Saracen is a brand that seasoned riders often overlook, probably because it’s commonly associated with youth-targetted entry-level bikes. The range has always included more “serious” stuff, though, and for 2005 new bikes, a new logo and new, more subtle colour schemes seem to be heralding a more “grown up” Saracen.
As well as a selection of budget single-pivot full sussers there’s a pair of pukka four-bar bikes. This is the £700 Havoc, offering 6in of travel at the bike and a 5in Manitou Splice Comp fork up front. Truvativ cranks, Deore bits and Hayes mechanical discs with 8in rotors provide going and stopping, and finishing kit comes from the likes of Tioga and WTB. There’s also the Frenzy at £900 with spec upgrades.
There’s a bit of a gap in the XC hardtail range – Saracen has the £300 Nzyme (£350 with discs) and £400 (or £500 with discs) Dirttrax, with the £1,000 Kili Flyer sitting in a Competition range of its own. It looks pretty decent, with a RockShox Reba fork and full Shimano LX setup.
Saracen’s always been big into jump-style bikes, and the 2005 ones are all satin finishes, muted tones and understated logos, which is nice. This is the Xess, complete with Marzocchi Dirt Jam fork, Truvativ/SRAM transmission and Hayes mech discs for £550.
Our favourite Saracens (to look at, we haven’t ridden any of ’em) are the Zens. They’re the “Extreme XC” bikes, which means 5in forked hardtails with low-slung frames and handily short front ends. The Zens of earlier years have looked a bit of a funny shape but the ’05 bikes look very well proportioned and good value – the Zen1 here is £600 with a Manitou Splic Comp fork and Deore bits.
Saracen’s association with the MAD trials team means that they’ve got a selection of 20 and 26in wheel trials bikes on offer too. The Saracen website hasn’t got the ’05 bikes on yet, but give ’em a call on 01926 437700 and they’ll send you a catalogue.