29 June 2019

When I Say "Never"...

Last Friday, I did something I said I'd never do again.  Actually, you might say I did two things I vowed not to do.

Yes, I bought a mountain bike: my first in nearly two decades.  I admit, it doesn't have the latest technology and wasn't even a high-end bike in its day.  But I don't plan to do some of the crazy stunts I did when I was younger.  

When I say the bike wasn't high-end, I mean that it was the lowest-level mountain bike its manufacturer was offering.  Which leads me to the second thing I said I'd never do:  I bought a Cannondale mountain bike.  An M-300 from 1996, to be exact.

Now, I don't have anything against Cannondale bikes per se.  I realize that, like certain saddles, some people just like the ride of them.  The Cannondales I had felt particularly harsh.  Then again, they were some of the company's early road bikes.  I've heard that C-dale refined their offerings, but I decided that since I generally prefer steel bikes, I'd stick to them.

The way I figure it, though, is that a Cannondale mountain bike won't be as harsh as one of its road bikes because of the mountain bike's  fatter tires and the slacker geometry.  Also, I don't reckon I'll take this bike on the sorts of long rides I take with my Mercians.

Oh, and the bike has a Rock Shox Indy fork and a suspension seatpost.  I plan to get rid of the latter: I can replace it with a long  27.2mm rigid seatpost I have lying around.  I'll leave the Rock Shox on the bike for now and if I don't like it, or just don't want to maintain it, I might switch to a rigid fork.

The rest of the bike, though, I'm going to leave as-is, at least until the parts wear out.  The only thing I absolutely must change is the right shift lever:

When I pointed it out to the man from whom I bought the bike, he knocked the price down.  I told him I was willing to pay his original asking price, as he let me ride it and I found that the bike tracked straight and everything else was working as it should. (I tried shifting the rear derailleur by hand, and I could see that it will shift fine with a functioning shifter.)  In a way, that broken shifter is just as well because I don't like twist-grip shifters*.  I plan to replace it with a cheap Sun Race thumb shifter and, if and when the rest of the drivetrain wears out, I will decide whether I want to "upgrade" to 8 or 9 speeds--or turn the bike into a single-speed, something I might do if I decide this is a "snow" bike.

So, here I am, with my first mountain bike--and my first aluminum frame--in ages.  Don't worry:  I'm not going rogue!

Oh, and the man from whom I bought the bike had every intention of selling it--unlike the fellow I wrote about yesterday.

*When I say I don't like something, I don't necessarily mean that anything is inherently wrong with it.  It's just a  matter of my personal preferences. For example I know some of you like bar-end shifters and if you do, you should use them.  They're just not for me. I'd say the same for certain saddles.


  1. Congrats on your score. Even if it's not a top line bike it's worth preserving because it probably has an american made frame. I've heard the old Rock Shox can be hard to source parts for. Ought to make an excellent city bike though.

    I guess I'd have to say I share your opinion on grip shifters. I've never owned one but had the opportunity to work on quite a few for friends and family. The basic idea is quite sound but the execution is always cheap molded plastic (machinists abhor plastic). I've found the best way to repair them is drop them in the trash and get a new one since they run around $10.

  2. Phillip--The main reason I bought it is that it has a US-made frame. And I think it'll be a second city bike (my Fuji being the other) and possibly a bike for snow and ice. I think I'll keep the Rock Shox for now but keep an eye out for a rigid fork.

    I think I did all right on the price, especially given that this is New York. (You don't find vintage 531 and Columbus bikes for $25 in thrift shops here!) He wanted $125, but took $100 when I pointed out the shifter.