Author Topic: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion  (Read 18901 times)

jdoolin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
  • Location: Eastern Ohio
    • Just My Blog
Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« on: July 30, 2012, 08:18:10 PM »
In our quest for a more Mustachian lifestyle, my wife and I are looking to purchase bikes.  We've run across a couple of Raleigh M50 mountain bikes on Craigslist for what seems like a pretty good price to me ($100 for each bike).

I'm looking at doing a conversion to a more commuter style bike, which I understand typically involves replacing the fork and tires, adding a rack and possible different handlebars.

First of all, for those bike experts here, is that a good price for those M50s?

Second, can anyone recommend a fork, tires and rack?  I've read recommendations for a few brands/models that are reportedly good, but I'd also like to avoid spending anything more than I need.

Or should I scrap the whole idea and just get something new from Nashbar?

jdoolin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
  • Location: Eastern Ohio
    • Just My Blog
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2012, 08:45:00 PM »
Oh, and should I be looking at any sort of fenders as well?

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1795
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2012, 07:32:19 PM »
The Raleigh M50 has a good frame and a crappy fork- but you want a rigid fork anyway, so its irrelevant.

I think (assuming the bike is in good condition) its a good price.
As far as brands, a lot of people have one they swear by, but there are dozens of options, very few of which are bad, and I don't think there is a huge advantage of picking one over another.  Get a smooth 26" tire, a rigid 26" fork, and a rack that fits (unless you plan to load the rack down with more than 70lbs, in which case look for one that is stronger than usual - still too many options to list every brand)

strider3700

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 516
  • Location: northern BC
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2012, 07:53:16 PM »
related question.  Is it easy/reasonable to change the gearing on a mountain bike?   On my current bike even in the tallest gear I find on the flats when I want to fly that the gearing is too low.  the lowest gear is amazingly easy on hills...

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1795
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2012, 08:45:10 PM »
Fairly easy, as long as you don't want to change it too dramatically.

Count the number of teeth on your smallest cog.
Look for one that has fewer teeth, but the same number of gears.
Find a chain whip and cassette removal tool you can borrow, remove the lockring, slide off the cassette, slide on the new one, replace lockring, done.
However you find to let you borrow the tools can explain how to use them

jdoolin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
  • Location: Eastern Ohio
    • Just My Blog
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2012, 10:41:47 PM »
Awesome, thanks for the info Bakari!

However, unfortunately I misread the Craigslist ad.  The guy wants $200 for *each* of them, not for both of them.  Sadly, biking is pretty uncommon where I live, despite some really nice trails that make a lot of places quite accessible.  Most of the offerings on Craigslist are cheap mountain bikes.

Now it seems like I'm better off just going with something from Nashbar.  Any recommendations?  Is the Mercato Hybrid a good start?

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1795
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2012, 12:35:14 AM »
I would try talking him down.

Point out that they only cost about $300 brand new, and they are now (at least) several years old.
And add that if they don't sell in a week, he can contact you when he is ready to negotiate.

As for recommendations on a new bike, that is outside my areas of knowledge, sorry.

jdoolin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
  • Location: Eastern Ohio
    • Just My Blog
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2012, 05:57:42 AM »
I would try talking him down.

Point out that they only cost about $300 brand new, and they are now (at least) several years old.
And add that if they don't sell in a week, he can contact you when he is ready to negotiate.

Good idea!  Bikes do sell pretty slowly around here, so that's an option.   I also tracked down a few places locally that may sell used bikes, so I'll check those out as well.

Quote
As for recommendations on a new bike, that is outside my areas of knowledge, sorry.

Spoken like a true Mustachian. :-)

cambridgecyclist

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 82
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2012, 11:37:03 AM »
Replacing the suspension forks with a non-suspension fork means that you'll need a suspension-adjusted fork if you want to keep the same geometry. Two new tires and a new suspension-adjusted fork will run you about $95 per bicycle, minimum. If you can't talk the guy down to $100 it's not worth it. I would probably not get into fork replacement as a beginner bicycle project; it's not hard but it could be frustrating for a neophyte.

As far as a new bike goes, I recommend buying used. There's a pretty large premium for buying a new bike (markups of over 150% are not uncommon) and there are plenty of bicycles available on the secondary market. I would look at touring bicycles from the early to mid-80's, which have comfortable geometry, attachment points for racks, mounting points for fenders (you will want these after getting caught in the rain the first time), and are designed for carrying heavy loads while keeping handling predictable. The mid-80's were a popular time for touring bicycles, which fell out of fashion later, so there's still plenty available on the secondary market.

I'd do some research and reading on Google (also sheldonbrown.com) and make a list of touring bicycle models from that time period. Then I'd go to local flea markets, garage/yard sales, scour Craig's List and you'll find people selling (and underpricing) dusty bicycles that often need little more than new inner tubes, cleaning and lubrication. Make sure the bicycle fits above all else! Bring a magnet and check to see if the frame is steel -- steel is a lot more capable of recovering from abuse than aluminum, and it's a smoother, more forgiving ride. Then look for obvious issues like dents, frame rust, or signs of significant physical damage. Look for play or creaking in the bottom bracket or headset next. Look for damaged or worn teeth (which look like shark fins) on the chainrings. Look for dysfunctional shifters and brake levers. Look for missing or broken spokes, wheels that are out of round or wobble when spun, wheels which have hubs that are loose when moving the wheel perpendicular to the axle. For every minor issue that you can find (even broken bar tape), point that out to the seller and argue for a lower price. See if the seller will throw in a pump, lights, fenders, any accessories too since those will be useless if the seller is getting rid of all their bicycles.

Good luck!

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1795
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2012, 12:06:46 PM »
I strongly agree with everything acharlwood said.

I also have a couple other used bike pointers I wrote here: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/01/buying-bikes-from-craigslist.html

cambridgecyclist

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 82
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2012, 12:15:28 PM »
Hey, great blog post, Bakari. Good information.

jdoolin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
  • Location: Eastern Ohio
    • Just My Blog
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2012, 02:04:29 PM »
Wow, a wealth of information in this thread, AND your excellent blog posts, Bakari.  Terrific stuff!

I now feel much better prepared to acquire a bike.  I'm going to go look at used Trek 700 from the mid 90's at a local bike store here in about 20 minutes.


Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1795
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2012, 06:23:58 PM »
Oh, and should I be looking at any sort of fenders as well?

forgot to say earlier: only if you really believe you are hardcore enough to ride in the rain or snow.
If so, then definitely.

jdoolin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
  • Location: Eastern Ohio
    • Just My Blog
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2012, 07:37:39 PM »
Oh, and should I be looking at any sort of fenders as well?

forgot to say earlier: only if you really believe you are hardcore enough to ride in the rain or snow.
If so, then definitely.

Oh, bring on that rain and snow.  :-)

So I went to look at that Trek 700.  Thanks to Bakari's excellent advice, I was able to avoid what would have been a bad purchase.  The frame was to tall for me.  I did have them fit me, and it seems a 17" frame is about right.  They were super nice and I'll be sure to give them some business for accessories and any work that needs done that I can't do (yet).

By the way, this is going to be my bike path in the near future:

http://theemptyset.net/bike_route.png

The 'G's are grocery stores, the 'B' is the bike shop and the 'P' is a produce store.  There are also a smattering of pharmacies, dollar stores, Goodwills and a CASINO (:-P)  The Sam's Club is a few miles east on 70.

The green parts are actual bike trails.  I heard a while back that they wanted to expand it, but I'm not sure if that ever went anywhere.  In any case, it's not a bad place to live a local, Mustachian lifestyle.

It's just friggin' hard to find a used bike. :-P

jdoolin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
  • Location: Eastern Ohio
    • Just My Blog
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2012, 09:09:14 PM »
Hmm... my in-laws are going to Columbus this weekend, so I checked out the craigslist listings there and found this:

http://columbus.craigslist.org/bik/3171073824.html

Seems Jazz was an entry level branding of bikes that Trek made in the early 90's and this "Street Life" was their hybrid.  The frame is 17", which according to the Trek I sat on today, should work.

