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Building vs buying...

vertigo16vertigo16 Posts: 91
edited March 2014 in Workshop
I have had plenty of bikes in the past, and an pretty confident tinkering with gears etc and sometimes more if there are good Youtube videos on the point. Having said that, I'm also no stranger to my LBS bringing in something for them to actually fix after I'd had a go myself...

I really like the idea of building my own bike, if costs etc make it worth it. A few questions for people who have built before:

1) How long did it take you to build your first bike the first time you did it? (And what sort of level mechanic were you to start with?)

2) Are you able to build a decent spec bike for cheaper than you could have bought an equivalent? (I'm thining buying parts off eBay, sales etc)

3) Is there anything I will just not have thought of which I'd have to do first, eg. get the right tools? I have a fair few of those, but I can imagine there are plenty of issues like that whihc you don't think of until you need them.

Thanks in advance!

Posts

  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I bought one of the £500 CR1-SL framesets from Westbrooks last year. First I whipped everything off my alu bike and transferred it to the carbon one, desperate to see how differently it rode with the same stuff. Then I did a bit of Ebay and online shopping and transferred the heavier kit back to the alu frame and put the lighter stuff on the CR1.

    Got a used Tiagra groupset off a fellow forumite via the classifieds on here, and cheap stem, bars, seatpost and R501 wheelset from Ribble.

    All in I suspect the CR1 has cost me about £800; couldn't have bought one at that price so I think it was worth it. Bargains like that don't appear too often though.

    I reckon I'm a fair mechanic. I fix more things than I break anyway. For the CR1 the only ticklish bit was pressing in the headset cups; got a DIY headset press* for £7 off Ebay.

    *bit of threaded rod, two nuts, washers and nylon discs
  • me-109me-109 Posts: 1,439
    keef66 wrote:
    I bought one of the £500 CR1-SL framesets from Westbrooks last year. First I whipped everything off my alu bike and transferred it to the carbon one, ....etc.
    I could have written this!

    Swap Tiagra for 105, add RS21 wheels (Merlin, not Ribble), cost between £1000-£1100 and you're not far off. Picked up some choicy stuff from the classifieds on here and the autumn/winter online bargains. You can get end-of-season sale stuff at good prices, so it's still touch-and-go as to whether there is a real saving, but it's got all the components that I picked rather than having to buy stuff that fits better on top of the off-the-shelf bike.

    Edit: Should have added that I'd consider myself pretty competent and I've plenty of tools already, so I didn't have to factor any of those into the cost.
  • I general it's worth it if you have the correct tools, and a considerable amount of the parts e.g. frameset, wheels first, and you want a particular spec, so buying off the peg would actually cost you more because you wanted to change the wheels etc.

    If just building up totally from scratch with no pre-existing parts, it's rarely worthwhile cost wise.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    Do it. If you have the parts available as a pre-order, you can complete the build within a day easily and with time to spare. As for worth it; I've sourced the new components of a full group set for cheaper than I could buy them as a whole on line. Also consider that you built it so you know exactly what has been done. Sometimes that exotic frame is only affordable as a frame set, so transferring components from an existing bike is also worthwhile cost wise.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • It took me about 3-4 hours to build my bike and a couple more tinkering and tweaking the set up. It's pretty straight forward, I was very careful with the BB to make sure I didn't mess up the threads.

    The correct tools are essential.
  • arlowoodarlowood Posts: 2,531
    Don't befixatedon the idea that you will end up with a bike that is way cheaper than you could source via retail. Treat it as an educational experience and one that will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are riding something more or less unique that you have crafted with your own fair hands.
    Completed my first build last year:
    viewtopic.php?f=40044&t=12916087&p=18257490&hilit=forme+winter#p18257490

    Just finished another a week or so ago:-
    viewtopic.php?f=40044&t=12958886

    Both ended up probably not saving me a huge amount over a new alloy or carbon bike but I enjoyed the experience and the challenge.

