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Saracen's Prototype 6-Bar DH Bike Uncovered - Taipei Cycle Show 2023

Mar 22, 2023
by Mike Levy  
photo

A picture of a picture still counts, right? The Madison Saracen Factory Race Team had been aboard a different – and very not production – downhill bike for the 2022 race season, but it's almost always been sporting a cover zip-tied in place to hide the new bike's suspension system. Obviously, that only makes me want to know what's going on even more, so it's convenient that I happen to run into long-time Saracen engineer Ryan Carroll this morning at the Taipei Cycle Show.

It's even more convenient that he didn't tell me to get lost when I asked to see what he's been working on...


photo


While there's not much detail in the photo, it does show the aluminum prototype's six-bar suspension layout and what looks to be a concentric axle pivot, although that last part isn't confirmed. The current production bike is pictured above and employs a linkage-driven single-pivot layout. We've seen a number of downhill bikes move from four to six-bar suspension recently, with the more complicated (and no doubt heavier) layout suiting that sort of riding. Carroll explained that they had been using a floating brake mount on the previous bike, but this system allows him to get away from that while still keeping the bike active and making for more tuning options.

How many bars are the right amount of bars?

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

60 Comments
  • 58 2
 How many bars are the right amount of bars?
Depends on the beers they serve and if you are just going out or if you are going out out.
  • 9 0
 All of them.
  • 5 0
 Someone's gonna come out with 7 bars. Just think. You're standing there in the showroom. One bike's got 6 bars. The bike next to it has 7 bars. Which one you gonna pick?

Bingo. You're gonna buy the 7 bars.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB2di69FmhE
  • 3 0
 if you aren’t going out, a 9 bar is more than enough.
  • 47 0
 Saracen, keeping the bearing industry afloat when Orange refuses to.
  • 15 0
 6-bar, so hot right now...
Specialized, Canyon, Intense, now Saracen? Who's next? Trek? So we can keep the 'looks like a session' meme?
  • 8 0
 Oh, and I forgot Commencal, who also jumped into the 6-bar bandwagon last year.
  • 11 0
 I'm just waiting for everyone to add more bars to catch up to knolly.
  • 10 0
 Don't forget Yeti! They 6-barred the 160e.
  • 19 1
 A lot of these aren’t 6 bar, just 4 bar with an additional shock linkage
  • 2 0
 polygon and atherton too
  • 6 0
 cough-notsixbar-cough
  • 2 0
 @kleinblake: well, 4-bar gives enough control over axle path, anti-rise, anti-squat, etc, and is probably easier to make a stiff 4-bar frame. Add the extra linkage driving the shock to control the leverage curve and boom, there you have it.
  • 1 0
 I think there were also pictures of the NS DH bikes with prototype 6 bar linkage
  • 1 0
 Intense is working on one
  • 4 0
 Not really a 6 bar though is it? More like a linkage driven 4 bar unless there is some extra links happening around that bottom bracket area that we can't see... and that goes for the Specialized, Canyon and the Intense...
  • 2 0
 Actually, none of those are six-bar. They are all just four-bar with complex linkages. But not actually six-bar.
  • 2 0
 @rbasoalto: correct, but fundamentally different from a 6 bar (like the commencal supreme) where every link contributes to axle path etc.
  • 1 0
 @Muscovir: I think the Atherton would count as 6 bar. It looks like a normal layout but the main pivot is actually a linkage.
  • 1 0
 this isn't a true 6 bar. The first 4 are for axle path like a Horst Link the second 2 are for driving the shock to separate suspension kinematics. the first 4 aren't a true four bar ( Horst Link ) because the rear pivot is at the axle not before. A true four bar has two pivots before the axle to control axle path. This setup is more like a single pivot. and with the other 2 bars controlling the shock the other 3 bars for the wheel path are completely useless. And do nothing but add weight. Should have just went with an ultra stiff chainstay at that point like an old Santa Cruz super 8. This design is what they consider a split pivot AKA Dave Weagle design. With 2 more bars controlling the shock to separate suspension kinematics and wheel path.
  • 10 0
 One night, likely a very drunken night after the snowshoe world cup, a demo and a session had a secret excursion behind the saracen team truck.
  • 6 0
 That sure is a knock off of the current Specialized Enduro! Aside from the concentric rear axle pivot, the suspension layout appears identical.
  • 8 1
 This isn't a true 6 Bar (like Atherton), it's just a Horst Link with extra links driving the shock (like Canyon)
  • 2 0
 split pivot
  • 2 0
 @SonofBovril: fair point, Horst Link anti-rise characteristics and single pivot anti-squat. Either way, definitely not a 6 bar.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy This is, with 100% certainty, not a six-bar suspension system.

