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Noob, but I know what I want - Buy vs. Build?

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Noob, but I know what I want - Buy vs. Build?

Old 06-08-20, 07:51 AM
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czar97
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Noob, but I know what I want - Buy vs. Build?

I can say this; after all this research (internet reading, YouTube, bike manufacturer websites, etc.), I know what I want.
-hardtail
-1x drive train. (1x 10 ish)
-bright color frame (burnt orange, green, etc) - this seems like the only thing you can't change without incurring cost... repainting / powder-coating a frame seems costly.
-29er (not critical but I donít see this as a huge ďaskĒ seems fairly common)
-hydraulic disc brakes
-slacked out head tube (tapered if at all possible)
-budget/starter fork
-fill in all remaining components with budget/starter

My wife seems comfortable at $400 as a budget for a bike. With the bike market crazy HOT right now everything decent posted for sale goes in minutes. Just 2 days ago a Trek X-caliber (5...6?) was listed on FB Marketplace at $429 (it looked amazing with all stock reflectors in place... said he rode it 5 times and I believe him). Rhetorical questions: Why can't I find a Diamondback Hook from a few years ago (the orange model) at $400 used (I'm sure the disc brakes are mechanical, but that's fine)? That's just an example of what I'm looking for. But every time I've been disappointed with a search (more of a "hunt" really) with everything... not just bikes.. I go back to the same conclusion... why not build what I want?

Hereís what Iím wondering.
I have MANY examples of things Iíve wanted in life that nobody manufactures at my price point. And EVERY SINGLE time I bought just the parts I wanted...just what I had in my mind and EVERY SINGLE time it was far more cost efficient and far more satisfying and gratifying to go that route.

Canít I buy everything above and do it cheaper than finding those items on a bike already done? Just converting a 3x drivetrain to a 1x is a waste. Hydraulic breaks....that option is only on bikes that start at $1200 yet just buying a set of those brakes (MT200 - M315: $90) by themselves isnít THAT expensive (I was surprised at how reasonable it was to buy them by themselves).

I am mechanically inclined, but have never built a bike. A friend of mine who has since moved out of the state helped me do a complete tear-down and rebuild of my Ross in the picture below (back in 2005) and it was a blast. Can I not build my own bike and save on cost over all?


Thoughts? Suggestions on websites or places to find frames and parts and everything I might need. Any good YouTube videos specifically that you might recommend on building your own bike?

Thank you so much for any guidance,
-Matt
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Old 06-08-20, 08:15 AM
  #2  
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It's almost never cheaper to build from frame and parts than to buy a complete assembled bike. The manufacturers get much better prices on components and can build wheels cheap. The only exception really is if you are able to source all used parts via e-bay, or stuff you have. Or you are buying very inexpensive and low end parts that some on-line vendors specialize at selling AND have in stock (iffy). Plus there's an investment in some tools that adds cost, but only pays if you intend to do this frequently - bottom bracket tools come to mind.

I mean have at it, I love building up bikes, have done a dozen or so and you are correct in that you get exactly what you want, but I only do this as I got good deals on the frames. When you have a very specific requirement of "burnt orange, green" that really limits your choices.

The crapshoot with buying stuff used is it can take time for certain components to show up on the used market, thus you have to jump on certain parts, then hoard until you've got it all together and can build. That takes time..

Buying used and modifying is a likely better solution, but note that in the current CV crisis, bikes are now selling like hotcakes. NONE of the shops have inventory and even the used stuff is selling well, so don't expect a deal. And don't expect to be finding a new $400 bike anywhere, either,.

But the best of luck with your project.
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Old 06-08-20, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by czar97 View Post
I can say this; after all this research (internet reading, YouTube, bike manufacturer websites, etc.), I know what I want.
-hardtail
-1x drive train. (1x 10 ish)
-bright color frame (burnt orange, green, etc) - this seems like the only thing you can't change without incurring cost... repainting / powder-coating a frame seems costly.
-29er (not critical but I donít see this as a huge ďaskĒ seems fairly common)
-hydraulic disc brakes
-slacked out head tube (tapered if at all possible)
-budget/starter fork
-fill in all remaining components with budget/starter

My wife seems comfortable at $400 as a budget for a bike. With the bike market crazy HOT right now everything decent posted for sale goes in minutes. Just 2 days ago a Trek X-caliber (5...6?) was listed on FB Marketplace at $429 (it looked amazing with all stock reflectors in place... said he rode it 5 times and I believe him). Rhetorical questions: Why can't I find a Diamondback Hook from a few years ago (the orange model) at $400 used (I'm sure the disc brakes are mechanical, but that's fine)? That's just an example of what I'm looking for. But every time I've been disappointed with a search (more of a "hunt" really) with everything... not just bikes.. I go back to the same conclusion... why not build what I want?

Hereís what Iím wondering.
I have MANY examples of things Iíve wanted in life that nobody manufactures at my price point. And EVERY SINGLE time I bought just the parts I wanted...just what I had in my mind and EVERY SINGLE time it was far more cost efficient and far more satisfying and gratifying to go that route.

Canít I buy everything above and do it cheaper than finding those items on a bike already done? Just converting a 3x drivetrain to a 1x is a waste. Hydraulic breaks....that option is only on bikes that start at $1200 yet just buying a set of those brakes (MT200 - M315: $90) by themselves isnít THAT expensive (I was surprised at how reasonable it was to buy them by themselves).

I am mechanically inclined, but have never built a bike. A friend of mine who has since moved out of the state helped me do a complete tear-down and rebuild of my Ross in the picture below (back in 2005) and it was a blast. Can I not build my own bike and save on cost over all?


Thoughts? Suggestions on websites or places to find frames and parts and everything I might need. Any good YouTube videos specifically that you might recommend on building your own bike?

Thank you so much for any guidance,
-Matt
Can. Buying a used complete bike for it's frame is the most efficient way for me. Don't care what are the parts, as long as the price is right, buy it, with the mindset that i am going to replace most or all the parts. What i don't want is to ship a new frame. The shipping cost can he used to buy parts.

Cost efficient, no. Because parts may be cheap but the costs add up, and shipping. But better than waiting (forever) in the marketplace for a bike that does not exist. Time is money, i use my bikes to save time to do errands. No bike means spending more time. If the bike i want does not exist or is too expensive, i build it.

Taobao.com.

Park Tool, Sheldon Brown, RJ The Bike Guy etc.
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Old 06-08-20, 09:41 AM
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It always cost more to build than to buy unless you are lying to yourself about shipping charges. Get a bike and go ride, the difference in parts isn't as big as some seem to think. Hydro brakes are not needed, I still run cable, and V's were just fine until I couldn't get replacement wheels without expensive custom builds.
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Old 06-08-20, 10:18 AM
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+1 on more expensive to build than buy, I have built several bikes and the "scope creep" is a real thing. You will need several tools which most people don't have to do it correctly and things like hi-quality cables and housing are not cheap either and can escalate the cost.

It's a super fun and rewarding experience though so don't let me deter you! Like I said, I have done it but learned several hard lessons the hard way (chainline is a real thing, shifters and derailleurs are not universally compatible, I once used a GXP crank with a Shimano BB, etc. etc. etc.). I now ride a "complete" bike but I am in the process of swapping out the rather entry level components 1 by 1.

Your LBS should be able to get you into a hardtail with 90 percent of what you're looking for for $800 new. Then you'll know it's set up properly from the outset. You can swap out brakes and other bits as you go.

Once you have a nice stockpile of old parts, THAT'S the time to build your frankenbike! Which reminds me, I would really love to have another single speed. Dang now you got me thinking!
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Old 06-09-20, 06:23 AM
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Unfortunately your wish list and budget donít match up.
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Old 06-09-20, 07:00 AM
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I'm with you, I haven't bought or built a new bike since '09 but to me $400 means a rear wheel.
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Old 06-13-20, 06:46 AM
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I agree with the above, for 400 dollars you might not get a lot on that list, or it's definitely not going to last you a very long time and might end up spending way more on other upgrades and repairs.
I'm also looking for a new MTB but just had to realize that I'll have to spend some money to get what I want. I'm building a road bike for the moment and yes, all counts up. Even small things like cable stops etc. You'd be surprised how much you need when you're building a complete bike and how much you have to get things right with the different parts...

