A fun bike to ride
The Saracen Tufftrax is a fun bike to ride, the frame is just big enough to accommodate my frame and there’s something playful and poppy about it.
This bike makes you pump for more speed at every opportunity. Part of this is down to a good choice of bar and stem, which are respectively wide and short enough to put you in a great riding position with lots of confidence. The rest comes from the bike’s geometry, it’s got a slack head angle to slow down the steering response and boost your confidence, and a short back end that encourages you to loft the front wheel.
Smoothing out the trail is the same Suntour XCM suspension fork I liked on the Carrera Vulcan — here it’s got less travel to play with but it still has decent damping to control the front of the bike. Sure, the rebound is a little fast but it’s manageable, and the stout 30mm stanchions help give the front of the bike some stiffness when you’re cornering.
Shimano’s Tourney chainset isn’t my favourite though, and it’s really this that lets the Tufftrax down. The shifters are irritating because they’re split under and over the bar, but worse is that the bike shifts around under power without your say-so. Couple that with brakes that require two fingers to pull and not enough stopping power and the bike starts to erode some of the hard won confidence it earned.