Playing "The Price Is Right" For Racing
The Sette Serum Elite
Sette began making mountain bike components in 2004, and these components were sold exclusively through Price Point, a leading bicycle accessory mail order firm. We tested a number of Sette products over the years and were always blown away by the quality of their product for the price. Sette is now using their factory-direct distribution model to offer complete bikes and frames at the same amazing value-to-price ratio as their components. The Sette Serum Elite is one of those bikes.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Serum Elite is a carbon fiber hardtail with a short-travel fork, a zero-rise stem and flat handlebars. That's enough clues to reveal that Sette expects the Serum to be employed by cross-country racers, short track specialists, team endurance racers and trail riders who are looking for high performance on their fast and flowy trails.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The frame is 100-percent carbon fiber. It uses a l-l/S-inch head tube that has the appearance of a larger diameter head tube because the oversized triangulated top tube and ovalized down tube do such a fine job of creating a seamless intersection that it is like a body builder flexing his muscles. The wishbone seat stay and triangular chainstays are tuned to add some compliance to the rear end.
There are four models of the Serum, with prices ranging from $1900 to $4000. Our Elite is the second from the top.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
This is a very traditional cross-country racing hardtail made from not-so-traditional carbon fiber. The biggest surprise here is how few Sette components are spec'ed on the Elite. Sette chose a mix of Truvativ components instead of picking from their own parts bin, because they felt their components might still be unknown. They wanted riders forking over serious coin for this bike to have the comfort level that comes with purchasing a familiar brand. Sette's own components show up on the lower-priced Serums. One note on the ensemble: It is common for bike companies to fudge on their claimed bike weights, but it is not often that they skew the number to the heavy side. Sette did. Our bike with pedals beat their claimed
weight of 21.6 pounds by half a pound!
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
There is something to be said about the simplicity of a hardtail. Set the fork travel with 20-percent sag and position your saddle. That's it. Ready to rage.
Moving out: The Serum expects its jockey to be ready as soon as the gates open. Climb into the saddle and you are forced into a racing position with a long top tube and a chest-squeezing handlebar. Rider weight is biased well rearward. Internal shifter cable
routing and intelligent rear brake hose routing create a clutterless cockpit.
Hammering: The frame's massive bottom bracket area, along with the top tube and downtube
described above, gives the Serum a rock-solid base to mash the cranks against. Riders can spin a sweet gear or mash a tall gear to get the same thing: a cat-out-of-the-bag explosion of forward momentum.
Cornering: The Serum is a quick-steering package that requires its rider to give decisive input. It reacts quickly, but not so quickly that it falls into the hyper category of crosscountry racers. The long top tube requires the rider to weight the front wheel on uphill corners by keeping his shoulders low.
Climbing: This bike barely broke the 20-pound barrier, and it did it without sacrificing frame rigidity. Yes, it climbs great. Either spinning or torquing a gear worked well, and you could be in or out of the saddle with the trail surface being your only limiting factor.
Braking: Sette wisely spec'ed 6-inch rotors, because anything bigger would be overkill and easily exceed the grabbing power of the Kenda Small Block S tires. The neat bonus is that if you do scrub too much speed, the bike's light weight and solid drivetrain get you back up to speed without too much wasted energy.
Descending: There is a nice level of resilience in the rear triangle that takes the bite out of hard hits, but a hardtail can only do so much on a choppy descent. The bike will do what it is told, but it is the rider's ability that will get this bike down a racecourse fast.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
This bike is a perfect candidate for a 2 x l0 drivetrain. Its weight and 26-inch tire diameter lend themselves perfectly to the less-is-more drivetrain. We would convert the wheels and tires to tubeless, and that's it.
Sette bikes are sold direct, so there is no chance to try before you buy, and you need to be a competent mechanic. Expect to pay a stiff premium if you take your recently delivered Elite into a bike shop to have it assembled.
Riders who have thrown in the towel when it comes to 26-inch wheels will be satisfied to learn that Sette will offer a Serum-style cross-country race bike in a 29-inch wheel version very soon. Still, after experiencing the acceleration of this lightweight 26er, you'd be crazy to label the platform anywhere close to dead.
Sette didn't try to set the cross-country race bike category on fire with the Elite. They simply took what is known to work and served it up at a complete-bike price that is less than some high-end frames seD for. If you have the wherewithal to assemble your race bike, the Serum Elite delivers high-end performance at a mid-level price.
See Sette Serum Elite Bike here:
Serum Elite - Sette Bikes.com
Buy it now through our authorized online dealer: