The Saracen Ariel 60 Pro model we have here is both fab looking on paper and in the flesh. From the MInion DHR IIs on the ground to the ODI Elite Motion grips up top, the spec is really well thought out.
There’s nothing we look at on this bike that makes us roll our eyes or stroke our chins as to thinking of what we can quickly swap in there instead!
We’ve always had a lot of time for the Saracen Ariel here at Singletrack. We fondly remember when the very first Saracen Ariel was teased back in 2009. From the get-go the Ariel was a fun-first progressive trail bike with capable geometry, sound component choice and a really good feeling back end.
Over the years, the Ariel has evolved. And multiplied. There are now more three general types of Ariel. There’s the 130mm travel Ariel 30 trail bike range. There’s the 180mm travel Ariel 80 parkbike. And then there’s the 160mm travel Ariel 60 range, of which this Pro build here is part of.
Despite the rolling of the years, the changes in wheel size options and suspension damping technology improvements, the Ariel remains true to its origins. It’s a linkage driven single pivot full suspension bike made from aluminium with modern geometry and a build kit that requires nothing swapping out or upgrading in a hurry.
The ‘TRL’ rear suspension design features a main pivot in line with the chainring and a linkage driving the rear shock attached to the top tube. Yep, there are bottle mounts inside the front triangle and they accept 550-600ml capacity bottles.
With the Ariel 30 range catering for the XC and light trail crowd, the Ariel 60 is free to let its hair down and embrace the gradient and gravity side of mountain biking. Saracen tag the Ariel 60 as their ‘enduro’ bike and that makes a lot of sense from a categorisation point of view. It’s more overtly all-day-friendly than the uplift-happy Ariel 80 playbike.
There is also another way of thinking about the Ariel 60: it’s a Mini Myst. The Saracen Myst being the British brand’s World Cup-winning downhill race bike. Sure, the 180mm Ariel 80 exists but it’s a 27.5in wheel partybike, not a bike that’s designed for self-propelled all-day pedal-and-plummeting.
The Ariel 60 is the downhill racer’s trail bike. Literally. This is the bike that World Cup Overall Winner Matt Walker opts to ride when he’s not behind a triple clamp fork. It’s testament to the strength and reliability of the Ariel 60 that young Master Walker feels able to smash seven bells out of the Ariel 60 and still have it running true.
Much like Matt Walker and his Myst, there is the option to run the Ariel 60 with different size rear wheels. Supplied with the bike are additional push links that you can swap in to run the bike as a mullet/MX machine. You just have to supply the 27.5in rear wheel and tyre. Which is not an insignificant outlay but it’s definitely nice to have the option there made as easy – and affordable – as possible.
The Fox suspension is seriously capable and properly adjustable. Up front there’s the excellent GRIP2 damper in the 160mm travel Fox 38 fork. Handling the rear duties is the Fox Float X2 with separate high and low speed adjustment for both rebound and compression. And the little blue easy-flick ‘Firm’ climb switch is there for when you’re faced with prolonged ascents back up to the top of the tracks.
Elsewhere, the 203mm rotor front and rear 4-pot SLX brakes are up to the job. The 12-speed SLX drivetrain with 32T chainring and 11-51T cassette offers a gearing range that can go pretty much anywhere. The modern reach numbers (505mm on this Larger) and the decently steep seat angle (76.5°) both help with uphill comfort and efficiency. On the way down, the stable wheelbase and the suitably slack head angle have your back when things get hairy and scary.
On the dirt there’s excellent Maxxis rubbers in the guise of Minion DHR II tyres front and rear. The DHR II is the tyre that Matt Walker is most often seen running in World Cup races. The wheels themselves are tough DT Swiss E532 rims laced on to classic Shimano SLX hubs.
The rest of the build kit is a familiar and reassuring collection of reputable brands like RaceFace providing the appropriately dinky 40mm length stem and the cut-down-if-required 820mm wide handlebars. The dropper seatpost is provided by longtime dropper specialists KS. Topping off that KS dropper is a Saracen Custom saddle and, as well as the aforementioned 27.5in pushlinks, there’s a custom frame protection kit in with the bike too.
Keep an eye out for a full review of the Saracen Ariel 60 Pro early in the new year, right here on singletrackworld.com
- Frame // Series 3 Custom Butted 6013 Alloy, 160mm
- Shock // Fox Float X2 Performance Elite, 230x65mm
- Fork // Fox 38 Performance Elite GRIP2, 44mm offset, 160mm
- Wheels // DT Swiss E532 rims on Shimano SLX hubs
- Front Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II, 29x .24in EXO TR
- Rear Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II, 29x .24in EXO TR
- Chainset // Shimano SLX, 32T, 170mm
- Shifter // Shimano SLX M7100
- Rear Mech // Shimano XT M8100
- Cassette // Shimano SLX M7100 ,10-51T
- Brakes // Shimano SLX M7120, 203/203mm
- Stem // RaceFace Chester 35, 40mm, 35mm
- Bars // RaceFace Atlas 35, 820mm, 35mm rise, 35mm
- Grips // ODI Elite Motion
- Seatpost // KS Rage I, 150mm, 30.9mm
- Saddle // Saracen Custom Cromo
- BB // Shimano
- Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL
Geometry of our size L
- Head angle // 64.6°
- Effective seat angle // 76.5°
- Seat tube length // 460mm
- Head tube length // 1205mm
- Chainstay // 440mm
- Wheelbase // 1,278mm
- Effective top tube // 652mm
- BB height // 27mm drop
- Reach // 505mm