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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For past couple of years I've had demands on my money and time that left me with mainly dept. store bikes (which was o.k. since I had almost no time to ride). Now that situation is changing and while my skills just don't justify buying a major level bike (you don't give a Porsche 911 to a new driver millionaire or not!), I'm not gonna put up with a lousy dept. store bike anymore. I'm currently saving my money so that next month I'll be buying "something", most likely a Motobecane 700HT or similar. I've also been toying with building something though instead. While online shopping, I figure I could buy most if not all parts at a similar level or better for close to same money. I have a little skill with bike maint., as well as all the basic tools needed. I'd appreciate any input anybody would care to share.
 
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For past couple of years I've had demands on my money and time that left me with mainly dept. store bikes (which was o.k. since I had almost no time to ride). Now that situation is changing and while my skills just don't justify buying a major level bike (you don't give a Porsche 911 to a new driver millionaire or not!), I'm not gonna put up with a lousy dept. store bike anymore. I'm currently saving my money so that next month I'll be buying "something", most likely a Motobecane 700HT or similar. I've also been toying with building something though instead. While online shopping, I figure I could buy most if not all parts at a similar level or better for close to same money. I'd appreciate any input anybody would care to share.
Simply put, NO, you can not build a bike with for the same price as an OEM bicycle builder. They buy thousands of cranks, you buy one, who's going to get it cheaper? I have done this math, and many others have as well. I used the Dawes Haymaker 1500 as my target ($419 shipped to my door) and spent WAY too much time searching Ebay, Amazon, Jenson, Bluesky etcetera and came up at around $800 to buy the same components on the Haymaker. That's right, dang near double! Sure, if you have a year or so to shop used/year end closeout parts you could bring that cost down some.

To me, the only way building makes sense is if you have a fleet of bikes already so most of the parts can be taken from other bikes and/or the parts bin, or you just want the experience of picking out the parts and knowing how your bike works and how to fix it in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
To me, the only way building makes sense is if you have a fleet of bikes already so most of the parts can be taken from other bikes and/or the parts bin, or you just want the experience of picking out the parts and knowing how your bike works and how to fix it in the future.
Excuse me, I should have written my post better. I'm not under any kind of time pressure to get a good bike (one of the perks of living in southeast Az is biking weather year round) other than my own impatience, so taking in sales or what have you isn't a problem and if you've checked out B.D.'s site lately you've seen that most of their inventory at the $700-800 level has been depleted so it'll more likely be mid-November before I could get anything from them in my size. While I don't have a fleet of bikes or a deep bin of parts to draw from, as I posted before now that my funds are finally freeing up, I can afford to buy decent parts (within reason) were I of a mind to. I will concede that using Motobecane as an example for build cost was rather dumb of me though.
 

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Excuse me, I should have written my post better. I'm not under any kind of time pressure to get a good bike (one of the perks of living in southeast Az is biking weather year round) other than my own impatience, so taking in sales or what have you isn't a problem and if you've checked out B.D.'s site lately you've seen that most of their inventory at the $700-800 level has been depleted so it'll more likely be mid-November before I could get anything from them in my size. While I don't have a fleet of bikes or a deep bin of parts to draw from, as I posted before now that my funds are finally freeing up, I can afford to buy decent parts (within reason) were I of a mind to. I will concede that using Motobecane as an example for build cost was rather dumb of me though.
I understand what your saying, and if you WANT to do a build then by all means go ahead. I enjoy working on bikes myself, and understand the attraction to building one, I plan to do so in the future. But your OP said you think you can do it for around the same price as buying a complete bike, and that is simply not true. Doesn't matter if you use Motobecane or Trek as your model, they can buy parts for less and thus sell the bike for less.

All I am trying to say is, don't go in blind thinking you will save money by building. You wont. But you may very well have a bike that YOU are much prouder to own, you know everything about, and you will keep much longer than the typical "beginner" bike. Please don't me discourage you if building is something you really want to do.
 

