Saracen Ariel 142 test and photos by Jacob “Milky” Gibbins @jacobgibbins
When Milky’s much loved (hammered) trail bike was stolen he was inconsolable. That was until Saracen hooked him up with their third generation, 142mm Ariel and told him to give it a thrashing. Three months on, after riding all over the UK – here are his thoughts…
Some bikes just do their jobs quietly, others remind you why you are not racing the world cups, and then there are the ones which egg you on to push your limits and seem to be whispering in your ear “Ah go on! If you can do it, I can do it!”
The Ariel is the latter. It’s a 140mm trail bike on the surface, but with its slightly-more-aggressive-than-usual geometry and sturdy build kit it really is capable of much more than just the graded blues at your local trail centre.
I have ridden the bike for 3 months roughly, riding it 2 or 3 times a week on everything from all day rides out in the ass-end of nowhere, to downhill shuttle runs, to the after-work ride round the local woods. The Ariel has taken it all in its stride. I don’t really need to say it, but it isn’t a DH bike, nor is it an XC race bike. There are bikes out there that go up and down hills better, but few (in my experience) seem to do both as well in the same package.
Out of the box the Ariel is ready to ride but to suit my personal taste (I like to ride lots of jumps and throw the bike around), I cut the seat post down so I can slam the seat. From stock you can’t quite get it right down. I also swapped out the 60mm stem for a 50mm. Other than that, I’ve kept it factory and everything works beautifully.
The Ariel sports Fox suspension front and rear with a 32 Float Evo up front and a Float-A CTD out back. The CTD on the rear shock offers three settings: ‘climb’, ‘trail’ and ‘descend’ and transforms the bike from almost hardtail firm to downhill-ready in a second. Brakes and finishing kit are from Shimano and work well every time. Picking at the details it would be nice to get a clutch rear mech to stop the chain occasionally bouncing off when it gets rough. Tyres can make or break a bike and the Schwalbe Nobby Nics have done a fine job on all surfaces – though conditions have generally been pretty dry and summery since the Ariel arrived. I’m going to experiment with some bigger, beefier tyres as I spend some more time on the bike.
For £2649 it feels like you get a lot of bike for your money from Saracen. You’ve got Fox suspension, good Shimano brakes, SLX drive train, solid wheels, Schwalbe tyres, Kore finishing kit and – of course- the quality name of Saracen.
I’d totally recommend the Ariel. It goes up, it goes down and it’s one of the most fun all-round bikes I’ve ridden.