Tag Archives: mtb

My Raleigh M Trax 500 titanium (1993)

With 2015 drawing to a close, there’s been a new addition to the collection of vintage Raleigh moutain bikes — A nearly mint condition M Trax 500 from 1993.

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As you might guess from my other blog posts, I do have a soft spot for this particular early nineties mountain bike range, having ridden a 400 as my first serious bike, back in the day.

The M Trax 500’s metallic paint job is quite splendiferous, and the titanium bull-horn handlebar gives the bike an aggressive look.

Sadly, the Exage trigger shifters are not very durable, and broke down almost immediately after taking possession of the bike.

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This is in contrast, ironically, to the bullet proof Deore DX thumbshifters that were included on the 420, 400 and 300 models of the same year. I guess I’ll end up fitting thumbshifters to my 500 as well …

BIG wheels are great for riding UP stairs

I recently spotted this gem on youtube, from Milltown Cycles, showing a dude riding UP a substantial flight of stair on what appears to be a custom-built mountain bike which uses 36 inch wheels.

Awesome! Check out the video below:

A number of custom frame builders are now able to build 36er MTBs, which use rims originally designed for off-road unicycles. The ideal application of such large wheeled MTBs should (in theory) lie in non-singletracky marathon events, but there is essentially no information published on the web concerning how much faster or slower 36ers can be compared to 26ers, 650b, or 29ers.

But watch this space!

Five of the Most Beautiful Vintage – Retro Mountain Bikes

While browsing the web and thinking of possible future vintage MTB projects, I inevitably get side-tracked by all the photos of splendiferously beautiful mountain bikes of yesteryear.

I usually just book mark the photos for future inspiration, but here I’m going to show five of my favourites, if not necessarily cost-effective, vintage mountain bikes.

This utterly stunning Dave Lloyd

A sublime bespoke build from one of the great frame builders of the British Isles. The colour-matched Girvin Flex Stem (and other parts) is a nice touch.

The Alpinestars Ti Mega

Super expensive, and with a frame prone to cracking near the bottom bracket. But wow!

Fat Chance Yo Eddy with aqua-fade

Known to ride like a dream (for a rigid steel bike), this bike’s look simply blows my mind.

Anodyzed GT Zaskars

What’s not to love about this bike? Loads of purple anodyzing, and Spinergy wheels. Really awesome.

The Mantis Flying V

The frame design in itself looks great, but the paintwork and the touch of tasteful purple anodyzed parts really are the cherry on top of the cake. This frame is currently up for sale, as it happens, on retrobike, for a couple of thousand Euros.

My choices are, of course, totally subjective.

 

My Muddy Fox Courier Comp

From my collection of vintage MTB frames, this is my Muddy Fox Courier Comp. It hails from the golden age of Muddy Fox mountain bikes, before the brand started using its name to peddle mountain bikes that were complete and utter rubbish.

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This was something of an impulse purchase, Fortunately, it cost peanuts. My interested was piqued by its Tange Infinity steel tubset, with a beautiful wishbone structure on the seat stays, and its bright green paintwork with matching steel stem.

The paw-print stamped into the seat tube sleeve is also a nice touch.

I have no plans to build it up, as yet. But if anybody has any ideas, please feel free to add a comment below.

Why I still prefer thumbshifters

Gear shifting technology has come a long way. The latest groupsets offer unrivalled shifting performance, with electronic shifting and autonomously calibrating derailleurs now available at the very top end of the Shimano spectrum.

But I still prefer thumbshifters, namely Shimano’s 7 speed Deore and Deore XT early 90s. In fact, I still use thumbshifters on most of my mountain bikes.

See, for example, my Haro Extreme, my Raleigh M Trax 300, or my Rourke. I’m also planning to use a set on my soon to be built Dynatech Voyager and Dynatech Mission.

Here’s why:

* low cost (typically 20-30 GBP per pair).

* reliable, virtually indestructible, they just work.

* allows the user to trim the front mech to avoid chain-rub on the mech’s plates.

* they have a hidden extra click, allowing use with an 8 speed cassette.

