Saracen T*fftrax 1997


Dirt Disciple
After mothballing my '97/8 Kili last year due to regretting lacquering the polished frame, I was left with a Saracen itch to scratch.

My first decent MTB was a '96 Hardtrax which was stolen - crap, but a Rolls Royce to my 12 year old self. I have fond memories of the Ritchey Z-Max amber wall tyres; less so its lardy gas pipe frame.

Anyway, fast-forward to 2018 and my local source of interesting bikes lists a '97 Tufftrax..

This guy is retired and fixes up bikes in mass in an often quick and dirty fashion. He doesn't always know what he's got, and lists modern 40lb horrors for more than decent retros because they sell better using the keyword 'bike'. Who could blame him? He's a lovely bloke and he certainly makes his money. He buys lots at auction, and often when I think I'm stealing something from him at £20 he tells me it only cost him £5!

The Saracen had an abomination of parts hanging off it - think along the lines of the finishing kit and wheels from a car shop BSO. There was a 6 speed gear set up and the bike weighed a ton.

The original STX-RC rear mech was intact though, and I had the spares collected to make up a full group set including some wheels laced up to Bontrager BCX rims. I was lucky to find the V Brakes to complete - my Mum happened to pass on a 15 year old spares shoebox I'd forgotten about just as the build commenced!

A good rubbing compound/T-cut treatment brought the legendary Saracen powder coat up well - nothing too thorough since I didn't fully dismantle this, but it looked quite good to begin with. The coat is peeling in places and there are one or two mystery bubbles which will be looked at once I've sourced a suitable touch up. It's not mint but it's not bad either - a little patina is no bad thing, and the missing 'U' in the foil Tufftrax decal just adds to the charm. There are no dents and minimal rust - that's good enough for me.

I've been round the block on it this evening having set up the gears and it put a big kid-at-christmas grin on my face!

The wheels have had fresh bearings and grease and the bottom bracket is new along with the chain, and it's butter! The only thing letting it down is a slightly sticky headset, but I'll soon get some bearings in there..

It weighed in at just over 11kg/24lbs on my spring balance including crappy pedals, which I was chuffed to bits with having predicted 26+! Looking forward to taking this out when the sun comes back.

Full Specification:

Frame: Saracen Tufftrax 1997
Fork: Saracen Maxdrive Rigid A.B
Groupset: Full Shimano 1997 STX-RC except brake levers
Brake Levers: Avid AD 1.0L
Rims: Bontrager BCX?
Pedals: BSO plastic - who doesn't love plastic pedals?
Seatpost: Kalloy/Ritchey SP248
Saddle: Selle Italia XO - don't buy one, scuffs via telekinesis.
Stem: Kalloy
Bars: Easton EA50
Grips: ETC cheapo - highly recommended!
Bottom Bracket: FSA Power Pro
Cassette: M739 XT
Tyres: Charge Splashback - function following form, but man they look lovely..
Headset: ???


Lamb dressed as Mutton:

Great to See You:

Inconsiderate Parking:

A Nice Surprise:

More to come with daylight/sunshine!


Dirt Disciple
Just been out on the maiden voyage - first impression is that it's a fast bike!

Acceleration and climbing are snappy, even if I do live in a county with no hills..

I can't believe how light it is for steel too - I thought these frames were a bit lardy, but it's built up into a respectably light bike. I suspect that the frame is identical to the Protrax, though correct me if I'm wrong. Maybe this is just testimony to STX RC..


Dirt Disciple

All the Saracen colours of this era were basically gorgeous!

I can see this replacing the Lava Dome as my go to bike - it's already 2lbs+ lighter.

The Kona also has a rattle can bodge paint job courtesy of the previous owner, so there's that going for it too..