Review: The 2019 Saracen Myst 29" is Forgiving & Agile

Feb 15, 2019 at 5:22
by Paul Aston  



Saracen's Myst has been on the racing circuit for years, and it returns for 2019 with a 29" version added into the mix, and a few changes that were based on input from none other than Danny Hart, and 2018 British National Champ, Matt Walker.

The Myst is now available with 27.5" or 29" wheels, various build kits, framesets, and even a budget alloy version. We opted for the top of the line, full carbon, 29" wheeled Myst Team. The Myst Team is a replica of the bike that the Madison Saracen Factory Team have been racing this year, built to the racer's spec with Fox Factory Suspension, Shimano Saint stopping and starting gear, a DT Swiss FR560 wheelset wrapped in Maxxis rubber. All of the above is available through your Saracen dealer or their online shop freewheel.co.uk for £5799 GBP (approx. $7445 USD).
Myst 29" Details

Intended use: downhill
Travel: 200mm rear / 203mm front
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: 24T/40T/3K Toray UD Carbon
Suspension Design: Linkage driven single pivot
Suspension: Fox Factory 49 + DHX2
Sizes: M and L
Weight: 16.2kg
Price: £5799 GBP / $7445 USD (approx.)
saracen.co.uk


bigquotesThe Myst heads out of the start gate well under power and seems lively from the off. It feels like the carbon layup has had plenty of attention to tuning and the entire bike seemed smooth with no vibration or harshness heading into fast rough sections. Paul Aston

Contents







Construction and Features

The Myst has kept a similar silhouette since its inception, but has continually evolved from alloy to carbon, and through all wheel sizes to arrive at this 29" thoroughbred. The frame is carbon throughout, with a short head tube that houses a reach adjust headset, affording +/-5mm of adjustment. This feature, along with the newly adjustable dropouts at the rear axle, was requested by the race team to allow them to better set the bike up for different tracks. The new dropouts have also been updated to fit 12 x 157mm hubs, so all the latest standards have been ticked off.

The cables and housing have been internally routed to preserve the clean lines, entering at the fork bump stops and exiting further along the down tube in order to bypass the seat tube and then internally again through the seat stays. Large 38mm bearings at the main pivot and 27mm elsewhere have been used for stiffness and durability, which I approve of, as tiny bearings that need to be replaced every few months are a waste of everyone's time.


Saracen Bike Test
A zero-stack reach adjust headset to give some adjustment.

Saracen Bike Test
Adjustable length chainstays and the rear IS brake mount.


Geometry & Sizing


The Myst 29 is only available in sizes medium and large, with reaches of 440 or 460mm respectively. Saracen decided against making the 29er in a small size because of the 'big-wheel-to-bum-scuff-factor' coming into play, which is a sensible decision. However, for those vertically challenged souls, there is still the 27.5" wheeled Myst in smaller sizes. The largest size having a reach of 460mm will be a disappointment for riders towards and over 6ft (1.83m), as unless you like a shorter bike you might be forced to look elsewhere. An XL should be coming in the future with a 480mm reach.

The other numbers are fairly typical of a modern downhill bike, with a 63° head angle, low -23mm BB drop and 445 or 460mm chainstays depending on the dropout setting. The head tube is quite short at 90mm for the medium and 95mm for the large, but this offsets the additional stack height from the large wheels.



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Suspension Design

Keep it simple Saracen, which is what has been done by continuing to use the tried and tested single pivot solution. The main pivot is located just above the chainring, and a two-piece link is used to drive the shock.


Saracen Bike Test

Build

The only complete bike available is the £5799 (approx $7455) Myst Team, which is a replica of the bike the Madison Saracen Factory Team race. It comes kitted out with Fox Factory suspension – a 49 GRIP2 fork and DHX2 shock, which are regulars on higher spec bikes and for a good reason. In addition, there is a full Saint drivetrain and brake set for reliable stopping and starting, along with a DT-Swiss FR560 wheelset shod with Maxxis Minion DHR II tires. To finish it off, there is a smattering of Shimano Pro kit, which saves money over top-tier options and certainly won't hold you back. It's a spec with no weak points.

