We had a look at Saracen's 2012 mountain bike range at the IceBike tradeshow earlier this summer, but one of the key new bikes – the revamped Ariel – was absent as it was still in the final throes of testing, so we were keen to see it 'in the flesh' at Eurobike.
The 140mm-travel Ariel has been tinkered with for 2012 rather than given a major overhaul, with the major change being a revised tubeset that's both stiffer (a brace has been added at the top tube/seat tube junction) and lighter – claimed frame weight is 6.6lb, without shock, compared to the 8lb weight of the old version.
Features include a tapered head tube, ISCG05 mounts, bolt-on cable guides, routing for a dropper seatpost and swappable dropouts for different axle standards (9mm, 12x135mm, 12x142mm). It'll be available as a frame only for £1,099,99 or with a choice of three spec levels – 141 (£1,899.99, RockShox Sektor R Coil fork, Fox RP23 BV XV shock), 142 (£2,499.99, Fox 32 Float Evolution RL, RP23 BV XV) or 143 (£2,999.99, Fox 32 Float RL FIT, RP23 BV XV).
The major news from Saracen is the addition of a new 160mm-travel version to the Ariel range. This has a slightly slacker (66.5 degrees rather than 67) head angle and longer rear end than the standard bike for improved stability at speed. Frame price is the same and two full builds will be available – 161 (£2,099.99, X-Fusion Vengeance R fork, Fox RP23 BV XV shock) and 162 (£2,999.99, Fox 36 Fit RLC fork and same shock).
The Ariel 162 is Saracen's top-end all-mountain model for 2012
Used by the Madison-Saracen downhill team on the World Cup circuit this year, the Myst was only available as a frameset or entry-level full bike in 2011. For next year, the team version used by Manon Carpenter and co will be available to the wider public, but with a black paintjob to distinguish it from the team bike.
The entry-level Pro version, aimed at the junior racer, has the same frame as the Team version but is kitted out with more affordable parts so they can be more easily replaced when they take the inevitable battering. Saracen hope that, at £2,500 for the full build, it'll be more accessible than rival bikes of a similar spec. Equipment includes a RockShox Boxxer Race fork, Fox Van RC shock and Quad Deuce brakes.
At £4,299.99 the Myst Team is considerably harder on the wallet but comes specced with pro-level kit, including a Fox 40 fork, DHX RC4 shock and Shimano Saint brakes. The frame is available on its own for £1,499.99, with the team issue shock. Both the Ariel and Myst will be available from Madison from January next year.
The Myst Team is the exact same bike used by the Madison-Saracen team, but in black to distinguish it from the squad's red race rigs