Buying a frame

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Buying a frame

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    • #270255

      I’ve been mtn biking around Socal for several years now with a low-end bike and decided it would be fun and slightly more cost-effective to try and buy a frame and build a bike after being emboldened by watching several DIY videos on the internet. I’m OK with my hands, have the space and have some tools. Can anyone tell me if this idea is a) Foolhardy and would be a require lots of time and know-how, and b) cost-efficient?

    • #270266

      I’ve built every bike I’ve owned except for the first one in the manner you are contemplating ( 8-10 bikes).  I’ve found it incredibly cost effective to move over parts and upgrade when money permits.  If you are good with your hands, you will have no issue doing this, and it usually doesn’t require much in the way of specialty tools.

      One thing to keep in mind is that you need to either keep the same specs for things like bottom bracket, dropout spacing, seatpost diameter, steerer length, etc. but there’s a bunch of bikes out there using the same general specs for these parts and in cases where it’s not the same(like the seat post diameter), you just buy that particular part to fit the new frame.

    • #270280

      Unless you really know your bikes, there are so many different standards that you could be challenged.  In addition, it is unlikely that will save any money over buying a new bike.  The cost of buying a new whole bike is about half or less the cost a buying the same bike as individual parts.

      Bikes are so good nowdays that it is hard to buy a bad bike.  However, you do get what you pay for!  If you buy a cheap bike, you get a cheap bike.  You can get some excellent hardtails for $1000-$2000 and some excellent full-sus bikes for $2200-$3200.   Check out the hardtail Salsa Timberjack, Specialized Fuse, or Marin Pine Mountain and the full-sus Trek Fuel EX, Specialized Stumpjumper, or Santa Cruz Tallboy or Hightower.   It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to put together a bike as good as these bikes at their given price.

      If you are a really good bike mechanic, and you have all the tools, and you know about all the different standards, and you want something unique that no bike company makes, and you’re OK with paying more, then you might want to consider building your own bike.

    • #270284

      You have 2 great comments… Schwim regarding what to look for in a frame and Plusbike Nerd about the costs…

      My recommendation (cost wise and bike wise) is to buy a new or used bike with the help of financing if possible. There are more and more brands accepting PayPal or Affirm… That way, you can get an updated bike and pay small monthly fees (sometimes without interests)… If you don’t have good credit or credit options, a friend or relative might.

      I did build up my “entry level” bike and now it must be the most expensive bike in the world without being the best bike. Don’t make the same mistake I did. So, try to get financing or save money and use it when the time is right. Look for offers, promotions in outgoing models. Look for Direct to Consumer brands instead of trendy brands with distributors. Direct to consumer brands have better components for the same price. There are also some Direct to Consumer brands that also sell frames only in case you want to follow that route. Hope my experience might help you with your decision.

    • #270303

      Look for Direct to Consumer brands instead of trendy brands with distributors.


      Cost-effective and time-efficient.

    • #270304

      You have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

      Build pros

      • You can get the exact bike you want down to the last detail
      • You will learn a lot
      • You might save money

      Buy pros

      • Saves you work
      • Don’t have to worry about every detail (or buy many tools)
      • Customer service


      Cons build

      • Going to take time
      • No one to blame but yourself
      • Might cost more (each part will be retail priced)

      Cons buy

      • Less control over parts selection
      • Might have to replace parts you don’t like (paying for same part twice)
      • Have to buy all at once (can’t spread the cost)

      Now figure out which one is the angel and which is the devil. And if you are feeling angelic or devilish.

    • #270330

      Great suggestions/observations! Thank you, still not 100% convinced either way, but this will all be helpful going forward.

    • #270376

      Since you’re currently riding a low-end bike in SoCal, you could save some money by starting with a used high-end bike.  That would give you something to ride while you upgraded.

      In 2017, I spent $800 on an ‘09 Pivot Mach 429.  I upgraded parts as they wore out and I ended up with an awesome bike for about $1500.

      The Mach 429 was more fun than what I had been riding (Yeti 575 & Moots Zirkel) and each upgrade made it even better.

      120mm Fox 34 fork with a tapered headtube and 15mm thru axle totally transformed the bike.  The same for a 1×11 drivetrain, dropper post, King hubs on wider rims, etc.

      In the end, I upgraded everything but the frame, XT brakes and the seatpost clamp.  I sold the bike but originally planned to move the parts over to a newer 429 Trail or Ibis Ripley frame.

      I rode that bike all over the Front Range of Colorado and the Western US – Crested Butte, Fruita, Gooseberry Mesa, Soquel Demo Forest, Lake Tahoe, Park City, etc. and never felt like I needed more bike.

      Mtb standards have changed but in SoCal you should be able to find a good deal on a really fun bike with plenty of life left.


      • #270377

        +1 as long as you feel comfortable enough in assessing the state of wear, biggest factor: frame, then suspension, then wheels and drivetrain. Or find someone who can help you out to make sure you don’t buy a beat up bike disguised with a good cleaning. Be careful, but definitely a great option.

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