Saracen's 27.5'' and 29'' Myst DH Bike - Lošinj DH World Cup 2018

Apr 18, 2018 at 21:41
by Mike Levy  



Madison Saracen's signing of Danny Hart was probably the biggest team news this off-season, and the UK brand has followed that up with not one but two new downhill bikes. Well, kinda. The carbon fiber Myst has two wheel size-specific platforms, one for 27.5'' wheels and the other for 29'' wheels, and the geometry is essentially identical on both. The idea, Team Manager Will Longden says, is to allow their World Cup racers to decide what works best for them.

And, at least for now, the new bike is only going to be for Madison Saracen's World Cup team. That'll surely change in the not too distant future, though, as Saracen isn't about to invest in two different wheel size platforms and then not sell both them to the public.


Saracen Ross Bell photo


With geometry being the same regardless of wheel size, the team is able to set up each bike identically so that their racers can jump from one to the other during testing without any second-guessing. Matt Walker, the tallest on the team, prefers the big hoops, while Danny Hart and Alex Martin are both on 27.5'' wheels for now, although Longden did stress that that could change down the road, especially as Danny gets more training and racing on the Myst under his belt.

Coming from Mondraker, Danny is used to the smaller wheels, so it's no surprise that he wanted to stick with those when making the change to an all-new bike.


Saracen Ross Bell photo


Saracen committed to the 29'er downhill bike route around the middle of last year, and Matt Walker was on an aluminum mule from Mont Sainte-Anne onwards.

Tweaks and updates were made during development, the most notable being some revisions to the linkage that has seen their team on a setup that provides more progression and works in concert with the coil-sprung Fox X2 shocks all three racers are using.


Saracen Ross Bell photo
Saracen Ross Bell photo


After the geometry and suspension were dialed in with the aluminum mule, the carbon Myst came out of the mold over the winter. It's not locked down quite yet, however, with tweaks to the layup still being made to fine-tune the feel and strength, and a close look will even reveal different profiles to some frame tubes.

One thing that won't make production is the three-way adjustable swingarm that the team was using at last year's Lenzerheide World Cup, with it now be pared down to a two-way setup with a flip-chip to make the change. This gives racers the ability to choose between a 445mm rear end or a lengthy 460mm setup, although Longden did point out that the team spends about 80-percent of their time using the shorter option, with Leogang and Mont Sainte-Anne likely being the only two tracks that will see the bike's wheelbase grow considerably.

Up front, Matt, Danny, and Alex can also play with a headtube insert that allows for +/-5mm of reach adjustment, a feature carried over from the old bike. Saracen has only manufactured two frame sizes, a 'Factory' and a 'Factory Long,' but the offset headset cups allow for enough adjustment that a tall guy like Matt can ride the same size frame as Alex.
Saracen Ross Bell photo