The Meaning of Deore

Deore has been among Shimano’s off-road groupsets practically from the very beginning of the first wave of mass-produced MTBs. Offering an excellent compromise in terms of price vs weight and performance, Deore has long been a favourite for riders who are unable or unwilling to splash out on the slightly superior XT (and XTR) groupsets.

There are a number of suggested origins for the name, including ‘of gold’ and ‘of ore’, but the original meaning is quite different. However, the deer head motif on some early XT derailleurs points us in the right direction.

To put it simply, ‘Deore’ means ‘deer’, and is a loanword absorbed into the Japanese language from English. In a way, I find it touching that the early engineers and their marketing should have imagined mountain bike riders as akin to deer, gracefully making their way through the wilderness.

A far cry from the hardcore freeriders and downhillers that characterize the modern MTB scene!

Wheeler unveils its first 36er mountain bike

The thirty-sixer MTB poses a number of exciting possibilities for taller mountain bikers (see my detailed discussion of the pros and cons). Until now, 36 inch wheeled mountain bikes have been the preserve of those able to commission a bespoke steel bike – but this might be set to change, after Taiwanese manufacturer Wheeler unveiled its first 36er MTB last month.

Little is known about Wheeler’s 36er, but it’s rumoured to be a production model. If true, then we’re probably on the cusp of a new wheel-size war. We’ll likely see development of MTB-specific 36-inch rims and tires (at last!), prices will start to come down, and there’ll be more choice of components frame materials.

But let’s wait and see!

Photo reblogged from bikerumor.

10 of the Best Vintage Full Suspension Mountain Bike Frames

The nineteen-nineties saw an explosion of innovative new mountain bike technology, one of the most important being suspension systems, which allowed a mountain biker to ride faster, for longer, across the more rugged trails. While suspension has continued to evolve year upon year, the fundamental design of the most popular modern suspension systems come from the 90s.

And as such, there are a number of suspension forks and suspension frames that remain surprisingly capable by today’s standards. Although highly subjective, and by no means exhaustive, this is my list of what I consider to be the 10 best full suspension frames from the 1990s.

Marin Mount Vision / Rift Zone / East Peak / Alpine Trail Photo from this retrobike thread.

Santa Cruz Heckler Photo from here.

Raleigh Special Products Division 300 rsp300cat Specialized FSR

Photo from this webpage.

GT RTS furtado-rts1_velonews-superbikes1993 GT LTS Image from this MTBR thread.

Proflex

Photo from this site, but originally scanned from the “Pro Mountain Biker” book (Jeremy Evans and Brant Richards, 1995).

AMP Research AMPB4_MBA_slider Mountain Cycle San Andreas Photo from www.mombat.org

Answer Manitou FS

Photo from this mtbr thread.

Building my Haro Extreme 1991

A couple of years ago I decided I needed a second mountain bike, you know, to have in the shed just in case my main bike is put out of action. I wanted to avoid a repeat of my first summer in Portugal, when a trashed wheel and a slow bike mechanic made me miss nearly a month of the best MTB riding weather.

I wanted something in steel, something from the early nineties, and something a bit different. Luckily for me, Haro Extreme Comp frame came up for sale, in great condition and at a fair price, and I couldn’t resist buying what was, at that time, my 4th MTB frame.

This frame has elevated chain stays, a fad from the early nineties which eliminated chain-slap, and also allowed for a shorter wheelbase. This last point, the shorter wheelbase, made for a more responsive ride, and aided rear wheel traction when climbing by placing the rider’s mass more in line with the tire’s contact patch.

However, the fact that this kind of design fell out of fashion by the second half of the nineties speaks volumes about its cost to benefit ratio. Perhaps more importantly, I think elevated chain stays look really awesome!

Other curios features of this frame are curved top tube (similar to Raleigh’s Dynacurve), brake bosses for a u-brake on the chain stays, an extraordinarily short head tube for a frame this large, and funky bottle cage bosses.

Until my build is complete, I’ll have to resort to showing pages from the Haro MTB catalogue of the same year. I have the black frame, on the right hand side of this page:

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But sadly, I don’t have the cool looking Tange fork. The page below explains the reasoning behind the unusual frame geometry.

