How to Buy a Build Kit for a Road Bicycle

Written by rocco pendola
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How to Buy a Build Kit for a Road Bicycle
(Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

For a cyclist, there is nothing better than finding the perfect bicycle frame and building it--part by part--from the ground up. This allows the bike to meet your specifications for performance, quality and price, not the calculated choices of large bicycle manufacturers. Consumers have access to a wide range of parts for their build kit. You can buy the stuff Lance Armstrong rides (Shimano Dura-Ace), or you can opt for something less expensive yet technologically sound.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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    Determine the groupset (crankset, bottom bracket, chain, front and rear derailleur, cassette, shifters, brakes) and other parts (handlebar, stem, headset, grip tape, wheels, tires, tubes, seatpost, saddle) you would like to go with. Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo all make a wide range of groupsets for road bikes. Each maker produces a high-end race quality group (Shimano Dura-Ace, SRAM Red and Campagnolo Super Record) and a less expensive entry-level choice (Shimano Sora or Tiagra, SRAM Rival and Campagnolo Veloce). Middle-of-the-road groupsets--often the best value--for each maker include Shimano 105, SRAM Force and Campagnolo Athena.

    When it comes to other parts, there are simply too many companies making quality road components to mention. Talk to fellow riders and bike shop employees before dropping a bundle on the flavour of the month. The part with the latest technology might not necessarily be right for you. For instance, carbon fibre is all the rage in road biking, but saving a few grams in weight on your bike may not be worth hundreds of dollars to you.

  2. 2

    Visit a locally owned bike shop to check on the availability and prices of the parts you seek. Expect to pay in excess of £1,625 for a high-end Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo groupset. For a beginner or intermediate-level cyclist, a base model groupset (Sora/Tiagra, Rival, Veloce) should run just under £650. Parts run the gamut in price and quality. Most component makers produce a £22 aluminium handlebar and a £130-plus carbon fibre model with numerous models in between. Most national bike chains (like Performance Bicycles), local bike shops and online mail order outlets (like Jensen USA) stock or can special order all groupsets and most parts.

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    Pick out your build kit. Schedule an appointment with your bike shop's service department to put together your new bike. If you are comfortable working on bikes, set aside some time to do it yourself. Building a bike from the ground up can be a process of trial and error. Chances are you will make changes to your original creation. This is why asking questions and doing research ahead of time is important. While changing pedals or a stem is relatively inexpensive, swapping out a whole group because you do not like its feel can cost a fortune.

Tips and warnings

  • You will get a better price on a complete road build kit conceived by the retailer than you will picking parts out one-by-one to create a build kit from scratch. Negotiate hard for what you want. Since you will most always be spending well over £650 to complete a road bike build kit, bike shops are usually willing to deal.
  • It might make sense to purchase the groupset separately and then look for deals from multiple sources on the other parts. This could save some cash if you take your time and do some research.
  • Purchase your road build kit, piece-by-piece or as a whole, from a local bike shop. Not only do you support the local economy, but you are more likely to receive expert advice and a deal from a bicycle shop employee or owner in person.

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