Saracen Aerial 14x 2012 Review

After seeing the new range of Saracen bikes at Madisons Ice Bike show earlier this year I was really impressed with some of the models displayed, as always usual low end stuff was there, similar to most of the major brands offerings but what particularly stood out were the full suspension Ariel, Myst and The DH bikes. Obviously most of us will be aware of the recent successes of the DH team in the world cup, bagging all but the Mens elite cat. At fort William (If I remember right).


Displayed as frame only, hanging in a gilded picture frame, lit with spotlights were the Aerial 14x and its bigger bro the 16x. Stealth black frames and glittering gold linkage looked great from the off, closer inspection reveals a tapered head tube, beefy asymmetric back end with 15mm bolt through, Fox RP23 kasima shock hanging from a simple dual rocker link the TRL linkage, similar I thought to the Santa Cruz APP platform which is a well proven design.

Firstly lets get something straight, Saracen bikes in the 90’s were very good indeed I remember the kili flyer as something I wanted so badly, possibly after a stumpy or pro flex! That was a long while ago and the sport has changed so much but after the Saracen brands unbelievable dive-bomb over the last 15 years I am glad to see them being back as a real bike manufacturer, never did I think I would buy one…but buy one I have! The stealthy Aerial 14x 19’’ frame only.


It arrived and I eagerly opened the box and was pleased to find it came complete with a tapered headset, seat clamp and both 9mm QR and 12mm bolt through dropouts, gold ones at that!


Built up with parts from my hardtail, it all went together easily. The supplied headset was a basic FSA lose ball which I changed for a Hope Tapered reducer headset, I have always found these to be totally reliable and with my standard 1’’8th Pike forks it works well.


Basic run through of spec is as follows: Single ring 34t with E13 LG1 guide, SLX cranks, XT cassette, XO mech and shifter, Hope hoops, 50mm straight line stem, low rise Syncros carbon bar, Formula RX brakes 180/160mm, KS 150mm dropper post and as mentioned my old faithful PIKE airs (which I really should update but still work so well) so I would call it a reasonably aggressive XC/AM140mm build, not the lightest at 32lbs but usable and reliable.

First ride as always in the car park! initial thoughts: I’m to big for a 19’’, bars to low, long and hard to manual, shock to soft. Back to the shop for adjustments. Bars raised and rolled back a touch which instantly felt better. I’m very tall at 6’6’’ and weigh around 14 stone I’m running just over 200 psi in rear shock which I’m finding works well for me, giving me a full range of travel with only the very occasional bottom out on the bigger stuff. Back to car park and I’m happier on it this time.


Off to the woods, a spot I have been riding for a long time, on many bikes. Whenever I get a demo bike from work, the last being a carbon Santa Cruz Nomad this Is where I go first. Steep and fast single-track with lots of switch backs and flowing off the brakes sections mixed in with some slow off camber root infested slippery fun. Long flat path following a river turns uphill with a lung busting series of diagonal climbs over the same kind of slippery terrain that is much more fun on the way down!

On the downhill part of my ride, I felt in control of the bike very quickly and found myself pushing it, really enjoying the fast flowing switchback section, being able to carry speed, ride on the back wheel and accelerate well, although still hard to manual or get the front end up when in the air, I would put that mostly down to it being a bit short in the top tube for my height. Small bump sensitivity in this situation is hard to measure but the roots and 4/5’’ rocks are dealt with comfortably, slackish head-angle makes it feel confident and fun. On the flat, with my dropped post mid way it felt balanced and easy to ride, I could see myself covering some enduro miles. Climbing I was surprised at the level of grip and pedal efficiency, with the pro pedal on its most aggressive setting I found myself climbing well, even on the loser sections, my particular gear setup defiantly holds me back when the going gets properly steep but at least the high ratio helps generate grip and keep speed up. After a couple of laps in a couple of hours I was back at the car, doing the old post ride look over and feeling pleased and surprised at how the bike had performed.


I have now owned the 14x for 2 months ridden it a fair bit and got myself used to the ride. It continues to amaze me how much these relatively short travel trail orientated bikes handle almost everything you could put a big bike through whilst still being fast on the sprints and easy to ride uphill or all day on.

If you are after this sort of machine, are into the stealth black look and with its limited size range. 2 models 17/19’’ I would say maximum height really 6’3’’ it’s a definite contender for your money. Saracen are back and you should reconsider how you feel about them!

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Halo BDS Round 1 – Combe Sydenham

Its not very often one of the nation downhill races makes its way down to the south west, so here at Koo-Bikes, we jumped on the opportunity to go and watch the best riders in the country in action. Injured team rider Max Robinson was on hand taking pictures and I managed to get a few clips of video to put together.

We went fully equipped for maximum track-side heckling, air-horns, cow bells, old bike forks and bars, and of course our voices. The weather was unexpectedly nice, making for great spectating. The crowds gathered, mainly chilling in the sunny field section, with a great view of the fast berms and jumps.

We spent most of our time here being as loud as possible, especially when people we knew flew past! Fans from the southwest in general were out in force, with a large group from our good friends at Gawton Gravity Hub showcasing their SW premiere downhill venue at their stand.

Practise and seeding runs went past, all running smoothly other than a couple of red flags. By the time the finals came around, the track side was packed with fans, and when the elites came down everyone was going crazy! It was great to see the fastest riders in the world right in front of us on a track we all knew. Marc Beaumont took the win, followed by Josh Bryceland and Brendan Fairclough.