Depending on what exactly is going on at the BB area, it's either a (split) single pivot with an overly elaborate linkage or a five-bar with split pivot. But definitley not a six-bar.
  • 2 0
 As much as its pretty similar to alot of others pointed out if Saracen can stick to delivering value and producing this improved 6 bar system at a lower price than everyone else whose pricing just keeps getting more premium, then it could be quite the success.
  • 2 0
 To all saying this like Specialized Demo suspension. Specialized uses a 4 bar suspension. The movement of the suspension is controlled by three links (accounting for 3 of the bars) anchored to the frame (which acts as the 4th bar as typical). And the wheel is connected to the 'floating' link (link in the middle of the other two moving links), so the wheel path can be modified/controlled at different points during the travel. In the case of the Specialized, the floating link is the seat stay link. There is a secondary linkage system that drives the shock on the demo, but this does not increase the 'bar' count on the suspension system.

There are very few true 6 bar systems out there, at least that would be considered even sort of main stream. Probably the most well known/widespread 6-link bike were (or are, haven't seen one in s a while) the Felt line of suspension bikes a few years back. And more recently (but much more niche) is the DW6 linkage on the Atherton line of bikes (developed originally for Robot Bike Co). Most DW systems are 4 bar systems, but the DW6 went to 6 link as a way to accommodate the 'custom geometry build' business model of Robot Bike Co.

The Felt and Atherton bikes are both 6-bar systems, but are actually pretty different. On the DW6, it is basically a standard 4 bar linkage where the chain stay link has been replaced by a small four bar linkage (so that basically the seat stay changes length as the suspension goes through it's travel.

The Felt, as well as this new Saracen bike are kind of like modified short bar, 4 link system. Typically for s short bar 4 link system like a classic DW link or VPP, etc, there are two short links that connect a solid rear triangle to the frame. In the case of these two bikes, there are 2 short links that have a 'connection rod' link somewhere between the two pivot points of each of the short links. This means that the distance between the 'free' pivot point at the end of the two short links changes. In this case, you cannot use a solid rear triangle to connect to the two short links as it would lock-out any suspension movement, as a solid triangle would not allow for then end pivots of the two short links to change. So, instead of using a solid rear triangle to attach to this mini-four bar linkage attached to the frame, they use a scissor linkage (consisting basically of a long chain stay and long seat stay linkage, which does allow for movement when the distance between the end pivots of the short links changes. In the case of the Felt, the wheel axle was mounted to the chain-stay link. In the case of this new bike, they have a concentric axle pivot like the Trek suspension bikes.
  • 2 0
 Is it actually 6-bar though? If the rear pivot wasn't concentric with the axle, then sure. As long as it is concentric, looks like a 4-bar to me? Maybe someone smarter can explain where I'm getting this wrong.
  • 5 0
 Actually looks nice!
  • 5 0
 looks like a demo
  • 1 0
 looks like I don't know ...so many similarities. I think it is nice to buy almost the same product but from different vendors...
  • 2 0
 Very nice looking bike. Also that paint finish on the existing one is sublime. It looks 10mm deep.
  • 2 0
 @boss-matsumoto: Definitely!
  • 1 0
 Maybe not the best way release a new bike. "oh look, I have a photo on my mobile..."
  • 2 0
 Sherlock is currently analyzing the fingerprint of the one holding the phone. Who's leaking?
  • 1 0
 "Look at this photograph! Evetime I do it reminds me I work on Saracen's behalf!"
  • 2 0
 @vinay: My best guess is Ryan Carroll.
  • 2 0
 @rcrocha: As long is this is only a suspect and there has been no conviction, let's call him Ryan C.
  • 2 0
 Teams hiding their suspension is the weirdest trend.
  • 1 0
 Haven't lappiere already done this...
  • 4 4
 hey look its that Lapierre dh bike that Loic won worlds on and then they immediately canned their dh program
  • 16 0
 @GumptionZA Looking more like Specialized Demo really
  • 2 0
 @allbiker: Decent looking machine then Wink
  • 1 0
 @boss-matsumoto: ah, perhaps i should have googled before... still, overall silhouette reminds me a lot of the Lapierre, which i always liked
  • 1 0
 @allbiker: Yes = 100% lifted from a Demo... I like it... no harm no foul.
  • 3 1
 Looks like a demo
  • 2 0
 more like a Lengend I´d say, just wait until they move the shock lower for production
  • 2 1
 Back to the 2007 old school demo 9
  • 1 0
 Saracen and intense are really ‘sending’ it
  • 1 0
 12 gold ones according to Status Quo
  • 1 0
 cool but please fix the tires
  • 1 0
 I see only one, what a shame
  • 1 0
 All I see is an Iron Horse
  • 1 0
 Pick a bar number and be a dick about it.
  • 2 0
 Looks like a demo
  • 1 0
 The six bar will set you free
  • 1 0
 DEMOLITION
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