This is where mountain biking all started for me – the humble Raleigh Marauder. I bought it from a friend at scouts, with money saved from my paper round, in 1991 or 1992. Although heavy and not particularly reliable due to the generally cheap components, my Marauder opened up new frontiers for a young cyclist, keen to explore the forests and moors around the family home in suburban Plympton.
Many Sundays in spring or summer were spent riding around Plymbridge Woods, or the tamer areas of Dartmoor, with a group of friends from the 3rd Plympton Scouts. Trail skills were developed, fitness was gained, bicycle maintenance was learnt, and fun was had. A packed-lunch at Yelverton or Meavy, supplemented with cake from the village shop, before pushing on around Burrator Reservoir, then home via Wotter and Bottle Hill. Looking back, it’s surprising how many miles we’d rack up on quite basic bikes.
I can remember bike snobbery creeping into the equation, even then. Indexed or rapid fire shifters, 501 tubing, and true off-road tires were what everybody wanted. One lad managed to get his parents to buy him a new bike each year: Raleigh Montage, Raleigh Mirage, Raleigh Yukon. One of our scout leaders who’d often lead our rides had a Raleigh Peak, with a Girvin Flexstem for suspension. The coolest (or wealthiest) lad had a Marin Muirwoods, which I believe most of us coveted, and for good reason – it was an excellent and stunning mountain bike.
Sadly, I have no photos of my own Raleigh Marauder – the photos below are taken from a gumtree advert of the same model as mine, which appears to be essentially all original.
Virtually all components are steel, including the wheels. Together with the gas-pipe steel tubing of the frame made for a heavy, solid-feeling bike.
The gears didn’t have indexing, and the brakes weren’t great, but it was all easy to get set up. The high profile cantilevers somehow compensated for the awful brake levers.
This bike was surprisingly durable, and served me well, but by the end of 1993 I’d began lusting after sweeter meats. On my visits to Battery Cycle Works’ Raleigh showroom, I’d fallen in love with the Dynatech range of titanium-cromoly bikes, and had resolved to sell the Marauder and save up for something lightweight and cool.