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Value Field Test: Haro Saguaro – The Pink Anvil – Pinkbike

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PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Haro Saguaro Hardtail


Words by Dario DiGiulio; photography by Tom Richards
Haro has a vibrant brand presence in the BMX world, but a pretty spotty history when it comes to mountain bikes. They’re looking to change that up with their newest forays into the market, starting with this: the Saguaro hardtail. Aimed at a gravity-fed crowd that doesn’t mind soaking up the hits themselves, the Saguaro is decidedly a downhill focused hardtail with geometry and a build kit to match.

It is the most expensive hardtail on test, but has a few little features that try to set it apart. The frame may be too harsh for some, but does the value proposition help sooth the sore ankles?

Haro Saguaro Details

• Travel: 140mm fork
• 29″ wheels
• 64.5° head angle
• 76.5° seat angle
• Size-specific chainstays (435mm Large)
• Reach: 445mm (Medium) / 470mm (Large)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 33.6 lb / 15.12 kg
• Price: $2,399 USD
• More info: harobikes.com

This is not the cheapest model in the Saguaro lineup, falling right in the middle of the 3-bike range. You can get the tier 1 model for $3,999 USD, or the tier 3 for $1899 USD, but we felt that the tier 2 spec and price struck the best balance.
This aluminum frame comes with 29″ WTB KOM Tough wheels front and rear, a 140mm Marzocchi Z2 fork, TRP’s Slate Evo 4-piston brakes, a 200mm Trans-X dropper post, and a 12-speed SRAM NX drivetrain. Gripping, bouncing, and rolling is done by a set of Kenda tires, with the Pinner up front and the Nevegal in the rear, both in a 2.4″ width.

The geometry is aggressive without being ludicrous, with a 64.5° head angle, 76.5° seat angle, and size-specific chainstays ranging from 418mm to 435mm. The bottom bracket drop is particularly low, with 70mm of drop on all but the smallest size. The reaches on the four sizes land at 420, 445, 475, and 490mm, hitting right around the sweet spot for each.

Climbing
Haro’s own marketing copy around the Saguaro is full of statements that make you think it’s going to be an absolute bear on the climbs, but in reality it does a perfectly fine job. It’s certainly no lightweight, but the upright geometry and wide range drivetrain mean you’ll be able to spin up just about anything in comfort. Kenda’s tires are fairly fast-rolling as well, making for a more efficient combination than some of the stickier rubber on test.

One detail on the geometry front that can make some climbs a little trickier is that bottom bracket height. With the BB so low, you have to be a bit more mindful of your pedal placement, but once you’re adapted to the feel it’s smooth sailing – plus a nicely low-slung weight bias to keep slow speed balance easy.

Descending

If ever one could describe a hardtail as a plow bike, this might just be it. Drop your heels, brace yourself, and push through the bumps as hard as you can. It’s not going to be comfortable, but you’re able to carry some serious speed on the Saguaro. The headtube angle isn’t terribly slack on this bike, but the wheelbase feels plenty long and stable, which is certainly helped along by the very low bottom bracket. The upright standing position that provides means you can look further down trail, push a bit harder in corners, and steer the bike with your hips more than your hands.

Compared to the San Quentin, the Saguaro feels much less keen to pop and jib off smaller trail features, biasing more towards speed, cornering, and stability. Slower speed tech moves are made comfortable by great brakes and a fork that can be dialed in to provide plenty of damping and support.

The Kenda tires feel very biased towards speed and mechanical grip, with a rubber compound that didn’t quite match the performance of some of the other options on test. Our testing conditions were about as slimy as it gets, so those in drier climates might be less concerned with that tradeoff.

Finally, a note on frame stiffness. We found the Haro’s frame to be quite stiff in comparison to the other hardtails on test, transmitting quite a bit of vibration and chatter to the rider. Part of this is likely due to the burlier wheelset that comes spec on the Saguaro, but the frame itself is certainly part of the equation. Something to keep in mind if you’re worried about getting your teeth rattled – this won’t be the kindest of the bunch.

Components

The components of the Saguaro feel well-chosen for the purview of the frame, with sensible and durable parts all around. This was the best Z2 fork we had on test, with every adjuster’s clicks well defined and a comfortably usable range of damping. The Slate brakes felt excellent, and worked even in the heaviest rain once you built up enough heat.

As mentioned above, the WTB KOM Tough rims are possibly part of why the bike feels so stiff, but the upside to that is the durability they provide. I’ve ridden these rims plenty in the past, and dings and dents can be easily pulled out without compromising the overall integrity too much.

The NX drivetrain worked well over the test period, thanks in part to the better shift quality provided by the bar clamp version of SRAM’s shifter. Subtle difference, but appreciable compared to the cheaper-feeling alternatives.

We’re always stoked to see long travel dropper posts on bikes, especially those in the value realm. The Saguaro comes with long droppers matched to each size in the range, with the Large and XL both sporting 200mm TranzX posts.

Kenda’s tire compound feels more suited to dry conditions, but the tread pattern works nicely and does a good job of balancing rolling speed and loose soil grip. The casing held up well to some stupid lines, and prevented any violent rim strikes.

Not necessarily a component, but there are some frame details worth noting on the Saguaro that may provide value to some people. Internal cable routing is a mixed bag, but when done right it can keep a bike rather quiet and clean looking. The Saguaro achieves that, with well-sorted cables that remained silent throughout the test. Another nice detail is the universal derailleur hanger, which allows easy swaps in the event of damage, and allows for installation of SRAM’s Transmission drivetrains, should you really want to ball out your value hardtail.

Who’s It For?

For those looking to push speeds on a hardtail, and don’t mind paying for it a bit when it comes to comfort, the Saguaro may just be the right choice. The geometry provides stability at speed, and a planted feel that you don’t tend to associate with hardtails. The chassis stiffness means you’re more likely to get pinged off line than on some of our other options, but luckily the Z2 fork is there to help keep you tracking in the right direction. This was a fairly divisive bike amongst our test team, but if the smash-into-things approach speaks to you, it may be worth a further look.


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