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Below we get to see the Haro Extreme Comp from a different angle, and side by side with a classic diamond frame from elsewhere in Haro’s 1991 line up.

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Marin Mount Vision: top of my list of full suspension bikes

With quite a few rigid mountain bikes in the collection now, I’ve been thinking about broadening the collection to include a cross-country capable, but inexpensive, full suspension bike. Top of my list at the moment is the Marin Mount Vision, which I’ve included in my list of the 100 best vintage mountain bikes. And below is an example of one, from this blog. With it’s M-shaped frame, it looks awesome, and the overall design is as efficient as vintage full suspension gets.

100 of the best vintage mountain bikes

This is something I thought would be interesting to share. It’s adapted from a list I’ve written myself in recent years, as I’ve  searched for interesting vintage mountain bikes for my own collection.

As one might guess, there is an obvious bias towards the following:

  • bikes from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, principally 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995
  • MTBs with steel frames
  • mass-produced MTBs
  • MTBs that won’t cost an arm and a leg
  • MTB brands that were available in the USA, Canada, and the British Isles

It’s not exhaustive, and it’s not especially objective either. It’s simply a list of what I consider to be the best 100 vintage mountain bikes. These are all bikes I’d like to own, and would consider buying for myself, in the right size and condition.

I plan to add links to photos or catalogue scans for each of the listed bikes, in the near future.

The list

Alpinestars Cro Mega (e-stay or normal)

Alpinestars Alu Mega (e-stay, without cracks)

Alpinestars Ti Mega (e-stay, without cracks)

Bontrager Race / Race Lite

492Bonty1

Breezer Storm

91breezerstorm

Bridgestone MB-1

mb1

Brodie Sovereign

93-brodie-sovereign

Cannondale Killer V series

Cannondale M series

Diamond Back Axis

Diamond Back Axis TT

Diamond Back WCF / Vertex

Giant ATX

Gary Fisher Montare, or any pre-Trek steel Fisher

GT Psyclone

GT Zaskar and Xixang

GT RTS

GT STS

Haro Extreme

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Ibis Mojo

KHS Montana Comp

Klein Attitude (pre Trek)

Koga Miyata Ridgerunner

Kona Hei Hei (Titanium)

Litespeed Titanium (without cracks – lifetime warranties no longer valid after buyout)

Mantis Valkyrie

Marin Rift Zone

Marin Eldridge Grade

Marin with late 80s to early 90s splatter paint

Merlin Titanium (without cracks – lifetime warranties no longer valid after buyout)

Mountain Cycle Moho

Mountain Cycle San Andreas

Muddy Fox Courier Comp

Nishiki Alien

Orange Clockwork

Orange P7

Orange Vitamin T (or T2)

Overburys Pioneer

Pace RC200 (and other RC frames)

Panasonic MC Pro (rare but awesome)

Pro Flex 855 (and similar)

Raleigh Dynatech Torus

Raleigh Dynatech Diablo LX, DX, or STX

Raleigh M Trax Ti 3000 or 4000 (1995 model with UGLI fork)

Raleigh Special Products Division 853 (hard-tail or full suspension)

Raleigh lugged and brazed 531 frames from the late 1980s (Moonshine, Thunder Road, White Lightning, and others)

Raleigh USA Technium Chill

Ridgeback 704 XT (and similar)

Rock Lobster / Amazon

Rocky Mountain Fusion

Rocky Mountain Blizzard

Santa Cruz Heckler

Saracen Kili

Schwinn Paramount

Scott Team or Pro

Slingshot

Specialized Stumpjumper (steel)

Specialized Stumpjumper (M2)

Specialized FSR

Trek Singletrack series (steel)

Trek 8000 Series, bonded carbon composite

Trek Y33

Univega Alpina 500 (and similar)

Yeti Ultimate (steel)

Zinn (anything)

Save

How to buy a vintage mountain bike

OK, so you have some idea about what model of vintage mountain bike you’d like to have. How do you go about buying it?

By far the best place to buy a vintage mountain bike (or any kind of vintage bike) is retrobike.co.uk. Prices are generally fair, and the sellers are almost all honest. Ebay is a bit of a mixed bag: prices tend to be higher that at retrobike.co.uk, and borderline fraud is not uncommon, unfortunately. Gumtree can also serve up some gems, if you’re able to collect from the seller.

