand, the pride of making it yourself, using hand picked parts and getting to know every detail of your bike is priceless.
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Old 06-20-21, 11:35 PM
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Clever witticisms aside, it’s typically 30-50% more expensive to build a bike by purchasing a frame and all new components separately.
When you look at cost of bigthings like the frame, wheels and drivetrain, it may seem like there’ savings to be had, but when you add in all the little parts it takes to finish a bike, like stem, bars, grips, cables, saddle, it can quickly add hundreds of dollars on to the build.

Unless you have a very specific specification, or a key, ‘centerpiece’ component, that just isn’t very common, it’ll be far less cost and hassle to find a bike ‘off the rack’

This all applies to new bikes and parts. Building up from late-model used bikes can be very cost-effective, provided that you know what parts and components are compatible, and how to make them work together.
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Old 06-20-21, 11:47 PM
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Perhaps, the most important consideration is do you have the expertise to put it all together and get things sorted out so that the functionality and quality-control is on par with a professionally assembled bicycle from your local bike shop.

If that answer is YES and you enjoy the DIY route, then certainly go for it. Hey, never say never, because, at some point you may just want to add another fun bicycle to your collection. Even if you do not currently have the skills & expertise to do a state-of-the-art DIY top-shelf build, you can gather those skills via DOitTOit College. YouTube University. and Skinned Knuckles State.... You simply need some decent enough bicycle candidate for "destruction" that will serve as at worst a sacrificial guinea pig as make progress learning what you need to know. The tools that you'll need aren't terribly expensive and you certainly don't need the top of the line names in tools, because you're not gonna be servicing bikes everyday like the chief technician at a local bike shop. Yes, certainly, the better quality tools will last longer but you will not use the basic-inexpensive tools frequently enough in the next ten years to wear them significantly where their functionality is compromised.
Find something that you'd like to modify, -or- restore and have fun gaining some essential skills before tackling something that might be biting off more than you can chew at this point. Remember, that there is just a little more to it than just sourcing and buying the best available parts & components. Your workmanship and overall quality control will greatly determine the operational functionality of such a build. Sure, it is true that most anything can be fixed/sorted-out by paying expert professionals to take but you may find that route to not be the most cost effective one --or-- the best one. The reason is that you perhaps may have made your decisions in choosing your equipment/components before you really had a grasp on what would have best served your needs. You later realize, that you should have purchased differently. Yes, sure, you can sell off, the unneeded components/frame/whatever, and it is ultimately a price of an education sometimes when you proceed full steam ahead with the enthusiasm and perhaps knowledge of Mr. Jethro Bodine, of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Calif. USA. Oh, I think that will earn you at least a Bachelors Degree in Hard Knocks Studies and Mechanics from BODINE UNIVERSITY. Hey, you will learn and achieve that "Price of An Education" learning that you'll never forget by biting off more than you can chew right now. You may not want to learn at such a high initial cost and the associated frustration that results from perhaps knowing nearly nothing before diving in the deep end head first without either the ability to swim or without wearing some flotation device.

Have fun. Even the most complex, high-tech bicycle is nothing compared to the complexity of an ordinary automobile from sixty years ago. Most bicycle technicians and bicycle mechanics at even the most respected local bike shops can barely add and subtract, and likely can't do basic 9th grade Algebra.... It ain't rocket science and yeah for the most part, those folks are perhaps just a little smarter than Jethro, having probably graduated from high school with a C average.
For the most part, they are just part - swappers with the expertise, tools & training to do it almost blindfolded.



Have fun!! It is a hobby, or recreational sport for pleasure so don't worry about staying within the total budget like a comptroller of a manufacturing firm might do. IF IT MAKES YOU HAPPY, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY DO IT. I doubt that the total overall project cost will have any long-term financial impact on your life. You're not building a proto-type electric car or an atomic submarine, or a spaceship to Mars. It is just a bicycle. Even the most high tech, state of the art bicycle is less complex than a 1957 Chevy, a 1966 Corvette, a 1971 Pinto, or a 1974 VW Beetle. If you enjoy being hands on and like working with your hands, it isn't difficult to become competent with just a minimal number of specific required tools necessary to begin such a build. Have Fun!
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Old 06-21-21, 04:37 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by swami69 View Post
How much of a price difference to build your own bike vs. buying one already built, for the same quality?
building a bike will be a lot more expensive. And right now it might still be real hard to get the parts you need.
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Old 06-21-21, 05:50 AM
  #21  
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My answer to the original question is...it depends. I have built many bikes from the frame up. More often than not, it will cost more to source all parts individually, purchase a new frame, and build up the bike.

