Saracen Bikes 2016 Saracen Kili Flyer Elite Long Term Test Review First Look

First Look Review: 2016 Saracen Kili Flyer Elite Longtermer.

Following hot on the heels of Pete’s 2016 Ariel Elite longtermer comes the shorter travel Kili Flyer from Saracen. How will the full-carbon beast stack up against its bigger brother?

Over the coming season, we’ll be putting some miles in aboard the Kili Flyer Elite to see if Saracen have succeeded in their aim to create the ‘perfect UK trail bike’.

Saracen Bikes 2016 Saracen Kili Flyer Elite Long Term Test Review First Look

Vital Stats:

  • £3,699.99 RRP.
  • 27.5″ (650b) wheels.
  • 130mm travel.
  • Available in 15, 17 or 19″.

As mentioned above, Saracen’s goal with the Kili Flyer in 2016 was to make it the perfect UK trail bike. The limited edition Kili Flyer Elite is the only complete bike on offer and certainly looks the part while sporting all the latest kit that brings fantastic performance without the top spec price tags.

The full Toray UD carbon frame bolted together via Saracen’s TRL link should offer a ride we’re used to but in a lighter weight package. A large 30mm main pivot bearing is supported by Norglide bushes elsewhere in the TRL link. As with the Ariel Elite, suspension comes in the form of the new Fox FIT4 and EVOL units, though the Kili has a lighter, stiffer 34 Factory fork out front and the Float Factory unit handling the rear. Shimano’s XT 11-speed gearing handles the power transfer and even the brakes have gone XT M8000 as well.

Saracen Bikes 2016 Saracen Kili Flyer Elite Long Term Test Review First Look
Saracen’s TRL link in it’s 130mm application, via a Fox Float EVOL Factory shock.

First Look.

Immediately the Kili Flyer looks to be a far racier vessel than the Ariel. The full carbon frame, beautifully finished in a mix of gloss-white front with a bare carbon rear triangle. Travel front and rear has been increased over the 2015 model to give 130mm travel front and rear. The TRL link is one we know will perform, offering some fantastic climbing traction and superb support in the rough. Hopefully this link will have adapted well to a shorter travel application. Gone are the skinny Fox 32s of Saracen’s previous Kili Flyer efforts, and it’s encouraging to see the much improved 34mm legged forks out the front, matching in gloss white as well.

Geometry is markedly different compared to the Kili’s bigger brother, which should lend itself well to mellow trail blasting. We’re looking forward to pushing the limitations of the bike to see what it’s capable of though. Seat angle is identical to that of the Ariel at 73 degrees, but the head angle gains a full two degrees to settle on 68. The top tube is near as makes no difference 10mm shorter than the same sized Ariel, with the wheelbase being suitably shorter as well.

The groupset is comprised entirely of Shimano’s new M8000 XT components. All the way through the 11-speed, single ring drive train, all the way to the discs. This is one classy package. Shifting is smooth and crisp, while the brakes offer more adjustment as well as ceramic pistons.

Fox Boa Leaderboard 2024
Saracen Bikes 2016 Saracen Kili Flyer Elite Long Term Test Review First Look
The all-new 2016 Fox 34 Factory fork. Hopefully damping as good as the looks!

Close Up.

With the full carbon Kili, cables are all routed internally, including, unlike on their other models, the dropper cable. Routing for a front mech are available, but would only be a real consideration on a custom build. The 34-tooth front ring, combined with the 11-40t cassette and the bikes low weight shouldn’t see any need for a granny ring.

Finishing kit is made up of the now familiar Kore components, though there is a trend towards the lighter stuff being fitted here. That said, the bars are still a healthy 760mm so Saracen clearly have aimed this towards some aggressive handling.

Factory Fox units give all the external adjustments you could feasibly need. If they’re as good as the Ariel’s dampers, this bike will be going very quickly indeed. While the linkage is a different layout to the Ariel, we’re hopeful the shorter travel application will perform in much the same manner.

Saracen Bikes 2016 Saracen Kili Flyer Elite Long Term Test Review First Look
Nice clean lines and minimal clutter on the Kili Flyer Elite.

A KS LEV Integra handles the seat height requirements but comes with a cable-actuated remote for the post, unlike the Ariel. This should pay dividends at race weekends, and thanks to the full internal routing, shouldn’t mess up the cockpit too much.

Tyres certainly are a racey affair, in the form of some skinwall Maxxis Ardents. These might more be for show, rounding off the classic look, rather than performance away from the hardpack.

Saracen Bikes 2016 Saracen Kili Flyer Elite Long Term Test Review First Look
A 142 x 12mm rear axle, and full Shimano XT11-speed bringing up the rear.

The rest.

As with previous Saracen test bikes, the attention to detail shows. A small cardboard box containing the usual reflectors and owner’s manuals contains some other gems as well. Rubber cable shrouds help keep cable rub in the usual areas to a minimum, and a bolt-up seat clamp can be swapped out for the fitted QR number should you not move your post too often.

Like the look of the Kili Flyer? Find out more on the Saracen Bikes homepage or find a dealer with a demo bike on their dealer listings.

Wideopenmag will be thrashing long term test bikes through the year.

Check out our other First Look reviews, including Monet’s Vitus Sommet Pro, Pete’s Saracen Ariel Elite and Jim’s Orange Four Pro.