Hands On With The Brand New 2018 Saracen Traverse

by Wil Barrett 4

We’re currently down in Milton Keynes – City Of Dreams – at Madison’s huge in-house dealer show, iceBike*. As we’ve come to look forward to each February, iceBike* is an opportunity to get a hands-on look at Madison’s extensive array of brands, with each showing off their current product lines in a big ol’ exhibition hall. Being at the tail-end of winter, there wasn’t a huge amount of fresh product on show, but there have been some notable highlights that we’ve been checking out.

One such highlight is the brand new Traverse from Saracen Bikes.

Announced to the internets just last week, the Traverse is a new short-travel trail bike from Saracen built around 29in wheels, a 120mm travel fork and geometry that aims to offer all-day pedalling comfort, while remaining calm and composed for the descents. We think this is going to be a pretty popular bike with the UK market, so we grabbed ahold of Jack from Saracen at iceBike* to take us through the finer details of this beautiful Candy Apple machine.

saracen traverse jack
Saracen Product Manager Jack with his new baby.

2018 Saracen Traverse Features

  • New lightweight 29er XC/Trail bike
  • Hydroformed alloy mainframe & carbon one-piece swingarm
  • Single pivot suspension design
  • 100mm travel
  • 120mm travel fork
  • 67.5° head angle
  • 435mm chainstay length
  • 73mm English threaded bottom bracket shell
  • Shimano Direct Mount Derailleur hanger
  • 2x compatible
  • 142x12mm rear thru-axle
  • Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • RRP: £2999

As of right now, the Traverse will come in a single spec option. You’re looking at a Shimano SLX 1×11 drivetrain, Shimano M500 brakes, Maxxis Forekaster tyres, and a Fox Float suspension package. Jack indicated that we might see more spec options open up in the future, and depending on its popularity, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch of the imagination to see Saracen introducing a full-carbon version down the line.

On that note, would you like to see a full carbon version? Let us (and Saracen) know in the comments section below!

saracen traverse
Svelte carbon fibre back end.

Whereas the mainframe is made from hydroformed alloy, the swingarm is a one-piece carbon fibre structure. The main pivot sits inline with the 30t chainring, though there are no pivots on the back of the swingarm. Instead, the carbon flexes ever so slightly throughout the travel. The result is a lighter, laterally stiffer, and simpler one-piece design that is not unlike what you’d find on the back of bikes like the new Scott Spark and Specialized Epic.

saracen traverse
Compact 142x12mm back end.

One interesting note is the 142x12mm thru-axle rear end. Saracen did prototype a Boost 148x12mm rear end, but found issues with heel clearance that caused rub on the chainstays for some test riders with bigger shoes. The 142mm wide rear end is (obviously) narrower, and helps to keep everything nice and snug back there. This is a pretty interesting spec choice, given so many bikes are moving towards Boost-only hub spacing.

saracen traverse
The Shimano direct-mount derailleur hanger is stiffer and makes wheel installation easier.
saracen traverse
The bridgeless stays offer huge mud clearance – key for a UK XC/trail bike that’s likely to spend some time on endurance race courses.
saracen traverse
Yes – you can fit a 2x drivetrain if you like.
fox float dps evol saracen traverse
Performance Series Fox Float DPS rear shock offers 100mm of travel.
saracen traverse
The composite rocker link rolls on sealed bearings.
saracen traverse
Saracen specs its own in-house dropper post, which is basically the same as the Brand-X Ascend.
saracen traverse fox 34 float
The Fox 34 Float fork comes with 120mm of travel up front.
saracen traverse
It’s not a full-blown XC race bike, nor a hardcore trail bike – the Traverse is a mile-munching Goldilocks bike.

2018 Saracen Traverse Specifications

  • Frame // 6013 Hydroformed Alloy w/Mitsubishi UD Carbon Fibre Swingarm, 100mm Travel
  • Fork // Fox 34 Float Performance, GRIP Damper, 120mm Travel
  • Shock // Fox Float DPS EVOL
  • Hubs // Formula DC-711 Sealed Bearing, 110x15mm Front & 142x12mm Rear
  • Rims // WTB STP i25 TCS 29, 32h, 30mm Internal Rim Width
  • Tyres // Maxxis EXO Tubeless Ready Forekaster 2.35in Front & Ikon 2.35in Rear
  • Chainset // Shimano SLX 30t
  • Rear Mech // Shimano Deore XT, 11-Speed
  • Shifter // Shimano SLX, 11-Speed
  • Cassette // Shimano SLX, 11-42t, 11-Speed
  • Brakes // Shimano M500, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear
  • Bar // Saracen OS 6061 Alloy, 25mm Rise, 760mm Wide
  • Stem // Saracen 6061 3D-forged Alloy, 50mm Long
  • Grips // Saracen Lock-On
  • Seatpost // JD YSP12L Dropper Post, 30.9mm, 125mm Travel (100mm On Small)
  • Saddle // Kore Connex
  • Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • RRP // £2999 GBP

Comments (4)

  1. Great looking bike, would have liked to seen XT on it, although I’m guessing that would then miss the £2,999 price point. Would like to see a carbon version, with an XT groupset. Looking forward to seeing the review on how it rides.

  2. That red. Yes please.

    Ideal UK trail bike for most I think – could this be my ‘new’ Orange ST4, the best bike I have ever owned. Shorter travel so nippy, sprightly and lighter, yet enough travel to get some serious speed up, while not being a steamroller….

  3. Looks absolutely fantastic, both the lines of the bike and the paintjob. Slightly less burly in terms of travel available than what I’d normally go for, but it just has ‘fun’ written all over it.
    But the lack of a boost rear end could be a dealbreaker for me. Just moved to a boosted 27.5 platform for my hardtail, and a short-med travel full-sus 29er would be the perfect foil. Ideally I’d want to swap the wheels between the two though. Getting a bit fed up of the plethora of standards.

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