All in all a great day, and a brilliant first round to the national series. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves and were left wanting more…

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Koo-Bikes in partnership with Gawton Gravity Hub!

Koo bikes are proud to announce we are now the official sponsor of Gawton Gravity Hub!

So who are Gawton Gravity Hub, and what does this mean?

Gawton Gravity Hub is part of an amazing mountain biking facility located in the South West of England, near Tavistock, Devon. The Tamar Valley based trails have received a lot of attention in the relatively short period it has been running, and it has already been suggested that it boast some of the best trails in the country!

There are two sites run by the club, and are focused towards downhill mountain bikers, offering a range of tracks graded from Red all the way up to Double Black. You only need to see the videos and magazine articles of the world’s best riders tearing it up, to fully appreciate the quality of tracks on offer. The club is non-profit, which means any money is put straight back into the site, improving tracks and facilities further.

Gee Atherton on the Dirt/Gawton 1:04 from Jacob Gibbins on Vimeo.

Gawton Gravity Hub currently has a broad range of tracks spread across its two sites, but are eagerly awaiting the completion of one new track in particular. This track is set to be one of the most popular tracks, appealing to a wider user ability range, and being generally very fun to ride. Many people have helped build the track, including several of the staff from Koo-Bikes – we cannot wait to test ride the parts we have had input on!

This year will also see the grand opening of a hut located at the top of the tracks at Gawton. This will offer facilities such as somewhere to get out of the elements, and have a bite to eat and a hot drink, toilets, bike wash, and buy any essentials you might need. This, coupled with a brand new uplift service on its way, and the new track, things are set to be big in the future…

Being offered a chance to get involved with the Gawton Gravity Hub is a great opportunity for us here at Koo-Bikes. We have always been very keen to support local events and organisations, but this long term involvement is a great chance to give something back to the local riding community. Being only a short distance away in Plymouth, we can really get involved as a sponsor, attending events and seeing whats going on first hand. We see the partnership very much as a two way relationship, and want to help Gawton Gravity Hub in every way we can. We feel everyone can benefit, resulting in Koo-Bikes getting their name out there, but more importantly see the club grow into its full potential. We see a bright future ahead, and with the recent developments, it is certainly looking that way, and we are excited to get things going…!

What does this sponsorship mean? Well, essentially Koo-Bikes and Gawton Gravity Hub will be building up a strong partnership, helping each other grow faster and becoming further established in the cycling industry. And of course this means you guys get some of the benefits. Keep your eyes peeled for exclusives Koo-Bikes offers, and special events only available to Gawton Gravity Hub club members.

We will be keeping you all up to date with associated events, and informing you of any related promotions with Gawton Gravity Hub. Make sure you check out their awesome website with all the information on , including how you become a member, information on races, and any other developments for the future… and remember, to ride here, you do need to be a member.

Keep checking back for more updates and news, and make sure you join their new facebook page!

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Wednesday Weights!

Here is your next installment of Wednesday Weights, where all you have to do is guess the weight of the product we weigh! The closest guess wins a prize. This week, another legendary Koo-bikes T-shirt will be won by one lucky person! The competition will close on Friday and we will reveal the winner and actual weight. Guesses should be to the closest 0.01grams.

Please post all answers on our Facebook page, where this competition will be posted.

This week you have to guess the weight of a Basil Wicker Dog basket and optional cage, containing a TSG Nipper Mini Helmet and box…. good luck!



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Core Bike show: Shiny Road Bits

Following on from Koo-Bikes visit to the Core Bike Show , this week we have got lots of random shiny road bits… Keep checking back for more….!

New Fast Forward Wheels

New prototype carbon wheel from Fast Forward which the company is hoping to launch later in the year. Currently in tubular tyre form they weigh in at a svelte 1000 grams for the pair. The concept was to produce a lightweight aerodynamic carbon wheel with replaceable spokes. The spokes have aluminium threads at either end so that they can be screwed into to place, so if you break one in an accident you don’t have to scrap the wheel! The pro team Vacansoleil are currently testing them. The price is likely to be £3000 for the pair.


Cipollini RB1000

We never thought we’d describe former Italian pro sprint star Mario Cipollini as understated but we think that’s a fair description for this super stiff looking machine; the price is certainly not understated at £4400 for the frame and fork but you do get the headset and seatpost clamp with that!

Ritchey P29er

Many of the older mountain bikers will remember the classic Ritchey P21 etc frames from mtb pioneer Tom Ritchey; this is the company’s eagerly awaited venture into the world of the 29er. This frame brings the model right up-to-date with a classic 29er format but harking back to the old frames with its use of Ritchey Logic II steel tubing.


Avanti Chrono

Avanti is a big bike brand in the southern hemisphere and the company was displaying this wind slicing Chrono TT machine.



Cinelli Handlebars

Massive bling factor with these Cinelli Ram bars.



De Rosa

i-Ride were displaying the brand new De Rosa Protos frameset built-up with Campagnolo’s latest Campagnolo Record EPS electric groupset and Fulcrum Racing Speed XLR wheelset – very stealth. The frame weighs in at just 800g and looks very stealth – cost for the whole bike – around £13,000.




If you’re looking for a for a bike that’s a little different from your everyone else’s in the amateur Peloton how about the Merckx range which begs to be ridden hard and fast from the home of the toughest classic’s riders.


Bont Chrono Shoe

The men in blazers at the UCI decided to ban these Bont Chrono TT shoes – “not approved as technical innovations under article 1.3.004.”….. yawn.



And here are a few other random bits that we thought stood out at the show…


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