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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:32 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:34 pm
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Location: Stockport, UK
Not long ago, I posted my unicorn bike choice in the unicorn bike thread. I'd never given it much thought until then, and thinking about it made me realise that I'd been being too random in my bike buying. I was thinking of buying every good-looking bargain I saw on ebay, which isn't good when your shed can only hold 3 bikes! :roll:

With that in mind, I deleted all my non-Saracen saved searches, and kept a look out for the bikes that I considered my unicorns: the 95 Tufftrax and 96 Protrax.

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Why were they my unicorn bikes? They were what I wanted BITD! I was a skint student back then, cycling on a Raleigh Winner that I'd bought for £10. I wanted a mountain bike, and so I bought MBUK every month, planning what I'd get when I was less skint. The Saracens seemed realistic, in both monetary terms and in usage terms. I didn't care about suspension or titanium or going up and down mountains - I wanted an offroad bike that I could plough through the flat New Forest on, without constantly wheelspinning, getting punctures, or knackering the fork/wheel. That Raleigh Winner got a lot of punishment!

As it turned out, my first MTB was bought from a catalogue for £200, and it was a steel Claud Butler of some kind. I think that was in 1996. It was stolen from uni in 1997, and I went back to cheap racers for a loooong time. :(

Aaaanyway, a 1995 Tufftrax popped up on ebay not long afterwards, and I did what I've always despised.. I made them an offer outside of the bidding system! :evil: It was only because I'd missed out on several auctions that had ended early due to people waving cash about. It felt bad, and I kinda hoped the seller would refuse so I could bid like a good ebayer, but he didn't! :D

I picked up the bike on Saturday night, and managed to take a couple of photos on Sunday, between rainstorms:

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The bike has a bit of a story behind it.. the guy had previously owned a Saracen Kili Racer e-stay, which he'd managed to snap the frame of during a drunken night out on a BMX track. He took it back to Halfords, and as they didn't sell Kili Racers anymore, they exchanged it for a Tufftrax. Apparently this also included an upgrade to all the components, hence it currently having almost full LX. oh, and the stem and handlebar are from his Kili Racer.

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So, what condition is the bike in? Pretty good! Initially, I didn't even think it was worth creating a build thread for it, but naturally I then started thinking of things I could do..

Copy the decals
The decals are looking alright, but they're starting to peel a bit around the edges. The decals are a sort of brushed metal effect, which I can probably buy from a craft shop somewhere, so I'm going to either trace them or do a graphite rub while they're still relatively intact.

Enamel the missing powder coat
The powder coat is in great condition, except for a worn-out patch on the LH chainstay. I have no idea how it managed to get worn down to metal like that, especially seeing as the RH stay is fine. The powder coat also seems to have been pushed off on the RH fork arm, as if it were nothing but a sticker. Also kinda weird!

Replace the crankset
Before I took the photos, I peeled off various stickers that had been stuck on the bike, and I removed an original purple crud catcher which matched the purple chainrings really well. I don't think purple really suits the bike, though, so I'm going to get something a bit more subdued. :)

Pedals
It hasn't got any pedals. I reckon that if I get some of those, my performance on the bike will increase by at least 100%! :shock:

Seat & Seatpost
I think a black seatpost will look better (quite tempted to do the stem and handlebar, too), and I don't like the seat.

Wheels
The rear rim is cracked, and it's got a modern LX hub which just looks wrong. I can't remember what's on the front, but it's a different hub and a different rim. Guess I need to find some new wheels. gah!

Cables
Needs new ones. Manhandling the bike down the stairs at the train station this morning made me realise that I should probably also buy some helicopter tape or something

And that's it! Not much to do, in the great scheme of things. Just need to ride it and enjoy it. :D


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:40 pm 
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Ace bikes... enjoy it. I've owned nearly a dozen mid '90s Saracens over the years - well worth a bit of TLC and some good riding!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:13 am 
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Location: Stockport, UK
I stopped off on the way home yesterday to take some better photos. It's starting to become a bit of a habit to take photos of all the bits of every bike I buy! :P

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I found a nice spot just off the Trans Pennine Trail. A weird place with a road layout but no houses - just trees and bushes. I was expecting to be ran over by a chav on a mini motorbike at any moment!

