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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The frame and fork is $650, the complete is $1725.

My last two bikes I bought were single speeds, and I went the buy-the-parts and assemble route and was totally happy at the end result. But these things do have a way of ending up costing more than you plan.

Also, I'm not nearly as knowledgeable or opinionated about mountain bike parts as the BMX parts on the two completed bikes.

So looking at the Surley Troll, do you like the set-up? How much would it cost to duplicate if you bought the parts separately? Which way would you go?
 

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The frame and fork is $650, the complete is $1725.

My last two bikes I bought were single speeds, and I went the buy-the-parts and assemble route and was totally happy at the end result. But these things do have a way of ending up costing more than you plan.

Also, I'm not nearly as knowledgeable or opinionated about mountain bike parts as the BMX parts on the two completed bikes.

So looking at the Surley Troll, do you like the set-up? How much would it cost to duplicate if you bought the parts separately? Which way would you go?
Custom will cost you more money. How much more depends on your build, but it will be more (unless you have an extensive parts bin). The answer to your question depends on what you're willing to spend, and what the build is worth to you. As far as the stock build, its suitability depends on how and where you ride. For example, the stock build has a triple chainring and mechanical brakes: good for touring but many wouldn't want it for technical singletrack. The stock build is relatively low end components. Good for some applications, not for others.
 

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Expedition touring people have some specific hangups about bike components and the Troll's components serve them, mostly. The combination of the 11-36 cassette with the triple front gives the bike a crazy low and high gear. If you break a brake cable in the field it's easier to service than patching and bleeding a hydraulic hose, and the levers are also compatible with v-brakes if you needed to swap. The 26 inch wheel and tire size are pretty widely available still and if they're not, the other thing likely available will be 28 inch (700c x 37 or 40) which will still cram in. About the only thing that doesn't make sense in this context is the rear derailleur and 10 speed Dyna-Sys, when 7 speed SIS and roughly-compatible 8-speed are tough and cheap. But it just doesn't look premium on a bike this price, and all of Shimano Dyna-Sys and SRAM 1:1 and X-Actuation hardware will work with it and they've been around for a decade now, so maybe it's not as daring as it used to be.

On the other hand, all of this describes the state of the art in mid-range mountain bikes in 1997. I want to do mountain biking most of the time and my idea of touring is weekend bikepacking, and I looked hard at the Karate Monkey when I was shopping before settling on my Timberjack. Modern geometry is more fun, so are big wheels, hydraulic brakes work better. Never glanced at the Troll. It was much like the bike I was getting rid of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Expedition touring people have some specific hangups about bike components and the Troll's components serve them, mostly. The combination of the 11-36 cassette with the triple front gives the bike a crazy low and high gear. If you break a brake cable in the field it's easier to service than patching and bleeding a hydraulic hose, and the levers are also compatible with v-brakes if you needed to swap. The 26 inch wheel and tire size are pretty widely available still and if they're not, the other thing likely available will be 28 inch (700c x 37 or 40) which will still cram in. About the only thing that doesn't make sense in this context is the rear derailleur and 10 speed Dyna-Sys, when 7 speed SIS and roughly-compatible 8-speed are tough and cheap. But it just doesn't look premium on a bike this price, and all of Shimano Dyna-Sys and SRAM 1:1 and X-Actuation hardware will work with it and they've been around for a decade now, so maybe it's not as daring as it used to be.

On the other hand, all of this describes the state of the art in mid-range mountain bikes in 1997. I want to do mountain biking most of the time and my idea of touring is weekend bikepacking, and I looked hard at the Karate Monkey when I was shopping before settling on my Timberjack. Modern geometry is more fun, so are big wheels, hydraulic brakes work better. Never glanced at the Troll. It was much like the bike I was getting rid of.
Thank you, this is all quite helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here is what the bike is set up like, for those who don't know and are interested.