Retrobike doesn’t just have a for sale forum, there is a also a forum for posting ‘wanted’ adverts, of you’re looking for something specific. More often than not, somebody who has the item (or bike) you’re searching for, and will reply to your advert. There is also a handy forum where the retrobike.co.uk community can be asked for honest valuations on any bike or component.

Things I look out for

A rule of thumb is that buying a complete (or nearly complete) bike is more cost effective than buying all the parts separately. Of course, if money’s no object, or you have a specific set of components in mind, then by all means do the latter!

Similarly, sometimes it pays to buy a ‘donor’ bike to get a full set of components to turn your bare frame into a complete bike. Some even buy complete bikes for a single part, and then break down the remains to sell separately, to cover the cost of that single part.

I’ve found that the level of wear on moving parts usually makes little difference to the price of a vintage bike. A bike with a nearly worn out drive train could sell for the same or a similar price as an identical bike with very low mileage. The key to detect a low mileage bike is to look at the parts that wear out fastest: tires, chainrings and cassette. It helps to know beforehand what the original specs of the bike were.

What I try to avoid

I try to avoid bikes with evidence for having had a hard life, or which haven’t been looked after. For example, a little bit of rust is not necessarily deal breaker, but it would be pot luck as to whether the rust is just skin-deep, or has gone all the way through the tubing. In the event of there being more than a little bit of rust, I would not touch the bike with a barge-pole, unless the frame is something really special and/or cheap.

It sometimes happens that a seller tries to sell a decent frame, but built up using low grade parts, to an unsuspecting buyer. I’ve seen frames go cheaply on ebay, only to get relisted a week or so later at an inflated price, having been built up with inferior parts. Imagine a Zaskar built up with a Shimano SIS pressed steel and plastic drive train!

A seized seat post is another ‘gotcha’ that occasionally crops up. Although not fatal, it does take a fair bit of work to remove (or dissolve) a seized-in post. Similarly, beware frames that have been stripped down, with the exception of the bottom bracket, which could be hinting at a seized in bottom bracket.

Suspension can be a thorny issue, as it can be hard to tell whether they still work. For suspension forks that use elastomers, it’s common to find the elastomers have disintegrated. Oil forks may require new seals. If you really want suspension, it may be best to buy separately a set of forks that you know are in good working order.

Finally, beware adverts or listings with no photo of the item, or only limited photos. A good seller will show the bike from all angles, and will show and describe honestly the condition, and any damage to the item.

Which bikes to choose?

Tastes and budgets differ, so there is no clean answer to this question.As a general rule, it’s hard to go wrong with a double-butted cromoly steel frame with a Shimano LX or DX groupset, which should cost somewhere in the region of 75 to 150 pounds (100-200 Euro; 120-230 USD) in good working condition.

But also check out my highly subjective list of some of the best vintage steel or aluminium mountain bikes. If you’re up for a less conventional bike, then perhaps an elevated chain-stay (e-stay) mountain bike might hit the spot. I also highly recommend Raleigh Special Product Division’s titanium and steel composite frames, which are usually very good value for money. For more refined tastes, hand-built Reynolds 853 frames occasionally come up for sale.

My rides: Raleigh Dynatech Mission (Dynacurve)

One of my projects is a 1990 Raleigh Dynatech Mission. I’ve heard great things about this frame, and I’m rather looking forward to getting it built up, when time permits.

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The frame is of an unconventional construction, having butted Reynolds 653 mang-moly steel main tubes (531 material, after heat-treatment), a Reynolds 531 Mang-Moly fork and rear triangle, and an aluminium head tube.

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Look closely, and you’ll see the frame is lugged. But unlike most lugged frames, this one isn’t lugged and brazed. In fact, the main tubes are joined by bonding (using high-tech aerospace glue) into lugs. This actually makes for a stronger join than could normally be achieved through welding or brazing – the heat from which can reduce the tensile strength of heat-treated steel – and allows different metals to be joined (aluminium and steel in this case, but Raleigh also bonded titanium and metal matrix to steel and aluminium).