If you prefer to custom build your own bike there is also the option of buying the Myst X 29 frameset with Fox DHX2 shock for £2799 (approx $3659) and taking it from there.

Saracen Bike Test
The full Saint drivetrain is a dependable choice.

Saracen Bike Test
Saint cranks and a full Gamut chainguide should let you charge into the rough carefree.
Saracen Bike Test
Pro direct mount stem and 31.8mm aluminum handlebar.

Saracen Bike Test
Sturdy DT Swiss FR560 rims shod with Maxxis Minion DHR2 tires front and rear make a lot of sense.


Specifications
Specifications
Price $7450
Travel 200mm
Rear Shock Fox DHX2
Fork Fox 49 GRIP2
Headset Saracen 5mm reach adjust
Cassette Shimano Deore
Crankarms Shimano Saint
Chainguide MRP G3
Bottom Bracket Shimano
Chain Shimano HG45
Rear Derailleur Shimano Saint
Shifter Pods Shimano Saint
Handlebar Pro Tharsis 9.8 800mm width, 20mm width, 31.8mm
Stem Pro direct mount
Grips Saracen Lock On
Brakes Shimano Saint 203mm rotors
Spokes Double butted stainless steel
Rim DT Swiss FR 560
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR2
Seat Pro Tharsis 9.8


Saracen Bike Test










Test Bike Setup

After spending a ton of time on the fantastic Fox products this year getting a solid setup has become an easy process, and I ran 67psi in the fork with a 450lb spring. I have found on all the latest iterations of Grip2 and DHX2 dampers that the factory recommended settings are spot on, except a couple of clicks less compression works well for me.


With the 200mm travel fork and a direct mount stem with rise the front end was easily set the same height as other test bikes, with a 1090mm handlebar height from the floor. Tire pressure were 24/26psi and the bike was ready to shred. Testing took place on a variety of tracks, from Finale Ligure, Pila, Les Gets, and some of Piemonte's best kept secret bike parks.
Paul Aston
Paul Aston
Location: Finale Ligure, Italy
Age: 32
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 75kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @astonator
KM's ridden: n/a. used in Finale Ligure, Portes du Soleil, Pila, and Piemonte bike parks.


Saracen Bike Test

Riding

The Myst heads out of the start gate well under power and seems lively from the off. It feels like the carbon layup has had plenty of attention to tuning and the entire bike seemed smooth with no vibration or harshness heading into fast rough sections. The suspension is superbly supple off the top, and has really good mid-stroke support and bottom out resistance. Fox's 2019 Factory suspension is unbelievably good from the outset following the recommended settings, and I'm sure more performance could be gained if I spent more time on one bike, but for me and the majority of riders it will be more than enough for a range of conditions from stock. Only serious racers and tinkerers will need to look into any further tuning for race day performance.

Matching the 460mm of reach to an equal chainstay struck a really good balance front to rear, giving the bike a more neutral a comfortable shape compared to a similar bike with an equal reach and much shorter chainstay. Thanks to the adjustable 445mm/460mm chainstay that is shared between the M and L sizes, riders should find an equal balance on both sizes of frames. The neutral and equal shape gave great control when adjusting grip forwards or backward when things started to slide, and believe it or not, you can still manual a bike with 460mm chainstays without any problem.

Many riders are convinced that a single pivot bike cannot perform as well as a multi-pivot machine, but the Myst proves that the sum of the entire bike is greater than the number of pivots. Good geometry, build and tune is the most important thing, and I really like the way many single pivot bikes ride – generating speed well when pumping, and the geometry is preserved more under braking, which I still consider more valuable than not having 'brake jack' in the bumps; it makes you consider line choice more, and braking hard and late and then getting off the brakes as soon as possible.

Overall I would describe the Myst as responsive and lively, but it still gives confidence and holds a line well when things get rowdy.


Saracen Bike Test







How does it compare?

The closest rival in terms of shape would be the Devinci Wilson with its similar main pivot location. The Myst offers a more compliant ride than the Devinci, which will work better for lighter riders, it also seemed to slow down faster. In terms of feel, the Myst had a similarly smooth and forgiving chassis to the fantastic Intense M29.

