Cannondale M500 (1993?)

Diggdydog

Muddy Fox Fan
Hey guys,

Picked up this M500 about a month a go. Put almost 100 miles on it and it's really opened up the doors to vintage MTBs for me. It was in pretty good shape when I got it but I did modernise it a little with a new saddle, bars, tyres etc. Had an issue with the shifter not holding 3rd gear (would drop back down) and despite some fettling it never really worked. Bought some new Shimano clicky shifters, one of which completely exploded on my ride over some cobbles yesterday. Waiting on the replacements...

Predominantly Shimano Altus components, which seem on the heavy side but so far I've only spent £200 on the bike so it's nice to have a decently fast, versatile ride that I don't have to worry about when locking up! It's a vastly different ride than my Dolan Alu fixie, but I'm loving it. It is criminally comfortable.

Any ideas on what could improve it without breaking the bank? I would like to get some tan/gum wall tyres on it at some point but these Vittoria ones were only £6 each in the PlanetX sale so can't complain!

Also any way to try tidy the paint up a little? I've degreased, washed and then polished it but the black is still quite dulled. Lots of baked on grease which took a bit of shifting too.


Hoping to do some touring on it at some point and a bit of gravel riding! Looking forward to it


Photos going from original to now

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Tsundere

Retro Guru
A lovely understated bike, I have felt myself being drawn to early Cannondales of late, never owned one and after narrowly missing out on one a while back the SM500 is now my unicorn bike.

There are plenty of people here with far more experience than me but I'd say tyres are one of the easiest and relatively cheapest changes you can make that will have an instant and noticeable effect on ride quality, amazing how much weight can be shed and how much feel can be gained with tyres.
 

Diggdydog

Muddy Fox Fan
A lovely understated bike, I have felt myself being drawn to early Cannondales of late, never owned one and after narrowly missing out on one a while back the SM500 is now my unicorn bike.

There are plenty of people here with far more experience than me but I'd say tyres are one of the easiest and relatively cheapest changes you can make that will have an instant and noticeable effect on ride quality, amazing how much weight can be shed and how much feel can be gained with tyres.
Yeah it's definitely function over form, it rides really well. Fast + comfortable! I think the tubes look awesome and as you said the colour is very understated.

I now definitely want to pick up another 90s MTB with a more out there paint job for special occasions haha
 

Tsundere

Retro Guru
As a suggestion, I bought some Schwalbe Kojaks for my commuter, I was fortunate enough to get a pair for £15 in a sale. They are proper bald slicks and light as a feather, they do absolutely nothing for the retro aesthetic but they are so much fun to ride on, and surprisingly great off road, obviously not in wet mud etc, but on dry dirt and gravel type surfaces they are brilliant. I had one puncture so far in about 5 months of daily riding so they are deceptively durable too.

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sparkybhp

Retro Guru
Lovely lovely bikes these, looks like you’ve got a peach there too. I’m a big fan of late 80’s and early 90’s Cannondales. I have a 93 M800 and a 88 SM500, both are cracking bikes. I’m surprised that you find yours so comfy though, a fully rigid fat tubed ally frame is not normally known for that - but I suppose it depends what you’re comparing to. My SM500 came with Tange steel forks which helps smooth out the ride a little, the M800 is all ally and you feel every bump, although decent tyres help. If you can find repro Panaracer smoke/dart I find those are the best for looks and performance.
If I was upgrading yours I’d look out for lx/xt components of the era - Shimano stuff from this period is good and looks spot on.
The cool thing about these bikes is that they are so easy to date. Look at the numbers on the left chainstay, it’ll start with a 5 or 0 - that’s rear axle spacing 135/130. Next is frame size in inches (16/18/20/22....) and then it’s month and date of manufacture (say 0193 = Jan 1993) after that it’s the frame number itself.
You could try colour magic polish for the frame, they come with a chip stick for touching in paint chips. Paint is definitely the weak point on these frames, they’re almost always chipped and scratched. I have powder coated these frames in the past and they come out mint!
Good luck with it and enjoy riding, it always brings a smile to my face when I see another retro mtb out and about.
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Diggdydog

Muddy Fox Fan
Lovely lovely bikes these, looks like you’ve got a peach there too. I’m a big fan of late 80’s and early 90’s Cannondales. I have a 93 M800 and a 88 SM500, both are cracking bikes. I’m surprised that you find yours so comfy though, a fully rigid fat tubed ally frame is not normally known for that - but I suppose it depends what you’re comparing to. My SM500 came with Tange steel forks which helps smooth out the ride a little, the M800 is all ally and you feel every bump, although decent tyres help. If you can find repro Panaracer smoke/dart I find those are the best for looks and performance.
If I was upgrading yours I’d look out for lx/xt components of the era - Shimano stuff from this period is good and looks spot on.
The cool thing about these bikes is that they are so easy to date. Look at the numbers on the left chainstay, it’ll start with a 5 or 0 - that’s rear axle spacing 135/130. Next is frame size in inches (16/18/20/22....) and then it’s month and date of manufacture (say 0193 = Jan 1993) after that it’s the frame number itself.
You could try colour magic polish for the frame, they come with a chip stick for touching in paint chips. Paint is definitely the weak point on these frames, they’re almost always chipped and scratched. I have powder coated these frames in the past and they come out mint!
Good luck with it and enjoy riding, it always brings a smile to my face when I see another retro mtb out and about.
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Cheers for taking the time! It's funny you mention powder coating I've been considering a new paint job ! It's already had quite a few chips filled in and the paint is just dull with a lot of little surface scratches all over.

I'll try date it when I'm back home too! That's a pretty ingenious system by Cannondale.
Yeah you definitely feel the bumps, I guess I'm more keen on the geometry (with sweep bars). It's definitely due to what I'm comparing it to haha! I've mainly ridden a fixed Alu + carbon Dolan for the past few years. Prior to that I had a Surly 1x1 which was a comfy machine too!

Now that I've got one I can't help but spot any vintage MTBs I see floating around London - some are in nice shape, a lot completely wrecked haha.

I'll keep an eye out for some time appropriate higher end components! Thanks again
 

Diggdydog

Muddy Fox Fan
As a suggestion, I bought some Schwalbe Kojaks for my commuter, I was fortunate enough to get a pair for £15 in a sale. They are proper bald slicks and light as a feather, they do absolutely nothing for the retro aesthetic but they are so much fun to ride on, and surprisingly great off road, obviously not in wet mud etc, but on dry dirt and gravel type surfaces they are brilliant. I had one puncture so far in about 5 months of daily riding so they are deceptively durable too.

View attachment 556967View attachment 556968
Diamondback looks awesome! I actually picked up some Scwalbe Road Cruisers for £20 so will give those a try first! I'm gonna end up with a mountain of tyres bought on a deal at this rate haha
 
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