Save up some more, try to convince your wife of the extra costs (just say a Walmart bike will not cut it) and have a bit of patience.
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Old 06-13-20, 08:10 AM
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OP: did you ever price out your wishlist? If so, you probably saw $400 is far from enough unless something "falls off a truck"
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Old 06-13-20, 05:10 PM
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Go to a local bike shop and they can give you the low down on what price vs product your going to get. I will say that the $400 bike is probably going to cost more in the end than a quality bike maybe around $800. You really pay for what you get.
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Old 06-14-20, 09:36 AM
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I too am a noob. With you having a frame in mind will that determine the size of the tires or does the fork determine that? For that matter, how many components are determined by the frame? Just wondering if there's more riding on that decision than anything else.
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Old 06-14-20, 12:27 PM
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Chain/seat stays width and fork width determine tire width limitations and the geometry of said elements will determine what size wheel will fit. In this new age of multiple wheel sizes especially in Mtn bikes one has to pay attention to those details when building up a bike. Having a good shop build for you will help or has been mentioned buy a full bike to eliminate any guessing. It's much easier to take a full bike and swap out a few components to make it yours.
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Old 06-24-20, 09:37 AM
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Just a decent frame, fork, and wheelset will blow your budget up, even used. Add the other bits (shifters, derailers, brakes, seatpost, clamp, saddle, stem, bar, cables, grips), and you're looking at $800 minimum for something you can ride offroad.

You may know what you want, but it is far from attainable at your budget.

You'll need to compromise, find a used hardtail, and for $400, it will probably be older and low end. It won't have an air fork, it might have rim brakes, and it might weigh 29lbs. Buy that, ride it, enjoy it, and save your money to upgrade down the road.

The problem is that you're buying at a really bad time. It's a sellers market, demand is high, and supply is low. And sadly, whatever you buy today will be worth half that when this craziness ends, maybe 6 months from now.
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Old 06-24-20, 04:23 PM
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29 lbs, people are such whiners these days.
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Old 06-25-20, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by skibum69 View Post
29 lbs, people are such whiners these days.
Yep

I ride a rigid steel frame that's about 35 lbs maybe.

It's so light and nimble feeling, I never notice the weight until I go to lift it on to the stand.

Geometry > weight (but not that they're mutually exclusive

That said, as the low-end, stock components wear down I am replacing them with lighter ones.....
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Old 06-25-20, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Wooderson View Post
Just a decent frame, fork, and wheelset will blow your budget up, even used. Add the other bits (shifters, derailers, brakes, seatpost, clamp, saddle, stem, bar, cables, grips), and you're looking at $800 minimum for something you can ride offroad.

You may know what you want, but it is far from attainable at your budget.

You'll need to compromise, find a used hardtail, and for $400, it will probably be older and low end. It won't have an air fork, it might have rim brakes, and it might weigh 29lbs. Buy that, ride it, enjoy it, and save your money to upgrade down the road.

The problem is that you're buying at a really bad time. It's a sellers market, demand is high, and supply is low. And sadly, whatever you buy today will be worth half that when this craziness ends, maybe 6 months from now.
Yes, very bad time indeed! My local bike shop reports not keeping anything under $800 on the floor, especially family oriented and kids bikes.

Looking to upgrade my kid to a 24" MTB from her 20" BMX, nothing fancy, just something with some gear reduction so she can climb some trails with me.

Nothing decent under $175 when normally you can buy those all day at $60 and they are selling like hotcakes on CL and FBM.