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I completely agree, it will always cost you more to build a bike up, weather you buy the parts new or 2nd hand. This is also the reason people sell their bikes in bits rather than a whole, providing they can sell all the parts they usually end up with more money than they would get for the whole bike, it's just how it works.

So the other frame of thinking would be buying a complete bike (like say the Motobecane you mentioned) and then upgrade it to your personal preference. The most important thing is to choose a bike primarily on it's frame....being upgrade worthy and of a brand you're happy with.
The good thing about doing it this way is firstly you have a bike you can ride straight up while you're waiting for your preferred parts to arrive and you also recoup some of your money by selling the parts off your bike which you are upgrading.

But of course if you can find a bike where you're happy with the majority of the spec the better off you will probably be. You know as an example I've had some good bikes so if I went out and brought a Giant Boluder (around $500Au or so) I'd immediately be wanting to upgrade pretty much everything, and to do that who knows how much it would cost, just buying a better fork for example would be a minimum of $400 (and that's 2nd hand (talking in $Au so don't be shocked)) and it's not like you'd get more than say $50 if I tried to sell the Boulder's current fork because it's a shitty basic one. Then think about decent hydro disc brakes and weather the wheels have disc hubs and rims etc etc.
Really I'm better off spending $1500 on the Giant XTC, there probably isn't much on it that I wouldn't be happy with for quite a while...at least until it's had it's fair use bar maybe upgrading personal things like pedals maybe stem length and the saddle for example. And when the time comes that bike is a top notch mtb so it's more than worthwhile replacing current parts on it with even better ones, making it even lighter or whatever!

But like has been said if money and time isn't that big an issue and a bike build is something that you would really enjoy doing then go for it! The guys above were just trying to point out that it really does make more sense to buy a whole bike, even if it means saving for longer to spend that bit more money up front!
 
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I have to agree with what everyone else has already said...I built a bike once and though it was cool to build it in the end I spent as much or more than if I had bought a bike off the floor...for instance once I got the frame, fork, and wheel set I wanted I had already dropped around 1200 on it and that was before the drive train and other components that I needed.

As pointed out also what helped me I had several bikes around that I used some of the parts from..then sold the stuff I did not use to off set the price of my build..I would rather buy a bike and change the things on the bike over time as it wears out or as budget allows...It was fun to build and spec the bike out just the way I wanted it...but I saved no money in the end building it myself..even though I got most of t built myself there was still some things I had to have my LBS do for me so that was also factored into the budget for the build..
 

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In the past, it seemed a bit more cost effective to build. For instance, you could pick up an OEM frame from a take apart, such as a KHS XCT535 for $299 w/shock. OEM forks, and etc. With the economy, shops are ordering less so those deals are more difficult to find and they are more costly. I build all my own bikes since I prefer to put everything I want on them. I stay in the middle of the road, not using high-end parts often, but not low end either. the fall, early winter is when you may see more deals, so consider that as well.
I agree with all above, and there is a certain reward to riding your "hand built" bike. You can fine tune it to the nth degree.
 

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It's difficult to justify building on cost alone. If you luck into a good frame deal eBay, and maybe a good fork deal too, and you're patient enough and are willing to order and live with whatever parts happen to be on sale, then you might come reasonably close to the cost of just buying a built bike.

If you're starting from scratch with no pre-existing parts, no tools, no experience, then you need some room in your budget to account for those things. Also budget for contingencies in case you buy an incompatible part, or cut some housing or cable too short, etc.
 

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I can tell you right now you won't build for the price of one off the floor.

I'm building my son a 26XS 24inch wheeled bike. I'm looking at all the sales and watching EBay, even looking at used parts, this bike will end up a lot more than I had hoped.