Devinci


Technical Report


Saracen Bike Test
Saracen Bike Test

Saint and Pro Components: Without an update, redesign, or refreshed pretty colors for over six years, the Saint products are still awesome, along with the Pro finishing kit. Nearly everything seems indestructible, and the IceTec brake system never fades. The only possible criticism is the IceTec pads can rattle slightly, and the sharp power can be too much for some; riders need to be in tune and gentle to not lock the wheels on slippery surfaces.

DT-Swiss FR560 Wheelset: Multiple DT-Swiss wheelsets have been abused on 29" downhill bikes without a single problem - the rims hardly ding and the spokes always hold their tension.

Saracen Bike Test
Saracen Bike Test


Pros

+ Great suspension and solid build
+ Balanced and adjustable geometry
Cons

- Lacking XL size
- Limited availability worldwide



Is this the bike for you?

Are you looking for an agile and responsive and forgiving downhill racer? You won't go wrong with the Myst. A lack of a bigger size will put off taller riders, but for people after something smaller than the medium 29er, Saracen have you covered with the 27.5" machines and also aluminum frame for smaller budgets.




Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesSaracen have brought a well-refined and clean-looking racing weapon to the table. Don't let the 'old-fashioned' single pivot design put you off, it's a bike that can take on the best. Paul Aston



103 Comments

  • + 229
 I don't have any strong feelings about the bike, but being the first to comment and not making a lame joke would be a myst opportunity.
  • - 30
flag mtbikeaddict (Mar 14, 2019 at 0:33) (Below Threshold)
 You could say it was wide opun for you ... *kicking myself for not thinking of that*
  • + 46
 I would say you’ve got Ariel good pun there
  • - 20
flag mtbikeaddict (Mar 14, 2019 at 0:45) (Below Threshold)
 @sewer-rat: DANG IT! I thought and thought trying to come up with Ariel pun and finally gave up, and now you come out with that? You guys are KILIng it!
  • - 11
flag cunning-linguist (Mar 14, 2019 at 1:47) (Below Threshold)
 @mtbikeaddict: yeah Mantra!
  • + 35
 Stop that saracesm!
  • - 9
flag chainspotting (Mar 14, 2019 at 2:33) (Below Threshold)
 Awesome Smile
  • - 9
flag Danielyk (Mar 14, 2019 at 4:32) (Below Threshold)
 Can someone please block user "atuderaeakilo" I did already report him but that profile is still "alive" its blocked scammer using another profile, thx.
  • + 11
 Wow, the downvotes are strong today. Tufftrax crowd. I guess people think the pun amplitude has already reached its zenith
  • + 55
 Thanks for the words Paul. Pinkbike shouldn’t have sacked you for your honesty.
  • + 32
 Can’t believe one of the best reviewers, especially of dh bikes has gone. Really enjoyed his reviews, especially the Enve
  • + 42
 He got the sack? Is there a source for this? Was it because of the Enve review? Dammit, he's one of the better reviewers here.
  • + 10
 @muyguapa: First in a class of one reviewer.
  • + 78
 @muyguapa: He posted on his Instagram that as of March 1, he's no longer working at Pinkbike and is looking for other opportunities. I have no idea who made the decision, but I hope it was Paul. If PB did, it was terrible. He's by far my favorite reviewer as he's welling to tell things straight and make comparisons. I'm not in the market for a dh race bike but his review series on the 29 dh bikes is the best editorial content on the site.
  • + 3
 anyone got a link for why they gave him the sack?
  • + 5
 @muyguapa: The editors are ultimately responsible for exactly what gets published so I doubt they were surprised with the content of the Enve review. On the other hand, I was surprised PB published such a negative review when so many advertisers sell bike with Enve rims as a top of the line option. Who knows, maybe they did need someone's head or maybe it was just coincidence.
  • + 29
 @smithcreek: Agree. If they were mad enough to fire someone, they were likely also mad enough to not run the review.

