‘Your golden ticket to trail Nirvana’ is how Saracen describe their new, mid wheel-sized Kili Flyer – and our bike of the month guest reviewer couldn’t agree more!
Saracen have come of age with their 2014 range and, for the first time, are using carbon on their production bikes. The Kili – and it’s longer travel stablemate, the Ariel – both feature carbon rear triangles.
And be in no doubt – having ‘only’ 120mm of fork travel is no handicap to the Kili’s trail-slaying abilities, as local shredder Brock Sandeman discovered when he took our demo model for a razz around some natural trails in the Elan Valley.
Go on then Brock, how is it on the eye?
There’s a lot to like about the Kili Flyer from the off. Clean, long, low lines, 27.5” wheels, a short stem and wide bars all demonstrate this bike means business and show that Saracen have the fingers on the pulse in terms of what mountain bikers are looking for.
You’re in the saddle – first impressions please…
I’ve been riding a 26” Saracen Ariel for the past six months and absolutely love it so knew that this, its shorter-travel, 650b relation, had the potential to be a really fun bike. A quick blast around the car park confirmed my suspicions – the Flyer was quick off the blocks, felt instantly playful and left me gagging to give it a proper blast.
…and you opted for a bit of a natural trail riding, I believe?
Yeah – I took the Saracen over to the Elan Valley. Climbing out of Rhayader on some technical singletrack I was surprised by how easy the bike ascends. It’s billed as a playful trail bike and I really didn’t expect it to climb as well as it does. The Fox rear shock has a feature which means you can lock it out for climbing to eliminate pedal bob – but I didn’t need to use it, the suspension design is so good that even with the shock open you’ve got a nice, stiff pedalling platform.
Let’s get this wheel size business out of the way right now. 650b / 27.5” vs 26”, whatever! It’s all hype, isn’t it?
I’ll be honest – one of the first things I noticed about the Flyer is how well the 27.5” wheels roll on the rocky stuff. They seemed to get less caught up than my Ariel’s 26-ers, so much so that their efficiency made the Kili Flyer’s 120mm travel feel more like a bigger travel 26”-wheeled trail bike. The bike just feels incredibly stable at high-speed, massively surefooted when you chuck it into the the corners and very smooth and responsive over rocks and roots.
Did you get it off the ground at all?
Yes – I really didn’t expect the Flyer to be quite so good in the air, maybe the name should have given me a clue! The front end is easy to lift and the rear happily follows if you let it, this added to the bike’s overall fast but fun feel. Whether I was trying to hug the ground and ride flat out, or hopping off anything I could find, the bike felt well within its comfort zone.
In conclusion please, sir…
By trail bike standards the Kili Flyer is fairly short travel, but don’t let this – or its pretty looks – fool you. This bike is far more capable than it should be! I expected the Saracen to be a good bike but it well and truly surpassed my expectations. This thing climbs as well as many XC bikes I’ve ridden, yet descends like it has much more travel.
No matter what I threw at the bike it never lost its composure. Whatever you ask of it, it will put a massive smile on your face. It definitely deserves the name of the ‘Flyer’ – it really does fly! ……. I want one!
We stock Saracen’s full range. The new Kili Flyer 122 retails at £2599.99 and a demo model is available right now in the shop for you to try – get in touch if you want to give it a go.
Remember we’ve just upgraded our hard tail hire fleet to the 650b Mantra Pro and we’re selling off all of last year’s Saracen Mantra hire bikes for just £325. These have been well-looked after, serviced by our in-house team after every ride and make a bargain first mountain bike.