The not-so-minor details
Scott Spark 700
Sheppard Cycles Australia
Scott have taken the big, bold step forward and for 2014 we will see no more 26″ bikes in the Scott Scale, Spark and Genius ranges. More interestingly is that Scott are now offering a choice of 29″ and 27.5″ wheel sizes with the Spark (120mm travel dual suspension) and Scale (hardtail) with 26” bikes becoming a rarity. Is it a good thing?
On a two-hour head spinning, lung-burning ride with Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel, Flow was having an absolute blast aboard the Scale 700, with 27.5″ wheels and the biggest surprise for us – a FOX rear shock. The bike we rode was about as premium as it gets, with Syncros carbon wheels, XTR brakes, XX1 drivetrain and Schwalbe tyres.
Retaining everything of what makes the Spark an amazing bike for marathon races, cross country rides and speedy trail hooning, Scott have stepped it up by moving from DT Swiss to FOX for 2014 across their entire range. This was not only a massive surprise to us, everyone attending the launch was really quite blown away by the decision to shift away from the Swiss suspension brand that has been so very close with Scott for many years. FOX have been developing suspension damping systems for much longer than DT Swiss and are moving faster each year with developing industry leading rear shocks. Proprietary suspension is a concern to some consumers, but the FOX Nude shock uses standard parts, and all the serviceable items of the shock are identical to all FOX rear shocks.
Scott’s well known and well loved travel/geometry adjustment system – Twinloc is integrated nicely into the new FOX Nude cTCd shocks, with the three primary modes staying the same as in previous models. But with a spring curve, sensitivity and balanced feel far above what was capable with the DT Swiss Nude shocks of the past. Choose between open mode, traction mode and locked out.
Why would they choose 27.5″ wheel sizes then? Well, it comes down to height of the rider, and style of the rider also. Scott can make a lighter and stiffer bike in the smaller wheels, with less construction restraint challenges that come along with the 29ers. The wheels are also lighter, of course in the smaller diameter, so the bikes acceleration properties are simply outstanding with 27.5”. 29” is still the best option for many riders, with the bigger wheel giving great traction and stability on the more open trails, whilst the 27.5” will appeal to shorter riders or those who play with the tighter, twistier trails a little more.
Our time aboard the bike was a real pleasure. Of course a bike so light is an advantage, but the low weight didn’t come with any negative traits, at all. The balanced suspension feel is superb, and when the trails became unpredictable and rough, we held our confidence high and pushed the limits without any problem. Hitting the Twinloc lever constantly, we climbed with the upmost efficiency and would be able to quickly engage the mode to suit the terrain without any effort; the thumb actuation of the lever is so easy.
Both the 27.5” and 29” Sparks will be available in Australia, we feel that the option may confuse some people, but it really makes sense and can’t wait to get them on home soil for a complete review soon!