I actually think that review did more to establish PB's credibility than anything they've done recently (maybe jointly with the shootout reviews with actual comparisons). Envelope and some companies might not be thrilled, but in the end it should make Pinkbike more valuable to them as an advertising platform...except Paul is gone.
  • + 2
 @MarcusBrody: Now it seems he also removed his Instagram page.
  • - 13
flag brappjuice (Mar 14, 2019 at 6:30) (Below Threshold)
 You're surprised? PA was one of the most biased reviewers I've ever come across. He has a narrow idea of what makes a great bike, and he hated mainline brands. Almost every review of a main brand was negative while small brands always were given favorable marks. He had a mission and it was obvious. Personally- if Pinkbike decided to part ways with him, I applaud it. I hope he learns a lesson in humility and open-mindedness.
  • + 2
 @Konyp:
The link on the article is out of date I think, try
www.instagram.com/astonmtb
  • + 7
 Was it because he put EXO tyres on Enve rims and then ran them on a DH 29er?
  • + 1
 @mizzter-b: well spotted. I was wondering the same..
  • + 15
 If he has left, it is a sad day for PB. He was my favorite reviewer, covering everything about a bike very succinctly. His reviews were short and sweet. Many other reviews, I skip the setup or gemetry sections because they are just too damn long. He is the world's top expert on 29" DH bikes. No one has ridden as many as he had. Reportedly, he is as fast on a DH track as some pros, so you know he is taking these bikes to the limit. Perhaps Bike can hire him and finally start reviewing DH bikes now!
  • + 0
 @sewer-rat: @sewer-rat: Hating on products doesn't make you a great reviewer. Clearly, he had his fans...but even flat earthers have believers.
  • + 1
 @MarcusBrody: Narrowest minded reviewer I've ever seen- I have private messages from him that would shock you.
  • + 0
 @lance2012: Whaddya mean? Edit: @MarcusBrody @Mattgc Thanks, now I see that
  • + 3
 @brappjuice: Release full message threads so we can all agree.
  • + 2
 @brappjuice: no it doesn’t , but being concise, and true to what your beliefs / experience with a product whilst having a decent skill set certainly does!!

As for reviews of main brands getting trashed, where’s the evidence of this?? Could it be that certain products suited him more??
  • + 48
 @muyguapa @sewer-rat @mizzter-b @smithcreek @lance2012 We appreciate Paul's contributions and the many progressive ideas he championed in his time here. Our parting of the ways had absolutely nothing to do with his excellent ENVE review. My technical editorial team has the responsibility to give fair, independent, and unbiased reviews. There's no pulling punches when products don't work for us.

We wish Paul the best in whatever comes next, and he'll stay part of the PB extended family—I'm sure we'll cross paths lots in the future!
  • - 3
 @smithcreek: he was an editor, so if he released it and the sponsors went nuts and he got canned then that is pure shite by PB!!
  • + 13
 Every PA review .Reach is too short,chainstays are too short,seat angle is too slack,head angle is too steep.End.
  • + 2
 @brianpark Looks like you need a tall rider to take Paul's place?
  • + 4
 @mtbikeaddict: we've got a few new additions to the team lined up, but feel free to apply if you're interested, qualified, and think you'd be a good fit. jobs@pinkbike.com Smile
  • + 9
 @brianpark: Lol I probably could've phrased that better. That was also a genuine question; as a tall guy it's helpful to have a tall reviewer, and it makes sense that you already have people lined up, but hey, if you insist, I'm tall, I love riding bikes, and I'm better than the Friday Fails, so why not? Big Grin
  • + 13
 @brianpark, @mtbikeaddict: I want the opposite. I'd like a shorter reviewer LOL. Every review is for L and XL bikes. Need someone who also rides S-M sized bikes.
  • + 3
 @Ryan2949: fair. We have several folks in the 5'7-5'10 range, but most of the testers prefer a reach starting around 440mm.
  • - 4
flag mgolder (Mar 14, 2019 at 11:56) (Below Threshold)
 @brappjuice: Christ you are doing a lot of talking and absolutely none of it is meaningful content.