But my situation is different because there aren't really good choices in kids bikes, so if my build is $100-200 more than a floor bought 24 I'm fine with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I see where you all are coming from and you're right in that looking from a cost effective standpoint building will mostly cost more than buying. I might have been overly optimistic in my estimates of cost but as C.T.D. and RSabarese mentioned pride in your own handiwork is sometimes worth the money. Truth to be told I'll likely both buy and build in the future since one of the things I have done in the past with other hobbies I've had is to donate the tools/parts/finished product of my hobbies to charity groups who need them ( I have a little skill at sewing so I give the things I make to Goodwill etc..), which gives me all the excuse I need to keep playing with my toys, but that is still down the road a bit since I won't expect anyone to ride my handiwork but me until I'm MUCH better at this and my budget grows a bit bigger for this kind of project.
 

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I see where you all are coming from and you're right in that looking from a cost effective standpoint building will mostly cost more than buying. I might have been overly optimistic in my estimates of cost but as C.T.D. and RSabarese mentioned pride in your own handiwork is sometimes worth the money.
I agree on that last point, about pride and satisfaction. I build because I like to build, and that's all the justification I need. Treating bike frames and parts like LEGOs has become a hobby for me in itself.

Build for fun, for the satisfaction, for the learning process. Those are great reasons to build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes and now that I think more about it that is the whole point in the first place, because I like it. As crazy as it seems when I was reading through the other threads before posting this one, you didn't see that as much as you would think (although in fairness most of the regular posters to the forum have said it at least a couple of times), but it bears repeating time and again.
 

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You can't compete with mass market brands (Trek, Giant, Spec, etc), but then again if you build your own, you can kit it out however you want. If you look at the $700-$1000 range, they make a lot of odd compromises to get a bike in that price range, particularly if you're looking for a burlier trail / AM bike on the cheaper. They build everything to a competing spec, so across brands the forks will be similar, drivetrain, wheels, etc.

Where you get killed is all of the house brand parts you see on mid-range bikes. For the big companies, the seatpost, stem, handlebar, grips, hubs, sometimes even the cranks and pedals are basically free. That adds up when you'd trying to BYO.
 

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It's certainly nice to build your own ride but even if you spend countless hour researching for the best prices is just cheaper to buy a whole bike. My advice to you would be get a higher end used bike and ride it. Can rebuild, learn to maintain or upgrade in the winter. The best time for a great deal IMO is after xmas when people get new stuff.
 

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Yes and now that I think more about it that is the whole point in the first place, because I like it. As crazy as it seems when I was reading through the other threads before posting this one, you didn't see that as much as you would think...
I think the reason for a strong negative reaction is that so often people post up about building in order to save money. Sometimes you have someone who can barely afford a bike at all, and that person is ill-served by blundering down the build path. So we all pile on to save the person from an expensive mistake, and possibly we pile on too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I should have said it sooner but when I specified that I was looking at Motobecane as my buying choice, that wasn't so much for the money spent as for the skill level the bike was meant for. I could certainly wait a little longer and buy something like Felt or Trek, but if I did it would just be for bragging rights. I have a long way to go before I could justify to my self buying a bike at that level for my riding skills, where as if/when I build my own, even if the bike is much better than I am there would be other benefits to such.
 

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If you plan on riding your bike and it's not gonna end up sitting in the garage, buy as much bike as you can. Don't think about your skill level now, or what it might be sooner or later, or what others might think. Too much bike isn't a bad thing and will save you money and keep you smiling in the long run.
Again, especially if you like wrenching, you'll buy twice the bike for the same money if you buy used.
 

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I could certainly wait a little longer and buy something like Felt or Trek, but if I did it would just be for bragging rights. I have a long way to go before I could justify to my self buying a bike at that level for my riding skills,
Don't think like that. Don't feel that you can't enjoy a nice bike just because you lack some level of skill. I used to turn red-faced when I pulled out my Enduro at the trailhead, because no way could I then, nor can I today, even live up to that bike. Doesn't matter. It's fun to ride. I enjoy it. So do the kids whom I sometimes loan it out to so they can ride with me. Don't ever fall into the trap of feeling that you are somehow unworthy of a bike. If you're smiling, it's all good.
 

