Saracen Myst AL review

Danny Hart seems to have rubbed off on Saracen

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Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £2,600.00 RRP
Saracen Myst AL

Our review

A great-performing, top-value bike with a World Cup-winning heritage that dominates how it rides
Pros: Stable and forgiving ride; suspension works well over small, medium and large hits
Cons: Coil fork is harder to set up than the air alternative; front end feels a bit low
Skip to view product specifications
Saracen is a brand with heritage and, thanks to team riders Danny Hart and Matt Walker, fantastic race results to back it up. The Myst attempts to be a privateer- and budget-friendly solution for climbing the podium without going bankrupt.

After several revisions, the latest bike is available in three different versions: Team, a replica of Danny and Matt’s bike with a no-expense-spared spec and full-carbon frame; Pro, with the same frame but a cheaper spec; and the entry-level AL seen here, which loses the carbon and has some budget parts and small geometry changes.

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Saracen Myst AL frame

Saracen Myst AL
The orange paint job is striking.
Steve Behr

Both the front and rear triangles are built from Saracen’s Series 3 hydroformed 6013 alloy, but you do get the same unidirectional carbon fibre rocker link found on the more expensive models.

The brand’s TRL suspension design is a relatively simple single-pivot system with a linkage-actuated shock, which here delivers 203mm of rear wheel travel.

Saracen Myst AL
The carbon rocker link is shared with the most expensive Myst available.
Steve Behr

Cables are routed externally, although the gear cable runs through the seatstay to protect it from chain slap. Frame features include a 12 x 150mm rear axle, threaded bottom bracket and tapered head tube.

The large size has a 63-degree head angle, 460mm reach and 1,266mm wheelbase with 440mm chainstays.

Saracen Myst AL kit

Saracen Myst AL
The Shimano brakes have no external, tool-less adjustment, unfortunately.
Steve Behr

Saracen has managed to spec some impressive parts for the money on the Myst AL.

You get a 10-speed Shimano Zee shifter and derailleur paired with a Deore cassette, plus Shimano’s powerful four-piston MT501 brakes. Super Tacky-compound Maxxis High Roller II tyres with the DH casing are a highlight, along with an MRP G4 chain guide.

Saracen Myst AL
You don’t get a full Zee groupset though — the cranks are Samox-branded.
Steve Behr

The X-Fusion RV1 fork has external high- and low-speed compression adjustment, but is coil- rather than air-sprung. While the parts list specifies an X-Fusion Vektor coil shock, my test bike came with a Fox Van RC, with a 350lb spring.

Both are equally adjustable (compression and rebound), and Saracen assures me that the X-Fusion shock’s performance should be almost identical. Kore provides the finishing kit, including the rims, bar, stem and saddle.

Saracen Myst AL
If you need to change the spring rate of the fork, you’ll need to purchase a new coil spring.
Steve Behr

Saracen Myst AL ride impressions

Initially, the Myst felt small, with a low front end. I was surprised to find that the bar was actually only 5mm lower than the Vitus Dominer, Nukeproof Dissent 290 Comp and Canyon Sender CF 7.0, which were also on test.

The stanchions of the X-Fusion fork were dropped as far through the crowns as possible, so I couldn’t raise the front end any further. A bit of digging revealed that the RV1 has a shorter axle-to-crown height than the RockShox BoXXer on the other bikes, which helps explains thing.

Saracen Myst AL
The Myst is eager to go fast given any opportunity.
Steve Behr

The 800mm handlebar is a slightly unusual shape too, with only 7 degrees of backsweep, so the simplest fix would be to fit a higher-rise alternative.

Once you’re riding, the bike has a flicky, playful feel, despite its lardy 18.5kg weight. The Fox Van shock on my test bike gave the rear end a smooth feel, and not at the expense of medium/large bump and compression control either.

Saracen Myst AL
The Van R performed well, and if its tune is similar to the X-Fusion normally supplied on the bike you shouldn’t need any more performance from the bike’s shocks.
Steve Behr

In fact, the Saracen handles bigger bumps better than smaller ones, giving you a confidence-inspiring and stable base from which you can get on with the job of either hanging on for dear life or riding as fast as you can.

The Myst AL doesn’t dazzle as much as the Nukeproof or Canyon – there isn’t that ‘wow’ factor, it’s just capable and sensible.

Saracen Myst AL
Its got an aggressive riding position that promotes confidence.
Steve Behr

The frame geometry is sorted too, if slightly more conservative than on the top models in the Myst range. Push hard into turns and the bike gives plenty back.

I found the rear shock’s rebound tune too light, but this could be rectified with the X-Fusion shock that comes as standard (if not, I’d suggest a retune). Over rough ground, the frame has some inherent compliance, which is amplified by the wheels not being overly stiff.

Saracen Myst AL
The Kore Torsion SL rims weren’t twangy or too stiff.
Steve Behr

Despite some small foibles – the coil fork, tubed tyres and lower-than-I’d-have-liked front end – the Saracen is a true downhill performer that’s inherited a lot from its more expensive siblings.

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Saracen Myst AL geometry

  • Seat angle: 74 degrees
  • Head angle: 63 degrees
  • Chainstay: 44cm / 17.32in
  • Seat tube: 40cm / 15.75in
  • Top tube: 63cm / 24.8in
  • Bottom bracket height: 35.3cm / 13.9in
  • Wheelbase: 1,266mm / 49.84in

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £2600.00
Weight 18.5kg (L) – Without pedals
Brand Saracen

Features

Available sizes S, M, L
Headset Saracen
Tyres Maxxis High Roller II Super Tacky, 27.5x2.4in
Stem Kore Torsion V2 direct-mount
Shifter Shimano Zee
Seatpost Saracen rigid
Saddle Kore Connex
Rear shock Fox Van RC
Rear derailleur Shimano Zee (1x10)
Handlebar Kore Torsion
Bottom bracket Saracen
Grips/Tape Saracen lock-on
Frame Series 3 custom-butted 6013 alloy, 200mm (7.9in) travel
Fork X-Fusion RV1, 203mm (8in) travel
Cranks Samox, 36t
Chain Shimano HG54
Cassette Shimano Deore, 11-25t
Brakes Shimano MT501/MT520, 203mm rotors
Wheels Kore Torsion SL rims on Formula/Novatec hubs