Raleigh Sabre - Worth a Look?

SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
As a result of a conversation at work, I've been offered an "18 speed metallic blue Raleigh mountain bike" for peanuts. Unfortunately the person who was telling me isn't into bikes and doesn't know much about it, other than saying it's in very good condition and has hardly ever been used. Thanks to Google I've sort of deduced they might be referring to a Sabre, which I'm not familiar with myself either.
Has anyone on here got one themselves or got an opinion on them? Roughly when were they made, what sort of price were they new, and what sort of gearset ratios can I expect. in terms of rear cluster and front chainrings? The last Raleigh I owned was very decently built, if a bit heavy, but it was over 30 years ago. Are they still building decent basic bikes or are they BSO's now with Raleigh decals on them? The reason for all the silly questions is if I go to have a look at it, it's going to cost me a good couple of gallons of fuel and a morning of my time for the round trip as it's not nearby. I don't want to go on a fool's errand for something no better than the MTB cheapies I already have, but I also don't want to pass it over if I'm being offered a genuine bargain.
 

Cycleops

Legendary Member
Location
Accra, Ghana
Just looking it appears EBay, Gumtree etc are awash with Sabres, so might have been made in some numbers. Looks like a cheap basic bike from the nineties. Steel frame and chainset, cantilever brakes, alloy rims and rigid fork.
Triple chainset so you’ll get a good spread of ratios. If it’s in good order should make a nice runabout and any repairs needed will be cheap, nothing exceptional I’m afraid.
I believe Raleigh is now owned by an American company and make some good bikes being manufactured in the Far East of course.
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
I believe Raleigh is now owned by an American company and make some good bikes being manufactured in the Far East of course.
They're owned by Accell, who are Dutch, and make Batavus, Ghost, Lapierre and Koga amongst others. The proposed sale to the Dutch owners of Cervelo, Pons Holdings, fell through a few months ago.

The Raleigh Sabre didn't have front suspension, although they have made many models at the budget level. The Raleigh Nova did have it. My Pioneer, without suspension, was £20 and almost unused.

You'll have basic / older gripshift gears or a basic lever version, along with a square taper budget triple crankset and 6-speed freewheel. As long as it all works one of these is fine for pootling around. And yes, it's a cheap MTB. Suggest £30 at best?

Can the colleague not bring it into work and you take it home?
 
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SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
I definitely DON'T want anything with suspension - at the budget end I see it as just a marketing gimmick not a functional feature . I like things that are as mechanically simple and robust as possible whether I am looking at a car or a bike. Looking at the Pioneer, quite possibly the Sabre is a very similar sort of build just in a different colour with a different name?
The longest sort of trip I'm likely to do on a push bike would be to visit a relative about 11-12 miles away, mostly flattish terrain, but ends on a short steep hill at their end. I don't need anything fancy, just something that's reliable.
Unfortunately, colleague only has a small work van loaded full of equipment, so it won't carry a bike. I'm going to have to go and look at it in my car and take a chance on it being a good 'un. Essentially it's been offered FOC, although I know a "drink" would be gratefully accepted, so we're talking well under £30 including my fuel.
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
If it's a Pioneer/Sabre/Jaguar or similar, that'd be fine. Raleigh had lots of models which were quite similar although the metal in the frame may differ; 18-23 (heavy), 4130 (slightly lighter). I use my Pioneer for local trips when I don't need a road bike plus the occasional commute, which is a 12 mile each-way trip. The non-suspension bikes are popular as tourers.

My only change to standard spec has been a larger crankset, with new front derailleur, as mine had a 22/32/38 triple on a hybrid.
 
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SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
My only change to standard spec has been a larger crankset, with new front derailleur, as mine had a 22/32/38 triple on a hybrid.
What chainring combo are you running on the front now? My ex-skip Freespirit MTB has budget Shimano 24/34/42 front and a 14-28 six speed rear cluster, which seems quite low gearing overall. The bike is fairly hefty though with oversized tubing, not a lightweight. I'm assuming the Raleigh might be fractionally lighter overall for a given frame size?
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
What chainring combo are you running on the front now? My ex-skip Freespirit MTB has budget Shimano 24/34/42 front and a 14-28 six speed rear cluster, which seems quite low gearing overall. The bike is fairly hefty though with oversized tubing, not a lightweight. I'm assuming the Raleigh might be fractionally lighter overall for a given frame size?
I fitted a 28/38/48 Shimano M171 crankset along with new bottom bracket, which needed to be longer for the change. Because the front derailleur was bolted onto the old triple I needed a new front derailleur as well.

The rear freewheel is still the original 14-28 but the bike is now much better geared.

A Freespirit MTB would be about 16kg? My Pioneer is 12kg so quite a bit lighter.
 
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SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
A Freespirit MTB would be about 16kg? My Pioneer is 12kg so quite a bit lighter.
Haven't weighed mine, plus it's now in bits for refurb, but internet blurb I've found suggests 14.7kg - but doesn't clarify for which frame size. Really the FS bike is intended only for pub/local use of maybe a few miles each way max. I might simplify it and run as just a six speeder and do away with the front changer. There seem to be some members on here quite happy with single speeds for local use after all! Main objective is to have something that's not really worth anything secondhand so theft isn't likely, but gets me about.
Where I can park a bike inside at both ends of a trip, say home to relatives, then I can afford to use something a bit less scruffy and a bit more decent. I'm never going to spend big on a bike though, I just don't see any value in so doing. If a £20 secondhand one gets me around, it's just as useful to me as a fancy £1k machine, except I don't have to bother insuring it or worrying about it.
 

raleighnut

Legendary Member
Location
On 3 Wheels
You can drop a fair amount of weight by replacing the heavy steel components with Aluminium ones, Handlebars, Seat-post and Crank (the standard Raleigh crank could be used as an anchor on a medium sized boat)
 
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SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
Well I took the plunge and the mystery MTB did turn out to be a Sabre. A nice tidy one at that, with 23" frame. Appears to be in excellent condition and only lightly used. It owes me the princely sum of £20 so far, including the petrol to go and fetch it.
A question for the Raleigh fans out there:- roughly when would this bike have been made, and would the frame have been built in Nottingham or would it be assembled from imported parts? There's a sticker on the frame saying "Hand built in Nottingham", but I thought they got rid of their frame manufacturing facilities a while before the factory closed.
I'll be even more pleased with it if it turns out the be a "proper British" built machine, like my old 1980's racer was.
 

bonzobanana

Senior Member
I've got Falcon bike handbuilt in England but pretty much all imported parts with just assembly in the UK. Likely the same situation. It's a Falcon Stealth model. The next year the 'handbuilt in england' sticker was removed but the bike appears identical. It competed with the Raleigh at the value end of pricing. Nowadays a similar rigid steel mountain bike can be bought for £80-90 new although would need more tweaking from the box in my experience to true the wheels etc. Such bikes are not worth the effort by most bike thieves especially if you go out of your way to make them look scruffy. Yet their 26" wheels and large tyres can make them great for urban road use and comfort plus a few more calories lost going up hills. They also have the capacity for heavy riders or lots of luggage. Only the basic freewheel drivetrain really lets them down in strength with the rear axle likely to bend if you drop off pavements etc.
 
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SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
In real money terms the rigid frame bikes at the budget/BSO end of the market are a lot cheaper than they were 20 or 30 years ago. People often treat them virtually as a disposable item now. Maybe that's why eBay is awash with them selling for very low prices?. There's some bargains around if you aren't looking for anything fancy, just a sturdy utility that's not valuable enough to worry about every time you leave it.. The Raleigh is like new, mileage probably still in single figures!. Too tidy for me to deliberately make it look like a pub hack. I'll keep it for "best" and maybe put a pair of 1.75" Schwalbe road tyres on it and use it for journeys with a safe parking location. The one thing I really detest about cycling is the inconvenience of getting punctures when you're more than a couple of miles away from home. I don't enjoy doing roadside repairs in the rain and cold either.
I've got a 22" frame skip find that's being ratted up and fitted with the scruffiest set of wheels & components I've got. Hopefully it won't even be worth any thief's time trying to nick it, but I'll still make sure it's mechanically sorted and works properly. I can't stand riding bikes where the gears and brakes are all out of kilter and they grind & clatter along!. I treat machinery sympathetically, so I'm not too concerned about bending axles etc and tend not to just ride like a sack of spuds over kerbs & big potholes etc.
 
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bonzobanana

Senior Member
In real money terms the rigid frame bikes at the budget/BSO end of the market are a lot cheaper than they were 20 or 30 years ago. People often treat them virtually as a disposable item now. Maybe that's why eBay is awash with them selling for very low prices?. There's some bargains around if you aren't looking for anything fancy, just a sturdy utility that's not valuable enough to worry about every time you leave it.. The Raleigh is like new, mileage probably still in single figures!. Too tidy for me to deliberately make it look like a pub hack. I'll keep it for "best" and maybe put a pair of 1.75" Schwalbe road tyres on it and use it for journeys with a safe parking location. The one thing I really detest about cycling is the inconvenience of getting punctures when you're more than a couple of miles away from home. I don't enjoy doing roadside repairs in the rain and cold either.
I've got a 22" frame skip find that's being ratted up and fitted with the scruffiest set of wheels & components I've got. Hopefully it won't even be worth any thief's time trying to nick it, but I'll still make sure it's mechanically sorted and works properly. I can't stand riding bikes where the gears and brakes are all out of kilter and they grind & clatter along!. I treat machinery sympathetically, so I'm not too concerned about bending axles etc and tend not to just ride like a sack of spuds over kerbs & big potholes etc.
Yeah I can be less than sympathetic to bikes sometimes I must admit. These are meant to be mountain bikes and take some abuse but sadly the low end freewheel drivetrain really prevents that from being true to a degree. The low end derailleurs can play up quite a lot if they get dirty and the basic steel axle needs to be replaced with a bmx quality hardened chromoly axle to prevent bending if you do treat them as an actual mountain bike.
 
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SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
I regard a budget MTB as just a bike with the capability to cope better with rough unsurfaced tracks and no more than that. I wouldn't expect one to hold up to extreme use. In the same way some Japanese school run 4 x 4 with loads of plastic bits is not going to survive too long if given the sort of serious use you'd use a proper Land Rover for. Horses for courses.
 

bonzobanana

Senior Member
I regard a budget MTB as just a bike with the capability to cope better with rough unsurfaced tracks and no more than that. I wouldn't expect one to hold up to extreme use. In the same way some Japanese school run 4 x 4 with loads of plastic bits is not going to survive too long if given the sort of serious use you'd use a proper Land Rover for. Horses for courses.
I guess my point is they are actually pretty strong bikes overall with the exception of the rear axle. You had the entry level bikes with freewheels but mid to high end models depending on brand had freehubs and cassettes and were pretty bomb proof. Same situation today with good brands fitting weak freewheels on their entry level mountain bikes. Even £400 Specialized's, Giant's, Trek's etc can come with basic freewheels and weak rear axles and have the same weakness as these early budget mountain bikes.
 
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