Maybe I could coerce them into hauling it home for me.  Think this one's worth looking into?

strider3700

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 516
  • Location: northern BC
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2012, 12:33:29 PM »
In my younger days I put thousands of miles on a frankenstein bike put together from cheap parts of my older cousins dead bikes.  It probably was nowhere near as good as any dirt cheap commercially made bike you can find.    Definitely do your research to make sure the prices are good  and that it's in decent shape  but my point is  almost anything will work just fine  if it's comfortable for you and if you don't expect to be entering competitive racing with it.

yyc-phil

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1007
  • Location: Yellowknife NWT
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2012, 07:59:03 PM »
Is there a local community bike shop where you live? Here in Calgary of all places (where oil money is flowing and a mustachian lifestyle is not seen favourably, particulary one that involves bicycles), we have an awesome little coop where, for a lifetime membership of $5, you can have access to a workshop, tools, old parts and bicycles, etc., and a great community spirit as a bonus, and help from knowledgeable volunteers who can give you great advice. I picked up an old 10 speed Beekay circa 70s for $20 (in perfect condition), stripped it down completely, removed all gears and useless moving parts (levers, cables, brakes -not the place to debate about whether one should have brakes or not, etc.), and transformed it into a single-speed fixie that I used summer or winter, sun, rain or snow. Equipped with a $30 wire basket mounted on the free bike rack I got from the coop, to which I can attach plastic tubs (from kitty litter boxes, thanks to a fellow mustachian who posted the instruction here) if I need to carry groceries, it is now my regular mode of transportation. Even without gears, I can still keep up with folks riding $1000 bikes with 50 gears, thanks to the great workout that fixie riders get for free...Total cost of my old fixie: $50. Cool factor: Priceless :)

masont

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Raleigh M50 Mountain Bike Conversion
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2012, 12:23:50 PM »
Replacing the suspension forks with a non-suspension fork means that you'll need a suspension-adjusted fork if you want to keep the same geometry. Two new tires and a new suspension-adjusted fork will run you about $95 per bicycle, minimum. If you can't talk the guy down to $100 it's not worth it. I would probably not get into fork replacement as a beginner bicycle project; it's not hard but it could be frustrating for a neophyte.

As far as a new bike goes, I recommend buying used. There's a pretty large premium for buying a new bike (markups of over 150% are not uncommon) and there are plenty of bicycles available on the secondary market. I would look at touring bicycles from the early to mid-80's, which have comfortable geometry, attachment points for racks, mounting points for fenders (you will want these after getting caught in the rain the first time), and are designed for carrying heavy loads while keeping handling predictable. The mid-80's were a popular time for touring bicycles, which fell out of fashion later, so there's still plenty available on the secondary market.

I'd do some research and reading on Google (also sheldonbrown.com) and make a list of touring bicycle models from that time period. Then I'd go to local flea markets, garage/yard sales, scour Craig's List and you'll find people selling (and underpricing) dusty bicycles that often need little more than new inner tubes, cleaning and lubrication. Make sure the bicycle fits above all else! Bring a magnet and check to see if the frame is steel -- steel is a lot more capable of recovering from abuse than aluminum, and it's a smoother, more forgiving ride. Then look for obvious issues like dents, frame rust, or signs of significant physical damage. Look for play or creaking in the bottom bracket or headset next. Look for damaged or worn teeth (which look like shark fins) on the chainrings. Look for dysfunctional shifters and brake levers. Look for missing or broken spokes, wheels that are out of round or wobble when spun, wheels which have hubs that are loose when moving the wheel perpendicular to the axle. For every minor issue that you can find (even broken bar tape), point that out to the seller and argue for a lower price. See if the seller will throw in a pump, lights, fenders, any accessories too since those will be useless if the seller is getting rid of all their bicycles.

Good luck!

This is mostly good advice, but the markup in the bicycle industry isn't near 150%.  Best case scenario, the shop I work at gets 40%.  By the time we close out what's left over at the end of the year, we probably average 30-35%.  When we close a bike out, we're selling it at roughly what we paid for it. 

You can get a brand new name brand commuter bike from a shop at full price for $400 or so.  By the time you buy a fork, tires, and pay someone to put the fork on (as you do not have the proper tools or the know how) you're going to be at close to $300 for those bikes, and that's assuming the guy will accept half of what he's asking for them. 

I like buying used, but buying these bikes seems like a bad idea.