First Look: 2014 Saracen Ariel 152

Ladies and gents – great days indeed as we welcome Mr Pete Scullion back to Wideopenmag as an official member of our team. Pete will be riding, racing and writing for us in 2014 as our new staff-writer. 

Here’s his first story of 2014 and the bike which he’ll be long term testing … Take it away Pete!

The 2014 Saracen Ariel 152

What we have here is the all-new Saracen Ariel 152. The Madison-owned brand have come a long way in the last few years and the Ariel 152, their top spec enduro bike, is leading the charge.

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First Look

From the very first look, this bike seems like quite the machine. Geometry-wise, this bike offers everything you’d want from a bike that’s as good on the ups as it is on the downs. Angles and the all-important top and seat tube lengths aren’t worlds apart from the ever-popular Five. A 66.5 degree head angle, combined with a 73 degree seat angle mean that the front is slack enough for a proper charge down the contours but not one that is so daft the front will lift on the climbs. That combined with a sensible seat angle that will keep your weight centered when galloping in the saddle, and one that will move you onto the front for the climbs. Top tubes are roomy for the given size, and a 60mm stem offers plenty of cockpit space when the going gets tough. A reasonably long, tapered, CNC’d headtube means that flex isn’t going to be a major issue up front. Tidy.

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Under the bonnet

The frame is a pairing of Saracen’s own custom double-butted front triangle in a rather fetching raw aluminium, paired to a carbon fibre swingarm. In the middle, the Tuned Ride Link offers a reassuringly progressive action that ramps up nicely the deeper into the travel you delve. Speaking of which, the actual damping duties are handled by Fox’s new Float X CTD Kashima shock. All the dials you could ever wish for, plus an extra piggy back to keep the shock performing on long descents. 30mm sealed cartidge bearings keep the main pivots smooth and wobble free. Norglide bushings take care of the linkage duties. All solid stuff.

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The build

Spec-wise, there’s few bikes that you could race hard straight out of the box. I’ve already mentioned the rear damper, and paired to this out front is Fox’s Float 34 CTD. 150mm travel offered by both, and will feel a little more attached to the 27.5” wheels. Front is a 15mm affair, with a solid 142 x 12mm rear. There really is nothing on this bike that is unbranded, that you would need to change. Tranmission and brakes are handled solely by Shimano’s solid, dependable Zee groupset with a Gamut P20 keeping the chain on the front cog. The smooth steering is handled by an FSA Orbit No.57. Simple, yet effective. The wheelset, bar, stem, saddle are all Kore units. The hubs are of note, looking similar to Hope’s but with added seals, so should take some beating. The brakes are the only non-Zee Shimano parts, and some might be put off by Deore, but the first outing shows ferocious power even on pads that have yet to be bedded in. The bars are 740mm wide, so unless you like riding like a gorilla, then they’re ready to go. A 60mm stem is also a sensible length, and will provide swift steering. The Rockshox Reverb might be king of the droppers, but the KS LEV Integra is certainly looking to usurp the throne. Internal cable routing for the dropper is a nice touch, meaning no baggy cables. The cable also means no expensive faff if the dropper stops working. Maxxis Ardents might not be the best all-rounder tyres but are solid units if the weather’s good or there’s plenty of hardpack around.

The added extras

Saracen have also ticked the boxes when thinking about this bike. A small cardboard box that comes with the bike carries the mandatory pedals and reflectors, but it’s what is contained beneath these that makes the difference. Along with the cable and outer for the dropper, comes a spare gear hanger. Without splitting the last bag all over myself, it was clear to see chainring bolts and a heap of other handy spares that you’d normally have to scrounge from a bike shop or consult the dusty spares box for.

Watch this space!

At £3,299, this bike isn’t cheap, but brilliant value it certainly is. The folks at Saracen clearly have their ear to the ground when they were designing this bike and have certainly hit the mark. I’m certainly looking forward to getting some serious miles on this beast over the coming months.

 Here’s the vital statistics:

ST Seat Tube Length (mm) 381 431.8 482.6 533.4
TT Horizontal Toptube Length (mm) 584 609 634 662
HT Headtube Length (mm) 115 115 115 125
HA Head Angle 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5°
SA Seat Angle 73° 73° 73° 73°
CS Chanstay Length (mm) 430 430 430 430
BB BB Drop (mm) 14 14 14 14
WB Wheelbase Length (mm) 1134 1159 1184 1213
Reach (mm) 400 425 450 475
Stack (mm) 603 603 603 612


Editors note: Pete’s recently been involved in a car crash but is fortunately ok, the chops saved his beautiful face. Heal fast dude!‎ for more on the Ariel.