The talking point of Saracen’s 2018 range is the firm's all-new Ariel long travel enduro/all mountain machine. The bike might bear the same name as its predecessor, but it’s seen a complete overhaul, with a new suspension platform, increased travel and a full carbon frame.
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For all round trail shredding, Saracen’s Kili Flyer now has a full-alloy counterpart that comes in at under two grand, making it a great entry-level full-sus option.
Big wheel fans will welcome the addition of two new bikes to the stable: a hardcore carbon framed hardtail called the Zenith, and the Traverse, a 100mm travel, 29inch wheeled trail bike. In addition to these new models, many of Saracen’s old favourites have been carried over and freshened up with new paint jobs across the board.
The general trend of trail bikes these days has been to get longer and slacker, but Saracen said it didn’t want to go to extremes with its new Ariel. In fact, the large sized bike actually has a shorter reach than last year’s bike at 465mm, but Saracen has added an XL size, with a roomy 490mm reach.
What has increased, though, is the suspension travel and Ariel uses the same platform as seen on the brand’s Myst downhill bike, giving this beast 165mm of rear travel, paired to 170mm up front.
The leverage ratio has been altered for a trail application by shortening the linkages, but the designers have sought to retain the mid-stroke support from the Myst. Pivot position has been optimised for desirable anti-squat characteristics and Saracen has positioned the shock as low as possible, for a good centre of gravity.
Last year’s Ariel had a carbon swingarm and alloy front triangle, but the new LT model sees a move to a full carbon frame. This has allowed another detail to be brought over from the downhill bike: the use of a +/- 5mm reach adjusting headset. By including both this and a standard headset in the box, it allows riders on the cusp of sizes to fine tune fit to their preference.
The Ariel LT comes with an array of top spec parts, including Fox Float Factory suspension, a Shimano XT drivetrain, DT Swiss 1900 Spline 30mm wheels and Enve carbon DH bars. The 150mm dropper post is a proprietary product, but Saracen says it’s almost identical to a Shimano post and has proved itself to be very reliable.
We think that the tan wall Maxxis Minion DHF tyres look rad, but Saracen is aware that they might not be everyone’s taste, so it's including a second set of black walled tyres with every bike.
The more affordable Ariel Elite model keeps the same frame shape and carbon swingarm, but uses an alloy front end to keep costs down, so there isn’t the option for reach adjustment.
The parts spec is a little more modest, too, with a Rock Shox Yari RC fork, a Fox DPX2 Performance shock, Shimano SLX parts and WTB tyres, amongst other mid-range parts. We have to say, though, having ridden both bikes back to back, this is still a very capable bike.
Saracen Ariel pricing
- Ariel LT: £4,999.99
- Ariel Elite: £3,299.99
- Ariel LTX frameset: £2,399.99
Saracen Kili Flyer
This is Saracen’s all-round singletrack ripping, all day pedalling, trail bike.
For 2018 the shape of the frame hasn’t changed much, but it’s been made a fair bit longer in the reach: 443mm up to 468mm (size large) and a degree slacker in the head angle, at 67degrees.
There are both women’s and men’s specific models, but these are exactly the same in terms of geometry and suspension tune. Saracen believes that women and men have the same needs when it comes to frame shape; the women’s bike just has different contact points — saddle, grips and slightly narrower bars.
After receiving feedback from dealers wanting a more affordable full-sus option, Saracen has released a new full alloy version of the Kili Flyer, too. With 120mm of rear travel, a thru-axle 130mm X-Fusion 02 Pro RL fork, a dropper post, wide bars and a short stem, this looks like a great option for beginner/intermediate riders wanting to progress.
Saracen Kili Flyer pricing
- Kili Flyer: £1,849.99
- Kili Flyer: £3,499.99
- Kili Flyer Elite Womens: £3,499.99
- Kili Flyer Carbon X frameset: £2,199.99
There are no changes to the Myst downhill bike for 2018, but Saracen was keen to point out that this is exactly the same frame shape that the World Cup team have been using this season.
The Team bike comes with a Fox DHX2 Factory shock and Fox 40 Factory forks and although the Pro model only comes with a Fox Vanilla RC shock, it’s been internally tuned to give the same base setting as the DHX2.
Saracen sees the Pro as being the ideal bike for privateer racers — simple to setup and with a range of solid reliable componentry.
Saracen Myst pricing
- Myst Team: £5,699.99
- Myst Pro: £3,699.99
- Myst X frameset: £2,799.99
To complement its range of Mantra 27.5inch hardtails, Saracen has released a new 29inch carbon hardtail called the Zenith.
It’s being marketed as a rapid all-rounder and it certainly looks the part, painted up in Gulf Racing colours.
The complete build comes with Fox 34 Float Performance forks and Shimano XT/ SLX components, or there’s a frameset only option.
Saracen Zenith pricing
- Zenith Carbon: £2,399.99
- Zenith X Carbon frameset: £999.99
Whilst on the launch we also caught a peek of a new prototype 29inch wheeled trail bike. Saracen says that there was a lot of discussion over what it wanted this bike to be, but the company has settled on making a full-sus with a 100mm of rear travel, as it reckons this is the most fun and adaptable configuration.
Fit 120mm forks for shredding singletrack or slap on a pair of 100mm forks and a longer stem and you could line up at an XC race on this bike.
The suspension uses carbon seatstays that flex, instead of a rear pivot, and the designers say that they tested multiple tube shapes and carbon layups before they achieved the right level of leaf spring boing!
Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have to wait until February 2018 before we can get our hands on one of these. No definite pricing has been announced, but it’s expected to be around £3,000, not including the Fox Factory suspension, as shown here.