Saracen Ariel 152 – first ride review

UK firm's top end all-mountaineer

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
£3,299.99 RRP

Our review

A fast and fun bike that’s stable in the air and will take a beating. Not the sprightliest machine out there though
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The Ariel 152 is Saracen’s top-flight do-it-all machine, boasting some impressive geometry and a solid kitlist. But how does that translate on the trail?

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Frame and equipment: sorted selection, with an eye on the descents

As you’d expect, the Ariel 152 has space for the obligatory 650b wheels within its custom-butted front triangle and beautifully shaped carbon back end. Saracen has opted to use a 142x12mm rear axle, but rather than an enclosed screw-thru system it’s is an open, quick-release style setup. You can switch to a stiffer bolted Shimano Saint rear axle if you don’t mind using tools to remove your rear wheel.

The Tuned Ride Link (TRL) suspension – a single pivot set-up with a linkage-driven shock – is controlled via a Float X CTD rear shock, which has Fox’s three standard modes (climb, trail and descend) along with an additional Trail Adjust dial for more accurate tuning.

The piggyback shock and 1x10 drivetrain hint at the Ariel’s DH leanings
The piggyback shock and 1×10 drivetrain hint at the ariel’s dh leanings:
Andrew Lloyd

The piggyback shock and 1×10 drivetrain hint at the Ariel’s DH leanings

The Ariel’s geometry points more towards making the most of the downs than the ups, with a reasonably slack 66.5-degree head angle and a flickable 435mm chainstay length.

The Shimano Zee cranks, rear derailleur and 10-speed shifter, along with the Gamut chain guide, give a nod to the Ariel’s gravity-orientated intentions. Shimano’s cheaper M615 brakes may not be the flashiest anchors available but they stop the Saracen with consistent power, time and time again.

Ride and handling: more bruiser than cruiser

Pummel into a rough section and you’ll regret not having padded the stays before rolling out of the garage. Get that clatter silenced though and get the 152 belting through root-riddled downhill sections and you’ll start to see where the Ariel works best.

The nicely progressive rear end seems happy to be stoved into rock sections and stutter bumps or launched off huge booters and land to flat, remaining composed enough to keep you in a neutral position on the bike and deal with the trail ahead. It’s maybe not the comfiest back end out there, but it gets the job done with little fuss and at a decent pace.

Sort out the trail chatter and the Ariel's a joy to pound through the rough stuff on
Sort out the trail chatter and the ariel’s a joy to pound through the rough stuff on:
Andrew Lloyd

The Ariel’s rear end delivers composed landings

The shock is pretty easy to get tweaked to perfection, but we had to play with air pressures to get the Fox 34 fork feeling close to what we were after. A little extra air and leaving it in the descend setting proved the best setup for us, but it’s worth getting it tuned (by Mojo, if you’re in the UK) to make the most of it.

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When you’re cranking hard or sliding through fast, rough off-camber turns, you can feel some flex from the rear triangle. Coupled with its 14.1kg (31.1lb) weight, this means the Ariel doesn’t have that taut, ‘get up and go’ feel some other trail bikes possess. It’s definitely more of a DH bruiser than an XC cruiser. It’s a little sluggish when climbing too, but the solid Zee transmission will get you up most drags and reward you on the way back down.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Ariel 152 (14)
Brand Saracen

Description Gamut P20s chain guide
Saddle Kore Durox SL
Year 2014
Wheelset Kore Mega rims with sealed bearing hubs
Weight (kg) 14.1
Stem Kore Durox, 60mm
Shifters Shimano Zee
Seatpost KS LEV Integra
Rear Tyre Maxxis High Roller II EXO 27.5x2.4in tyres
Brakes Shimano Deore M615
Rear Shock Fox Float X Factory CTD with Trail Adjust
Rear Derailleur Shimano Zee
Handlebar Kore Mega, 750mm
Front Tyre Maxxis High Roller II EXO 27.5x2.4in tyres
Frame Material Custom-butted 6063 aluminium front triangle, carbon fibre rear triangle, 150mm (5.9in) travel
Fork Fox 34 Float Factory FIT CTD with Trail Adjust, 150mm (5.9in) travel
Cranks Shimano Zee
Weight (lb) 31.1