Review: 2021 Saracen Ariel 80 - A Sturdy, Pedalable Park Bike

Mar 1, 2021
by Seb Stott  
Saracen has launched a whole new range of bikes under the Ariel name. There's the Ariel 30, 60 and 80 - just add 100 to the name to get the number of millimeters of travel and a sense of the bike's intentions. Saracen sent me the Ariel 80 ahead of the launch date to test. It combines 180mm of travel with 27.5" wheels at both ends. When pushed, Saracen described it as a park bike, but having put a few thousand vertical meters on it without a lift in sight, I'd say it's more versatile than that designation suggests

There are two models within the Ariel 80 range: the standard version tested here and the Pro model (£3,299). They share an alloy frame, but the standard model offers an impressively low starting price thanks to well-picked parts plus Saracen's move to selling these bikes directly.
Saracen Ariel 80 Details

• Wheel size: 27.5" front and rear
• 6013 aluminum frame
• Travel: 180mm front and rear
• 63.5-degree head angle
• 76.8-degree effective seat angle (measured)
• 438mm chainstays
• Weight: 35.9 lb / 16.3 kg (XL)
• Sizes: S-XL
• Price: £2,399.99 / €2,799 (US pricing TBC)

You get a Shimano Deore/SLX 12-speed drivetrain, Deore brakes, RockShox Zeb fork, DT Swiss rims and Maxxis DHR2 tires all for £2,399.99 / €2,799. On paper, that stacks up very well when compared to other big-travel, small-wheel bikes like the Canyon Torque Al, which starts at £2,749.

bigquotesAnyone who says travel doesn't matter should try a bike like this... Seb Stott

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd

Construction and Features

There's not a lot to write home about when it comes to the Saracen's frame. I'll start with the bad news - there are no bottle cage bosses to be found.

While no deal-breaker, I'm not a fan of the cable routing at the front either. There's only one cable port on the right hand side of the frame, which means if you run the rear brake on the left (UK style), you can't have the brake hose and dropper cable crossing over the head tube from left to right. Instead, all the cables stay on the same side of the frame, and this makes them more kinked than cables which cross over in front of the head tube. Saracen thinks this style of routing looks neater, and given most of their bikes are sold in the UK, they only need one drive side cable port to achieve this. Let us know in the comments if you prefer cables crossing over the head tube or not.

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd
The non-crossed-over cables look messy in my view and create more tight bends, and potentially more friction, than cables that cross over the head tube.
17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd
There's just one cable port on the drive-side so this is the only option for right-hand-front brake setups.

Aside from that, the cable routing is neat enough; it's rattle free and the cables pass close to the main pivot, which minimizes cable movement when the suspension compresses. It's worth noting the SuperBoost 12x157mm rear axle spacing and correspondingly wider Q-factor crank (181mm, not 172mm or 178mm). A threaded 73mm bottom bracket and ISCG tabs are present and correct, and the frame protection does a good job of keeping the chain quiet, even if the glue that sticks it to the frame is already starting to unstick. There's plenty of room for 2.6" tires, plus plenty of mud too.

All the frame bearings and pivot hardware are shared among the three Ariel models (30, 60 and 80), which should make it easier to find spares, while the front triangle and swingarm are unique to each bike.

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd
A SuperBoost 157mm rear end makes room for more tire clearance - 2.6" tires will fit easily.
17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd
The chainstay protector does a good job of keeping the noise down in the back.


Geometry & Sizing

I ran a tape measure and an angle finder around my XL test bike to check all the geometry figures Saracen provided above. They were all bang-on (which isn't always the case). The effective seat angle is one measurement to look out for as different brands measure it differently. Some quote the angle from the BB to the point on the seat post that is level with the top of the head tube; sometimes (more sensibly) they measure to the top of the seat post at a typical pedaling height for the frame size. I measured the angle from the BB to the top of the seatpost at my pedaling height (83cm from the BB to the saddle top) at 76.8-degrees.

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd

Suspension Design

The Ariel uses a linkage-driven single pivot suspension design, much like its predecessor and the Myst DH bike, except this time the shock is mounted to the top tube. A Fox Van RC coil shock controls the 180mm of travel with low-speed compression and rebound adjustment. The Van shock has a linear (as opposed to digressive) rebound tune. That means it should rebound slower from deep in the travel relative to the earlier travel, when compared to a digressive rebound shock.

The linkage has 21% progression when simply comparing the leverage ratio at the beginning to the end of the travel, with most of the progression coming in the first two thirds of the travel. That results in a soft beginning-stroke but a stiffer feel from the middle to the end of the travel. Another way to calculate progression is to compare the leverage ratios at sag and bottom out. At 27.5% (50mm) wheel sag, the Ariel will require 15% more force to bottom-out than a fully linear bike.
The single-pivot suspension provides 98% anti-squat at sag (around 50mm travel) in any gear.

Release Date March 2021
Price $3380
Travel 180mm F&R
Rear Shock Fox Van RC, 250X70mm
Fork RockShox Zeb R, 180mm, 37mm offset
Headset Prestine PT-F13
Cassette Shimano Deore M6100, 10-51T
Crankarms Shimano Deore M6130 SuperBoost, 32T, 170mm arms, 181mm Q-factor
Chainguide N/A
Bottom Bracket Shimano Deore, BSA73 threaded
Pedals N/A
Rear Derailleur Shmano SLX M7100, 12s
Chain KMC X12
Front Derailleur N/A
Shifter Pods Shimano Deore M6100, 12s
Handlebar Race Face Chester, 780mm, 35mm rise, 35mm clamp
Stem Race Face Chester, 45mm, 35mm clamp
Grips ODI Elite Motion
Brakes Shimano Deore M6100, 200/180mm rotors
Wheelset 27.5" F&R
Hubs KT cartridge-bearing hubs, Boost front, SuerBoost rear
Spokes 32 double-butted, J-bend
Rim DT Swiss E532
Tires Maxxis Minion DHRII / EXO / TR / 27.5 X 2.4
Seat Saracen CRMO
Seatpost KS RAGE I / 150mm travel (125MM on Small), 30.9mm

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd
The 150mm-travel dropper post was my main gripe with the parts - this bike could use more drop.

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd

Test Bike Setup
The Xl was supplied with a 500lb/in spring which provided 19mm (27.5%) shock sag when measured seated. I also tried a 450ln/in spring, but this was too soft. I set the rebound fully open for the most part, though I'd slow it down a click or two for kicky jump lines. Much slower and it wouldn't track the ground as well. Compression was set everywhere from fully closed to open, but for descending I found it worked best somewhere near the middle.

I started with the Zeb fork at 66psi but soon upped this to 70psi to complement the supportive rear suspension and stuck with zero tokens, as the bike came, to allow access to more of the travel. I settled on 10 clicks of rebound from closed, which as about as fast as I can run the Zeb without it becoming too keen to over-extend and skip off the ground on fast hits. The 2.4" DHR2 tires were run tubeless after taping up the rims, and inflated to 23/27psi for hardpack, or 22/25psi for soft, slippery ground.

Seb Stott
Location: Moumouthshire, UK
Age: 28
Height: 6'3" / 191cm
Inseam: Too long
Weight: 187 lbs / 85 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: Seb Stott On Bikes

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd


Once I'd slammed the seat fully forward on the rails, the Ariel climbs pretty well for a bike of this category. The 76.8-degree effective seat angle is steep enough to maintain an ergonomic position, with no need to strain to keep the front wheel from lifting on most climbs. But when tackling steep pitches, the suspension collapses slightly, making the position too far off the back for me. The 12-speed drivetrain provides all the gears you need to winch to the top in relative comfort, while the supple suspension makes it easy to chunder over roughed up trails. That supple suspension doesn't reward out of the saddle sprints, but sit and spin smoothly and it's not bad at all.

There is a noticeable amount of pedal bob, even when pedaling smoothly on tarmac. The suspension has a moderate amount of anti-squat on paper (around 98%), but the soft spring rates which go hand-in-hand with more travel and the light compression damping mean the shock moves noticeably. To be fair, taller riders (I'm 190cm / 6'3") will get more pedal bob because a higher center of mass means there's more leverage over the suspension causing it to squat more while pedaling. In other words, shorter riders will have more anti-squat and therefore less bob than I experienced. I tested this by dropping the saddle and pedaling at the same pace, which cut bobbing dramatically. A more practical solution is to wind on all the low-speed compression at the foot of a long climb, which virtually eliminates bob when pedaling seated. The Pro model features a climb switch, which this bike would really benefit from.

While the 16.3 kg weight figure doesn't help, it's not the main issue. I've ridden bikes which weigh as much but climb better thanks to firmer suspension and steeper seat angles. And while this may sound rather princess and the pea, the Ariel's wider Q-factor (that 's the horizontal distance between the pedals) thanks to the SuperBoost axle spacing feels slightly more uncomfortable to me when pedaling long distances.

Despite all this, it's no lift-fed sled. It climbs well enough for a life of mostly pedal-powered riding and would be capable of racing the odd enduro.

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd


Anyone who says travel doesn't matter should try a bike like this. That 180mm of coil-sprung suspension sticks the tire to the ground and takes the kick out of all the imperfections that bit more than a 160mm bike, allowing you to look further down the trail and leave the brakes alone more of the time. I don't like to describe a bike as "fun" because that word means different things to everyone, but the extra traction and confidence this suppleness offers is very enjoyable in my book. And while bigger wheels do help with smoothing-out and carrying speed over rough terrain, the suppleness of the Ariel's suspension more than makes up for its smaller wheels when compared to most 160mm-travel 29ers.

Don't think it's a soft sofa when pushed either. The coil spring combined with the leverage curve offers plenty to push against in the middle of the travel. This made me wonder if the 500lb/in spring was a little too firm at first, as it feels pretty stiff just after sag, but once up to speed the support was appreciated, and while I never had any harsh bottom-outs, I used all the travel on bigger landings. Meanwhile the shock's linear rebound tune is very active and tracks the ground well over high-frequency chatter when wide open, yet returns in a reassuringly controlled manner when landing hard from deep in the travel. I do like my rebound a little faster than most, but I found it worked best within a click or two of fully open despite running a stiff spring. More than a handful of clicks slower and it started to bog down and become harsh on high-frequency braking bumps. Like most bikes, the Ariel gets the same damper tune for all sizes, so very light riders may struggle to get it fast enough to extract as much suppleness as I did.

The air-sprung RockShox Zeb fork can't match the back-end's composure - it uses up the middle third of its travel a little too eagerly before ramping up rather abruptly before the end. It's no bad fork, but you have to over-inflate it slightly and put up with not accessing the end part of the travel to match the mid-travel support from the rear end. The basic Zeb R fork lacks compression adjustment, so you can't add compression damping to try and prop it up. The Fox 38 (fitted to the Pro model) would be a better match as it offers more mid-travel support. Nevertheless, the Zeb is super comfortable and sucks up big holes and rocks brilliantly, so the overall suspension package is still very supple and traction-rich.

If you haven't had the pleasure of riding a downhill bike made in the last few years, there's a good chance this will descend better than whatever dual-crown bike you rode last. The 510mm reach and 63.5-degree head angle make for a roomy front-center (865mm), while the short offset fork - compared to a DH bike - makes for slightly calmer steering in pinball situations. That means you can really lean on the bars and rip into turns with no fear of the bike tripping up or twitching. The biggest difference compared to those older downhill bikes is there's just more room in the cockpit thanks to the longer reach, so you have more choice of where to put your weight.

The short rear-center (438mm) and 27.5" front wheel occasionally makes the steering light and nervous compared to 29ers with longer chainstays. This took some getting used to, and had me sliding or steering off course a couple of times in flat, fast turns. The flip side is that it's very easy to loft the front wheel at a moment's notice, but personally I'd rather have a longer rear-center for more front-end grip.

One often-overlooked aspect of 27.5" front wheels is that it often results in a lower bar height. Despite a lofty 40mm of spacers under the stem and a 35mm-rise bar, the bar height on my XL was 109cm, whereas with a 29er/mullet with this much reach and travel I'd usually run about 111cm (with longer reach or a higher BB, you need a higher bar height). That difference is enough that I had to work a little harder to properly push the front end into holes or chutes, bending more at the hips so I could maintain enough bend in my elbows to extend and push when needed. Bigger wheels usually result in a higher front end and this goes a long way to explaining the feeling of being "inside the bike", which is often associated with a 29er. The bar height on the Ariel will be high enough for the vast majority of riders, but for me it's a touch lower than ideal and this does affect the ride in steep terrain. And while the supple suspension makes up for the 27.5" wheels in comfort and traction terms, a smaller front wheel is more prone to stall when you stray off-line into a big hole.

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd
A higher bar makes it easier to bend the elbows more, thereby making it easier to extend and push the front wheel down into steps and downslopes

Another tall person problem I had is the 150mm-travel dropper post, which delivers just 144mm of travel according to my tape measure. For me, this just isn't enough for a bike of this category, as it limits the range of motion when pumping through whoops or pushing the bike into steep chutes. I soon started dropping the post manually another 50mm or so before dropping in. Again, for many riders this won't be an issue, but a 170mm post at least would be a big improvement.

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd
Shiano's Deore stoppers were reassuringly consistent and effective
17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd
This version of the RockShox Zeb lacks compression adjustment.

Technical Report

Shimano M6100 Deore two-pot brakes: I'm no apologist for Shimano's inconsistent lever feel at higher price-points, but for whatever reason their Deore brakes are still the best in terms of consistent, sharp bite point. While I've not dragged them down an Alp, they offer ample power with the lower leverage of little wheels.

RockShox Zeb R fork: The Zeb R is a hugely comfortable and active fork, but it lacks mid-travel support and this is at odds with the rear suspension.

DT Swiss E532 rims: These don't come with tubeless tape installed so you'll need to tape them yourself. I managed to dent the rear and puncture the EXO casing tire on my second ride. The tire was set to 27psi and I wasn't riding anything particularly rocky, so this surprised me. It's possible some air might have leaked as a result of imperfect rim taping, making dents more likely, but factory-taped rims rarely leak in my experience. It goes without saying that this bike could do with sturdier tire casings too.

17.02.21. PinkBike. Saracen Ariel. Seb Stott Risca Wales. PIC Andy Lloyd


+ Rear suspension is supple and predictable, allowing you to look further ahead and ride faster
+ Very well priced for the kit and performance on offer


- Could use a lockout on the climbs
- Still no room for a water bottle

Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Ariel 80 is surefooted, stable and supple enough to take on any downhill track or bike park with real confidence. It's more versatile than that though, as it's better than you might expect pointed uphill and the rear suspension offers plenty to push against on less steep tracks when you have to work to generate speed. If you want one relatively affordable bike to shred the bike park on Saturday, enter the occasional downhill race on Sunday and earn your turns mid-week, it's a very compelling option indeed. Seb Stott

Author Info:
seb-stott avatar

Member since Dec 29, 2014
285 articles

  • 135 1
 At that price it’s ariel winner...
  • 116 1
 People who wrote-off freeride will have to turn 180.
  • 15 1
 @seb-stott: arent you the dude from the bikeradar videos?
  • 45 0
 @GumptionZA: we have the honour to have him as Pinkbike Editor now! Best reviewer in the MTB media IMO
  • 9 0
 cool! congrats on the move!
  • 1 0
 @GumptionZA: yeah he is
  • 3 0
 @GumptionZA: haha I thought he looked familiar! Great guy.
  • 27 0
 Seb? Weird, I thought all pinkbike bike reviewers had to be named Mike or Dan.
  • 6 1
 No water bottle for the win!!!!!!!!!!
  • 15 0
 @kcy4130: He winged about no water bottle mount and Shimano brakes so he's already fitting in Smile
  • 1 0
 This looks like a lot of bike.
  • 3 1
 109 votes for that pun might be my proudest Pinkbike moment! All that hard work with my (suffering) family on my terrible jokes through lockdown paid off ????
  • 1 0
 @tempmeister: it’s ok, you can put your pants back on now.
  • 2 0
 @seb-stott: turn 80 you mean. For some reason the extra 100 is implied.
  • 3 0
 @plyawn: their new hardtail is going to be the minus 100
  • 106 0
 Congrats on your 1st Pinkbike article @seb-stott
  • 50 0
  • 21 1
 @seb-stott: It's a really good review, congrats!
  • 7 0
 @Mayzei: Love the details- suspension kinematics and reasoning primarily. Hoping for more of that consistently from PB, when it’s possible.
  • 6 0
 This was really well written. Great write up, I'm looking forward to more from you @seb-stott
  • 1 0
 Madison have made a bike that doesn't fit Shimano rear hubs, thereby negating the need to apologise for how crap they are. Crafty
  • 4 0
 @IllestT: Shimano 157 hubs are specced on quite a few of the Ariels
  • 1 0
 Will there be a review on the 60?
  • 48 1
 This and the Specilized Status are bringing speed to the masses, but surley a bike like this needs 4 pots.
  • 39 1
 Four pots would be nice but the Deores are pretty punchy. I had no complaints when riding steep stuff in South Wales, and for the Alps I'd just buy bigger rotors.
  • 10 0
 @seb-stott: Cool, hats off again to Shimano Deore.
  • 8 0
 @seb-stott: I had the same sentiments about deore brakes but was afraid to post anything like this here on Pinkbike. No one here would think dual pistons deores are good enough. I still have my M6000 deores (which is older than this) because they are indeed punchy (the perfect word to describe these brakes) and can do the trick in a lot of situations even for a bike like this. Thank you.
  • 15 0
 2-pots are fine for most. And don't call me Shirley.
  • 4 0
 At this price point I think they're fine to see 2 pots unless you're burning um for more than 1500 vert at a time my m6000s have been soliddd. More power would be nice to reduce hand fatigue but for the price and ease of maintenance they're a good choice. I would expect 4 pistons on the next tier tho.
  • 2 0
 @rclugnut: It might not have been a price issue. On a bike I bought the 4 piston deores were speced, but they called and asked if 2 piston would be okay as they were unable to get 4 pistons due to covid shortages. But that was almost 4 months ago, so who knows now.
  • 6 1
 To me the question of 2 vs 4 pistons was never really about power. My old M785 XT 2-pistons were plenty powerful. But my new SLX 7120 4-pistons have much better modulation around the bite point allowing me to brake harder without locking up.
  • 4 0
 Honestly the biggest power upgrades I’ve noticed came from rotor size and then pad compound, not piston count.
  • 49 14
 This is what I like to see. Proper size wheels and no mullet rubbush, proper frame meterial (metal), coil shock and great value. This is what mountain biking is all about.
  • 16 13
 No bottle tho
  • 8 0
 @Ooofff: Hmm. Hasn't spotted that. I supposed for long day out I would have a backpack. If I was at a DH track I would just leave the drinks at the top. For short trail rides I would take the hardtail anyway.
  • 19 5
 @Ooofff: Why are people so obssesed with bottles?

Get yourself a hip bag.
Holds more water and doesnt get dirty.
  • 14 5
 @NotNamed: carrying a bag is annoying and tbh why wouldn’t you put a bottle on it there’s room to do so so it makes no sense
  • 11 4
 Looks like someone haven't try a mullet bike
  • 7 27
flag MattP76 (Mar 1, 2021 at 7:19) (Below Threshold)
 @ybsurf: I don't need to it's a fad
  • 14 2
 @MattP76: so according to you a carbon mullet bike with air shock is not "what is all about"? Before calling something rubbish you should try it first or dont say anything.
  • 3 10
flag MattP76 (Mar 1, 2021 at 8:02) (Below Threshold)
 @ybsurf: See previous comment ^
  • 9 7
 @NotNamed: amen, if you're rolling water bottle cages in the bike park you're probably also rolling the jumps and bypassing all the hits.
  • 7 1
 @MattP76: thats what I said til I tried the mullet on my evil insurgent... all the speed of a 29er and yet handle-able like a 27.5. 10/10 recommend.
  • 4 19
flag MattP76 (Mar 1, 2021 at 11:53) (Below Threshold)
 @ihertzler: It's still a fad. The vast majority of riders won't noticed the difference. 27.5+ was supposed to be next big thing. That's was a fad and dissappeared, so will mullet bikes. I've been around Mountain Biking for nearly 30 years and know a fad when I see one and this is one of the best ever fads! What people forget is that it was tried before and vanished!
  • 1 0
 @NotNamed: yeah hip packs are great until you take an awkward crash, land on your left hip and the bottles smashes itself into you...definitely not speaking from experience here
  • 2 0
 @ahauck: I once read about someone being paralysed from the waist down because they had a bottle in there bag and they crashed.
  • 1 0
Found this. Seems you don't want to stash anything firm under your spine. Put your bottle on the side. However water pack should be fine.
  • 4 1
 @preach: Meh, this past season, park(s) had no public water, or even lodge access. Had to ride with one. Was kind of nice to grab and drink leisurely while riding the lift.
  • 2 0
 @Zmagas: Yea, been thinking about this lately. Rode with a pack and lots of tools for literally decades. This past season switched to stowing everything on bike and going bottle. But also always wore a Raceface Flank Core as my spine was suddenly exposed. That got me thinking about all the weird shaped metal things I would carry in my pack. Yea, basically always a full bladder and past few years a built in spine pad in my EVOC pack. But still. I think I'll never go back to hard stuff on my back, but probably a hydration pack for longer hotter rides.
  • 6 1
 @preach: we’re really gatekeeping water bottles now?
  • 6 0
 @MattP76: how do you bring the water bottle to the bottom without ruining your last run?
  • 1 0
 @johannensc: Ha, thought about this, this past season. If I was going to stash something at top it would be a plastic gallon water jug, the super thin walled kind. End of day, just crush down to flat and stash in your jersey or something. Never did, but I think it could have worked out ok, and maybe kept me just a bit slower on that "just one more run" at the end of the day. :-D
  • 1 4
 @johannensc: no just gate keeping sissies... Sorry if that hurts
  • 2 0
 @ihertzler: for sure, mullet is the best of both worlds
  • 2 0
 @ahauck: I crashed real hard yesterday, in a real dumb way. My elbow took most of the impact, but the water bottle in my hip pack side pocket exploded upon impact and dissipated nearly all of the force that would have gone into my hip!
  • 4 0
 @johannensc: dude, my bad, I was feeling a bit salty. that came off way too harsh. Sorry my bro.
  • 1 0
 @ahauck: thats why a carry a hip bag with a trinking-system- I fell a lot on it and you dont feel it at all.

Like an Evoc Hip Bag Smile
  • 28 0
 I like the 27,5" wheelsize, despite its often regarded as "small wheels" or just a step to go for 29". Nice to see that companies still develop bikes with that wheelsize! looks great.
  • 26 4
 "A SuperBoost 157mm rear end makes room for more tire clearance - 2.6" tires will fit easily."

As well they should! My common-or-garden boost frame takes 2.8" tyres and I'm sure that's not unusual.
  • 44 1
 I have 2.6s on a 135 hub, I must be a magician.
  • 27 0
 @RonSauce: highly illegal. You're going to need to spend a few thousand on an appropriate bike with supermegaboost rear hub before you run tires like that.
  • 6 0
 @DylanH93: Boost Boost SuperBoost, Alles SuperBoost!
  • 2 0
 @zoobab2: wir brauchen boost!
  • 2 3
 SuperBOOOOOOOoost =(
  • 2 0
 I'm skipping super and waiting for HyperBoost.
  • 19 1
 “ There's not a lot to write home about when it comes to the Saracen's frame. I'll start with the bad news - there are no bottle cage bosses to be found.”

Dude gets his audience
  • 16 4
 There are a lot of positives in these new bikes: great pricing, nice spec (apart from the tyres), good looks.
I could live with the slightly distressing cable routing - but why oh why Super Boost? My three "normal boost" bikes all take 2.6in rear tyres - but I'd prefer to be limited to 2.4in than have a different hub width on one of them.
  • 14 8
 its a park bike, any good park bike should have super boost.
  • 14 0
 @justgoride: Because it's the same spacing as DH bikes?
I'd not expect many people to own a DH bike AND one of these, but many more might own a trail/enduro bike and one of these - and it'd be very handy to swap the wheels about.
That's what I do anyway.
  • 5 1
 the cable routing for left-rear brake is a foul, specially coming from "UK" manufacturer... I lived with it on an Intense tracer.. but c'mon.. how many people ride with lef-rear brake in the UK ????????
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: well yes, but i wouldn't say i'd want to do that. the idea is that you could theoretically use dh wheels. but yes, i suppose you couldn't put your trail bike wheels on it.
  • 12 1
 @seb-stott agree about the cables, they should cross over the headtube. This does give us brits as issue though as the rear brake ends up on the wrong side and has to cross over the gear cable somewhere.
  • 12 1
 I'm glad someone agrees. I always build bikes with cables crossing over, even if i have to cross the brake hose back over to t he left in the downtube.
  • 3 0
 @seb-stott: yeah my current bike is like this. External routing, the cables cross at the bottom downtube near the seat tube, looks tidy enough for me
  • 14 0
 @seb-stott: Saracen should of gone external, internal routing increases the cost with no benefit, can have the cables whichever way you want.
  • 4 0
 Maybe it's just convention but I'm so used to cables crossing in the front. Something about that looked off. Definitely a unique look though.
  • 1 1
 Yeah they actually decreased performance with this change. Absolutely absurd that anyone with any sort of knowledge about bikes would let this idea pass even the drawing phase.
  • 12 0
 raw aluminum is such a good finish, and a great way to cut costs one the manufacturer's end. I'd love to see it more.
  • 8 0
 That's surprising rockshox makes a version of the zeb fork with no compression adjustment. Even the basic recon comes with that. Looks awesome, but I feel like things could be "fine tuned" a little here. Their myst dh bike sure looks on point!
  • 10 2
 Zeb vs 38 shootout: "The 38 gives the impression of riding lower in its travel, almost like you’re missing a spacer from under your stem, whereas the Zeb keeps a higher ride height."

This review: " The Zeb lacks mid-travel support." "The Fox 38 (fitted to the Pro model) would be a better match as it offers more mid-travel support."

I'm getting mixed signals here.
  • 5 1
 Seb's experience tallys with my own on Fox vs Rockshox midstroke support. I've not ridden the Zeb but my 38 and previous 36s all had more midstroke support than the lyriks I've had. Dan's comments in his shoot out stood out to me as being the opposite of what I'd experienced, but having never ridden the Zeb it's hard to debate the point.
  • 1 1
 This zeb does not have any compression adjustment. Totally different.
  • 3 0
 If I remember correctly (and from experience with the 3Cool , that first quote from the review was in reference to the initial 1/4 or 1/3rd of travel. Where the 38 is more supple and so dynamically rides a little lower than the Zeb. But, once you start to push into the mid-travel area, the 38 provides more support while the Zeb dives or is more active through that part of it's travel.
  • 7 0
 @islandforlife: Exactly: Zeb is firmer in the initial travel, 38 is firmer in the middle part. It's a better, more linear air spring. Here's a graph i made by measuring the forces on each with a spring dyno:
  • 4 0
 @seb-stott: that’s ace!
  • 5 0
 Good looking bike, with fair spec for the money. I feel the reviewer was critical about several things that in reality at this budget couldn't be expected, that said, water bottle mounts and a lockout Lever would be huge bonuses for a long travel bike that will be ridden in the local woods
  • 8 1
 Agree with comments about cable routing. Crossing over in front of the head tube is far nicer with more natural bends to the hoses/cables.
  • 5 0
 Was the imbalance between front center and rear center length noticeable? A few reviews of other bikes with long reaches and short chainstays mentioned that being a problem @seb-stott

Also I’m sure there’s a market for it or otherwise Poles and Geometrons wouldn’t exist, but I feel like on a Large 505mm reach with a below 77° sta is a bit extreme.
  • 5 0
 This bike’s leverage ratio curve could not be more perfect: 3.2 to start, progressive all the way, never dipping below 2.5. Ideal.

Also the min-max AS curve is a new take on the chart and is really informative! Nicely done
  • 1 0
 Not taking anything away from Seb, but that is a standard output from linkage.
  • 8 2
 Looks great, no one rides up at the bike park anyway, they push. Brake cable & dropper need cable tying together, thats all.
  • 1 0
 at the end close to the lever & remote, but I found better to cross the front brake and dropper cables and keep the rear brake in that horrible bent way.. with some slack it's not too bad..
  • 6 0
 Back to basics metal bikes with parts that make a lot of sense. We need more of this in mtb again.
  • 3 0
 I'm surprised that the shock tune doesn't get any comments. Seems like a huge dealbreaker.

If a 85kg rider like Seb has to run the rebound fully open, anyone weighting less will have a shock that is constantly bogging down. Kills all the suppleness and traction mentioned in the review.
Yes, you can probably get it tuned to your weight, but who does this on a budget bike?
  • 6 0
 Looks like a Process 167! Love it
  • 4 0
 Not keen on Saracen after owning an ariel in the past, but can't deny that the price is amazing with a very good spec on this!
  • 4 1
 did you have the linkage issue? it drives me insane!
  • 3 0
 I had the old round-tubed one (white with purple graphics), it was such a fun bike to ride - but I didn't keep it long enough to run into any durability issues.
  • 3 0
 Be interesting to see if Saracen do more 27.5" bikes in their new ranges and at big sizes too. I've tried 29" and it's just not for me, but being tall limits me a bit with 27.5" size wise.
  • 5 0
 A 360mm seat tube on a medium frame is stupid short. And to then spec only a 150mm post is further lunacy.
  • 4 0
 Excellent review. Not just of the bike but also of describing how bike sizing, position and components make a difference in the ride!
  • 2 0
 i wonder what it is about making a secondary cable port on the opposite side so difficult for manufacturers? the routing would undoubtedly keep me from buying a frame as i run my front brake on the left side. same sort of thing with the nukeproof giga. it seems like virtually no extra effort during the manufacturing process to add an extra hole on either side unless we’re talking tube in tube.
  • 3 0
 An OEM Zeb . Not even a compression knob. Are you kidding me! Good luck selling the fork. I can see cutting cost on tires but the fork? Who would be happy with no adjustments for compression ?
  • 3 0
 I wouldn't mind if bikes were sold without tires
  • 2 0
 As an owner of this bike, the dropper is kind of disgusting. even at 5"11 on a large i have to up the post 50mm before sending. peddle bob is irritating but i can deal with it. Cables are annoying, we're in the UK just make it like every other UK bike company does and make them cross the head-tube. I find the cranks a bit wide and always notice my foot turning in to accommodate this. Overall, descending, i've never been on a dh bike btw, is insane. it sticks to the floor like there's no tomorrow. i would 100% take this over my old evil insurgent. I also prefer this ZEB over my old 36 performance elite, it soaks up the bumps and keeps a fair bit of stability when a drop comes. The brakes are incredibly sharp and have enough stopping power and accuracy on a downhill trail. The tires have enough grip and stickiness for me to completely trust them on no brake full speed flat corners. I agree with everything @seb-stott has said in the review, apart from fox vs rockshox although compression adjustment would've been nice. Also if you want a bottle cage just get the fidlock strap on bottle.

Ik this comment is a bit late but just thought some people might wanna see another owners opinion.
  • 6 0
 Insane value!
  • 1 2
 bah, bottom end tues is 2200e
  • 3 0
 @baca262: im afraid that was several years ago, its now at 2800€
  • 5 0
 Do you remember when Arielle was a mermaid? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
  • 2 0
 Add a ‘Z’ after the A and it becomes the name of Gargamel’s cat. Sexy frame nevertheless, like the previous gen Konas.....I loikee....
  • 1 0
 That bobbing it’s true the more you rise the height of the seat post bikes ,and if the saddle is more further back it makes the rear shock more active ,and yes rock shox forks need to address that thing ,cause what they advise in their app is just to little air ,the rebound I think they are spot on ,cause in the car park test you have 2 or 3 more clicks (in rabbit side)and you think that the bike feels alive and that’s fine ,but when you start riding it you just couldn’t make the fork tracks to the terrain ,it’s just like you put in 30 psi more instead of 10 more ,good work ,stay safe
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott Great review. I really like hearing your comments on why a rider might prefer different geometry. Ie the benefits of longer chain stay or longer reach or why someone might want a higher bar height. Same for the suspension charts and what they mean. Also cool to hear that you've verified the geo charts.
  • 1 0
 "Another way to calculate progression is to compare the leverage ratios at sag and bottom out. At 27.5% (50mm) wheel sag, the Ariel will require 15% more force to bottom-out than a fully linear bike."

Wouldn't it require 15% less? A "fully linear bike" would not have that curve back up at the end of the graph, thus would have an even lower leverage ratio at bottom out, and so would require _more_ force to bottom-out.
  • 1 0
 "the Ariel's wider Q-factor (that 's the horizontal distance between the pedals) thanks to the SuperBoost axle spacing feels slightly more uncomfortable to me when pedaling long distances."

I though the point of SuperBoost was to get that tire clearance and wheel stiffness without resorting to super wide cranks. In fact, Pivot's pitch document (
specifically mentions that Q-factor does not need to change:

(page 9) "Super Boost Plus 157 is based on standard cranksets in the market. The system maintains the same Q-factor (crank arm width) as standard trail bike cranks in the market such as Race Face Aeffect SL (173mm), and Race Face Turbine (177mm)."

If Saracen is using DH 87mm cranks or some other extra wide crank system, they're not really doing SuperBoost, but just DH157 (with a slightly different brake offset and wheel dish)
  • 1 0
 Could be wrong here but I think the Shimano spec'd "super boost" cranks are all ~181. To get the same 56mm or what not chainline they spec, you'd need to evaluate your crank/ring (flipped?) CL and the clearance on the individual frame.
  • 1 0
 The chainring needs to move out w/ SB+, so either you need a different chainring on the old cranks, or a wider crank with the same chainring.
  • 2 0
 @ninjatarian: Exactly. It's chainline, not q-factor. SuperBoost as Pivot originally created it does not require a wider q-factor, and that was on purpose. If someone wants to spec a wider q-factor crank, that's just a design choice, and not dictated by SuperBoost itself, so it shouldn't be used as a ding against SuperBoost.
  • 1 0
 Great, looking forward to more reviews from Seb, hearing from a tall riders perspective is refreshing for me at 6'4". I sometimes think bike manufacturers don't even test ride their XL bikes, 'oh this bikes for someone 6" taller, let's make the headtube 10mm longer that should be about right'
  • 4 0
 Saracen did good, blue flow dads are just mad they cant ride this to its full potential
  • 1 0
 Anybody noticed the difference between the PB-Ariel 80 and the Pictures on Saracen Website? If you look at the tubes going into the Headtube - there is a gap between them. But on the Saracen Website pictures there is no such gap.
Any idea why that is like that? Because of XL?
  • 1 0
 Hello Saracen, I bought a 8'000$ bike from you just to find myself in the middle of a track with a broken rear shock bolt...I have paid these 100$ for this really small bolt just to find out that Saracen customer service told me to buy the incorrect bolt. I think this story will continue and I look forward to see if Saracen will assume their fault or if they will charge me another 100$ for the right bolt. Let's hope after 200$ I will get the correct bolt
Is this part of the brand to make more monney from the back of their customer who already paid 8000$ for a bike.I will tell my story everywhere if my problem is not solved.

I have never ever had this on any bike and this is really scary. I got no answer from you when I told you this. Customer service told me to buy a new bolt which I was charged more than 100$ for a small bolt (5cm long and 3mm diameter). Customer service is really not helpful. I am really upset with you
First time I got a story like that, never had any problem with Trek, Santa Cruz or Rocky Mountain and their customer service would have given me the bolt for free because that is too big of a problem and can cause death. Just tink of a rear shock bolt braking and think a little bit if you really want to invest...
  • 1 1
 "The Van shock has a linear (as opposed to digressive) rebound tune. That means it should rebound slower from deep in the travel relative to the earlier travel, when compared to a digressive rebound shock."

Not according to that graphic. Rebound shaft speed would be faster from deep in the travel, because the spring force is higher. That graphic says that a digressive tune has relatively less damping force at high shaft speeds; and also relatively higher damping as slow shaft speeds, which would occur at the top of the travel because there is less spring force.
  • 1 0
 Oops, read that backwards. This bike/shock has the linear tune, NOT digressive, so all makes sense.
  • 1 1
 "the Zeb is super comfortable and sucks up big holes and rocks brilliantly,"

Then does that mean the Fox 38 is ultra-comfortable and sucks up big holes and rocks extra-brilliantly? (I can't think of a definitely-more-than-brilliant adjective...) Because you just said a 38 definitely is better (strong agree based on my own Pike vs 36); unless someone likes not using enough travel _and_ not having mid-stroke support...
  • 4 0
 Not one to comment often, but that is a pretty sexy looking bike.
  • 3 0
 If only it had a lockout, a better fork, a higher front stack and a water bottle mount it would have been a winner
  • 7 6
 Incoming people complaining about super boost and new standards despite the fact that 150/157 spacing on park bikes actually goes back to the 26" days...
  • 3 0
 Looks a lot like the old Kona Process..
  • 3 0
 sick this is the bike i live for ... 27.5 freeride machine
  • 3 0
 I'm so incredibly close to clicking the ever inviting buy button
  • 2 0
 Why aren't more bikes going with the 'channeled into frame externally' cable holders ?
  • 1 0
 Seems like a good deal. Cheaper than a lot of frame only offerings lately. Also seems like a capra 27.5 with newer geo and a coil...
  • 1 0
 I have two gripes here.... 1- it should have a bigger seat post tube, 3.16 minimum put preferred 34.9. 2- 29 inch option?

Other than that this bike makes a lot of sense!!
  • 1 0
 Pfff superboost. So your telling me that because the axle is 9mm wider than a 148... that somehow Creates more tire clearance like 14 inches away, at the pivot yoke?
  • 3 0
 Yes - because the chainline moves outwards, so more room in that tight overlap area for tyre/chainstay/chainring.
  • 1 0
 Risca bike park? surprised that the south wales covid cops weren't ignoring real crimes to chase you around telling you off for leaving your house.
  • 1 0
 The fact that they have to write pedelable on a bicycle shows that we need to talk more about hardtails, like the Banshee Paradox V3.
  • 3 2
 I'm going to stick to my Propain spindrift thanks. Cheaper and better value
  • 3 1
 Cheaper before brexit..
  • 1 0
 Great looking rig for the price. 2 piston brakes on a bike like that though?
  • 2 0
 interesting choice. would be interested to see how they would hold up over time.
  • 2 0
 No video of the suspension moving?
  • 1 0
 SuerBoost, a new length: "KT cartridge-bearing hubs, Boost front, SuerBoost rear"
  • 1 1
 Bit odd that they went for 2 piston Deores rather than the 4 piston versions considering the bike's intended use. Looks like a good bike at a good price though.
  • 1 0
 Is it just me or does that fork crown seem to be installed backward?? Sure looks like it!
  • 1 0
 I'd love to build a park bike like this with a single speed setup and a static post. Super simple, just two brake lines.
  • 1 0
 It looks sweet! I wish the seats were down in bike pics, its nicer to see how it looks in shred mode.
  • 2 1
 If you have to slam the seat all the way forward, the STA is not steep enough!
  • 2 0
 you had me until you said no bottle cage mounts...
  • 2 0
 Looks great. I bet its fast as fook.
  • 1 0
 Looks like the letter ‘m’ on the author’s keyboard is faulty.
  • 1 0
 This is a wonderfully written and informative review.
  • 1 0
 Surprise the Van RC is still being spec'd vs. Bomber coil...
  • 2 0
 It seems like Fox tries to keep the Fox brand on OEM builds. The Fox 36/34 Rhythm shows up on a bunch of builds and is essentially the same as the Z1/Z2
  • 2 4
 "There's just one cable port on the drive-side so this is the only option for right-hand-front brake setups."

This is why people who have never built should not technical write ups. This is hilariously wrong.
  • 1 0
 Any bike is “pedalable” jus ‘pends on the size a yer legs! ????
  • 1 0
 Beast !!!!!
  • 2 2
 Cons "still no room for a water bottle"

*Rolls Eyes*
  • 1 0
 Seb Seb Seb Seb Seb
  • 1 0
 Puny wheels - Hulk 2021
  • 1 3
 180 in the back.. for what?
For those Ebduuroo pilots, not able to ride the trails anymore they destroyed?
Nice looking bike
  • 2 5
 is that a flip chip at the top of the swing arm? For a 2021 freeride bike you'd expect a mullet option...
  • 2 1
 Basically any new bike(maybe 150mm+) needs a mullet link option.
  • 2 0
 *if 29 front
  • 1 4
 Looks like a ... turd after a session.
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