Now this phenomenon helped me also - I had my cyclocross bike for sale starting in February. Not even one call on it. Then as soon as the isolation protocol in Washington took effect I had someone in my driveway handing me full price in cash ($625 for a 2011 Ridley Xbow, nice bike but really race-centric geometry and canti brakes). I was nice though and threw in a set of SPD/Platform combo pedals so they didn't have to stop at a store and find their own.
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Old 06-25-20, 12:31 PM
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It is always going to be cheaper to buy complete..... but......

If you are really particular about some of the big-ticket components (particularly wheels and fork), and will end up needed to upgrade/swap those parts, it can start to even out. Guess it depends how much you can re-sell the unused stuff for.

But all this is a bit beside the point with a $400 budget. At that price point you just need to find the best complete bike you can, and deal with what it comes equipped with.
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Old 06-25-20, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Guess it depends how much you can re-sell the unused stuff for.
I am a big "sell for what I can and plow proceeds in to new" parts type of guy, but, lately, I have been evolving toward keeping all the old stock stuff so I can always put it back to stock if I want/sell.
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Old 06-25-20, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by skibum69 View Post
29 lbs, people are such whiners these days.
That's pretty stout for a no frills hardtail, IMO. Also, Nice.
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Old 06-28-20, 10:14 AM
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The problem with your wish list is that it contains several items that didn't come together at the affordable level until the last five years or so. Most people who have those bikes aren't tired of them yet, nor do they want to part for $400 with a bike that cost them 3x that not very long ago.
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Old 06-28-20, 10:51 AM
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I guess I’ll ask. How much mountain bike riding have you done?

Usually wish lists come from experience. If you have ridden 3x’s, 26ers, rim brakes then you would have a foundation. Frame geometry plays a part.

Typically someone gets a bike, preferably used, and then does a few mods along the way so they know what they want in their next bike.

Having built a few mountain bikes, $400 unfortunately won’t get you there, even without your list.

John
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Old 06-28-20, 07:14 PM
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Itís been three weeks - whereís the OP
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Old 06-29-20, 04:27 AM
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buying a new car...
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Old 07-06-20, 10:09 AM
  #24  
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No new car. I'm that guy with 187,000 miles on my 2014 pickup and the same 2 bicycles I've owned since I was 8 and 13 years old (see attachments... guess not... only 8 more posts to go before I can share pictures of my bicycles). Rebuilt the Ross a few years back (as I stated above) and rebuilt my old Schwinn Woodlands for my oldest to ride (two more in line waiting to take it over when she outgrows it). When something breaks on my truck; I fix it. I research and research and then make the most informed decision balancing quality, cost and budget.

I can't thank you all enough for your thoughts. It appears that while I saved $25,000 by installing the retaining wall at my house myself, fabricated/installed/finished all of the hardwood trim on our newly installed windows in my home (saving who know's how many thousands of dollars), pulling, rebuilding and reinstalling my own engine in an old Pontiac, and more (MOST) importantly having a sense of accomplishment and pride while doing so AND showing my kids what hard work and effort and pride looks like.... (run-on-sentence much)... it seems that building your own bicycle does not fit those examples. (Please don't say, "if you saved all that money why can't you buy any bicycle you want?" If you don't have the money or you don't have the money allocated to that household budget line item, then you don't have the money).

Soooooo... while reading the posts I've put on the various forums, I've had the chance to narrow down my "bike wish list". And because there are no bikes available in the United States of America (LOL... so crazy that we're in a bicycle shortage in 2020) I have time to keep shopping before pulling the trigger in what I think will be the month of September or even March of 2021. So from my list below you will immediately note that the budget has gone up substantially as I have PLENTY of time to save more money (thought at the beginning of this I would be on a new bike in a few weeks). And with all of your help, it is confirmed that doing it yourself isn't practical for bicycles (that was the most shocking part of all of this research).

Vitus Sentier
Marin San Quentin
Diamondback Overdrive
Nukeproof Scout
Nishiki Colorado Comp
Specialized Rockhopper
Scott Aspect (actually this seems like a terrible mix of components for the price.. by far my least favorite)

Thank you again,
-Matt ("OP")
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Old 07-06-20, 10:11 AM
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