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I should have said it sooner but when I specified that I was looking at Motobecane as my buying choice, that wasn't so much for the money spent as for the skill level the bike was meant for. I could certainly wait a little longer and buy something like Felt or Trek, but if I did it would just be for bragging rights. I have a long way to go before I could justify to my self buying a bike at that level for my riding skills, where as if/when I build my own, even if the bike is much better than I am there would be other benefits to such.
There are two reasons to build a bike from frame up. The first is the spec. You can spec exactly the parts that you want, frame, fork, drive train, brakes, wheels, etc. This is the primary reason most folks build from frame up. The second reason is the satisfaction. You did the research, speced the bike to your needs, and put it together with your own two hands, and it works for you. The big thing is, you end up with a bike speced the way you want, for the way you want to use it. Not someone else's idea of how the bike should be speced, or the bike being speced to meet a price point.

As an example. I picked up a Trek 4300 frame that a shop had as a warranty replacement. The guy they got it for decided to go with a new bike instead so they were stuck with it. It came with the stock Dart 2 fork and I went with that. But I speced it as a rough road commuter (the road maintenance where I live SUCKS!). I speced it for durability, maintainability and comfort. You won't find another commuter bike speced the way I did it, and it's ideal for what I use it for. It isn't as fast as a road bike or a hybrid commuter. But I can ride it on any road I choose or take any route I want without having to worry about it.

So bottom line. If you're looking at it from an economical stand point, go with a complete bike, it'll be cheaper. I'd also add that, since you are coming off of department store bikes, do you really know what you'd want as far as components? You've already made it clear that your skills don't justify a higher end bike. So my advice? Buy a complete bike, the best bike you can afford. Build some skills, gain experience, and ride it like you stole it! After a while you'll start to figure out exactly what you want out of a bike. That's the time to start thinking about a frame up build. By that time you'll know what direction your riding is going, and you'll be better able to figure out what you want out of a build.

Sorry for the book, but I love building my own bikes up. It's a lot of fun. But it can be a real headache if you don't know what you want or need from the bike, and what components will fulfill those wants and needs. A mistake in spec for a build can be expensive. Give it time. :thumbsup:

Good Dirt
 

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I agree with what most are already saying with a couple of things from my own experience. I'm not a pro or work in bike shop or anything, just a regular guy that likes to play in the dirt.
For buying a bike, buy the one you really want, not the one you think you do. I originally bought a bike based on my experience and the cost; thinking that I could upgrade some parts at a later time. The bike was a decent bike, not a Wal-mart special. When I started to look at the items I wanted to replace, the cost of those upgrades would have sent the overall cost well above a higher-end bike. What I consider my second error is that I knew what bike my heart and mind was set on but then bought a "next-level" bike instead. While it was an improvement, I kept looking and dreaming about what I really wanted. In reality, the cost of the next bike was reasonable and the difference with what I really wanted was not that much - couple hundred dollars). I fianlly did end up buying my dream bike and thinking back, I should have done that right from the start.

I also decided that I wanted to also have a second bike; a hardtail that I would build myself. I built it from components that I searched around and bought when I thought I found a good deal. All of the components are brand new I made sure that they are exactly the components I wanted to put on "my" bike. I spent about $2,300 on the bike, which I think probably 3-5 hundred more than if I bought it from a bike shop. I probably could have dropped this difference down a bit if I bought used parts but I really didn't want to go that way. The difference with this bike is that every component on the bike I chose and there isn't anything that I'm looking to replace at anytime in the future. While it took a while from buying the first part until I could ride it, I had a lot of fun researching and searching for every part. I also had a lot of fun learning more about bikes and in the actual assembling / tuning. I have a lot of pride in this bike and smile when any riders ask me where I bought it. I'm building a second one for my GF because I know she will like the frame and what I'm putting on it. There's also the pride that I'll get knowing that she's blown past me climbing on the bike I made.
 
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