Ooooooh my opinions were didfferent to his so he is biased.......Great argument.
  • + 4
 @brappjuice: Hopes guy with different opinions than "learns a lesson in humility and open-mindedness". Mmmm, delicious irony.
  • + 1
 @eblackwell: If you had the convos with him I've had you'd get it.
  • + 2
 @brappjuice: Fair enough. Also, very mature response to my douchey sarcasm, aha!
  • + 1
 @eblackwell: virtual high five!
  • + 7
 Sad to see him go. Paul was my favorite reviewer too. I hope he finds a new place to do the same thing so that we can read the quality stuff over there. I do think that DH and XC are racing disciplines and as such require reviewers who have ridden at UCI WC level. Paul has for DH and it shows in his reviews. I think XC bike reviews deserve the same. So instead of reviewing them against the light of "downduro" or whatever it is called these days, review them for the kind of use the manufacturers designed them for. Paul did that for DH bikes and E-bikes (or just DH bikes for the North American audience). I'm curious to see who will fill that spot.
  • - 3
 @brianpark: perhaps you could then explain why you parted ways with him? I assume someone at PB read the ENVE article before it got posted......
  • + 0
 @mightyted: isn't there some kind of editor in chief that has the final say on what gets published?
  • + 1
 @vinay: David Arthur has a strong XC pedigree, and will be doing more XC reviews for us this year. We rarely test pure race XC bikes, but with an olympic year on the horizon it's likely we'll see more of them coming out.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: Thanks, cool to hear. I personally am not in any kind of racing so it wouldn't be for me in particular. I just think it is fair towards the product managers to test a product for the purpose it has been designed for. So in case of a race-specific bike, push it the way a true top level racer (in that discipline) would. Of course I see the point of taming it down a little (in case of an XC bike, lower the saddle, platform pedals, shorter stem, riser bar etc) just to see if it can be fun for us non-racers. But it also deserves to be tested in "race mode" by a top level (like, world cup level) racer. Obviously for most of us that would be merely to develop insight in what racers would look for and appreciate in a race bike, more so than actually decide whether we'd buy the bike. But it helps broaden our perspective and it makes for a good read.

