Most road bike parts are manufactured in other countries, so it’s expensive to get a single part shipped. Large manufacturers and resalers buy in bulk, get wholesale discounts, and ship by the thousands.
This practice lets companies assemble bicycles and sell them at a profit while still spending less. Is it cheaper to build a road bike or buy one?
It is cheaper to buy a road bike than it is to build one. Large corporations and bike shops save money by importing in bulk, then producing a large number of the same road bike all at once. This way they can charge a cheaper amount for the bike. Building a road bike will cost more for individual parts.
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Should You Buy or Build A Road Bike
There are advantages to buying and building a road bike. Whether you should DIY depends on how mechanically inclined you are, and how unique the bike you want is compared to a base model.
If you want a new bike, it will always be cheaper to buy a prebuilt model than to build your own out of all new parts, but you cannot get a custom bike that way.
How Much Does It Cost To Build A Road Bike
Building our own road bike costs upwards of a thousand dollars for basic (not high quality) parts.
Starting from scratch, you’ll need to locate and buy each individual piece. Expect to pay hefty shipping fees because bike parts are large and often heavy, especially if you want a steel frame.
Depending on the exact parts you need and where they’re coming from, fees can run much higher, and you could end up paying eight to ten thousand dollars.
Moreover, that cost doesn’t include tools, space, or labor costs for the time it takes.
Naturally, you don’t pay yourself to do a project, but if you want an accurate cost estimate of the bike’s value, you should include all of those extras in your calculation.
Is It Worth Building A Road Bike
It is worth building a road bike. If you have a unique vision and only the bike of your dreams will do, then making it yourself is the way to go.
Moreover, DIY can be a lot of fun and very satisfying. Plus, you get the ‘street cred’ of being able to tell everyone who admires your ride that you built this fantastic custom bike, which is something very few people can say.
How To Build A Cheaper Road Bike
There are a lot of components to consider when building a bike. Some parts are non-negotiable, and you should always look for the best you can afford, such as the frame.
However, there are some places you can cut corners safely to save a little money. I’ve listed some spots you can cut costs below.
- Drivetrain / Groupset – The collection of sprockets and parts that move power from your pedals to your back wheel should be of decent quality, but you don’t need the newest, shiniest, fanciest, and most high-tech parts to build a great road bike. Skip the superb and shoot for the serviceable and reliable instead.
- Tires – Good tires don’t need to be the absolute creme of the crop. A durable pair of tires can come from a less expensive brand since you’ll end up replacing them in time anyhow.
- Wheels – A more expensive wheel is often lighter but adding a little wheel weight isn’t necessarily bad.
How Much Does It Cost To Buy A Road Bike
You can pick up an inexpensive road bike for less than $200 new. However, the quality of a bargain road bike is equal to its price.
A mid-level but still high-quality, prefabricated road bike will cost around eight hundred to two thousand dollars or more.
If you want a custom, creme of the crop, one-of-a-kind bike, you can end up paying thousands to designers, but for most people, a mid-range quality bike is all you’ll need.
As Bike Finest points out, around twenty percent of a road bike’s cost is the crafting process. With a better bike, manufacturers spend more on engineering and assembly.
Is It Worth Buying A Road Bike
First is the savings. Ever since the industrial revolution it has been cheaper to mass-produce, mass ship, factory build, and retail most products including bicycles.
The second thing you get from buying a premade bike is assurances. Almost every company or resale outlet offers a warranty on their bikes.
Whether it’s an extended and comprehensive warranty that you pay extra for, or a basic manufacturing defect policy, you know that if something goes wrong that isn’t your fault it’s covered and you’ll get a replacement.
Finally, there is the issue of parts. Some bike parts are proprietary or exclusive to one company.
For example, Shimano, which makes many of the components you see on bikes today, may sell a particular drive train component made from a specific material with a specific design only to Huffy or another major bike producer.
The bike company gets a quality part at a reasonable price, and Shimano would be guaranteed lots of sales.
Still, an individual making their own bike at home would not be able to buy that exact model of that part in that material.
How To Buy A Cheaper Road Bike
The easiest way to buy a cheaper road bike is to pick one up secondhand. Plenty of people buy a bicycle with the intent to ride it and never make the time.
Others take good care of their bikes but eventually upgrade. So long as you check the bike out first to make sure it’s in good shape then you can save a substantial amount of money.
Thrift shops may have used road bikes if you can’t find an individual seller, but the disadvantage of secondhand is that you are extremely limited because the only choices are those people no longer need.
Another option for getting a cheaper road bike is to take a floor model. You can sometimes get a bike that has been on display at a slight discount because it is lightly used.
Speaking of used, shops will often offer a discount on a bike that has a cosmetic flaw like scratched paint because of a shipping issue, or because a customer damaged the bike and didn’t buy it.
Lastly, you can check overstock shops and discount retail sites like Overstock.com or Amazon Warehouse to see if the bike you want is available for a small percentage off of retail prices.
Helpful Tips To Know About If It’s Cheaper To Build A Road Bike or Buy One
It’s almost always cheaper to buy a road bike than to build one. Even before you account for the time spent and shipping costs, you’ll still pay more for individual retail parts than a pre-assembled generic bike.
Here are more helpful tips to know about if it’s cheaper to build a road bike or buy one.
- Check eBay and similar resale sites where people get rid of old bikes and parts. You may find the pieces you need to build a great road bike for a better price if you’re willing to disassemble them yourself.
- Consider buying a premade bike and then upgrading it over time. You can get that excellent custom ride by starting with a base model.
- Big businesses that ship and sell thousands or millions of bikes (or other products) also frequently get a tax break or lower bulk import fees than individuals.
- Don’t forget about taxes and import fees. Often, when people calculate the cost of their bike parts, they fail to add these fees because they aren’t included in the listed price. Skip the unpleasant surprises and make sure you do all the math if you want to build your road bike.
Building a road bike is satisfying and lets you customize your ride to fit exactly what you want and need. However, it is not cheaper to build a road bike than to buy one.
Businesses profit from their markups, but they also get a discount because they order and assemble in bulk.
Plus, they often get a tax break. As a private individual, you’ll pay more for one part than a businesses’ wholesale price for ordering a thousand of the same thing.
Likewise, it’s less per part to ship hundreds of pieces in a cargo container than to get just one or two. It’s well worth building a bike you love, but it’s not the way to save money.