55 Comments

  • + 21
 I wonder how many Myst are sold per year, and whether it justifies the investment in the factory bike? I know WC DH is a loss-leader for most firms, but its a serious investment.
  • + 12
 It's all about the R&D! find out what works on the aggressive tracks and then refine it down the catalogue to trail bikes
  • + 9
 your dope DH bikes increases sales of other products so you may not sell as many machines like this one but you make for this in sales of e.g. enduro bike
  • + 8
 Isn't it time for Claudio's review yet?
  • + 1
 A quick look through the buy and sell pages suggest that quite a few people are buying them.
  • + 8
 @doe222: They are pretty popular here in the UK, good solid bikes with great geometry that don't need tonnes of bearing changes all backed up by a decent warranty. Price isn't horrendous either on the entry models
  • + 2
 Halo model mate. Like a top of the line sports car. Gets the punters interested in the brand. Eg. I hadn't heard of Madison Saracen before I started following racing.
  • + 20
 Personally i do not consider buying any bike of any brand which has no dh bike in their lineup. That's why Yeti is dead to me nowadays. To me it's as much about giving back to the sport as it is showcasing your willingness to refine your product under the most challenging conditions. If a company isn't willing to do that, imho they're just not a performance oriented brand.
  • + 6
 @Loki87: EWS is just as hard on bikes and more relevant to what people buy in volume.
  • + 9
 @wibblywobbly:
Opinions mate Smile
Dentists can have their EWS proven Yetis, i'll stick to downhill inspired brands.
  • + 8
 @Loki87: what’s difference between a dentist buying a Yeti because it’s ews proven and you buying a Tallboy (or whatever you ride) because Minnaar won a race on it once. Most of it is a marketing and branding exercise anyway, let’s be honest.
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: checking PB every 5 Min., but its thursday, sooner or later it will be there, trackwalk wintv...come on
  • + 4
 @wibblywobbly: I would wager any pro rider could take any brand of bike and win with it on any given day. Everyone WAYYY overestimates how much if any difference a bike brand makes these days (at the elite 10k/bike level that is).
  • + 7
 @wibblywobbly:
As i said, it´s an opinion. I won´t defend mine to you as it is nothing that can be proven anyway. You´re totally right about wins being only marketing, but that´s not what i´m talking about. It´s simply about the bike as a carrier of technology.
For what it´s worth, it comes down to experience and the "genes" that go into a bike for me. For example, i´ll buy a BMW for the rear wheel drive design because that´s what they´ve been doing for years and their designs have a certain degree of heritage to take from. Again, not objective in any way, but you gotta start somewhere. I trust they know what they´re doing in a segment that is important to me. In the case of a bicycle, downhill oriented performance.
In my opinion it is better to have various sources of input rather than only one, so having a dh and enduro team can only be beneficial.
And then there´s my strong dislike of a company dropping its roots and a whole (dear to me) subcategory of the sport, which is something i don´t want to support. Again, purely based on my personal feelings towards the subject at hand and the fact i do wanna be able to buy a downhill bike in the future, so those who still offer one will get my trailbike money.
This isn´t about what is better, but the question was whether building a dh bike is justified. If there are others like me out there, at least to gain our trust and money i guess it is still justified.
  • + 4
 @Loki87: Agree with you on dislike of a company dropping DH. I won't buy a bike from anyone that makes an eBike for the same reason. My last purchases have been Transition and Ibis. Pivot is off the list and soon Santa Cruz will be.

Which makes me conflicted because I love that Santa Cruz supports DH.
  • + 1
 @wibblywobbly:
As much as i personally dislike the idea of ebikes, i can´t justify limiting myself that much, haha.
I guess it´s also just something no company can avoid really. I mean, let the people who actually need them due to injuries or whatever have them. It´s the douches who will terrorize walkers who are the problem, leading to trail closures.
Since nearly all manufacturers will be hopping on board the e-train i guess there´s sadly not a realistic way to vote with our money on that matter anyway, so we might as well just ignore it really. You know, for the sake of our own mental health Wink
  • + 2
 DH bikes were not meant for high volume sales, is niche market. At most manufacturers will only produce 100 frames per size, per year. DH is mostly for product development.
  • + 0
 @wibblywobbly: ebikes are fine stop being a sissy
  • + 1
 @Asmodai: hah. this is what ebike astroturfing has been reduced to.
  • + 1
 @wibblywobbly:
sure im getting paid milions to advertise ebikes. because that makes sense instead of ebikes just being fine
  • + 1
 @drivereight: That is not even close to being true. Whistler alone buys more than that...
  • + 6
 How can they both have the same geometry? Bottom bracket in relation to axle height should be different with bigger wheels, or the bb is way to high?
  • + 0
 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, China. You don’t need to look harder than that. That’s all I’m saying.
  • + 3
 @nickkk: say wot M8? China? don't want to get the wrong end of the stick fella so better say what you said before eh?
  • + 7
 BB height is the same. The BB drop of each frame is different.
  • + 2
 @piebloke: no way bro, not after last time. I won’t put my family in jeopardy like that. These guys don’t f*ck around.
  • + 1
 @ryan303: that‘s what i said. So geometry is NOT the same, as the riders sits deeper „in“ the 29er, feels more stable, etc.
  • + 2
 @Lasse2000:
Well of course the bike will feel different, that's the idea of the different wheel sizes. However, weight distribution and overall rider position will remain the same, making it feel as close as it can get. I guess they're referring to geometry only in the sense of the usual measurements used, like headangle, reach, bb height,wheelbase etc which imho is completely fair because while what you point out is right, it won't concern any potential customer.
What they're trying to tell us is simply that while it is a 2 in 1 bike you do not have to be concerned about the bike being wildly different with different wheel setups.
  • + 2
 @Loki87: Yes, reach, stack, rider contact points, trail, kinematics, anti squat and so on are the same for the two different frames But pivot location, bb drop and orther details related to wheel size have been moved to keep contact and feel points the same. So then it is just a matter of choice of the 27.5 frame or the 29 frame( that does add that more sagged in feel because of the bigger bb drop...)
  • + 4
 @Loki87: it is not a two in one bike I don't think. There are two different bikes, one of each wheel size. The head engineer has designed them so they both feel the same, despite the different wheel sizes. From what I gather, the geometry is not necessarily identical. Rather, when set up with the right parts for each wheel size, the bikes will feel identical. For example, the head angles may be different, but so too will be the fork offsets. The geometry is such that the bikes will feel the same in spite of these differences. Or, I could be talking out my arse.
  • + 0
 @jaame:
Their press release said the bike is adjustable for two wheel sizes, if i haven't got that completely wrong.
  • + 1
 @jaame:
My bad,i read that wrong. You're right Smile
  • + 2
 @Loki87: better ask Ryan. I think he knows more about it than anyone.
  • + 0
 @Loki87:
>Their press release said the bike is adjustable for two wheel sizes, if i haven't got that completely wrong.

