Muddy Fox Courier

Touring Conversion

The year is 1988, Salmonella is found in eggs, a new drug called crack appears in the US, and Random Sam turns nine years old. All he wanted was to own a white and purple Muddy Fox mountain bike. But alas, his parents weren’t going to shell out over £400 on a bike, which let’s face it, would have ended up rusting in the scrapheap a year later. So instead, on his tenth birthday his parents bought him a red and white non-branded mountain bike from the local bike shop. It did the job for a couple of years, he rode that bike hard, It was his school commuter, his weekend warrior, and his escape from life. He loved that bike, but envy took over when he saw a bunch of local boys pulling wheelies, doing jumps, and riding the Deathy* on their fabulous looking white and purple 18 speed Muddy Foxes. Hmm.

*The Deathy was named the most terrifying of all jumps on Mersea island. It was carved out of a pile of dirt by a bunch of the local kids. Named the Deathy, because as you descend the near vertical dirt ramp at speed to meet the jump at the bottom, you had to land exactly at the right time otherwise you would hit a garden fence and die. Only one daredevil who went by the name of ‘Russell Hill’ managed to ride it and live to tell the tale.

Fast forward 29 years and I find myself broke, with no job, dumped, and of course no bike to escape the clutches of Mersea Island. Is this my midlife crisis? Is this what it feels like to start your journey to death? Dramatic much? Probably. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have a bike at that moment.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing up a retro mountain bike for a while now, I had the idea of transforming it into a light touring/city/pub bike. However the bike must have the following:

  • Co-Moly Steel. (steel is real, my friends, steel is real)
  • A fully lugged frame.
  • Rigged, no suspension.
  • Built before 1990.
  • £100 or less.

It was time to hit eBay up and see what retro whips were floating around the U.K. Too my surprise there were a bunch of Muddy Fox Couriers dotted all over the country. £50 down, and a week later, it arrived in all its 80’s glory. No chain, no problem. No brakes, who needs them, right? The paint job was in a sorry state on the chainstays, however there was very little rust, which was quite a surprise for its age. A 1988 Muddy Fox Courier was mine at last, all I had to do was figure out how to make it road worthy.

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STRIPPED
This is the first time i’ve ever built a bike from scratch, so let’s see how I got on. The first order of the day was to strip the frame down and replace the worn out components. The bottom bracket had seen better days and the headset had a crunchy ‘Why haven’t I been greased in 20 years?’ sound to it. The seatpost was cracked at the clamp, so into the bin it goes and hello eBay, I’d like one of your old school 26.4mm posts please. Talking about sourcing vintage parts, it was relatively easy to hunt down all the retro components by a mixture of online shops and eBay.

I was humming and hawing for a few weeks about getting the bike powder coated. I had fallen in love the purple fade, it’s so 80s and so much fun, I imagine Teddy Ruxpin & Skeletor would have given a thumbs up to this paint job. However the frame was seriously scratched up and chipped all over, especially on the rear chainstays, the decals had worn off in places and over all it looked a bit of a sorry state. I decided to get the whole frame powder coated white (RAL9003) with a metallic clear coat to give it a shimmer in the ‘British’ sun that the Care Bears would have appreciated.  

A week later and the frame was back in my hands, and it was time to start assembling it. It wasn’t rocket science, and to my surprise I managed to build about 80% of it by myself, the rest was done by the fab Colchester Bike Shop. By far the hardest part was lining up the decals in the right place, this takes a lot of time and patience, something I lack in.

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THE FINISHING TOUCHES
To complete this bicycle, I added a front Nitto front and attached a Wald 137 basket to it. Oh, by the way if you think baskets are for old women, ha, I laugh in your small face, baskets are the future of bicycle touring, they are so handy for filling up with bottles of cider, baguettes, or small puppies. #Basketlife. On the rear I installed a Carradice Bagman Expedition support and added Carradice Super C saddle bag. The final part of the puzzle was to move away from the original flat handlebar and installed a Nitto Albatross bar for extra comfort.

HOW DOES IT RIDE?
I’ve found whenever I get a new bicycle I always say it’s the best ride ever, however, this time I really mean it. Ok, it’s certainly not going to win any races, but it is the most comfy bicycle ever. I think it comes down to a number of things, firstly the frame has a great relaxed feel and fits me well. The fatty Maxxis DTH 26x2.1 tires do a good job soaking up the road vibrations, and those Nitto Albatros bar not only look fantastic but with its generous sweepback it gives me a more upright riding position, perfect for long days in the saddle and viewing the surrounding area.

Have you built up a retro ride? I’d love to see it, added to the comments below.

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NEW PART LIST
Handlebars – Nitto Albatross
Front Rack – Nitto M12 – http://amzn.to/2qj3Fyy
Rear Rack – Carradice Bagman Expedition
Rear Bag – Carradice Super C Saddlebag
Heaset – Tange NJS 1″ – http://amzn.to/2qFkyiQ
Bottom Bracket – Shimano UN55 – http://amzn.to/2qFmS9v
Brake Levers – Shimano XT Touring
Tires – Maxxis DTH 26″ 2.1 – http://amzn.to/2rDVduh
Basket – Wald 137 – http://amzn.to/2qAycEB
Pedals – MKS – http://amzn.to/2pVbZ6c
Bell – Crane Suzu Lever Strike Brass Bell – http://amzn.to/2rU6Z3I
Bottle – Klean Kanteen 27oz – http://amzn.to/2s6rtX7
Decals – eBay

 

ORIGINAL PART LIST
Frame & Forks – Muddy Fox Courier 1988
Front Brake – Dia Compe cantilever brake
Rear Brake – Dia Compe
Crank Arms – Sugino ML
Chain Rings – Muddy Fox Osymetric
Rims – Mavis –
Stem – Muddy Fox
Derailleurs – Suntour XCD4050

 

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