But...

if you know how and when to source groupsets at the lowest possible prices, and are able to locate a lightly used frame in which you have confidence, and are willing to carry the risks of buying a wheelset sight unseen from AliExpress, then you can build a competitive higher-end racing bike for under retail. I know this because I've done it.

Because...

I knew what I was doing. I had a plan in advance. I was patient and was not driven by schedule, but solely by cost. And, I stumbled into a very nice carbon frame being sold by a friend for below market price.

EDIT: Again, I had the needed tools in advance, and didn't count any of my prior investment into them as part of the cost of the bike.
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Old 06-21-21, 11:08 PM
  #22  
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Here's the problem I see: You have a bike, but want something new. You like your saddle, your cockpit is "good enough" and you have plenty of wheels. So you find a frame you like. You want SRAM AXS. You can buy a frame, or you can buy a bike, but it comes in Ultegra. (They are careful so the 105 spec bike isn't the exact same frame.) Build or upgrade the Ultegra bike? It could be, the cockpit on the full-on bike is better than what you would swap over, but you don't know that. You can always rationalize the wheels on the full-on as "back-up".

But I generally agree they don't give away framesets.

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Old 06-22-21, 03:43 AM
  #23  
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I'm gonna say it depends. If you're buying a new frame, and groupset, pedals... all the ingredients, and your standards are snob level; might as well buy a new bike as whole... unless you just really wanna do it and cost is irellevent. You can buy a Factory Five Cobra and build it, or buy a turn key.

Or you can feel the hot rod holy ghost and as many would say on here; "cobble it together," like it's shameful to make due with what you find.

A lot of Shimano stuff will interchange, especially if it's old. Any bike I've had with gripshifts, I've swapped trigger shifters on them regardless of what groupset they came from, or was on the bike. The shifters usually ended up being Altus or Deore. When I redid my Roadtech I used the RD from my Lotus Pegasus, a Deore one, I think. The FD was some no name Shimano one that just had a part number I bought years before, for a mtb that was stolen, controlled by the stock stem shifers. I put my rx100 RD on my Prelude until I got around to fixing the suntour cyclone it came with, and it's perfectly fine. Of course with the Roadtech, I barely had to pay for anything.

Just like the quality of parts, the number of parts increase cost. Like right now; I wanna make this Olympic in to a single speed, but I don't have any parts and need to source brakes system, wheels, new bartape, and chain. I got pedals... probably. Starting from zero is costly, especially without a co-op, where used parts might be cheaper than used parts at a LBS.

Do it if you want to, the cost might not matter to you, the curiosity, personal affair, experience and such might matter more to you, than the money. People build frames all the time. Have something that couldn't be found to buy. If I finished that Roadtech, it woulda been better than the Denali Pro, which it was 95% better and lighter.
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Old 06-22-21, 01:19 PM
  #24  
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Having built up one bike completely, and others to a more limited extent, I can highly recommend it as a project. You'll never feel a bike is more completely yours than by finding the frame, scrounging for components, waiting for every last bit to arrive, and then putting it all together, adjusting it, riding it, adjusting it more until it's just right. But it's not going to be cheaper. For one thing, the shipping on an entire bike is way cheaper than the cumulative shipping cost of all the bits. $5 here, $10 there - it adds up fast.
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Old 06-22-21, 08:07 PM
  #25  
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Pretty much all bikes in my fleet are built up from the frame. It is not cheaper but you get what you want. I don't like prebuilt bikes as I have to spend extra money to buy parts to replace the ones I didn't want and while I love a good fully stocked parts bin I don't want to buy doubles of stuff.

Right now parts are 300+ days out potentially and bikes might be the same depending on what you are looking for. It is a tough time for this stuff. There are parts I have been waiting on for a while and won't see them till next year around this time.
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