I have now reached the point in my bike build project where I have (almost) bought all the new parts I need. When I was first given the frameset of a 2009 Genesis Croix de Fer, there were a few other bits in the box. However, having been measured up (see Part 1), I found that some of these parts weren’t the right size for me, i.e., the stem and handlebars. So I knew I was going to have to buy a lot of things. I didn’t set myself a budget, as I didn’t have a sum of money set aside, I just bought the parts piecemeal when had some money. This is one of the reasons why this project has taken so long. As the actually build part of the project is due to start sometime in next couple of weeks, I thought it was time to have a quick review of the buying of the bits.

I wanted to get all the parts as cheaply as I could, having also decided that I wanted to use the highest spec components I could afford. My first thought was to try and wangle as many bits as I could at trade rates, using some contacts in the bike biz. This didn’t quite work out, although I was made a very generous offer of 20% off all components bought from a major distributor (Madison), thanks John. However, when I started searching around on-line, I found that I could get everything I wanted at more than 20% off the RRP, so I thought I would add a few tips here for others.

First off, Google is your friend, just ignore the ads and the “shopping results” and be prepared to go through several pages of results. You also learn to avoid the price aggregation sites, which are useless for the most part.

Another thing, Shimano parts (and possibly other parts) are often far cheaper on German web sites such as starbike.com and bike-components.de, even though you have to pay VAT at 19%. However, unless you are putting in a large order, the delivery charges of 10-15 € can be very off putting.

Closer to home, these were the web sites that I used the most:

  • Chain Reaction Cycles: often have some of the best prices, but don’t tell you when their stock levels are low. So if there is a good bargain, don’t wait until after the weekend. Delivery is free. You get your own account and can track orders. However, if you accidentally order an item that is out of stock, they don’t tell you when they will deliver. If you need to return an item, they give a refund straight away.
  • Parker International: do have some good prices, but don’t tell you when their stock levels are low. So if there is a good bargain, don’t wait until after the weekend. Delivery is free. You get your own account and can track orders. If you accidentally order an item that is out of stock, they will contact you to let you know and give you the option of cancelling the order. If you need to return an item, they may need prompting to give a refund, but they do so without quibbling.
  • Planet-X Bikes: their general prices are not the lowest, but some of their clearance bargains are spectacular, I have found parts reduced by over 70%. Delivery is free. You get your own account and can track orders. I have not accidentally ordered an item that is out of stock or returned an item to them, so I can’t say what they are like in these situations.
  • Probikekit: they do have some good general prices and some of their clearance bargains are also spectacular, I have found parts reduced by over 80%. Delivery is free. You don’t get your own account and tracking orders can be more problematic. I have not accidentally ordered an item that is out of stock or returned an item to them, so I can’t say what they are like in these situations.

Then there is fleabay ebay, which can be a good source of parts, but it can be hit and miss. You may need to consider buying from overseas sellers, which can make for slow delivery. I bought a Shimano Ultegra crankset from an ebay seller in Austria in July which has yet to arrive, but then he is not charging for delivery and has offered to fit it ,when he arrives next week. ;-)

I do feel a wee bit guilty about not making more use of local bike shops, so far the things I have bought locally are the rims and spokes of the wheels I had built, but then I have just been around three of my local bike shops looking for tyres. Nothing special, just a pair of 28mm Conti Gatorskins, one of the most popular commuting tyres in the UK, but do any of my local shops stock them? No, so it is little wonder I shop on-line. However, shopping locally has started to become something of a sport, I have tried several times to buy a saddle from my nearest bike shop (the Tri Centre), but Hugh is always trying to convince me that I don’t really want to buy one, although his brother Stuart has lent me a couple of test saddles to try out.

Next: Bike build project (part 5): Putting it all together.

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