i dont think it did, they even say "it’s two new bikes because this Myst comes in 27.5” and 29” versions"
  • + 6
 @nickkk: what's China got to do.......got to do with it?
  • + 1
 That makes sense. thx @Loki87:
  • + 2
 The industry has been telling us for years that 29ers need steeper HAs and more BB drop. Is it the same geometry when you compensate for that or is it the same geometry period?
  • + 4
 Just assume their engineer is not an idiot and you got your answer,at least for bb drop. They most certainly did not construct the bike with a 410mm high bottom bracket.
Also while what you say is true for bb drop, 29ers do not require a different headangle per se as that really just depends on what ride characteristics you're after. Remember, they said geometry stays the same, they did not say it'll ride exactly the same, because what would be the point of it being different then anyways? Wink
  • + 2
 Also,the industry has been telling us a lot over the years. Wouldn't be their first complete u-turn.
  • + 2
 @Loki87: I agree with you on the points you make but you are making a lot of assumptions about what would be the right thing to do. I was wondering what the truth was.
  • + 2
 @Patrick9-32:
That´s the thing, without actual numbers and/or seeing it in the flesh, we can´t know for sure.
I´m as sceptic as anyone else when it comes to the industry and their claims, but i guess until i can verify for myself what´s true, i assume they got at least the simple part right. That´s why i assume bb drop will be compensated for. As for headangle, who knows.

Somewhere further up the designer responded to what exactly they did with the bike. Maybe that helps clear things up Smile
  • + 1
 Sam pilgrim rides e bikes, it's ok. I would want to get one for doing trail work. It's better than riding dirt bike or trials bikes on the trail. Also it's funny cause some of the trails we ride on were made by dirt bike riders back in the day. People forget the cycles.
  • + 5
 There's a hell of a lot to like about that noble steed!
  • + 4
 Now they just need a 26" option, and they'll be all set!
  • + 2
 But should a DH bike have identical geometry for both wheel sizes. It would seem like a performance compromise would need to be made somewhere.
  • + 1
 Curious as to Saracen still omitting the use of down tube protection on their downhill bikes? Aside from that I find the Myst to be a fine two wheeled gravity steed.
  • + 3
 Doesn't even come close to my early 2000's saracen awol.
  • + 3
 Prototype DT Swiss Wheels? Need to know more about it
  • + 3
 Nice ride
  • + 3
 275 ain't die!
  • + 1
 Best looking bike out there IMO..
  • + 1
 The size doesn't matter...
  • + 2
 Damn, beast af.
  • + 0
 The 29 sure does look swell.
  • + 1
 So damn nice Drool

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