Is It Cheaper to Build Your Own Bike?

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A lot of experienced cyclists have an idea of what they want in their dream bike. They then start to hear of all of these people building their own bikes from scratch. As a result, they get ideas about whether they can do that too. After all, when you build something from scratch it’s normally cheaper, right? Well, not necessarily. Here, we want to answer the question ‘is it cheaper to build your own bike?’.

We are also going to give you a few examples of when you may want to build your own bike from scratch, and when you may just want to buy a bike directly from the manufacturer. 

Would It Be Cheaper to Build Your Own Bike?

The answer to this question is; in most cases, no. In fact, it often costs a lot more to build a bicycle than it would to simply buy an equivalent bike directly from a manufacturer.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why, as well as give you an idea as to the average price to build a bike yourself.

1. Manufacturers Receive Cheaper Prices on Bike Components

Manufacturers are building bikes by the hundreds, sometimes by the thousands.

Because bike manufacturers are buying so many components from their suppliers, they are paying around 50% of the price that you would be paying if you decided to purchase the component at retail.

Basically, a retailer is going to be able to build a bicycle, factoring in only the components, for around 50% of the price that you would be able to build an equivalent bike.

Obviously, this isn’t factoring in labor costs. However, even when that has been considered, a bike manufacturer will still likely be able to produce that bike a good 20-30% cheaper than you would be able to.

2. Time is Money

When people ask if it is cheaper to build your own bike, they often only consider the cost of all the components that go into building that bicycle. They don’t ever think about the amount of time that they need to spend building their bike. As the old saying goes; time is money.

Many people seriously underestimate just how long it takes to build a bicycle. This isn’t something that you can do on a whim. You will often spend days trying to work out what components you want in your build.

You have to think long and hard about whether they will work together, and you will likely have to browse the internet for hours to ensure that you can get them at the best possible price.

Actually, building the bike is going to take a huge amount of time too, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. It can easily take several hours to get all the components fitted together. You then have several more hours trying to deal with any setup issues with the bike.

Even if buying the components used in the bike is cheaper, you have to think about all the time that you’re spending building your bike and the headaches that it will cause. Trust us, if people knew the amount of effort it took to build a bike, most people would end up steering clear. 

Of course, there are some people that won’t care about all the time that they have to put into building a bike from scratch. They just love the whole ‘project’ feel of it. Riding a bicycle that you have built from scratch is a truly enjoyable experience too.

3. Average Cost of a Bike Build

On average, you can expect a bike build to cost 20-30% more than buying a pre-constructed bike. This is assuming that you purchase all of the components brand new. 

This means that if a bike costs $1,500 pre-built, then you could easily be spending $1,800 to $2,000 to build the same bike from scratch. 

When is it Cheaper to Build Your Own Bike?

That being said, there are still times where it may actually be cheaper to build your own bike.

Once you start getting serious about your cycling, you’ll very quickly start to realize what your dream bike would be. You may want a specific frame. You may want a specific braking system, or you may want the gears to work in a particular way.

If you’re lucky, then you may find that a bike manufacturer has already built your dream bike. However, not everybody is that lucky. There may be a bike that comes close but isn’t quite there.

As a result, some people will pick up a bicycle that’s similar and customize it. However, in our experience, it tends to end up being a lot cheaper to build the bicycle from scratch if you have a lot of customization to do. For example, one quick customization job may be simple.

However, if you have a couple of components that you’re swapping out, then it probably becomes a lot cheaper to build the bike from scratch. Obviously, you still have to factor in the time it would take to build the bike. However, most people aren’t too fussed about that. As long as they end up with their dream bike, they are happy.

You may also find that it’s a lot cheaper to build your own bicycle if you’re able to source the components that you need on sale or, in rare cases, used. Although, if you’re waiting for a good price on all of the components that you plan to use, you may be waiting a long time.

For most people, as long as they can get a few of the major components discounted e.g. the bike frame, they are able to build their bike for close to the price that it would cost to purchase it directly from a manufacturer.

Conclusion

So, is it cheaper to build your own bike? No, it isn’t.

However, there are cases where people will still want to build their own bikes. If you want something that’s customized to your needs, then it really is the best route to go down.

Although, do expect to be paying a good 20-30% more for your components than it would cost to just buy a readymade bike from a top manufacturer.

James Mattis

James is a passionate bicyclist who has done about every kind of biking there is. He loves the wind in his hair, the sun over his shoulder and maybe even the bugs in his teeth. No, just kidding about that last item. He isn’t crazy about road burns, either, but acknowledges that to have the good there is the occasional tumble. James feels that his bike is the place where he can unwind, leave troubles alongside the road, meet new people, go new places, and live the life of adventure that he loves. He is ready to share the ride with you.

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