Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Glumbags
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Joined: 29 Jun 2020, 3:39pm

Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby Glumbags » 29 Jun 2020, 6:20pm

Hi everyone.
I've been commuting to work for the last year after a job change and now commute, go grocery shopping, and just about everywhere on this thing!
It's a Saracen Powertrax 1996 MTB with Tange MTB tubing (not sure how good this frame actually is tbh - could someone enlighten me?)
Bought off ebay for £100 and rides very well to be fair.

Next year I retire and an looking at some longer tours which might include some unpaved rougher stuff outside Europe. I used to be quite a keen mountain biker so I do enjoy that sort of thing, although I want a bike to tour on principally.
I live in a small flat so only have room for 1 bike.

My question is - do I keep and upgrade it for example - it has no front fork eyelets for panniers and it has some old spec...or ditch and buy for example a second hand Surly LHT for £500ish of Gumtree?
Could any experienced tourers give me some sensible advice?
I want:
26" wheels
steel frame
I often whistle whilst I ride so that gives you an idea of the speed I go at! Comfort trumps speed for me. Cheers in advance for any advice folks.
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simonhill
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Location: Essex

Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby simonhill » 29 Jun 2020, 7:08pm

Assuming the frame is still sound, there is no reason why you couldn't tour on it. Plenty of people do and they make excellent solid tourers.

I had an earlier Saracen Kili Flyer (531 frame) and toured extensively on it. New Zealand, India top to bottom, SE Asia, etc. I replaced it with a GT MTB (edit Tange 4180 frame and forks) and that lasted for 10 years of long haul touring before I sold it and bought an LHT.

Make sure the components are in good condition and also the wheels. You may want to buy new wheels, get well built ones from someone like Spa Cycles - their Rigida Sputniks are pretty neat bullet proof (I've ridden them for a while).

I don't use front panniers, even when I camped, but others can advise on putting a front rack on forks with no braze ons (eyelets). Make sure your rear rack is a good one and get decent panniers - luggage and racks take a fair bit of hammering on bad roads.

As I said, you can certainly use the Saracen, but you want to spec and price what needs replacing or upgrading and price that against an LHT. Although a second hand LHT may also need some work doing on it.

Of course a wonderful LHT will be a better option, but I'm biased as I have 2 of them.
Last edited by simonhill on 29 Jun 2020, 7:21pm, edited 1 time in total.

rjb
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Location: Somerset (originally 60/70's Plymouth)

Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby rjb » 29 Jun 2020, 7:10pm

That's way too good to ditch. Have a look here for inspiration. My dogs bollox started as a Falcon MTB with Tange 900 double butted tubing. I converted it into a touring bike. Most comfortable bike I own. viewtopic.php?f=5&t=138096&p=1490021&hilit=Falcon#p1490021. :D
At the last count:- Peugeot 531 pro, Dawes Discovery Tandem, Dawes Kingpin, Raleigh 20, Falcon K2 MTB dropped bar tourer, Longstaff trike conversion on a Falcon corsa. :D

Glumbags
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Joined: 29 Jun 2020, 3:39pm

Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby Glumbags » 29 Jun 2020, 7:58pm

rjb wrote:That's way too good to ditch. Have a look here for inspiration. My dogs bollox started as a Falcon MTB with Tange 900 double butted tubing. I converted it into a touring bike. Most comfortable bike I own. viewtopic.php?f=5&t=138096&p=1490021&hilit=Falcon#p1490021. :D

Great advice and picture!
The dogs bollox? You didn't try and open a bike shop in Birmingham did you?

Glumbags
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Joined: 29 Jun 2020, 3:39pm

Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby Glumbags » 29 Jun 2020, 8:00pm

Great stuff. Thanks for that Simon.

whoof
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Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby whoof » 29 Jun 2020, 8:02pm

I've converted a 90s MTB to a tourer. Like yours out has mudguard eyelets but no attachment mid-fork. I fitted a Blackburn (copy) front rack using the eyelets and I made a fixing using a 'U' bracket from a DIY shop and a steel plate on the back with two holes drilled in it.
Currently unavailable but this thing.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackburn-FL-1 ... B007Y4FO7Y
U bracket looks like this.
http://www.precisionsupports.com

BTW best of luck picking up a_second hand Surly LHT for £500. I managed it a couple of years ago but it took two years of looking and it's not stolen!

teamonster
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Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby teamonster » 29 Jun 2020, 8:37pm

whoof wrote:
BTW best of luck picking up a_second hand Surly LHT for £500. I managed it a couple of years ago but it took two years of looking and it's not stolen!


They are around if you look and you're lucky, I picked up a lovely one 4 years ago for around £500 from memory, it hadn't been ridden much at all. Although it's not the fastest, it is supremely comfortable and stable. One of the best bike purchases I've ever made I reckon.

whoof
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Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby whoof » 29 Jun 2020, 8:54pm

teamonster wrote:
whoof wrote:
BTW best of luck picking up a_second hand Surly LHT for £500. I managed it a couple of years ago but it took two years of looking and it's not stolen!


