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.
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 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.
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.