Complete bikes vs Custom bikes- Whats the best for you?
Author: Tim at LUXBMX Date Posted:25 August 2021
Buying a BMX bike this year!
Since the beginning of BMX in the 1970’s there has been a huge increase in brands that make bikes, the technology going into the bikes and the styles of frames that are being made. Naturally this is a progression with many industries and as time goes on we will only see more and more. Although this gives the consumer more options and variations of bikes to buy, it also means the process when choosing the perfect bike for you can become more difficult due to the amount of options there are out there!
Firstly when looking at BMX bikes in 2021 there are two lanes you can take, building a custom bike from scratch and choosing each individual part or buying a complete bike off the floor and riding it out of the showroom. Although traditionally buying a complete bike can mean a lower quality bike, using more generic parts and lesser quality frame materials has been the way of the past. In 2021 buying a complete bike has moved more toward high end “custom” style complete bikes. With many professional riders having their own signature bikes with the companies they represent.
Hi Tensile vs CrMo
Starting with complete bikes at the lower end of the price spectrum you would be likely to find Hi tensile steel frame, fork and bar. Hi tensile steel is made from a combination of alloys and carbon to create a strong durable metal commonly used in bike frames. Although these frames are made from steel, they aren’t going to be able to hold up to the constant abuse of BMX riding. These bikes are more designed for your first bmx bike, a commuter bike or something that won’t be ridden like a bmx bike. BMX companies make these bikes because the lower price range allows more people to access BMX and get into the sport without spending thousands on their first bike. These styles of complete bikes are traditionally the entry point for many riders into the sport, however these bikes will only hold up to beginner to intermediate riders.
Like hi tensile steel, CrMo is a combination of metals, but is lighter and more durable then hi tensile steel. CrMo is an alloy of steel made with chromium and molybdenum, which makes this steel lighter, more durable and "premium" than Hi-Tensile steel. CrMo frames are used throughout the industry by all BMX brands as the quality is more superior, especially when heat treating is used on the CrMo tubing. It’s because of the better quality that these frames are naturally more expensive, however the life of these frames will be more than that of a hi tensile steel frame. As a rule of thumb if you aren’t going to be jumping your bike, and putting it under high stress then a hi tensile frame would be fine for you. CrMo frames would be more suited to the rider that has been riding for a while and has passed into that intermediate to advance skill level.
Nowadays we are spoiled from brands when it comes to buying a new bike with most companies making complete bikes these days. From supporting local to shopping aboard most BMX bikes are pretty similar with some brands separating themselves from the rest with innovative casting technology on high stress areas of the bikes and frames. Some companies use a process of post heat treating certain tubing to make them more rigid and durable. If you're looking for an entry level Australian brand bike to get into BMX there are several offerings that will be perfect for you. Companies like Forgotten bike co, Division brand, Academy and Colony all offer entry level bikes at a reasonable price. If your looking at bikes under the $400-$500 then you will be looking at hi tensile frame fork and bars, with more generic parts. However if you where to look at one of Colony's top end bikes, say the Sweet tooth pro bike, you are going to find sealed bearings, full CrMo frame, fork and bar, plus all the top of the line Colony BMX Brand components.
American brand Kink Bike Co have a huge offering of bikes ranging from the 12” push bikes to top of the line complete bikes. Looking at the Nathan Williams bike is a great example of a top end complete bike. Featuring parts from sister brand Cinema, this bike features 100% CrMo frame with specs the same as the Nathan Williams signature frame. Aftermarket forks and bars from Kink with a whole bunch of aftermarket parts from Cinema. If you were to build this bike you would end up paying substantially more than the complete. So in this scenario a complete bike would be the best option. Wethepeople is another brand that have pushed quality in complete bikes, making some of the best complete bikes we have seen over the years. Innovative designs, aftermarket parts and affordable prices have made Wethepeople one of the brands leading the race when it comes to complete bikes. Like most companies WTP offer a range of bikes from the cheaper hi tensile type bikes to the top end full CrMo bikes. The Wethepeople envy is their top of the line bike, unlike the Kink Willaims bike this bike isn't anyone’s signature, but features aftermarket parts and progressive bmx geometry in the frame forks and bars.
Building a custom
Here at LUXBMX we love seeing sick customs head out the door to our customers. Knowing that the customer has received the exact bike they were after and being able to build some rad looking bikes keeps us hella stoked. When your building a custom bike the main barrier for most riders is budget. Generally a custom bike will be substantially more expensive then a complete bike, however the quality will show. For example, looking back to the Wethepeople envy, the frame, fork, wheels and cranks almost equal the price of this bike. If you were to build the Envy complete bike from scratch you wouldn’t be able to do so as cheap as just buying the bike. Building a complete custom will give you the bike you have always wanted though, so if budget isn’t a problem them a custom bike is for sure the way to go! Some customers will buy a complete and then replace certain things from the original to make it a little more custom. This works well when the complete bike is similar to what they are trying to achieve. Looking at the cheaper side of building custom bikes, some brands come with a sister company that offers slightly cheaper parts coming out of the same factory. Wethepeople + Salt, Subrosa + Rant, Kink + Mission. These sister brands can be used to build cheaper customs as the parts are cheaper but the quality is still there. For example Salt offers the Vertex freecoaster, this hub is cheaper then all Eclat and Wethepeople freecoasters but features the same internals as the Eclat cortex freecoaster which is more expensive.
What to make of it all?
When it comes to buying a new bike whether you get it off the side of the road, from a mate, or you're building up your dream custom, the important thing is that you're rolling! If you are looking at buying a new bike, wanting to get into the sport or are ready to upgrade up your ride to something next level, we will have everything you need to get started. Contact the guys at LUXBMX at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in contact via socials!