Bikes are made of two major parts: the frame and all of the other parts that make it work.
If you are trying to find a cheap road bike, undoubtedly you’ve wondered if there was some way you could save money by building it yourself.
If you are handy, you definitely can. The trick is to know what is important to you, and where you can afford to cut corners.
Here are a few tricks to get the best deal out of your groupset.
Stick With A Name Brand
Sram and Shimano rule the day. Campagnolo is high-end but rarely found for cheap.
Don’t go for no-name Chinese brands. Compatibility issues are a real bitch when you are trying to spell out your part names in Chinese.
This is the best-kept secret. The cycling industry has taken a page from Apple’s playbook: Newer is better.
Every year they have invented some new carbon-fiber-Teflon-coated-titanium-plated shifter with one more gear than we had the year before.
It’s a hedonistic treadmill.
Not to be a classical purist, but my grandaddy used to ride around with 5 gears on the rear and 2 on the front. Now, I can buy a bicycle with more gears on the rear cassette than he had in total combinations.
It’s like shaving razors: at some point, they have to stop adding blades.
If you can find a closeout deal on last year’s or the last decades’ hot system, you can save a lot of money. Most people who buy gruppos want the most cutting-edge equipment.
This gives you the opportunity to buy the “obsolete” equipment for a nice discount.
In my case, I found a groupset that was 3 years old. I got it for almost half-off. It is the same stuff the pros were racing on less than 5 years ago.
And, don’t worry. Replacement parts and seem to hang around for a good 20 years after they stop making a series (And, often aftermarket parts are available for a good ten years past that.)
Ditch The STI
Shimano Total Integrated shifters have become the gold standard. Both Sram and Campagnolo have their own version of this.
However, integrated shifters are the most expensive part of a groupset. All of those tiny inner mechanisms are like the parts of a fine Swiss watch (and are priced similarly).
Switching to a bar-end shifter configuration can save you 50% off the price of the groupset.
Sure, they aren’t as cool, but they last longer and are cheaper to replace.
Don’t Skimp On Wheels
Wheels effect ride quality. Don’t skimp here. If you can, go with a lower level of shifters and add a little more to your wheel budget. The best road wheels have, in my experience, an MSRP of at least $500.
I typically buy my wheels used. But then I tend to be a little lighter, and I have access to a truing stand to keep them true.
For the novice shopper who has is mechanically inclined, these are insiders tips on how to get a killer deal on a groupset.