First Look Review : Pete’s Saracen Ariel 60 Elite.

Top of the mid-travel offering in the extensive Saracen Ariel range, the Ariel 60 Elite is designed for some hard charging without breaking the bank.

Pete’s days with Wideopenmag started with testing a Saracen Ariel, so we may well have come full circle. We look to find out how the has Ariel evolved since 2014.

Photos by Pete Scullion.

Key features:

  • Fox 38 Factory 160mm fork
  • Fox DHX2 Factory shock
  • Shimano XT 12-speed drive
  • Shimano XT 4-piston brakes
  • DT Swiss EX511 rims on KT hubs
  • KS Lev Integra dropper
  • £4,399.99 RRP
  • Saracen.co.uk

The Saracen Ariel 60 Elite has gone almost unchanged since 2021, but from what we can see, that’s no bad thing. Beyond some minor spec changes and the obligatory price increase, although not by much, that comes with being a human in the current day and age, the bike remains as we know it.

A custom butted 6013 frame runs the TRL (Tuned Ride Link) suspension which is a linkage driven single pivot, offering 160mm travel via a 65mm stroke shock. The two smaller sizes on offer come as Mullets with the larger two as 29ers. Links are available to run the smaller sizes with two big wheels but these aren’t supplied with the bikes.

There’s not much to grumble at when it comes to spec for the price either. Saracen went consumer direct in 2021 and this top tier Ariel 60 comes in at £4,399.99. For that you get the alloy frame mentioned above, damping is handled by Fox Factory units in the form of a 38 out front and a DHX2 coil out back. Shifting and brakes is all Shimano’s venerable XT kit, DT Swiss rims are laced to KT hubs, tyres are Maxxis Minion DHR IIs in EXO flavour and you get a KS Lev dropper and Raceface carbon bar and stem.

Geometry

The Saracen Ariel 60 is available in SM, MD, LG and XL.

Reach on the MD is 480mm with a seat tube of 410mm. Head angle is 64.6 degrees with a seat tube angle of 76.5 degrees. Chainstays are 440mm with a wheelbase of 1247mm.

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Opening moves

With all the adjusters on the Ariel 60 Elite’s suspension, I essentially set sag and wound most of the dials to fully open, then turned them a few clicks back in to suit. The 400lb spring on the DHX2 being pretty much bang on the money sag wise which was pretty handy too. Wind the levers in, check saddle height which was spot on from the box and off we went.

I’m a big fan of higher specced alloy bikes, and the Ariel 60 Elite definitely falls into that category. Saracen have clearly done their homework with the tubeset on this bike as it is no heavyweight. On the climbs, the fast rubber and stable pedaling platform does a solid job of putting your energy into the go forward despite a relatively slack seat tube angle putting you behind the bottom bracket when seated.

With a steady run to heat cycle the pads out of the way, the Ariel 60 wanted more than I felt like I could give it as the speed steadily increased from a pretty hot pace for a first proper lap. Two things became apparent. The 780mm bars would need to have a haircut to work best for me, and that the EXO casing tyres wouldn’t be up to the task.

Whilst the bars are an easy enough fix, the tubed EXO casing tyres on a bike pitched as “the hardcore race bike of your dreams”, didn’t last all that long. Within a couple of runs, as the bike only wanted to be pushed harder, the rear started to squirm and not long after this, the rear flatted.

Despite the lack of wind in the rear wheel, the Ariel 60 Elite showed plenty of promise early on and some heftier rubber should only improve that, certainly in a descending context. With whatever rubber comes next set up tubeless I’m sure the speed will only keep going up. It is still somewhat surprising that somewhat miss-specced tyres are being fitted tubed in this day and age.

Plenty of promise from the get go though, the Saracen Ariel 60 Elite promises plenty and I’m sure there will be plenty more in the tank once I’m comfier on the bike, the bars are clipped and I can keep the wind in the wheels. Watch this space.

You can check out the Saracen Ariel 60 Elite over on their website here.


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