I’ve always been a shop guy, and always bought my bikes and gear from ‘my shop’. Sadly however, my shop is no more – product of many factors, the economic ‘slow-down’ to name one, for sure. So, when I was sitting around thinking about what to do about getting a new Cyclocross bike for this fall, I decided to venture into the mysterious world of ‘build-your-own’.

I began by asking around, learning about the various resources that are out there for hands-on bike build projects, and let me tell you, there are many, and you can go many routes – anywhere from buying each piece one at a time, to ordering complete kits. In my case, I did a combination thereof.

The frame, I was able to source locally, an EverTi Ti-Fighter. Light, strong, and highly durable –  if you haven’t considered titanium, you should check it out. I then sourced a build kit through Excel Sports. They had several kit options to choose from, including all the major brands like SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo. You can order these kits, in a couple different ways, choosing to either inlcude wheels or not, and you also have the option to swap out, (upgrade/downgrade) various parts. In my case, eventhough I was buying a road bike kit, I was building a CX bike, so I just made the changes to the parts list where I needed to. Excel offered great service in this way.

When it came to the wheels, I also included a set off the rack (Ksyrium Eqipes), but will be building up a race set here this summer. For the fork, I went with an ENVE carbon, which I was also able to source via Excel – and at a sale price. I also picked up a matte black, Chris King headset elsewhere.

Pedals, I’m still sourcing, as I already have a set that ‘will do’ for now, but I could have ordered all of that through Excel as well if I’d wanted to. A few other things I’m also still looking into are custom break hoods via Hüdz, and name plate designs from Velostickers.

Pros to building your own bike:

  • Save money. That’s a big one. If you do your research, and find the deals, you can save some solid coin.
  • You have a lot of ‘creative control’ when you build a bike this way, choosing individual parts, and not accepting a pre-built package. You’ll very likely have a one of a kind bike when you’re done!
  • Get your hands dirty, and learn about your bike. In my case, though I do some of my own bike maintenance, I don’t tear my bike down and built it back up like some riders do. I rely on the local shop wrench to do that. So for me, it was great to see it all go together, litterly from the ground up. I also had expert help to do this, working with my pal, Mike Sarnecki. If you’ve never built a bike on your own, you may also want to see if you know someone who can guide you through the process. It certainly makes the build more fun, speeds things up and removes guess work.

Cons to building your own bike:

  • If you don’t do your research and find good deals, you quickly run the risk of paying more for your bike than you would had you bought it from a shop. Shops and major manufacturers use bulk buying power to keep the costs of a complete bike down. Buying one part at a time, and paying retail for each one of those parts is not the way to go here if you’re looking to save some money.
  • Be patient. I can’t stress this enough. Building your own bike, doing your research, comparing prices, sourcing the parts from different suppliers all takes time. My build took the better part of 3 months from beginning to end, and it went pretty smoothly. If you run into any issues with wrong parts, or defective parts, and need to deal with shipping things back, the timelines can extend quickly.
  • You don’t have a connection with a local shop for service, warrenty, etc… This is the thing I wrestled with the most because, like I said, I’ve always been a ‘shop guy’.  And, it’s not lost on me that, the internet market that can hurt your local bike shop, and likely did in the case of mine… This is partly why I sourced my frame locally through a shop here, and something you’ll need to weight when you consider where you want to buy your next bike.

Personally, on the whole, my first bike build has been a good experience! I built the bike I wanted. I enjoyed the process, and it came in under budget. I’ve already put some good miles on it, and love it! Thanks to everyone who helped out.

Here is a great video on how you could ease your way into your first bike build, while still keeping that valuable connection with your local shop: