We're at the iceBike* Show where Madison Saracen have been proudly making everyone well aware of their new team rider signing - Danny Hart. He's here in person with his new team colours and fresh Saracen Myst, a bike he says has been a painless transition for him to get used to as he gets up to speed before the race season kicks off in Croatia at the end of April. We got the lowdown on Hart's Myst and what the process is like changing bikes at the top of the sport.
Overview on Danny and the Myst
• Height: 5’10” (179 cm)
• Weight: 70 kg
• Frame Size: Medium
• Wheel Size: 27.5"
• Suspension: Fox 40 Fork and DHX2 Coil shock
• Drivetrain & Brakes: Shimano Saint
• Cockpit: PRO 9.8 Components
• Wheels & Rubber: DT Swiss EX471 / Maxxis Minion DHR II
The Switch to Saracen
So obviously you’ve switched teams to Saracen this winter, how’s that process been?
Yeah it’s been really good, a really easy transition. I’ve been riding a lot and taken to the bike really well, we haven’t had to change much. I’ve been really enjoying riding and I’ve been riding at a lot of different places to normal.
The Myst you are on seems like a completely different bike to the Summum you’ve been on, what are the major changes you’ve felt with the move?
The Saracen I’m riding is a little longer, the wheelbase is a bit longer. I was a little sceptical at first but I’ve ridden at Innerleithen and out in Portugal and Italy. The bike handled really well at Innerleithen and at my place in Hamsterley and then when I go out to Italy and Portugal it was just amazing how comfortable I was on the bike even in places that are polar opposites. That’s been a big thing for me that I’ve struggled to understand why, it’s not really normal for that to happen, but it’s just awesome that is what has happened!
Have you got anything you are wanting to experiment with or change going into the season?
Just getting bike time really. We’ll be going out to America to do our suspension test with FOX, I just asked if I could try a carbon bar if that means anything! We are running the PRO stuff and I’ve been on an alloy bar but I wouldn’t mind trying a carbon one because that’s what I’ve been using in the past. So just small things really. Honestly, I’m really happy with the bike, it’s weird to get straight on the bike and not really have to change anything… I’ll go riding and come away thinking, ‘that was brilliant’, I haven’t had to change anything, I haven’t even had a flat tyre. It’s great.
You’ve been able to retain Fox suspension in the move, how much of a help is that for you?
To be fair I haven’t actually had to change much apart from the frame [he rode Fox, Shimano, DT Swiss, and Maxxis last year] so that made for a really easy transition just being familiar with all the brands and everything. We’ve done a little bit of work to the frame to get it to suit me better. Everything has been really easy, it’s a bit annoying as I’ll go ride and think 'right let’s try to think about something here and whether I need to change anything' but there never is anything!
Saracen have a well-developed 29er, your new teammate Matt Walker had great success on the bike at the end of the season - you tried the wheel size last season and ditched it, have you tried the 29” Myst?
I haven’t been riding any 29ers this winter. With changing bike manufacturer I just wanted to straight onto the wheel size that I am used to and get comfortable on that, because I know that will be a bike that I race. Whether it's a 29er or 27.5, worst case it’ll be a 27.5, well not worst case, but you know what I mean! I haven’t ridden a 29er this offseason.
How much of your suspension setup did you carry over from last year?
Yeah with the fork and stuff like that, the fork is very similar. The bike is a little bit longer so it maybe changes it a tiny bit but we are always keeping in touch with the guys at FOX and it’s been really easy. I’m on the Fox coil again this year, I haven’t even tried the air actually. I think if you can run a coil you should always run one. I can't believe how easy it has been changing bikes, we haven’t come across any issues or hurdles, I’m really happy with how things are going.
Do you have any figures for your suspension setup you could give us?
Not really, no. I have my setup but it’s not really relevant to anyone else and we are always trying different stuff. We have a good base setting. I don’t even know how many tokens I’m running, but I know I’m on a 350 spring. I just ride and I come down the hill and say ‘it’s doing this or it’s doing that’ and we change it. I have a lot of faith in my mechanic Dave Garland.
Ah nice, you’re back with Dave? He was your mechanic at Giant before.
Yeah Dave is spannering for me, I was with him for a couple of years at Giant before I moved on. It’s good to get back together with him, it’s almost like we have a bit of unfinished business...
Okay in terms of the suspension setup front to back, does the bike sit fairly neutral or do you like it to sit into the rear a little more?
I don’t know! I’m not very good with all these terms. I know what I want and I tell my mechanic ‘it’s doing this or it’s doing that’ and we change it to feel rather than having it ‘I like this and I like that’.
Cockpit, Wheels & Rubber
Do you have any details on your cockpit setup?
My bar width is 780mm and I’m actually not sure on the stem length I’m running. Like I said, for somewhere like Andorra I’ll maybe raise the bars a little, for anywhere steep I’ll do that.
You’re on Maxxis rubber again this year, I guess that familiarity helps?
I’ve been on Maxxis for a few years and it’s the only tyre I would use now. I have used others in the past but Maxxis have done really well with their ideas and tires, I wouldn’t use anything else. I just have a go-to tire for every condition. I use Minion DHRs front and rear the majority of the time, but if it’s really really dry, dusty, and steep I’ll use a Shorty of if it’s muddy I’ll also use a Shorty. I’ll maybe use a Minion DHF if it’s dry and not so steep, like at Fort William.
Can you give us any tire pressures? Do you run any foam inserts?
No, I like to keep that stuff to myself. Nah I don’t run any of that stuff, I think if you’ve got the bike setup right then I’d like to say touch wood that you don’t need to run anything like that.
Would you say you are quite particular on bike setup?
I think once I get it to a specific place we change it here or there, but we never go and change it massively.
How often would you change your setup depending on the track?
With most of the World Cups varying in tracks, we’ll change it probably most weekends but never dramatically. We’ll add clicks here and there but we’ll never go mental with it.
Would you rather search for the time on track?
I think you’ve got to do both. You’ve got to do both as with the track changing week to week, let’s say you’re racing Andorra… You won’t have the same setup as you might have in Leogang. You’ve got to do both, it’s not just one.
Do you demand anything specific from your bike setup?
I just need to have grip, without the grip I can’t really go. There are a few times over the past few year I have struggled that like, particularly in Lenzerheide where I felt like I was battling a lot. Hopefully, this year we’ll figure it out.
How important is bike weight to you?
Yeah I like it to be light, it’s nice to pick up a light bike. I know nowadays people are tying one thing or another but I like it to be nice and light.
: @rossbellphoto @SaracenBikes