Should You Build a Bike or Buy Your Own?

This question often arises not only among experienced riders, but newbies as well. We decided to cover most of the misconceptions and discuss pros and cons of each approach.

As a rule of thumb, if your budget is under $1000 or even $1300, component- and quality-wise you will get a much better deal buying an assembled bike. Especially if it’s a previous-year model.

In fact, comparing an assembled bike to a DIY build will result in a pre-built option being cheaper in 99% of cases. Why is it happening? For several reasons.

First, there’s a huge competition among bike manufacturers. This is a very low-margin business, but still mass-market. At the same time, selling specific components is a niche business and margins are higher there. What is the result? For example, a groupset purchased separately will be 30-40% more expensive than same groupset installed in an assembled bike.

Secondly, manufacturers are buying these components in bulk – thousands of sets. As a result, the pricing they get from one of three main manufacturers for key components (Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo) is way below what retail stores can offer you buying the same parts separately.

Building a bike yourself makes sense if your budget is well beyond that point AND you know exactly what components you need and for what purpose. Therefore you understand where you can spend more, where you can spend less and compromise. This approach requires extensive domain knowledge and experience. Let’s look into more details.

Buying an Assembled Bike

If you’re new to the world of bikes, this is the way to go. And also, the cheapest. If you buy a bike from a reputable brand, its parts are chosen with good knowledge and are guaranteed to fit and work together.

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Saves you time
  • Smart choice of components (if you choose a bike from good manufacturer). As a result, you get a well-balanced bike.

Cons

  • Can’t pick specific components
  • Lower-level manufacturers sometimes make illogical component choices and compromises to fit a bike within specific price range

Building From Scratch

We suggest the DIY way for experienced cyclists who know exactly what their current bike lacks and what they want to see in a new one. Also, these people shouldn’t have strict budget limitations.

Pros

  • You learn every single bit of your bike while doing it
  • Maximum flexibility & customizability - you can pick each and every component
  • Satisfaction that bike you own was assembled with your own hands
  • It’s very unlikely that there’s a similar bike ridden by someone else somewhere in the world

Cons

  • Will require expensive tools, that you’re not going to use very often (unless you don’t want to become a full-time mechanic for all your friends)
  • You will spend enormous amount of time on research, and unless you’re very experienced, it will not guarantee that all components will fit and work together
  • If you’re new to the whole thing, you might not know yet what exactly you need - as a result - you can end up with a shopping cart of really expensive but useless parts.

What we suggest. Smart approach:

Buy a discounted bike with decent components, but more importantly – good frame and fork (at least). As you ride your bike, certain components will wear out – it’s just inevitable. Now, you can start replacing them with upper-level parts.

This method will save you loads of money down the road and will ensure you will buy exactly what your level of riding demands.

If you decide to go that way, a few things to consider:

  • Pay attention to the parts of the bike you will not replace - frame a fork. Make sure the frame is comfortable and is something you’d like to ride for years. More importantly. Check the frame warranty - the longer it is - the better.
  • Parts like transmission, wheels, tires don’t matter that much - they will either wear out, or are inexpensive to replace in order to suit your local terrain.

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