|1984 Raleigh Crested Butte.|
Over the past month, I’ve talked a bit about my newest bike, the Raleigh M40 mountain bike. Yet just a few days ago I mentioned how I’ll be selling this bike, even though I only got it a month ago. Wise readers have probably figured out by now why: I got another bike, one to replace the M40. But why, you may ask? You seemed to be having so much fun with the M40.
Yes, I was. It made me realize that I wanted a nice fat-tired bike in the stable. But the M40 had issues. For one, it was too small for me. The other issue was the worn out drivetrain. It would need to be overhauled/replaced soon. Of course, me being me, I briefly entertained the idea of turning it into a singlespeed mountain bike, as it had horizontal drop-outs. But ain’t no such thing as a per-built cheap single speed mountain bike wheel, and, me being me, I wouldn’t settle for a janky poor-mans conversion. So of course that would cost more than replacing a multi-speed derailleur drive train. All this on a $40 bike, a $40 bike that doesn’t really fit me.
So as any reasonable Retro-Grouch would do, I asked myself, “What Would Grant Petersen Do?” Thankfully (and conveniently) there was a recent interview in Urban Velo where Grant is asked: “What is your all time favorite city bike?” And Grant responds:..If you’re asking my own preference, or what I think makes the most functional sense, the most practical sense, I’ll stick out my neck and nominate an all-steel early to late ’80s mountain bike fitted up with a higher and maybe a swept-back handlebar, fenders, rack, and basket. Platform pedals, kickstand, bell, rear view mirror, and some kind of light. It might not suit somebody’s style, and I’m not saying it’s a better style; I’m just saying for me, that’s what I think makes a lot of sense.” (NOTE 9 Nov 2018: Urban Velo has been dead for awhile, and now the website is dead, too. Don’t bother clicking the link. NOTE 13 Dec 2019: The link is alive, interestingly enough. Click away!)
I was on the right path, but I hadn’t yet reached my destination.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times here before, I look at the Craigslist regularly. I was initially looking at a fairly new and complete Surly Troll for $600 and trying to justify in my head spending that much cash. People like these bikes, sure, and I love Surly. Many a great bikepacking adventure has happened on Ogres, Trolls, Pugsleys, and the like. But I don’t care much for the look of modern suspension-corrected mountain bikes. I know I’d get used to it, but something that was a bit more pleasing to my eye (and cheaper) would suit my needs better. Besides, as nice as the previously mentioned Surly models are, you don’t need them to have an appropriate dirt road bikepacking type adventure. Nick from Gypsy By Trade did quite a bit of touring and bikepacking on a 1985 Schwinn High Sierra before he got the Pugsley. A very Petersenesque choice.
|Nick of Gypsy By Trade’s 1985 Schwinn High Sierra, bikepacking style.|
I also had my eye on an another specimen: a 1984 Raleigh USA “Mountain Tour” Crested Butte mountain bike. This one seemed much more appropriate. But the seller wanted $250 so I was hesitant. Then the seller dropped the asking price by another 50, so I said, “What the hell?” I know that this is breaking my $50 rule, but that rule more applies to casual, “I can probably use this bike” type of purchases. This was more of a “I want this bike” type of purchase.
On Sunday October 14 I headed over to deeper SE Portland to take a look at the bike. It was in great shape for the age. I rode it around a bit, testing its feel, testing how it handled. There were a couple dirt roads with their obligatory potholes, ridges, and rough surfaces, so I made sure to ride down them a bunch too. Everything worked good. (Oh sure, the front derailleur and brakes can be adjusted, but these are relatively minor things.) The seller said he got it from an estate sale, and the Crested Butte had the look of a “garage queen”. But me being me, I was stressing out about the purchase. $200 is $200, eh. And he wouldn’t take less than that. Hmmm…maybe I should think about it for a day or two. So I said I’d call him. But then, I got back on the M40, and it felt like night and day. I quickly turned around and paid the guy $200. Now I have a true Retro-Grouch mountain bike!
Join me next time for more about the Crested Butte!