Which Saracen Would You Choose? The Full Sus 29er Or The Full Sus E-Bike?

by 7

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.

Saracen Traverse

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…

Not just for 24 hour racers though, the Traverse is a serious fun machine too.
This has to be in with ‘Best colour of the year so far’

Saracen Ariel E

A full suspension e-bike? Why not?

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…)

One of the few Shimano-powered bikes with an external battery. What do you reckon? Better than a huge downtube?

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.

Now that looks a well ‘tested’ test bike there

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.

Gears are cable operated, this display is purely for the battery and motor

With a similar price to the (admittedly all-carbon) Ariel Elite bike, we can see a few riders wavering between the two options.

Is self-shuttling any worse than catching a van to the top of the trails? Discuss…

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.


Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

Comments (7)

    Reminds me very much of my mk1 Salsa Horsethief.

    100km range, will the battery last longer than the frame bushes then?

    I was thinking along the lines of YoKaiser up there “how nice of saracen to make the spearfish now that salsa have dropped it”*

    *Dropped in the old fashioned sense

    Jamesoz – full (massive) bearings in all Ariels inc this one for 2018.

    Still wouldn’t touch one again.

    I’d definitely have a Traverse. I’d like a bouncy e-bike too but I would only buy one that is properly integrated – battery plonked on downtube is a big no for me.

Leave a Reply