This story has many parallels with the evolution of a football team, except in this case it’s the evolution of my Saracen ‘Kili Team’ (it actually started life as a Saracen ‘Traverse’ circa 1990). Here the players are the components gradually being replaced over time whilst the spirit of the whole carries on despite the changes in personnel. Perhaps the frame change is pushing things a bit far (a bit like Wimbledon/MK Dons) but never mind!
My first ever mountain bike, back in the days before front suspension (let alone full suss), the Saracen – majestic in lilac pink – was a no-nonsense, sturdy tool with a frame made from Tange’s own scaffolding division.
Over time the trusty steed turned into a rusty steed, spent less and less time off road, and more and more time on the black stuff. Other bikes came along – Road Summer, Road Winter, Mountain Bike (young upstart, aluminium, front suss forks if you will), off came the knobblys, on went the slicks and the second incarnation as commuter bike began. Weighing in at a barely believable 35+ lbs, I began to yearn for some quality steel.
One day, there it was, the perfect organ for transplant (right blood group – everything), a Saracen Kili Team, frame only, never used, Tange Prestige tubing, rigid forks – perfect.
The rebuild, as I explained to my ever-understanding wife, would be a simple affair – simply a matter of removing equipment from one machine and fitting it to the other. It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s built their own bikes before that – an upgrade here, non-compatibility there, many hours on ebay later and all that remains of the original 90s incarnation is the rear brake/ front gear lever ensemble (I would’ve changed that, but it didn’t seem right).
I know Saracens aren’t what they used to be, come to think of it – they’ve never really had ‘it’ as a brand, but somehow, I think if I had to keep just one bike it’d have to be this one – there’s something to be said for ruggedness and versatility after all.
Frame: Saracen Kili Team – Tange Prestige tubing
Fork: Dave Hinde Columbus Nivacrom custom made – The original fork gave a twitchy ride which caused the bike to want to tighten its line on tight corners. This one is lighter and has more trail for stability.
Front Wheel: Spinergy Spox
Rear Wheel: LX hub/ Mavic X717 rim
Front Mech: XT
Rear Mech: Ultegra – with Avid Rollamajig for better shifting
Crankset: Stronglight Compact