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Building Up a Bike...Pointers?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Building Up a Bike...Pointers?

Old 04-14-07, 11:42 AM
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jjb5014
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Building Up a Bike...Pointers?

Hey guys, first post here,

Hopefully I'm not stepping on any toes by offering an obviously newbie question. In a nutshell, I used to do some casual trailriding on an old Raliegh I had...pretty sweet bike, but the thing is antiquated and inappropriate for what I want to do these days (road riding). I'd like to build up a bike so that I can potentially save some cash, but mostly because I'm mechanically inclined and like to do those type of things. My cousin actually introduced me to building bikes. A few years back he built up this ~10K titanium enduro type of thing...really impressive. Anyhow, I figured if he could do it so could I.

I want to get into road riding mostly to add some cardio to my regime. Also, it gets me out and about in the fresh air, etc. Soooo, anyhow. Any tips on where to begin? I'd say I have a (flexible) 1K to work with, but would prefer to keep the cost as low as possible. I'm not out to build a space age, super sport road race monster, just something that is functional, reliable, sound, and appropriate for the road. Like I said, this is mostly for cardio. That being said, I don't want to cheap out and get junk components that aren't smooth, etc, or won't last.

The Surly Cross-check frame/fork caught my eye as a basis for the project due to its all-around demeanor, but really I'm up for whatever at this point. Like I mentioned, I'm about as green as green can be when it comes to road bikes...

Any suggestions, links, ideas, etc, would be grealy appreciated.

Thanks for your time.
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Old 04-14-07, 11:47 AM
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Dick Rhee
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Honestly, building a bike up part by part is pretty expensive. You can get the Giant TCR with the new Tiagra and Shimano compact crank for 1k even, which is a pretty good deal considering. The larger manufacturers are able to spec a cheaper bike because they get wholesale parts that would likely cost more to you as a consumer.
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Old 04-14-07, 11:53 AM
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It is generally cheaper to buy a bike as a whole.

However, I have built all of my bikes. It is a very satisfying experience, and I learned an aweful lot.

The Surly frames are good solid frames for doing just about everything. Perhaps not the most performance oriented. However, if you definitely want to go steel, I would suggest perhaps some of the Salsa frames (La Raza, for one). They have eyelets for racks as well. If you don't want a roadie with racks, then there is a whole industry of frames available for whatever your taste may be. I would suggest the www.gvhbikes.com website. They carry lots of good steel frames.

if you want road specific for more of a performance oriented ride, I may also suggest going with something that tend to be a little lighter than steel, ie. just about anything but steel. You can get anything from aluminum, to carbon, to Titanium, and of course a mix of those materials in one frame.

Good luck.
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Old 04-14-07, 11:56 AM
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It is more expensive but you can build it to your spec without having to swap OEM parts. Plus the feeling of accomplishment is great.
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Old 04-14-07, 12:01 PM
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If you are mechanically inclined, I would recommend a used bike, Craigslist, ebay, etc. You will definately get the most bang for your buck. Obviously you can't expect perfection when you buy used, but if you take your time, you will get a great deal on something that will require little adjustment, perfect for getting your feet wet when wrenching. As you get better, use your improving skills to help you with the upgrades you will desire. After that, if you still have the desire, build your dream bike from scratch with your new found knowledge.
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Old 04-14-07, 12:31 PM
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If you're looking for good components that won't break the bank but will still work well, start with Shimano 105, Tiagra isn't bad, but 105 is worth spending up for. Avoid Sora. If you're a Campy man, Centaur is considered a price/value sweet spot on their curve, but the next lower group Veloce is appreciated by many, too. SRAM - probably too new, let them work out the kinks.

You probably will find it cheaper to buy a complete group or even a build kit at one time - shipping individual components can eat up any perceived savings quickly. Maybe another BFer has a great source for groups/kits. I would buy an '05 or '06 leftover if it's a better deal. It's still going to work well.
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Old 04-14-07, 01:20 PM
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alternative: if you're mechanically inclined, want to get into wrenching, on a budget, and you want a good road bike for all-purpose training, then consider buying one of the monthly sales bikes from bikesdirect ...

you'll at least get to assemble the bike out of the factory box, but will save a great deal of money and time, and in most cases get quite a lot of road bike for the buck...
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Old 04-14-07, 01:32 PM
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I think bike building is more the fact you did it and ride it. You can save money if you shop frugal like for your components. Your frame and wheel choice will be the major cost. I just like building and therefore I build my own.

Another pointer................invest in the correct tools or you will be sorry. I have over $800 in tools and it has paid off. I also find that there are other tools I need each build and usually spend another $100 each build
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Old 04-15-07, 11:58 PM
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Ostuni...thanks for the heads up regarding bikesdirect...its exactly what I'm looking for...provides a little wrench time, takes the guesswork out of component matching for a newbie, and potentially saves some cash. Thanks mucho for all the input.
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Old 04-16-07, 12:58 AM
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I just bought a bike from that family of sellers (I got mine from ebay because they didn't have it online) and I've been pleased thus far. I've read/heard that the wheelset isn't all that great (Alex DA22) on my bike and I'm going to use that to learn how to true wheels and maintain everything else. There's a bike co-op on my campus and I'm looking forward to learning things there.

Some of the mercier steel bikes on that site are beautiful if steel is what you're into, if not they and motobecane make some bikes in the ~1k price range. You might want to spend around 800 on your bike (you'll get tiagra fd and 105 rd componentry) and use the 200 bucks to get shorts, a pack, bottle cages, bottles, and basic tools. Those costs by themself are about 200 bucks.

You can always upgrade the wheelset once the upgrade bug sets in too :-)
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Old 04-16-07, 05:30 AM
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For many of us, as Patriot said, building bikes is very satisfying. The thing is many experienced cyclists are extremely picky and can't be happy with an off the rack bike. This is because we like a certain saddle, a seatpost with a certain offset, a certain handlebar shape...even bar tape, particular tires and wheels...cassette size, crank length and chainring size...its a long list. If you have no frame of reference then buying off the rack is generally the most expedient. Don't buy retail however and buy some tools and learn to tinker with your bike until one day you might want to build one from scratch. E-bay is a wonderful resource for bike parts and you can build a high end bike piece by piece right from there.
Have fun,
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Old 04-16-07, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by jjb5014
Ostuni...thanks for the heads up regarding bikesdirect...its exactly what I'm looking for...provides a little wrench time, takes the guesswork out of component matching for a newbie, and potentially saves some cash. Thanks mucho for all the input.
speaking of guesswork, if you go that route, be extra super sure about your frame size, geometry, etc.
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