A little over a decade ago now, I had purchased a brand-new Raleigh M50 mountain bike. Though whether or not I really need a "mountain bike" could be very much up to question, I greatly enjoyed the bicycle regardless. However, various circumstances have brought me to the point that I'm fairly certain it will cost me nearly as much to replace the bike as it would to get it in good operating condition again. So, I've junked it and am considering my options for a new one.
Since I did so much like that particular model, my ideal option would be for a brand-new Raleigh M50. Since no such thing exists this year, I'm looking to you guys to help me find a comparable model.
Some particular features (pardon if my verbiage isn't quite industry-standard) I liked about the bike included:
- Click-shifting, trigger-style gear changers
- Finger-tip braking levers
- I'd actually had some trouble adjusting to these at first, with one "learning experience" involving an over-the-handlebars tumble at the end of a hill. But I eventually grew to really like them.
- Front suspension
- I like the shocks in the front, but am quite happy to have none in the rear.
- Quick-release seat and wheels
- Water bottle holster
- A minor feature to be sure, but still nice to have.
- A really solid-feeling frame
Added after some research:
- Mechanical rim brakes: I have no experience with using or servicing the newer hydraulic or disc brake systems. I feel that I would trust the mechanical rim braking systems further, since they seem to be much simpler and therefore (I expect) more durable and reliable.
- Feel free to politely dispel me of any misconceptions on this point, (I'm happy to learn about the new technologies) but my stance on this in regards to a final purchase decision will not likely change.
Some additional points brought up by @zenbike:
- Inexpensive, but good quality: A "real" bike, built by a professional, which happens to be cheap.
- This was absolutely a big selling point for me.
- Off-road capable: Regardless of whether you need or use this option, it feels good.
- Commute friendly: Though @zenbike disagrees, I found this bike very enjoyable during my daily commutes, which typically lasted 1/2 hour or more one-way. I was even pretty comfortable with it on one particular 3.5-hour trip. But, I think I did purchase a softer seat for it which probably helped.
My needs when I first bought the M50 weren't too outlandish, but I liked the feeling of versatility and ruggedness the mountain bike gave me. Though I'd probably never test it to its fullest measure, I felt security in knowing that it could certainly deal with whatever I did put it through.
Most of the time, my daily commute was about 10 miles one-way. Later, the commute was much longer but mostly done via city bus. Still, I did occasionally get the wild idea to run the whole 20+ miles on the bicycle myself. This would all be across your general urban terrain - mostly sidewalks and streets, but occasionally across long stretches of grass (where there was no sidewalk, and riding on the road was just plain insane). Living in Florida also means that steep inclines are few and far between. Of course, having grown up here also means that most mole-hills feel like Mount Everest to me when I have to ride up them.
Today, my needs are much simpler. I'm mostly looking for something to ride alongside my young daughter, but also would like to get back out on my own now and then for a bit of joy riding. I'll probably be sticking a lot more to the sidewalks than I used to, but would still enjoy knowing I can take my bike practically anywhere without much trouble or worry of breaking it. I'm much more concerned about durability than I am speed or weight.
So, what do you guys figure? What's the "Raleigh M50" of today, or what else might be a good fit for my needs/wants?