Saracen Urban Clever Mike review£799.99

A love or hate affair

BikeRadar score3/5

Clever Mike is, apparently, Cockney rhyming slang for bike. Gertcha! Saracen’s range-topping urban bike wasn’t born within earshot of Bow Bells, but it has a definite London bent. The loud paint job is a nod to the fixie-crowd trend of covering bikes with stickers. And it’s a love it or hate it affair.

Get underneath the skin – and past the bling gold and purple anodised accessories – though, and the Clever Mike is a capable urban machine. We’re fans of Shimano’s eight-speed Alfine disc hub gear and that’s what you get on the Mike.

It’s heavier than a derailleur geared bike, but the payoff is super-smooth shifting, reliable gear changes at the lights and when putting pressure on the pedals, and little to no major maintenance. The range of gears is adequate unless you live or work somewhere especially precipitous.

Geometry is pretty relaxed, with a head angle of 70.5 degrees on our size large bike. The 170mm head tube, allied to a seven-degree rise Saracen stem and 15mm rise bar, provides a more upright riding position than we’d expected, but it makes sense for an urban bike, giving a commanding view in traffic.

Urban bikes also need responsive steering for nipping in and out of other road users, and run-ins with a few dozy pedestrians showed the Clever Mike to be predictable and quick enough. It definitely works best on smoother tarmac, though.

Head onto rougher, broken paths and there’s noticeable buzz through the Selle Royal Respiro saddle, despite a suspension seatpost, and the oversize alloy fork. We’d think about swapping the post, and the saddle too, for extra comfort if your rides are on ropy roads or longer than an hour.

Brakes are Shimano’s budget M575 discs which are reliable and more than powerful and progressive enough for all-weather town stopping. We found that Saracen’s own-brand white, double walled alloy wheels spun up to speed nicely too.

At £800 the Clever Mike falls well inside the all important UK Cycle to Work core price range. Get around the lairiness and it’s a decent commuting machine.

Saracen urban clever mike: saracen urban clever mike
Saracen urban clever mike: saracen urban clever mike

Rob Spedding

Editor-in-Chief, Cycling Plus, Cycling Plus Magazine
Editor-in-chief Rob has been pedalling Cycling Plus since 2007. His first proper road bikes were a Raleigh Sprint in the early 1980s and then a Trek 1000 in 1999. A former competitive runner, Rob has repeatedly threatened to become a competitive cyclist in every discipline from time-trailling to hill climbing to bike polo. We're still waiting.
  • Discipline: Road. Mainly commuting but with the occasional mountainous sportive that he'll complain about/fail to complete. Enjoys cake stops. Will never, ever do another triathlon after a bad experience in open water.
  • Preferred Terrain: Gently undulated roads – he's more of a rouleur. Likes gravel.
  • Current Bikes: BMC Alpenchallenge, Viner Perfecta, BMC Granfondo GF0, anything shiny that Warren Rossiter will allow him to ride
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Specialissima, Raleigh Banana
  • Beer of Choice: Innis and Gunn Original
  • Location: Bath, UK
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