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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.