The not-so-minor details
Scott Scale 720 Plus
A fun loving hardtail.
SO MUCH TRACTION.
Needs tubeless tyres and a dropper post badly.
Not amazing value.
Scrolling through the healthy catalogue of Scott bikes, it’s clear that they are a impressively solid brand across all the wonderful categories of bikes. Keep scanning the pages and you’ll come across this cheeky ‘plus hardtail’ grinning back at you, the class clown in a room full of high performance. This guy can’t be taken seriously, it’s not here to set fast times it’s just here for the fun times.
We’ve had a ball riding this thing, one of the few bikes that actually makes you laugh out loud as you blast about the trails with a grin on your face, so forgive us is we repeat ourselves here, we may be using the word ‘fun’ quite a bit.
In a nutshell it’s just a 27.5″ wheel bike with bigger tyres, like this one with a voluminous 2.8″ of width. It’s not a fat bike as such, not even close, they handle more like regular bikes in our experience. The best plus bikes are a result of finding the sweet spot between all the wheel size factors like diameter, width, volume and tread and combining them into a great handling frame.
Scott are well and truly at the forefront of the new plus thing, we’ve learnt that one already.
The outer diameter of the whole wheel is close to that of a 29er, but the actual rim diameter is a regular 27.5″. So the rolling benefits of the large diameter is apparent, but you still get a lively and agile feeling bike with loads of cushion and a tyre that conforms to the trail surface like nothing else. They aren’t here to win races, they are just a seriously good option for anyone who wants to enjoy riding trails, especially if they are loose and rocky.
The tyres are best run at low pressure, with a good tubeless setup we were running around 13-15 psi in the tyres, that may sound low, but with the super-wide 40mm rims the tyre doesn’t squirm around like you’d expect with low pressure.
Our experiences with Plus bikes:
Plus bikes are not new to us at Flow, we reviewed the Scott Genius Plus and bigger travel Genius LT Plus and the Scale 710 Plus hardtail (not an Australian model) last year. We LOVED them, why? Read this – Scott Genius and Scale Plus review.
We’ve tested a couple Specialized 6 Fattie bikes too, the Fuse hardtail is a comparable option to this Scale, an extra $700 but we loved riding it. Specialized Fuse Expert 6 Fattie review.
And the Stumpjumper 6 Fattie was one of the most fun tests we’ve ever done. Review here: Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 6 Fattie review.
What’s with the alliteration here guys? Scott, Schwalbe, Syncros, Shimano, Suntour… Someone really likes the letter S.
Our first experience with the Suntour Raidon fork was pretty good, with 120mm of air sprung travel working with such a low pressure front tyre the fork felt more supple than it would be if fitted to a regular wheel bike. We found it best set up with less sag than usual to help it ride higher in the travel during descents, and never touched the remote lockout button. Their unique Q Loc quick release axle is a winner, fast and simple.
Syncros is Scott’s in house component brand, and it’s excellent kit. The rims may be 40mm wide, but they feel light and lively for their size. The saddle is a Flow favourite, and the cockpit is dialled. Just a set of lock-on grips would be handy when riding in the wet.
Shimano handle the brakes and drivetrain with stellar results. The brakes feel so light under the finger, the long levers do require you to slide them inboard on the handlebars for proper one-finger braking technique, but the power is ample for pulling up the big wheels at speed.
Drivetrain wise the double chainring and 10-speed cassette provide a wide range of gears so you can nail the steepest climbs, making the most out of the boundless quantity on traction available to you. We would have liked to see a Shadow + rear derailleur though, with the clutch mechanism it would stabilise the chain slap and also a conversion to a single ring drivetrain (everyone is doing it, a great upgrade) would require changing the rear derailleur too.
The Scale Plus comes in at $2299 which makes it one of those price points where you could go either way when choosing between a dual suspension or hardtail, so this hardtail has to be worth it. It’s all great kit, but for the dollars we do think it misses the mark slightly. Plus bikes need tubeless ready tyres to realise their full potential, and without a dropper post you’re just not able to let it fly. While we had zero issues or complaints with any of the parts during testing, we just hoped for a little more for the money.
The Scale 720 is a tidy looking bike, with the smooth welds and a svelte matte finish dripping in bold green and blue graphics. There’s internally routed cables, and a neat set of dropouts with the Shimano direct mounting for the rear derailleur.
There’s provisions for a dropper post and you can see how the engineers have been able to manage a short rear end despite having to fit such a big rear tyre in the frame, the chainstays and seat tube are very different in shape to any of the regular Scale frames.
We knew what we were in for with a plus hardtail, so it was off to the diciest trails for a good test. The Scale is simply fun, with so much traction you can ride like a complete idiot and it’s going to be ok.
Cruising along the flatter sections of trail with the whirring of the low pressure tyres requires patience, make the most of that time to relax and get ready for the fun bits. And when they came it was time to ride with reckless abandon, blasting through the rubble and mowing down the trails the Scale brought big smiles to our faces. We started riding hardtails, it’s where bikes began. They are grounding, engaging and just good fun.
The tyres grab ahold of the earth and don’t let go, it’s quite entertaining.
Sadly the Scale 720 is lacking in the only two areas that would make any bike that’s meant to be fun, really, really, really fun – tubeless tyres and a dropper post. With inner tubes in the tyres we couldn’t get the tyre pressure low enough for our liking, for fear of pinch flats, and couldn’t make the most of it. Schwalbe’s Performance range of tyres ride very well, but when converted to tubeless with sealant it’s not an ideal setup. We’d swap them out for a tubeless ready version for better air retention and protection if the bike were ours. And with a dropper post we would really be able to let it hang out there a lot more, so much more.
Where there is little traction you’ll find it, and when there is good traction you can lean it over until your elbows drag in the dirt.
Where the Scale 720 Plus shines.
– Corners. Think about it, the number one deal breaker in a corner is traction. So if you take your regular bike and multiply its traction by five times you have this.
– Climbing up anything. It’s about traction again, so put a 2.8″ tyre on the back and go return to that tricky ascent that usually has you beat. You’ll win.
– Control. Double your skills, you’ve got this! The Scale won’t hit rocks and ping back at you or glance off roots. And there’s a whole lot less risk of crashing too, yay!
– Comfort. for a hardtail it’s not that hard, the big cushions below you do wonders in conforming to the uneven surfaces making the ride quite comfortable.
Where it doesn’t.
– Buff trails. You wouldn’t take your hopped up Susuki Sierra to the race track, this thing will only slow you down if you don’t need it.
– Keeping up with your mates on long travel bikes. When the speeds get high and the impacts grow in ferocity you need to remain calm and keep a lid on it, there’s only so many hard hits you can take before you begin to bounce off line. Catch up to your mates on 150mm travel bikes in the turns or when they can’t get up a climb.
Scott are really putting their weight behind plus bikes, for great reason. When we ride them we can’t help but wonder if these bikes had been around a lot longer, that the majority of trail bikes and especially hardtails would have big tyres too. It’s a no-brainer, the control that these bikes have makes mountain biking more accessible, and opens up more possibilities for riders that may only have steep or slippery trails available to them.
Our time testing the Scale was fun, throw in a dropper post and tubeless tyres and we’d keep it.
The Scale 720 Plus is a great bike for the rider who simply wants to competently ride everything on the trail and have a good time doing it.