    Only real tip is make sure you buy good quality tools - particularly cable cutters. It will save you a lot of grief.
  • letap73letap73 Posts: 1,608
    I am a sh*t mechanic but managed to build a bike with bargains I picked up from the internet - build cost circa £1500 for a carbon framed bike with SRAM Force and some excellent Bontrager X Lite race wheels. Love it to bits and probably prefer it to my Hi -mod Supersix evo.
  • damocles10damocles10 Posts: 340
    arlowood wrote:
    Don't befixatedon the idea that you will end up with a bike that is way cheaper than you could source via retail. Treat it as an educational experience and one that will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are riding something more or less unique that you have crafted with your own fair hands.
    Completed my first build last year:
    viewtopic.php?f=40044&t=12916087&p=18257490&hilit=forme+winter#p18257490

    Just finished another a week or so ago:-
    viewtopic.php?f=40044&t=12958886

    Both ended up probably not saving me a huge amount over a new alloy or carbon bike but I enjoyed the experience and the challenge.

    Only real tip is make sure you buy good quality tools - particularly cable cutters. It will save you a lot of grief.


    You certainly learn a lot from a self build.
  • matig0lmatig0l Posts: 37
    I recently built my first bike. De Rosa Milanino. Cost me about £1500. Factory made with inferior components costs approx £1700.

    I wrote a blog about here: http://www.milanino.me.uk

    Hoping to finish the blog off this week with some pics of the finished bike.

    Fixing punctures and adjusting the gears was the extent of my bike mechanics before I started. Over the moon with the bike and it's all the more special because I put together every part myself. Highly recommended.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    matig0l wrote:
    I recently built my first bike. De Rosa Milanino. Cost me about £1500. Factory made with inferior components costs approx £1700.

    I wrote a blog about here: http://www.milanino.me.uk

    Hoping to finish the blog off this week with some pics of the finished bike.

    Fixing punctures and adjusting the gears was the extent of my bike mechanics before I started. Over the moon with the bike and it's all the more special because I put together every part myself. Highly recommended.

    The bit in bold for me, but I've since built my Basso and Dolan bikes for myself, a Trek for someone else and 2 Specialized Allez's for others as well as doing set ups, servicing etc for people. I'm far cheaper than the LBS i.e. free.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • dgunthordgunthor Posts: 644
    for a < £1000 bike, better deal to buy off the shelf. mroe than this and it seems cheaper to build it yourself
  • andygoandygo Posts: 39
    arlowood wrote:
    Don't befixatedon the idea that you will end up with a bike that is way cheaper than you could source via retail. Treat it as an educational experience and one that will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are riding something more or less unique that you have crafted with your own fair hands.
    Completed my first build last year:
    viewtopic.php?f=40044&t=12916087&p=18257490&hilit=forme+winter#p18257490

    Just finished another a week or so ago:-
    viewtopic.php?f=40044&t=12958886

    Both ended up probably not saving me a huge amount over a new alloy or carbon bike but I enjoyed the experience and the challenge.

    Only real tip is make sure you buy good quality tools - particularly cable cutters. It will save you a lot of grief.

    This sums it up well. I've just built my first bike (Croix de fer). I actually saved a fair bit on the stock price - but that was only because I transfer over a few parts (groupset, bars, saddle) from an old bike. If I'd had to buy those I wouldn't have saved much.

    Also factor in the cost of postage - especially if ordering from multiple sources - it can soon add up and negate any savings.

    Doing it myself however meant I could upgrade some parts (ie -brakes, wheels) from the stock bike....and customise the groupset to suit my riding

    I also spent £30 on a toolkit. I used a woodworking G clamp to press headset in - but you could always get the lbs to do that for a few quid.

    I should really have bought a bike stand too but was too mean - I'm sure it makes building them up easier though...

    I'm certainly no mechanic but there are loads of instructions online and help on forums...at the end of the day you can always take the bits to the lbs and pay them to do it!