Raleigh often didn’t publicly acknowledge which tubing was used in their Dynatech ranges, preferring instead to invent their own tubeset designation. In the case of the Mission, Raleigh’s mix of Reynolds 653 and 531 was designated ‘2070 performance enhanced tube set’.

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For comparison, my Dynatech Voyager‘s 2060 tube set has Reynolds 531 main tubes instead of 653, and a chrome-moly fork.

Check out the unusual design of the lugged head tube  in the photo below

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But what really sets my Dynatech Mission apart from other frames is its ‘Dynacurve’ top tube. Dynatech Missions are not exactly common, and frames with the Dynacurve top tube are even more of a rarity – so I feel pretty lucky to own one.

As the name suggests, the top tube has a noticeable curve, so as to “ensure maximum support for the seat tube while keeping the head tube at the optimum length” on larger models of the frame.

dyna-curve

However, it’s not obvious why the Dynacurve is really needed at all. Other manufacturers managed to build large frames without the need for curved top tubes, but perhaps the issue is related to the bonded construction of the Dynatech. Regardless, I think it looks really cool!

See the photos below, linked from retrobike.co.uk, for a few more examples of Dynacurve frames.

Dynatech Voyager with Dynacurve:

Compare the above to the non-Dynacurve (smaller) bike below:

Dynatech Voyager without Dynacurve

And another example of a Mission, again from retrobike.co.uk:

Photos of my own build will follow at some point in the future … watch this space!

Vintage steel Raleigh Dynatechs

Often overlooked in favour of the lighter titanium models, Raleigh made some really nice bonded steel Dynatech frames during the late eighties and early nineties.

dynatech awaiting trial
Cover of a Dynatech catalogue

The innovation made by Raleigh for this range of bikes was the bonding together of the main tubes, often from different materials, to build a frame that is light yet strong. The Raleigh brochures of the day boasted that bonding gives stronger tube joins, compared to welding or brazing.

dynatech_steel

I really love the very visible engineering on these frames in the form of lugs, and the absence of messy welds (although the rear triangle is still welded). Let’s have a look at a couple of the bikes.

Dynatech Voyager

dynatech_voyager

Dynatech Encounter

Check out the Girvin Flexstem ‘suspension’ stem!

dynatech_endeavour

36er mountain bikes: what you need to know

Recently, I’ve found myself harbouring a growing interest in the concept of the 36 inch wheeled mountain bike. Suitable for all but the tallest riders, 36ers are still very niche and require a significant outlay to have one custom-built, yet they could very well be future for taller riders who do longer-distance cross-country riding.

Truebike_3x10XT_01

Truebike_SS_17

The bikes shown above are custom built steel 36er, from Truebike. Go and check out their webpage for prices and further details.

While I’ve been convincing myself to go ahead and get a 36er MTB built (later this year, hopefully), I’ve read up on just about every possible aspect of this type of bike. I’ve weighed up the pluses and negatives, investigated options for suspension, possible tires, frame materials, frame-builders … and so on.

This blog post is an attempt to distill all the relevant information about 36er mountain bikes into a single reference guide, which I hope can be useful for others who may also be pondering whether to try a 36er, or to raise awareness of the great possibilities of large wheeled MTBs.

What is a 36er?

A 36er is, as the name implies, a mountain bike built for 36 inch diameter wheels. This wheel size is not plucked out of thin air at random, but is chosen due to the availability of components for unicycles, which have 36-inch as one of their wheel-size standards. (32-inch is another standard size, for which the same principles discussed also apply, but which won’t be discussed here to avoid complicating things.)

For the wheels, conventional wisdom among builders of 36ers seems to be that a combo such as 36-inch, 36 hole, aluminium rims from Nimbus (the market leader in 36 inch rims), with 14 g straight spokes in a 3-cross pattern, on 29er-specific shimano hubs.

