Sportline is the name of Madison’s company that handles all of its own-brand bikes, like Saracen, Genesis and Ridgeback and every year there’s a separate Sportline Show event held in a large marquee, or windowless show hall in Milton Keynes to bring all of the brands together so that the assembled bike shops and bike journos can take in all of the bikes in one room. It’s a good way of catching up with what the individual brands are doing, as well as catching a glimpse of how everyone’s 2020 bike lines are shaping up.
Saracen Zenith Elite LSL
Let’s start with the none-more-black Saracen Zenith LSL. The Zenith is Saracen’s 29er trail hardtail and this year it gains an LSL version – this is stands for ‘Low, Slack, Long’ – which obviously suggests a modern, er, ‘progressive’ geometry. Saracen’s claim for the bike is that it ‘might well be the fastest hardtail on the planet right now. Bold claims indeed and it makes us want to ride one…
Saracen Mantra Trail LSL
The 27.5in wheeled Mantra has also had the LSL treatment, with this Trail LSL and an Elite LSL too. The Elite model (in natty blue and red) gets SRAM NX Eagle and a Rockshox FS35 Gold RL fork (and a dropper post) while the Trail LSL features SRAM SX Eagle and a Recon RL fork. Both bikes feature 140mm travel up front for proper ‘Hardcore Hardtail’ credentials.
The Levarg came out a couple of years ago and was Saracen’s nod to the then-nascent gravel scene (hence the name – which is ‘gravel’ backwards…) – It seemed to strike a note and there are now four different models of the Levarg – all able to take 650 x 50mm or 700C x 44mm… Not everyone is an instant drop-bar fan, though, especially if you’re coming from a mountain bike, so this year there’s the new Levarg FB – for Flat Bar. Still the same capability, but a more familiar feel for dirt riders.
The Saracen Ariel has evolved into a big hitting 27.5in trail/enduro bike and Saracen has models of the Ariel from ‘affordable alloy’ up to ‘full-on full carbon’. With 170mm travel up front and 165mm rear travel, it’s a chunky beast, but popular with enduro racers, Scottish and Lakeland riders and for that fortnight a year to the Alps…
Saracen Ariel LTX
While the Ariel LT features the same travel as the Elite, it comes with a full carbon frame, swingarm and even the suspension links are carbon. The LTX is the frame-only version of the Ariel, allowing you to build a bike up as you want. At this level of bike, many riders have firm ideas of what forks and components they want, so rather than second-guessing everyone, Saracen just provides the frame to build on…
Saracen Myst Team
While we’re looking at the big travel bikes from the Sportline Show, it’d make sense to cover the Myst. It’s possible to buy the Myst Team bike in both 27.5 and 29in wheeled versions and access the same frame that the Madison/Saracen race team riders race on. Both bikes come ready to race for £5799…
Saracen Myst Pro
The Myst Pro is also ready to race out of the box, but comes at a more reasonable £3999, still with a full carbon frame, RaceFace finishing kit, Boxxer forks and Super Tacky rubber…
Saracen Myst Al
Expect to see a lot of these at your local uplifted trail centre. The Myst AL has the same DNA as the successful Myst, but it comes with a full alloy frame, fewer top-end components and a price that should cost less than the Transit that carries it around. Still with 200/203mm travel, Zee 10speed transmission, 203/203 Shimano brakes, it all comes in for £2599.99
Not everything Saracen is about huge travel and going big, though. Some bikes are just designed for going places. These Saracen Zenith bikes are quietly going about their own 29er business for £699 (the blue one) and £549 (yellow one)
Saracen’s bikes can be found here: saracen.co.uk
We’ll cover most of the new Genesis bikes (and colours) in a separate post for grit.cx as most of the bikes are of the skinnier variety, but there a few bikes from the Sportline Show that will definitely appeal to the adventuring mountain biker…
Genesis has found that the all-terrain Vagabond (a little like the Ariel above) is often bought by riders with a definite idea of what they want, which means that however you spec a complete bike, it’ll have something wrong. However by making it available as a frame and fork, Genesis reckons that it’ll suit any one of a thousand builds.
Genesis Bikes can be found here: genesisbikes.co.uk
Disclosure: Singletrack covered Chipps’ travel to the Sportline Show in Milton Keynes. A lunch of triangle sandwiches and instant coffee was provided by Sportline/Madison.