85 Saracen conquest....what have i started!.....Finished!


Old School Grand Master
So i bought a saracen conquest.....it was relatively cheap, one owner from new, local, came from a shop i knew exceeding well and was a complete mess!

The bikes has had numerous "modifications" in a rat rod style over its life and is somewhat scabby.

So why did i buy it!?

Well, when i started work in bike shops, saracen had just started up.....in fact mountain bikes in the uk had really just " started up". Whilst most thought it was probably a passing phase (like raleigh choppers) there was some pretty inspiring stuff going on. One thing that caught my attention was Nic and Richard Crane taking mountain bikes up Kilimanjaro on new years eve 1984!

Although i never met Nic, he went to the same college as me and his exploits were the stuff of legend, especially for us climbers, walkers and mountain bikers. For those of you who have no idea who im talking about, he's the older, tall guy who did the walking stuff on bbc "Coast" series.....the guy with the brolly.

They used Saracen conquests for this task as documented in the book "bicycles up Kilimanjaro" which they wrote after the adventure. I think the reason being.....they were the only company who said yes!

Saracen were built by hand, in the UK from reynolds 501/531, by "knight fabrications"...hence the knights helmet on the badge. Early frames were sold to FW Evans too.

Sadly, like so many companies doing great things, money was not always their friend and the company got sold on several times...production moved to asia in 1986 under the Stanforths ownership and a great British bike line was lost to the far east. Sadly what most people remember of Saracen (poor quality, cheap bikes) are a million miles away from the beautiful work originally produced with such care.

When i finally put down the trackie in 86 and bought a mountain bike it was a all new tufftrax......what i would have loved was a conquest.....at the other end of the range!

So im going to take the opportunity to pay homage to a pair of true heroes of mine and the legend that was Saracen.

Enough waffle, lets get started...here it is.......


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Dont laugh at those bars too much.......there's thousands of trendy kids building bikes just like this right now.....we even have a ongoing post about it here!:LOL:
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Love this. Although I expect great things from this thread. 😉
My old boss had many sayings.....the older ive got the more ive realised the value of them!

One of his favourites was "make sure you know what you have by the tail, before you put your hand near its mouth". This was basically a warning to do your research first...not after, when its too late.

So i have.

Dating these bikes is not straight forward as the 6 digit frame numbers are meaningless.... latter bikes from the Stanforth era have a date stamp in the code.

Information online is variable in reliability, some sources even contradicting themselves between text and images!

The original Saracen mountain bikes from 1983 were not called conquest and did not have that name on them. They were simply called "saracen all terrain bike". Below is an advert from 83..the company was part of the Bluemels group by then.

The name conquest came about as a result of the Crane cousins Kilimanjaro record. That was 31st dec 1984. So any bike with conquest in it must be post that date.

Saracen leapt on the advertising window quickly and the bikes were rebranded conquest and a lot of advertising material went out.

Another dating key is the kit on the bike and the tubing. The pre conquest bikes were Reynolds 501 tubing. The rebranding also signalled a very quick change to 531 ATB.

The original early bikes had Suntour and Sakae on them. By 84 this had changed to XT Deerhead. The bikes taken up Kilimanjaro had Shimano, including a " super plate" mech, which was new tech!

My particular bike has the remains of Deerhead, original decals showing 531 ATB and has lost the knights special seat tube brace arrangement.....so its not an early doors model. It also has the pre 86 model smaller decals.

Finally the dating of the deerhead remaining is between july 84 and dec 84.

So, im going with first half of 1985 as a date.

I would love to think it was bought on the back of the flurry of interest that the Kilimanjaro trip caused!

Now i know what ive got hold of......lets get on with it..... get it to bits.....see what's good, bad or ugly.
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Personally I think it looks really cool as is, a real Sunday morning down to the shops and get some bacon and buns type of bike, carrier bags would never even go near the spokes on that.....

I wouldn't like to try a hill climb on it though.
Are you sorted for wheels?