Until very recently, owners of a 36er would have been forced to make do with heavy, and not particularly grippy unicycle tires. But there are already a few MTB-specific 36er tires available now, including this tire being sold by Waltworks, which they describe thus:

Vital statistics:
Size: 36″ x 2.25″
Weight: 1625g +/-40g
Tubeless Ready: Yes
Max PSI: 65
Bead: Wire
TPI: 36
Durometer: 60 Shore A

These tires are significantly lighter (you’ll save more than a pound per tire) than the competition, which help you accelerate more quickly and reduces the weight of the wheel at the rim allowing for faster/longer rides with reduced effort.  They are tubeless ready and setup well allowing for lower pressure and more grip. Bicyclists have found 18-23psi to be a good range while unicyclists have gone a bit higher to 32-40psi.

Tread pattern lies between a Kenda Nevegal and Schwalbe Racing Ralph in terms of tread depth and design, creating good grip across a wide range of terrain and conditions while maximizing speed off-road and on.  Tapered and ramped center knobs along with ramped transition knobs provide traction and control, while tie bars connecting the triangular transition knobs to side knobs help with cornering.

That’s most probably the tire I’ll be ordering for  my 36er.

A 36er MTB is also going to need a frame and fork that can accommodate the giant wheels. At the time of writing (2015), 36ers are a niche variety or MTB that are not manufactured by any of the mass-producing bike companies. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent custom frame-builders to choose from worldwide, working predominantly with steel tubing. Some are even able to adapt suspension and other components for use on a 36er. (At the end of this page I’ve compiled a list of frame-builders who are known to be willing to build 36er frames.)

The other components can basically just be a mix and match of regular MTB parts, depending on your own preference and budgetary constraints. In terms of gearing, a 22 tooth front chainring with a wide range rear cassette (i.e., 11-36) seems to be what many recommend (bigger wheels require lower gearing).

An overall price is hard to define, since it depends on the components and materials chosen, but somewhere in the ballpark of 1500 GBP / 2500 Euro / 3000 US Dollars should be roughly the lower limit for a compete 36er.

Who can or should ride a 36er?

The minimum height to be able to ride a 36er is probably around 5 foot 8 (173 cm). To put things into context, this would be roughly equivalent to a quite short rider on a 29er.

A rider who is 6 foot (183 cm) or taller should have no real problem with a 36er, and anybody above 6 foot 9 (206 cm) or so would probably find a 36er to be their optimal choice of mountain bike.

If in doubt, it may be best to go for a 32er MTB instead.

Summary of the positives (as I see them)

The benefits of riding a 36er ought to be, in effect, an accentuated version of the benefits that 29ers bring:

– The larger wheels give smoother ride (rolling resistance, flexibility, momentum).

– Larger tire contact patch may provide greater traction.

Such a unique bike cannot fail to be a talking point on the trails (I see this as positive, but some may disagree).

Summary of the negatives

Heavier than smaller-wheeled mountain bikes, predominantly due to the larger wheels. Expect a 36er to weigh in at around 30-35 lb (13-16 kg). This might sound like a lot of extra weight, but in mitigation one must consider that the higher body weight of the taller riders who might opt for a 36er makes the weight of the bike somewhat less important.

Their heavier wheels are harder to spin up, and are more difficult to decelerate when reducing speed.

Reduced maneouverability, and more body language required on tight turns.

High cost – the lack of mass-produced frames for 36 inch wheels means having a frame and fork custom made.

Limited choice and availability of rims, tires and spokes. In many cases, these parts are optimized for unicycle use, rather than MTB use.

Normal MTB drive train components can be used, but this may result in sub-optimal gearing.

Except perhaps for giants, even a negative rise stem may leave the handlebars significantly higher than the saddle. Higher bars may not be to the taste of traditional cross-country riders.

A list of known builders of 36er mountain bikes

This is not an exhaustive list, but the idea here is to maintain a list of frame builders who are able to build complete 36-inch wheeled mountain bikes. I’ll add to this over time as I discover more.

Dirty Sixer (USA)

Keener Cycle Works (USA)

Poetry In Motion Cycles (United Kingdom)

Waltworks Custom Bicycles (USA)

Truebikes (Slovakia)

Thomag (Switzerland, links to his youtube video)

Wheeler (Taiwan) It’s not entirely clear right now, but it seems theirs may be the first production 36er MTB to come to market. Very exciting if true!

My rides: Raleigh Marauder

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.

marauder1

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.

marauder2

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.

marauder3

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.