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Urban Clever Mike

Commuting bikes, or Commuters in short, is a conservative breed of bicycles. Most of them are constructed from traditional diamond shaped frame and possesses plain looking paintwork. Components are usually down to earth parts that are built to last for years. These traits are a result of their purpose, and that is to bring you from point A to B efficiently. The only attention these bikes have to attract is that of other road users, not bike thief, thus single coloured paint work with couple of reflectors. Due to this, I am never really a fan of Commuters. Only a small handful has gotten my attention, and these are more of showroom pieces than something one would actually use to commute.

This is why the Saracen Urban Clever Mike stood out the moment I saw it in the shop. Sitting amidst all the other bikes, its flashy paint job shouted for attention. Having said that, the paintwork is a personal preference, while it sits well with me, I know some others who do not share the same. Either way, I still think it is a nice touch and helps to bring some life into the bike. If I were to ride to work everyday, I would want to do it on a bike that would cheer me up.

Its beauty is not skin deep. Duly equipped with all the works, it is also a workhorse that will last you for many miles to come. The frame is constructed from 6061 Hydroformed Alloy tubing to keep weight low. Shimano Alfine internally geared hub and crankset took care of the drivetrain duties. Similarly, the important role of stopping the bike was also left to the big “S”, with Deore disc brakes providing all the stopping power needed. Contact points are an assortment of in-house components except for the Selle Royal Respiro saddle.

The Ride

With eager legs, I hopped onto the Clever Mike and brought it out for a spin. First thing I noticed is the upright sitting position with a commanding view of the traffic. A nice attribute for a Commuter, allowing the rider to go the distance without feeling overly stretched. Another added comfort is the suspended seatpost. While the travel is minimal, it does helped to take the edge off the potholes. I find this Saracen best for rides that are less than an hour, after which discomfort sets in at the bum area. Changing the saddle to something for comfortable should rectify the issue.

To commute on our congested road, I would expect a bike that is responsive in handling and is able to accelerate and stop well. The Clever Mike proved to be a smooth and responsive handler that instills confidence in the rider when zipping through traffic. The Deore brakes provided consistent braking power that is adequate for urban use. The main drawback is its slower pick up and climbing prowess, mainly due to the heavy Alfine hub and the fact that the weight of the bike is biased towards the rear. However, I can understand the used of internal hubs on this bike. After all, Commuters are designed to be used daily and it makes perfect sense to go internal to reduce maintenance work in the long run. In addition, Shimano internally geared hubs have good reputation to last a long time, so durability is not a concern as well. But with all the drivetrain functions packed in rear, it inevitable slows down the bike and limits its climbing ability.

Summing it off

While the look might suggest otherwise, the Clever Mike is really a decent workhorse to will bring you from point to point without much fuss. With the fanciful paint job, you would even find joy doubling it up as your weekend leisure ride as well. You can clock miles on it before any major maintenance work is required. It might not climb as well, but it is overly overweight as well. And there is nothing a strong pair of legs would not be able to overcome. Once you bring it up to cruising speed, the bike spins well, and you would enjoy the ride zipping through traffic.