If you are looking for a good level gravel bike at a contained price, the Levarg SL from Saracen is a good example. It is also a very valid option to start in gravel without having to leave a kidney in the purchase.
Below, I summarize its key aspects and as always, I encourage you to participate with your comments.
The Saracen Levarg SL is a gravel bike with an MTB soul. In fact, its geometry is inspired by mountain bike models with a longer top tube and shorter stem. This in the world of gravel is not entirely new and we can see it for example in other options, such as the Merida Silex or some Canyon brand bicycles.
«Saracen Levarg SL, a gravel bike with an MTB soul. A longer top tube and shorter stem»
Continuing with its geometry, it has sloping or a certain drop in the upper tube. This causes, as I always point out, a much more relaxed and manageable ride than bicycles with no such aspect. But the interesting point of the frame is how the bottom tube has an angle of exit from the front tube and then falls to join the seat tube. The benefit? more space between the lower tube and the front wheel to place attachments. Unfortunately, Saracen did not place a third attachment point on the underside of the bottom tube.
« The bottom tube has an angle of exit from the front tube and then falls to join the seat tube. The benefit? more space between the lower tube and the front wheel to place attachments »
As for the material that this frame is made of, obviously for its price it is aluminum. Specifically, the alloy used for its construction is 6061. As we have commented in some other article, this type of material is usually very widespread in cycling, both in components and for the creation of frames. And by the way, brands increasingly design and create aluminum frames light enough and aesthetically beautiful as any carbon model. This frame of the Levarg SL actually draws me in its design.
« The frame is made of aluminum with the 6061 alloy. It has an attractive design »
Another thing that we must highlight about this option is that it is a bicycle that can use both wheel sizes in gravel cycling: 650b and 700c. Not all frames allow this option. For the smaller wheel size, we can locate tires up to 50c. For 700c, tires up to 44c. Therefore, the versatility of traveling through different areas is more than guaranteed.
« In the Levarg SL you can install both 650b and 700c wheels »
Another feature that is liked is that the Levarg SL has up to three locations to install three bottle cages, something basic on any gravel bike. Perhaps the bike is missing some more welding, for example on the top, bottom tube or fork. However, it is not essential either, since there are bikepacking solutions on the market that work using belts.
«Up to three bottle cages can be installed. Perhaps the bike lacks some more welding, for example on the inside of the frame, because it has space»
This bike looks quite modern. Apart from the tubes with different shapes (hydroformed), it presents a carbon fork with a straight and conical shape. It is appreciated, since in general its appearance is perceived much more current. By the way, the fork painting is camouflage type, which contrasts with the rest of the painting. Good combination.
Also, the Levarg SL has through axles. A solution already quite common in today’s bicycles. Installing or removing the wheels is much easier.
The British brand has put a lot of effort to equip this economic model with the characteristics of a higher-level bicycle. And it is that the cables are routed internally. This aspect gives the frame a greater visual cleanliness.
Finally, the bicycle is sold in a single color (gray) and you have the usual standard sizes: S, M, L and XL.
The Levarg SL brings the Sram Apex 1 11-speed drivetrain, although for its price (you’ll know), it does bring the option for mechanical disc brakes. I am a user of this set, and at the level of behavior and smoothness, it works correctly. Obviously, it has its limits and is not at the level of hydraulic brakes, but you could install them in an upgrade.
Its transmission is focused on gravel, so it allows you to tackle different types of surfaces with a guarantee. Perhaps, in asphalt areas that you want to go a little fast, it may be a little short in terms of speed sensations. This is because it has only one chainring. But gentlemen, we are talking about an off-road practice where we must prioritize other aspects apart from agility.
The bike mounts a single 42 tooth chainring with a large 11 / 42t cassette. Sufficient development to feel good in difficult terrain or that you need some clearance going up.
As expected, the Levarg SL offers us peripherals as standard or from the brand itself. Handlebar, stem and seatpost are made of aluminum and I understand that their behavior is more than correct. Highlight the bar, which offers a flare or opening of 15 degrees. This will allow us greater control through complicated areas.
Rims and tires
As for the wheels, these are made of aluminum from the Araya brand. To be honest, we don’t know about them. So, nothing more to add on this topic.
To finish, the tires are the 47c wide WTB Byway 650b, quite common in gravel cycling. They have a completely smooth tread and therefore will adapt well both to low-tech forest tracks and asphalt. In addition, it has an intermediate part with small diamond-shaped studs and side bands with larger studs. The latter gives us some grip in the curves, essential if we go on more technical roads.
- Model: Saracen Levarg SL 2020
- Modality: Gravel
- Frame: aluminum
- Fork: Carbon
- Drivetrain: Sram Apex 1 11-speed (mechanical brakes)
- Chainring: 42t (single)
- Cassette: 11 / 42t
- Components: Aluminum
- Tires: WTB Byway 650
- Wheels: Araya 650b
- Weight: 10.5 kg
The Saracen Levarg SL (backwards means gravel) is a particularly good option to start in gravel. I like its very mountainous geometry and that it has 650b wheels that allow you to face any type of terrain.
As for the drivetrain that it has, the Sram Apex 1, it behaves quite well, and I have no complaints. It is a highly focused transmission to off-road cycling.
It is a model to enjoy and without envying more expensive options.
You can find it for € 1,316.65 or around US$1,485 in the specialized gravel store (and other modalities) Rumble Bikes.
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