Saracen Kili Flyer Pro review£3,000.00

Swift full-carbon flier hobbled by cheap suspension

BikeRadar score3/5

Saracen’s 130mm travel trail blaster is designed and equipped with an eye for maximum speed on typical UK singletrack. It’s well specced, too, although it hits a limit if you hammer it too hard.

While most ‘carbon’ bikes at this price are actually just a carbon-fibre mainframe with an alloy rear end, the Kili Pro is fibre front and rear. It’s an impressively tight and lively feeling frame, too.

It comes complete with Crud Catcher mounts; internal cable routing keeps it looking neat; while the single 30mm bearing main pivot is punched through the centre of the kinked seat tube. The pivot for the shock-driving swing link goes through the centre of the sloped top tube, creating a naturally tight and lively feeling ride.

A slim-legged RockShox Revelation fork keeps weight below 13kg even with the internally routed dropper post. Light/Fast Rolling compound versions of WTB’s Trail Boss and Beeline tyres boost acceleration and responsiveness, and the RaceFace Aeffect crank is running a bigger than average 34t chainring for XC speed.

A full suite of Shimano SLX gearing benefits from clean cable-routing lines and a direct-mount dropout to keep shifting light, and the Shimano M615 brakes are dependably reliable, too.

Internal cabling for the Kili Flyer Pro
Internal cabling for the Kili Flyer Pro

While some 130mm bikes are approaching enduro angles and cockpit dimensions, the 68-degree head angle and 65mm Kore stem of the Kili are designed for dodging trouble rather than ploughing straight through it.

The 760mm bar means there’s enough leverage to save your neck, though, and the 120mm stroke dropper gives more room to throw your bodyweight into the mix as well.

The clunky-feeling Fox Performance rear shock and rounded, side-slip prone rear tyre that needs high pressures to survive rough terrain mean the rear end lacks consistent connection and reliable communication.

The Revelation fork is also less keen to get stuck into challenging situations than 35mm-legged RockShox forks, and it’s relatively short in reach for a large.

The cumulative freakout tends to happen suddenly, too, so while stickier tyres will help, aggressive riders will be happier on the 150mm travel, Pike-fork-packing Saracen Ariel Elite for an additional £400.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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