    It took me around a month - but that included building wheels and waiting for a deal on a few things

    If you're doing it to save money I'd say don't bother - buy used instead or look for a deal. It's also pretty pointless building up a bike using the same parts as stock....I'd see it instead as an opportunity to be creative
  • 964cup964cup Posts: 1,362
    The better and more particular the spec, the bigger the saving. If the bike isn't available from stock with your choice/size of bars/seatpost/crank length etc, then building quickly becomes cheaper. Similarly being careful with waiting for sales or hunting for parts in the classifieds on here is both financially and morally rewarding.

    HOWEVER I've spent a small fortune on tools; I've had it back, but only because I'm choosing to build expensive bikes, plural. You don't *need* all the tools, but a small mistake can quickly wipe out your savings (and piss you off). For example, I bought a proper headset/BB press and a proper steerer/post cutting guide; I also bought a proper torque wrench.

    In answer to the original questions, it took me a couple of weeks the first time; now it takes me about a day to build a bike properly from scratch (including frame protection tape and so on). I could do it faster, but I'm aiming to do it better than my LBS. Buying the bits, though, can take elapsed weeks and significant worked hours. Partly this is agonies of choice, partly it's bargain hunting. I saved about £3-4k over list on the last bike I built (and couldn't have bought it off the shelf in that spec anyway); in the end though I build them myself because I enjoy it and know It's being done properly, not to save money. If I wanted to save money, I'd not have six road bikes in the first place...
  • paulmonpaulmon Posts: 315
    I've just gone through this process and built up my first bike from scratch. The advantages I see over factory is simple. You get to cherry pick the components you want to use. In my build the toughest thing to get right and the one thing that took a lot of my time was cabling/derailleur adjustment.

    I'm not 100% happy with my bar wrap and the location of the hoods so I'll redo these. As another poster has said don't underestimate the cost of tools if you don't already have a good set.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    I've built up four bikes for people so far and starting the next two. Two simply because the frameset I wanted for my own second bike was more cost effective to buy as a complete bike albeit with a groupset, wheels and furniture I don't want. I've sourced another new frameset to transfer these bits to and will build the original frame up to the spec I want. Selling the second build with all new parts and about £500 cheaper than the LBS would retail the bike at, should see me break about even expense wise.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Any savings in build costs are really just incidental. The real gains come from being able to maintain your bike all the time and having the pleasure of knowing that it is always in tip top condition. Nobody who pays someone else to maintain their bike can easily say that.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Got a £300 clearance R872 frameset from Ribble and managed to build it up with second hand eBay parts and Christmas presents, even though I'm a 16 year old who knows absolutely nothing about any mechanics or practical work. Apart from cutting the steerer (which I got my dad to do) everything else was relatively simple, and although I had issues with the rear derailleur (Loose bolt in shifter) I managed to finish it over a weekend.
    It did work out cheaper for me due to the way I sourced parts and was collecting them for a while, yet if I got a similarly specced bike new it would be a few years down the line!
    Ribble R872
    Giant OCR 0T-Full Ultegra-ish
  • redveeredvee Posts: 11,921
    My Kaffenback was a 90% home build with the LBS only getting to touch the frame when I needed the headset installed and wheels trued. You might not be able to beat a shop bought bike for price but you get your bike the way you want it.
    I've added a signature to prove it is still possible.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    alanholden wrote:
    Got a £300 clearance R872 frameset from Ribble and managed to build it up with second hand eBay parts and Christmas presents, even though I'm a 16 year old who knows absolutely nothing about any mechanics or practical work. Apart from cutting the steerer (which I got my dad to do) everything else was relatively simple, and although I had issues with the rear derailleur (Loose bolt in shifter) I managed to finish it over a weekend.
    It did work out cheaper for me due to the way I sourced parts and was collecting them for a while, yet if I got a similarly specced bike new it would be a few years down the line!

    Good effort! You should be proud of yourself. I wouldn't have begun to think of doing that when I was your age and bikes were much simpler then.
    Faster than a tent.......
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