A longer Ariel, a cheaper Kili Flyer, a fatter Zen, a carbon Myst and a women's specific Mantra
2017 looks like a year of evolution rather than revolution for Saracen. There are still a handful of real changes and a few new models that jump out from the range though.
The enduro aimed Ariel looks to be better than ever. The ‘everyman carbon’ Kili Flyer is now more affordable to more riders. The Zen+ looks like a fun and well thought out Plus hardtail. The carbon Myst DH is an impressive machine. And finally there’s something for female riders.
2017 Saracen Ariel Elite
The Ariel range is a total of one model for 2017. But it looks like a great distillation and refinement of everything that the 150mm trail/enduro bike is all about. The £2,999 Saracen Ariel Elite.
For 2017 it’s been lengthened and lowered. Specifically the reach and front centre have grown and there’s more standover helped in part by the shorter seat tube. This shorter seat tube means it possible for more people to run 150mm dropper posts in their Ariel.
It comes with a 1×11 drivtrain but there is still provision to run a front mech on there should you so wish.
The Ariel frame compromises a custom butted 6013 series alloy front triangle together with a Toray UD carbon rear triangle. The TRL (Tuned Ride Link) suspension appears to unaltered from previous Ariels. No bad thing.
Kit wise, there’s a 160mm RockShox Pike RC up front, a Fox Float X Performance rear shock, a Shimano SLX/XT drivetrain, all finished off with various Race Face and Kore bits and bobs.
2017 Saracen Kili Flyer Pro
The Kili Flyer is the most well known name in Saracen lore and the 2017 versions do look great. Nice paintjobs, nice angles and they just have a nice stance don’t they?
The Kili Flyer Pro is basically a new price point build – £2,999 – which brings it into the much less frightening realm of four-figure price tags that start with a 2 rather than a 3.
The 130mm travel non-overkill ‘real world riding’ remit of the Kili Flyer remains unchanged. As saracen put it: “while the rest of the market pushed on with longer travel 150 and 160mm trail bikes we felt that was just too much for where most people were riding.”
The frame is Toray 24T/30T UD carbon with the third year version of the TRL suspension design with its oversized main pivot and linkage driven single pivot system.
2017 Saracen Zen+
Saracen are doing a Plus bike hardtail. This is not a particularly surprising announcement but it is still nice to see. They taken their popular Zen hardtail, Boost-ed it, kept a similar geometry and shoved in some chunky rubbers.
If you look closely at the pic you can see that the driveside chainstay is dipped in a hockey stick shape. This is to allow room for the 2.8in rear tyre and the chainring/chainline.
Spec-wise it looks like a pretty good deal for £1,599. Shimano SLX 1×11, RockShox Sektor RL 130mm fork, 120mm dropper p[ost from JD, WTB Dual DNA 3.0in/2.8in tyres, Formula hubs with decent sealed bearings, Race Face and Kore bits.
2017 Saracen Myst Pro
A full-on downhill bike is not something that everyone will be interested in but it’s still great to see one bearing the Saracen name. It’s an indication of the skills and knowledge of Saracen’s modest design team if nothing else. The existence of the Myst makes you have more faith in the Ariel or the Kili Flyer.
The Saracen Myst Pro is a more affordable build of the Myst Team – £3,399. Uses the same frame as the Team which has been used to good effect on the World Cup DH scene since mid-2015 by Saracen pro’s such as Manon Carpenter. The Myst Pro is aimed squarely at the privateer DH racer.
Full carbon. Front triangle alone is 560g lighter than the previous alloy one. Even the linkage is carbon – another saving of 110g over the earlier alloy one.
The shock cradle has been moved to the down tube to lower the centre of gravity and improve standover. Despite doing this the designers have still allowed for lots of shock room to accommodate modern large volume air can rear shocks.
2017 Mantra Trail Women’s
Yeah there’s some rather obvious pink paint on this bike but don’t let that put you off. The designers do state that the colour were hand-picked by their team of women riders, so fair enough.
The women’s Mantra range uses the same frame as the men’s but is specced with a shorter stem, slightly narrower bars and a women’s saddle.
Using the same frame and tweaking the contact points can sound like a cop-out but we reckon it’s a good idea. Geometry is geometry. There’s no benefit in the shorter top tube, higher front end “women specific geometry” that was in vogue a few years ago.
The Mantra Trail Women costs £899. Perhaps the only thing we’d like to have seen is a 1×11 drivetrain instead of the 2×10 setup, even if it bumped the price up a bit.
Two bonus bikes
And here’s two more quick selections from Saraacen’s 2017 range. Just because they look cool.
The 2017 Saracen CR2 dirt jump bike. We could really injure ourselves with one of these. At £549 it’s almost within credit card reckless impulse purchase range!
The 2017 Saracen Amplitude Frequency. We’d be able to injure ourselves even more seriously – and immediately – with one of these little wheelers. £399 is the cost of the A&E season ticket you’d get with this bike. Still want.