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The stem and handlebar are from a Kili Racer, and the grips and LX combos are from a '97 GT of some kind. It had XT before then, and the seller offered to switch them back, but the XT shifters looked pretty knackered, so I stayed with LX. :) The grips can't stay, and I might use the handlebar on my own Kili Racer project.

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The Tioga headset looks like radiator plumbing!

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LX cantis. I don't think the tyres are staying - it needs a bit of amber.

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Peeled off powder coat. The bike was covered in stickers when I bought it, and you can see the outline of one of them here. The stickers preserved the clearcoat, so it'll need some T-Cut or waxing or something to even everything out.

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Saracen! You can just about see where a couple of the letters are peeling. It's not looking too bad now, but I don't think they'll last long when the bike's being used on a daily basis by a man in massive baggy shorts. If I do replace them, it's tempting to do it using holographic stickers, but maybe that's a bit childish. :roll:

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It's a shame my plan for the Kili Racer doesn't involve purple in any way, coz I could've transplanted these. The mech is LX.

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I suppose I should've cleaned the mud off before I started taking photos, but where's the fun in that?

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I should probably clean the running gear, too.. :P
The XT rear mech seems to be in alright condition, but I kinda prefer the shiny black of the LX components. Seems silly to downgrade for cosmetics, but... gnnn!

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The only other bit of bare metal on the frame. I guess this is carrier or storage damage, as I can't think how this could happen while riding.

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I think that's enough photos for one day. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:23 pm 
National & North West AEC
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Location: Macclesfield Forest
I do like a good solid mid range Saracen. I suspect from the saddle position that the top tube might be a tad too short for you though...
Also notice that your's has a quill stem and threaded headset, rather than an aheadset as shown in the catalogue. Bit odd that?
Could be down to it being a warranty frame replacement though.

Completely agree on the changes you have mentioned though. Especially the crankset.
The whole kinda screams out for as much STX as possible, just as it would have had originally.

The frame details look very much like my own circa 95, probably a Tufftrax frame that I got as a plain black powder-coated frame a few years ago. It's here: --> viewtopic.php?t=66632

Would you mind finding the serial numbers on the BB shell please? I'd be interested to see if there is any correlation to mine.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:47 pm 
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If you mean the position of the saddle in the first couple of photos, that was how it was when I bought it. The seller was a good two inches taller than me, so must've been something like 6'1".

I guess he was limited by the sizes on offer at the time - Saracen's higher end bikes only got as large as 19". Bit mean, but I suppose that's the problem with getting your bikes made in Japan - you can't just build a few for special cases. :|

Regarding the threaded fork and quill stem, I know the guy did some sort of deal with Halfords that let him keep and attach a lot of the components from his Kili Racer (otherwise it would all go back to them, I suppose), so I guess the fork was a special for that purpose. ooh - rarity! :D

I'll get the serial number when I leave work


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:10 pm 
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Location: Heathfield
Looks really nice, although you might want to amend the thread title, luckily it isn't this guy!


Attachments:
Unicron.jpg
Unicron.jpg [ 55.64 KiB | Viewed 739 times ]
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:30 pm 
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Thread title was intentional. Unicron beats unicorns any day of the week! :)

I couldn't find anything on the BB shell, or anywhere else that I could see. It could be on the inside of one of the stays, or maybe I wasn't looking properly.. I'll have another look tomorrow!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:35 pm 
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Location: Heathfield
Ah, in that case good call, except that drinking Unicron's blood would probably taste like siphoning a fuel tank, whereas drinking a unicorn's blood would grant you immortality. Although Unicron survives by consuming planets, so you could say that the bike "survives" by consuming ground!


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:09 pm 
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Location: Heathfield, East Sussex
Agree with you on the subject of black LX; very smart looking groupset, and tarts up nicely too...8)


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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 12:29 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:34 pm
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Location: Stockport, UK
I've decided to sell the Tufftrax, as after a year of commuting on it, I've started wanting to try something different. I did buy a '96 Muddy Fox Monarch Team from ebay last week, but it turned out to be a bad buy, and it's not staying. I don't want to be downgrading unless I'm going even more retro!

So, here's the last photo of it before I took it to bits completely:

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It was a decent bike, and I'm glad I got to ride one, but there are many other interesting looking bikes out there that I want to try out!

oh, and I never did find the serial number, as it hasn't got one! :?


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