Drivetrain

Crankset Shimano Deore 26/36/48t
Bottom Bracket Shimano Octalink 83x118
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore FD-T6000
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore RD-T6000
Cog or cogset Microshift 10spd 11-36t
Chain KMC X10-NP

Wheels

Front Hub Shimano Deore M525 36h QR
Rear Hub Shimano Deore M525 36h QR
Rims Alex Adventurer 2 Tubeless Ready
Tires

Components

Headset Cane Creek 10 1-1/8"
Brakes Avid BB7 Cleansweep 180/160 rotors
Brake Levers Avid FR-5
Shifters Microshift SL-M10
Stem ProMax 4 bolt 31.8
Handlebar Surly Moloko
Grips Velo lock-on
 

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I once met a surly troll that lived in a mangrove root ball in Key West. I would NOT want to ride that thing.
 

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Do you like nice things, as in better components in general? If you're the least bit particular, buy and build, IMO. Spend the money and be done with it up front. Otherwise, you will be WAY more out of pocket in the long run.

I bought my '17 Karate Monkey as a complete build with the intention of leaving it "as is" in its factory configuration with SRAM NX 1x11. That lasted about a week! I'm so used to and particular about refined shifting and feel from the XTR on my FS bike. I kept trying to ignore it but the temptation was too strong since I was constantly thinking about it while riding. Within a month, the only thing stock on it was maybe the stem and i40 wheelset? I peeled all the other bits off and went to XT brakes, XTR 1x11, Race Face cranks and Wolf Tooth oval, dropper post, and then wider bars. It's exactly the way I want it, now. Had I bought the frame (if I could find one), I'd be way ahead.

If you go complete, I guess it depends on how well you can resist the Siren's Song of better shiny bits!
 

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If you don't have strong opinions and don't have the parts on hand, it seems like complete would be the way to go. I do have a strong preference for parts other than what tends to come standard, so I tend to prefer a frame that I can build up. In the end, it may cost more than just buying a complete bike, but it will cost less than buying a complete bike and then trying to swap out all the parts I want to replace.

And, of course, if you have parts on hand, buying a frame can be a much cheaper option.

Also, I think your immediate needs and wheel building capabilities can be issues. For me, buying wheels can sometimes be pricey because I prefer gear hubs and dynamo hubs, but building them myself can save a bit, especially if I have the luxury of waiting to collect parts. I built two of my bikes up from frames, and in both cases, I started by pilfering many of my parts off of an existing bike, and then slowly accumulating and swapping out parts.
 

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Mountain / Touring bike combo. The Long Haul Trucker is the other one I thought about.
My first Surly was an off-the-rack LHT. I ended up tossing/exchanging a bunch of parts to make it more comfy. (Part of the learning curve)

My next bike was a World Troller custom kitted with lots of nifty bits. Cost a bunch because of the titanum bits and a Rohloff/mit belt-drive.
I've ridden two sets of tyres off the Troll to one on the LHT.

Had to park the Troll for a few weeks to change out some brake parts and a long overdue cleanup.
Brought the LHT out of mothballs and love it again. Forgot what fabulous bike the LHT is. A bit boring to look at but great ride. I'm kinda spoiled.

Anyhow if you got the money, go whole hog on a custom build with all the nifty bits you hanker for.
You will ride the pants off it, guaranteed. A Troll set up with the Extraterrestrials does just about everything really well except for provide some Big Easy type power. (My next Surly, I'm thinking)
 

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I purchased my 2015 Krampus as NOS in the box and had it built from a frameset as a single speed. Unfortunately, it was a size small and it turns out I needed a medium. Always more of a roadie, before, and I had a hard time figuring out mountainbike sizing. I had it built with Velocity Blunt 35 mm 29" wheels and Maxxis Ardents: 2.4 inch in the front, 2.25" in the rear. I took a long time to decide what to do about this, and 3 years later transferred the parts to a 2018 Karate Monkey in the correct size, and had the hubs rebuilt with TA's.

It's a much better bike because Surly tweaked the geometry and other technology in the interim. And I had it rebuilt as a 'dingle speed' from single. Which is cool. But yeah, it was one bike for the price of about 2.5. Maybe 3. I stopped counting.

But, I am very happy with my Raceface Turbine Crankset, Odi Locking grips, lightweight wheels, Thomson seatpost, TRP brakes, DMR Vault pedals, Surly Bend Bars, etc.

It would certainly have cost less to buy complete and upgrade. You are not as familiar with non BMX bikes. The sizing is much different. Sounds familiar.
 
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