We’ve just returned from a preview of Saracen’s 2010 range of mountain and kids’ bikes, and there are very positive signs for the future of this once stalwart British bike brand.
Madison, UK distributors for Shimano, acquired the brand in April, and they’re intent on resurrecting the Saracen name by designing new bikes and sponsoring top riders. They will be selling the range only through independent bike shops.
In this instalment we look at the new Tufftrax and Mantra entry-level mountain bikes, Zen long-travel trail bikes and Bolt, Amplitude and other kids’ bikes available in the 2010 Saracen range.
The Tufftrax is Saracen’s entry-level mountain bike, suitable for light trail use. Both the Tufftrax (£249.99) and Tufftrax Comp (£299.99) come with 80mm-travel Suntour forks. The Comp gets a Shimano Altus rear mech instead of the basic TX51 model and 24 gears instead of 21.
Designer Simon Wild has had tyres specially made for the Tufftrax with a shallow tread which he says will be grippy enough for towpath-type riding but smooth enough to roll fast on the road, unlike many entry-level mountain bikes which are specced with over-knobbly tyres.
Tufftrax comp:Matthew Cole/BikeRadar
The Tufftrax Comp comes with Saracen-designed multi-terrain ‘Jack’ tyres.
Both models will come with Saracen-branded stem and handlebar combos. Like on most of the 2010 range, UK-friendly features on the Tufftrax include Crud/Cycraguard bosses for fitting downtube mudguards and forward-facing seatpost collars, as well as pannier rack bosses.
The double-butted Mantra bike comes in three flavours – Mantra, Mantra Pro and Mantra X-27 – and has been designed for riders who want to hit the trails proper.
Mantra x27:Matthew Cole/BikeRadar
Saracen’s Mantra X27 uses a 27-speed setup courtesy of SRAM.
The brushed steel headbadge is a neat touch, and the Mantra shares the UK-friendly features of the Tufftrax.
The £399.99 base model has a 100mm Suntour XCT fork with lockout, Shimano 24-speed gearing with an Acera rear mech, Tektro cable disk brakes and Saracen’s own stem, bars and saddle.
For £100 more you get the Mantra Pro. Upgrades include a Suntour XCM 100mm-travel fork with lockout, Quad Axis hydraulic brakes and Shimano Alivio rear mech.
The Mantra X-27 is kitted out with 120mm Suntour XCR forks with lockout, SRAM X-5 27 speed shifting and Quad Dime hydraulic disk brakes.
The Zen has always been a top performing model, and Saracen’s long-travel hardtail looks like it’s going to be a winner for 2010.
Head tubes on the Zen range get the VIP treatment, with the name Saracen CNC machined into the double-butted tubing.
The £849.99 Zen 1 has a RockShox Tora 289 U-Turn 85-130mm fork, Shimano Deore shifters with a Shadow Deore rear mech, Truvativ Blaze chainset, Quad Sting Pro hydraulic disc brakes, Mavic XM317 rims and Saracen bars, stem and grips.
Zen 2:Matthew Cole/BikeRadar
The £999.99 Zen 2 has Marzocchi Bomber 33 TST2 140mm forks (15mm QR), Deore shifting with SLX Shadow rear mech, Truvativ Firex chainset, Shimano M486 hydraulic brakes and a RaceFace stem and bar combo.
Zen 3 headtube:Matthew Cole/BikeRadar
The £1299.99 Zen 3 gets a RockShox Recon 335 U-Turn 95-140mm fork (20mm axle), Shimano SLX shifting, Deore XT rear mech, Truvativ Firex chainset, Shimano M575 hydraulic brakes and Syncros all-mountain wheels, stem and bars.
Saracen have long been renowned for producing decent budget jump bikes, and according to Simon Wild, dirt jump bikes are an “integral part” of what the company is about.
Amplitude cr2 with cromo tubeset:Madison
Amplitude CR2 will retail at £459.99.
So much so that Saracen are in talks with a number of “UK celebrity riders”, and hope to sign a rider for the 2010 season. Watch this space.
The £359.99 Amplitute CR1 should appeal to first-time dirt demons and those on a shoestring with its chromoly steel frame, rigid fork, Tektro V-brakes and own-brand finishing kit.
Amplitude cr3 will retail at £649.99:Madison
Moving up the range, the £649.99 Amplitude CR3 gets Marzocchi Dirt Jumper 3 100mm forks, Quad Axis hydraulic disc brakes, Alienation rims and a pimp-looking gold chain.
Down with the kids
Children are well catered for in the 2010 range. The Tufftrax Jnr model is a scaled-down version of the Tufftrax adult bike and has 50mm Suntour forks, Shimano shifting and Saracen-branded grips, stem and bars.
The Amplitude is “built for kids to wreck”, according to Simon Wild – which means it’s durable and going to last.
With a 30mm travel fork and bashguard, this singlespeed dirt jump bike mini-me looks like fun for the wee men and women.
The future of Saracen
With a dedicated team of designers and the support of Madison, Saracen definitely mean business. Plans are in the pipeline for the Ariel, a 140mm single-pivot full-suspension bike using the company’s own patented technology.
Saracen designer, simon wild: saracen designer, simon wildMatthew Cole/BikeRadar
Simon Wild has designed all the new Saracen range, and an extended range of mountain and urban bikes are already in the prototype phase.
A downhill/freeride bike, Myst, is also at the design stage, which Saracen hope will be piloted by a well-known rider on the World Cup circuit.
An urban line-up is set to launch later this year too.
And for those of you who hark back to the days of the iconic Kili cross country machine, watch this space because there might be a UK designed titanium stunner coming to a trail near you soon…