It’s surprising to think that Saracen hasn’t launched either a full-suspension 29er, nor a suspension e-Bike before, but today it has announced both.
Let’s start with this ‘none-more-red’ full suspension 29er, the Traverse. Designed to be one of those speedy, trail/race/map-crossing/whatever kind of machines, Saracen reckons that there have already been fights in the office over who gets to borrow one to ride. Designed to be ‘both fast and playful’ the bike features 120mm travel up front and 100mm travel out back, rolling on 29in wheels, which instantly makes us think of a good few events that we’d ‘need’ one of these for.
Coming in a penny under three-grand, it’s a fair investment, but then it’s a pretty versatile machine. And while the press photos show it being launched off jumps the size of buses, we reckon it’ll see hard service mostly in the world of endurance racing, big days out, Scott 100 weekends and all that good stuff. The Traverse features a custom-butted alloy front triangle and a Toray carbon swingarm, designed to flex just enough to allow the suspension to do its thing, without needing rear dropout pivots.
The Traverse comes with a Fox 34 fork up front, matching the Fox Float DPS out back. Drivetrain is Shimano’s 1×11 SLX with fast-rolling Maxxis Forekaster tyres (in blackwall, which will please those who didn’t like Saracen’s previous dalliance with skinwalls). And front derailleur fans will find that you can run the bike 2×11 (or 2×10) if you want to…
Saracen Ariel E
And now on to the e-Ariel. Rather than making the mid-travel Kili Flyer into an e-bike, Saracen skipped over that and turned its electric intentions at the longer travel enduro machine, the Ariel. Launching last year with a chunky 165mm of rear travel, the Ariel was suddenly a bike worthy of very chunky trails (and I got to race one at the NoFuss Fort William Endurance Downhill last year as a trial by fire of it – which it did way better than I did…)
The Ariel E uses an alloy front end and carbon swingarm (with the same carbon linkage from the new Ariel LT that can trace its roots to the downhill Myst). Saracen maintains that the pivots are near-enough the same layout to give the electric bike a very similar feel to the conventional Ariel. Drive system comes courtesy of Shimano, in the shape of the E8000 STEPS motor – which is an XT level component. Charging is 5hrs for 0-100%, or up to 80% in just 2.5hrs, and Saracen claims that you can look forward to up to 100km of supported riding on a single charge. Depending on how bonkers you go on the three pedal-assist modes.
The Ariel E will retail for £5,299.99 and comes equipped with a Fox 36 up front, a Float DPS out back. Basically, all of the function of the burly trail machine of the same name, but with a motor to get you back up to the top. Rather than being a long-distance pedal-assist tourer, we see this being very popular in places like Innerleithen, the Lakes and Calderdale where adding an electric-assist helps you get more laps of your favourite descents without having to rely on a mate with a van to shuttle you back up – or spending the entire day on the climb. Whether that appeals to you might depend on you personal work ethic, but we’ve had plenty of days where that appeals.
With a similar price to the (admittedly all-carbon) Ariel Elite bike, we can see a few riders wavering between the two options.
Of both bikes, Simon Wild, product manager at Saracen, said: “Building great bikes is what we love to do; bikes we want to ride and bikes you’ll love. It was the usual labour of love with these two new beauties from initial design to testing and then finally into production. It’s safe to say all of us at Saracen are super excited to add these new steeds into our stable!”
Both bikes are available now from local Saracen dealers. More information can be found on saracen.co.uk.