They are around if you look and you're lucky, I picked up a lovely one 4 years ago for around £500 from memory, it hadn't been ridden much at all. Although it's not the fastest, it is supremely comfortable and stable. One of the best bike purchases I've ever made I reckon.

Yes there are (or were) some but you would be lucky to find one in the right size for that price. A page of Gumtree ads across the country over past few years and there's one for £400 if you were 6' 4'' another at £500 others at £700, £800, £1250 and £1300 which depending on spec you could buy new at that price.

Des49
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Joined: 2 Dec 2014, 11:45am

Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby Des49 » 29 Jun 2020, 10:20pm

Looks like a great bike for touring to me. MTB frames from that era make up very practical bikes.

My old MTB is now a general purpose/touring bike. It is a Roberts White Spider (possibly towards 30 yrs old), had rack eyes on the back so could fit mudguards and a rack easily. But the front forks had no mounts, I fitted a Tubus front rack using fork clamps made by Tubus for the task. P clips and some other brackets enabled me to fit mudguards.

However the forks (non suspension) were made for racing and were a bit flexy with loaded front panniers, so last year I had Winston Vaz make up some new forks with proper bosses so much better now than all the clamps.

colin54
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Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby colin54 » 29 Jun 2020, 10:24pm

Your bike looks like it already has 36 spoke replacement wheel on the back (?), the original had 32 spoke.
I use my Saracen with panniers for all my shopping, and winter riding on canal towpaths, one problem I have found is sharing the rack fixing with the mudguard (only one eyelet), this eventually stripped out the thread on mine perhaps due to fretting, as the powder coat finish on these Saracens is thick and quite soft. I tapped the fixing out to M6
and replaced with a through bolt and a nyloc nut, no problem so far. I must get around to fixing the guard to the rack with p-clips sometime so it doesn't have to share the eyelet, I think that's a good mod to do.
I assume you are using panniers already, if not you might want to check that you have sufficient heel clearance with whichever ones you are thinking of using, the Long Haul Trucker has longer chain stays (460mm) than the Saracen (425mm) and is presumably a bit more stable with a load on ? I'm sure Simon Hill could tell you, I've never tried a Trucker myself.
Your 1996 Powertrax is on this page if you haven't already seen it,
the geometry and full specification is in a table at the foot of the page...
http://www.retrobike.co.uk/gallery2/d/1 ... n_1996.pdf

I think there's a potential for damaging the chain stay with that stand clamped to it especially with loaded panniers, just my opinion.


Looking at it, either you or the person you bought it from has done most of the work to convert it for touring/utility use already. You could try it out on some local tours and see how you get on, a Tubus steel rack would improve it's carrying capability a bit I should think (more rigid).
I bought mine cheap and put the guards etc on it just to use as a shopping bike and not worry about my 'better', bikes getting nicked from outside the supermarket, but having used it for a couple of years, it might just be the last bike I'd sell, if push came to shove, it does all I need really, '96 a good year for Saracens !

toontra
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Location: London

Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby toontra » 29 Jun 2020, 11:15pm

Agree with the above. All by loaded touring has been done on a steel 26" '90's MTB - in my case an Orange Clockwork. With the right wheels and tyres they are pretty bullet-proof and can handle the surprise off-road incidents that tend to happen when touring.

My very first long ride was on a similar Saracen. They made decent frames in the 80/90's.

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b1ke
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Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby b1ke » 29 Jun 2020, 11:21pm

If you like the Saracen, then why not keep it. I toured on an old 90's Merlin mountain bike with Tange tubing for a couple of years. No problems at all.

The Merlin had no mounts for a front rack and I used Tubus adapters. Very good indeed.

https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/carriers-racks/tubus-lmi-mounting-set-for-forks-without-eyelets
http://www.farewellburt.wordpress.com - Europe on a Tandem....
http://www.thespokeandwords.wordpress.com - West Africa on a Tandem....

HobbesOnTour
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Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby HobbesOnTour » 30 Jun 2020, 1:48am

If it's comfortable enough to whistle on while you pedal it's comfortable enough for touring! :D

As said above, maybe stronger wheels. Front racks are available for fork with no braze-ons.

I ride a 90's MTB as a router - a great go anywhere kind of bike. Expedition standard wheels, good racks, Dynohub, USB charger all for much less than an off the shelf tourer.

Good Luck!

Gearoidmuar
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Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby Gearoidmuar » 30 Jun 2020, 7:53am

I did a lot of my 87 bike tours on converted MTBs with 26in wheels. They're ideal.
In fact my current tourer is a 26in wheeled Rohloff Hub tourer by Thorn.

The advantages of MTBs are
great gear range.
great brakes.
No pinch punctures ever.
Stronger wheels.

I see you also have ergo grips. They're great.

Des49
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Re: Saracen Tange MTB for touring - keep or ditch for touring and rough stuff

Postby Des49 » 30 Jun 2020, 8:14am

colin54 wrote:I think there's a potential for damaging the chain stay with that stand clamped to it especially with loaded panniers, just my opinion.


This is an important point you have picked up on, there are many threads on here where frames have been damaged/cracked due to stands. In fact this one does seem especially vunerable as it is situated halfway along the chainstay, in fact is there already an upward bow to the stay?