Looking forwards to what you have in stock for us and keep up the good work!
  • + 2
 Maybe the vast majority of people who actually purchase bikes at or near MSRP don’t consider themselves to be World Cup level racers like Paul seems to?
  • + 1
 @lccomz: obviously, but the mtn bike consumer has an overly optimistic view of their speed and how hard they are on their bikes, so they want race worthy builds. Thats why the only builds in stock on YT's site are the low end ones!
  • + 0
 @Rubberelli: Interesting. Gosh, I can’t say I’ve ever looked at YT’s website, much less checked availability.
  • + 30
 She was living in a single room with three other individuals. One of them was a male and the other two, well the other teo were females. God only knows what they were up to. And further more Susan, I wouldnt be the least bit suprised to learn that all four of them eventually rode 29 inch downhill bikes. TWEENERS!
  • + 24
 I ride two wheels in the morning, I ride two wheels at night. I ride two wheels in the afternoon, it makes me feel alright. I ride two wheels in time of peace, and two in time of war. I ride two wheels before I ride two wheels, and then I ride two more.
  • + 9
 What a Sublime comment sir.
  • + 1
 Quite excellent!
  • + 7
 29 ounces to freedom?
  • + 1
 @teamcliff: The Toyes
  • + 2
 @DirtbagMatt: 29 inches to podium.
  • + 23
 Bike looks great, good job overall on this 29 DH review series. Would be nice to see these easily in one place. Could Pinkbike do some kind of a searchable reviews database? Filters for wheel size, travel, year etc.
  • + 2
 Aren't you describing Google? ????
  • + 14
 Ice tech pad rattle issues solved by bending the butterfly springs further out to load the pads more against the caliper
  • + 7
 Pull it with butterfly springs.
  • + 7
 « Agile and responsive »... I think PB has been riding too many 29er lately to say that. They should go back to 26in hardtail short reach, short chainstay once and a while, to zero on the « agile and responsive ».
  • + 9
 Keep in mind that this is part of a series of 29" DH bike reviews, so pretty much everything said refers to that class of bikes.
  • + 4
 They should ride a 16” wheeled rigid kids bike to see what agility really is. That will fix this glaring issue.
  • + 9
 How can the reviewer not mention this superb DH bike comes fitted with trail (EXO) tires?
  • + 7
 If yo having bike problems I feel bad for ya son, I got 29 problems but my Myst Saint one
  • + 8
 That MRP chainguide looks a like a gamut...
  • + 2
 I think MRP predates Gamut by a fair bit.
  • + 1
 Also, there's only so much you can do to make a chain device look unique. Essentially there's about 3 different types, now pick which brand you like...
  • + 0
 @IllestT: actually the gamut guide is superior and only matched by the shimano guide... it uses a single O-ring instead of a roller. Near 0 drag, works 0-24 through everything and if it wears you can rotate the O ring to restore new surface. The chain is impossible to come of at both ends. Simple yet awesome product.
  • + 9
 EXO tires?
  • + 1
 Woah, you're right...
  • + 2
 It seems like loads of brands are reluctant to produce 29er full-on DH sidewall tyres. Most brands list them, but you try getting your hands on them - very difficult.
I wonder if they simply weigh more than most people will suffer. Approaching 1500g per tyre?
  • + 1
 @IllestT: Maxxis Assguy DH - about 1400g.
  • + 1
 I ride the Myst since 1 1/2 years now. Awesome Machine! Don´t mind about ´Break Jack`because you´ll think about your breaks a lot less on this bike. If you get up on speed on proper DH Tracks it´s incredible how much confidence you will get. It´s the wrong bike for this flat rollercoasters or this Ènduro-Downhill-Whatever-Trails´ they build nowadays. It´s a Downhill Bike, it want´s it fast and rough. Wink
  • + 1
 The only reviewer that get´s how geometry works and is not scared to experiment without prejudice is gone now. I wonder where he is going to land but I´m sure I will read that mag more and PB less. Thanks for great and honest reviews Paul and good luck!
  • + 1
 Paul brought lots of progressive ideas to the table, but I promise you we aren't done experimenting and pushing the boundaries. Stay tuned. Smile
  • + 4
 Really hope 29 Dh floods the market so I can get my next normal bike for cheap
  • + 0
 I don`t know if Saracen solved their bushing problems. Did they replace them by bearings? I say that because having a play in your suspensions with new bushings after 15 minutes of ride is kind of irritating.
  • + 5
 I ride my Myst without any complaints since 1 1/2 years. Completely other story with my Summum before.
  • + 7
 The Myst has always been a full set of cartridge bearings. I think it's the Areil that uses bushes
  • + 2
 @IllestT: You`re right: that`s a problem seen on the Ariel. A friend of mine has got one and these bushing issues are a nightmare
  • + 1
 @Franzzz: Only on 2016 and older Ariels - the last of the old ones in 2017 had more bearings and the new shape one runs on all bearings - same sizes as the Myst.
  • + 2
 Full Gamut chainguide! None of that cracker jack stuff you teenagers run nowadays.
  • - 2
 Why has pinkbike been reviewing so many 29er DH bikes. A few years ago we where lucky to see just a few DH bikes reviewed but now the majority of bikes reviewed this year have been DH bikes, almost exclusively 29ers. Is this as a result of the insurgence of the 29er DH bike?
  • + 7
 Not sure if serious...
  • + 0
 It's as if companies, some of whom might support PB want to sell more bikes.
  • + 8
 I'll assume you are serious in your question. The DH 29 is a new class of bike, so expect much coverage of it. DH bikes sell fewer units than enduro or trail bikes, so most companies that put out one leave it mostly the same year after year, with small changes. The new wheel size requires entirely new designs.
  • + 1
 Good God! Is no one going to post that the adjustable length chainstay is simply brilliant?!

Well, it is.
  • + 1
 It is definitely a gorgeous bike!! :O
  • + 1
 And cue the single pivot comeback. It for sure has some benefits.
  • + 2
 Only 16.2 kg?? Wow
  • + 1
 Does the rear brake line run internally too? Looks like it does.
  • + 1
 ISCG05 REKT
  • - 1
 A 29er bike made for midgets,...
  • - 1
 It's like an empathetic spider monkey.
  • - 1
 Is this the red myst model from kick ass?
  • - 1
 Carbon Gambler.
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