Question: Which parts to buy new for a fresh build and which parts to buy used?

Hi all,

I’m a n00b and building up a bike for the first time. I’ll put up a build thread a little later on, once there’s something meaningful to share. In the meantime I wanted to put together a list of parts that are best to buy new, and what’s ok to buy second hand. I’m not a weight weenie, and the bike will be a cantilever SSCX set up for commuting.

I thought the following parts would be best to buy new/near new, while the rest are ok to buy second hand:

  • Crankset
  • BB
  • Wheels
  • Brakes

Does anybody else have a different view of which areas are worth a bigger relative investment, and which other areas you can scrimp on?


I would have thought any alloy parts would be okay to buy second hand given no obvious signs of damage or undue wear. I’ve bought all the above items second hand…am I going to die?

Shoulda bought a cell

Money spent on wheels is money well spent.

At some point, yes.

@Eraser, there are a bunch of threads discussing pros/cons/options of all of those parts (and every other part/accessory/fashion item) on this forum and others. Have a search (google can be better than the inbuilt search on this forum) and delve into those threads.

Good wheels can move to a different bike, even if they need respacing. Sealed bearing hubs are a better option for your uses. A wider rim is also good, 23mm or so. WTB chriscross would be aces, tuff, straight, tubelessable. Formula hubs are good value too. But there’s nothing wrong with used wheels as long as the brake track isn’t worn out and the bearings/threads are good, and they’re a lot cheaper than new / handbuilt.

Good cranks likewise, pick your BCD to suit your gearing requirements, 144 is cool for the street but will limit you for SSCXing with a 42T min and need $$$ freewheels. stay away from vintage cranks, they can crack if you don’t know what to look for, the sugino messenger / rd2 is a fine cheap option.

Basic cartridge BBs, cheap and bombproof, UN55, don’t bother with other stuff unless you’re throwing money at an SKF, used only if you get one free/with cranks or already have one. they’re cheap.

Brakes/levers: drops or flat bars? Forget stuffing around with cantis for this setup. Used is fine if they’re not bent/busted/rusted.

Drops: mini vees in 85mm arm length, tektro RX5 plus adjustable noodle and better pads.
Flatbars: BMX/MTB regular vees plus Shimano levers (eg BL-4600 / BL-T780 / BL-R780 all do caliper or linear pull), or some Avid speedials.

Chain: eh, a $1 BMX chain from is hard to beat right now. Sure an Izumi is nice, but…

Cables/housing: new, not worth skimping on something so cheap. linear housing if you want to improve feel.

^ /thread

Wow, that was quick! I suppose I should reply to everybody one by one.

P!N20: I wasn’t referring to safety (beyond decent brakes), but just the desire to build something that rides well on a reasonable budget. I’ll keep your comments about alloy gear in mind :slight_smile:

zach: That would be no fun, plus no cell SSCX bike anyway…

WestcoastPete: Good wheels. Noted.

Manatra: Thanks for the tip. I will have a chat with Dr. Google and see what I find. Sometimes it’s hard for a relative newcomer like me to sort out the practical facts from the rantings of madmen, but I’ll do my best. People also have wildly differing definitions of cheap.

AL9000: Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. I genuinely appreciate it!

  • Wheels are one of the biggest expenses I suppose, and the sky is the limit there. The bike will mainly see commuting use, so I will look for something with sealed hubs, and keep an eye out for Formula hubs (and possibly rebranded equivalents).
  • Sounds like cyclingdeal’s deal on the Sugino messengers is pretty unbeatable… I just need to figure out the right ratios based on my favoured gear in my current commuter bike (3 x 7 on 26 inch slicks)
  • Drop bars, definitely. I was looking at Shorty 4s or something similar, but the Tektro 926AL are damn good value (ref: Le Tour Cycles) if I can’t find the slightly longer RX5s. I have to be mindful of the length as I do want to run guards in the winter. I’d match the brakes with the Tektro RL520 levers to get the right pull ratio. I am surprised you’re quite against the supposed complexity of cantilevers, but that’s ok.
  • Chain, noted.
  • Cables/housing are not worth skimping on. I bought shimano brake and gear cables for my MTB and they made a world of difference.

Nah; 926AL is 85mm right? If so, use normal calipers. RL520s only if you’re using full length linear pulls.

I’m not going to rewrite it, but read this:

926AL is 80mm, best rim clearance/modulation with drops, but lowest height clearance, especially for guards. 85mm RX3/RX5 is a better bet, (or RX6 / other 90mm arms with RL520s maybe for ultimate clearance/height/modulation combo). Exact noodle clearance will depend on stud placement.

RL520 levers are for BMX/MTB fullsize linear pull brakes (not perfect, but better with full size vees than normal drop levers)

For mini vees, get something like SRAM SS levers, Tektro RL340, TRP RRL.

Gear wise, mid 60" would be fine for commuting, like 42:17, 66.7", allows you to gear up or down between 63-70" with common 16-18T freewheels. Or more range with a different sized chainring.

Hi again! Sorry for the slow response. I definitely appreciate all the feedback i am getting.

WestcoastPete: The 926AL is 80mm, whereas the RX5 is 85mm. However the RX5 is much much harder to source new it seems.

AL9000: Thanks again! The Pomp is sold with 926AL brakes as a complete bike, and the pictures show decent clearance with 700x28 tyres, but i am still not sure if it’s enough for guards. I am definitely going with drop levers, but the information i get about lever choice for mini vees seems to be a little contradictory. My basic understanding was that cantis have the same pull as normal road brakes, whereas v-brakes need more pull to be effective.

In a previous comment you suggested that I go with the UN55 BB, but they don’t seem to sell it in 68x103mm to give me the 45mm chainline the Sugino Messengers supposedly give me, ref:

If you need a 103 you’re basically stuck with the sugino or a noname BB. Get whatever you can findand replace when crunchy.

cross check / rx5 / guard / rack. only just worked with a 28mm tyre. stud placement may mean 80mm arms work, or not.

“mini” vees have cable pull similar to cantis and calipers, that’s why they exist. The shorter the arm the closer it is and the better the pad to rim clearance will be. The longer the arm the more power you have, but the pad-rim distance will be decreased.

full size vees (over 90mm) have increased cable pull.

Using levers like SRAM SS ones pull more cable than tektro / shimano R400 which alleviates the problem of 85-90mm arms a little. Using “linear pull” drop levers will be mostly ok with full size vees but not as great as with proper linear pull flatbar levers, but using them with 90mm arms would give you a great combo of power/modulation/clearance.

Hi AL9000,

Thanks again. I am going to see if I can source some RX5s on the cheap to reduce the risk of not being able to fit guards if i go with the 926ALs. However if the RX5s are a no-go I can’t really lose with the 926ALs at $25 (for the pair!) delivered from a local seller. I am posting in the WTB section on BNA since I don’t have access to it here yet. I am excited to be commencing the build and will put up a thread once I have something meaningful to share.

Levers: I’ll keep an eye out for the RL340s or R400s too, as the SRAMs seem awfully pricey for this cheap bastard. I won’t be going with long linear pull brakes so I am comfortable with the advice I have received.