Aussie Video: Fry and Flint, Enduro Champs at Blue Derby


Row Fry is a legend of the sport here in Australia, though you’d most likely associate her name with XC racing, rather than ripping it in Enduro on a bike like the Scott Genius. She’s former National XC Champion and marathon racing star, and it’s only recently that she turned her hand to Enduro (read our interview with Row Fry here) and has quickly risen to the top.

Isabella Flint is a young pinner on the ascension – at just 15 her performance at the Enduro National Champs would have placed her fourth in Elite Women. She has the EWS in her sights and will be one to watch closely.

We caught up with Row and Izzy at Blue Derby, just a hour or so from their hometown of Launceston, for an arvo of ripping the trails. Enjoy!

Learn more about the 2018 Scott Genius range.

And if you want to read more about the bikes they’re riding, make sure you check out our Genius First Ride Impressions here, or our First Bite pieces on the Genius 920 and Contessa 720.

Blue Derby on the 2018 Scott Genius

 

 

 

First Impressions: Scott Genius 920

The 2018 Genius looks a lot cleaner than in years past.

What are we looking at here?

It’s a 150mm-travel 29er, with the trail bike category in its sights. Although this bike recently won the Enduro National Champs under Rowena Fry and Izzy Flint (read about it here), we would shy away from positioning it as an Enduro machine. It casts a broader net. A 150mm 29er might sound like a big bike, but it doesn’t look or feel like a handful. It’s lightweight, and the proportions are easily managed.

You can read a lot more about the new frame design here, in our 2018 Genius launch piece.

The thumb gym – Twin Loc levers and the dropper, all in one clamp which is incorporated into the grip lock ring.
The rear shock is custom item from FOX – when you hit the Twin Loc lever, the shock’s air volume changes, reducing the shock stroke and changing the spring rate.

Sticking to their guns

Scott have been beating the drum of their Twin Loc system for a long time now. Ask anyone who’s owned a Scott and they’ll tell you the same story: they can’t imagine riding without Twin Loc. It does work bloody well once you train your thumb (Gameboy users will be fine), allowing you to alter the suspension travel and damping on the fly.

Yes, there are a lot of cables up front, but with some care you can keep it reasonably neat.

The downside is that the handlebar has cables hanging from it like a Hanoi telephone exchange. At least Scott now supply the bike with some coiled plastic wrap to help contain the tangle a bit; it’s kind of like they’re admitting, “hey, we made a mess, but here’s a wettex to clean it up.”

Whatever your thoughts on the aesthetics, the system is simple to use, and we really like the way the Twin Loc and dropper post lever are all integrated into one clamp.

No mucking about here – chunky rubber on wide rims, for stable tyre performance.

Other wheel size options?

Yes, you can get this bike (or one fairly equivalent) with 27.5 wheels shod with 2.8″ rubber. Even this 29er version comes with good sized tyres, 2.6 / 2.4″ Schwalbe Nobby Nics mounted to 30mm wide Syncros rims. It’s a solid pair of shoes, meant for real riding. Hallelujah – nothing holds a bike back quite like feeble wheels and tyres.

How neat is this? The Syncros fender not only keeps mud off you, but it also covers up the holes in the back of fork arch, so mud can’t collect there either.
The 34 Performance fork has the basic Grip damper. A question mark here.

First ride impressions?

At the time of writing, we’ve only had one outing on the Genius, but it felt really promising. We’ll definitely be paying close attention to the setup of the FOX 34 fork, which only has the base model Grip damper – our inkling is that we’ll need to add some volume spacers to get the support we want, but time will tell. We’ll be bringing you a full video review of the Genius 920 soon.

SRAM GX Eagle out back, you’ll hear no complaints from us!
A bit of extra security, with a chain guide factory fitted.

First Impressions: Scott Contessa Genius 720

Off to a good start!

The Genius platform just underwent a huge redesign for 2018 (read all about it here in our Genius Launch piece), bringing its frame design into line with refreshed Spark. The 2018 Genius is off to a good start in Australia – Rowena Fry just claimed the Enduro National Champs on a Genius (interview here), and her young protege Isabella Flint took out the junior women’s on a Contessa Genius too.

150mm travel up front, with a FOX 34.
A SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, with a 30-tooth ring, gives you climbing gears aplenty.

More aggressive, but still very much an all-rounder

The geometry of this latest version is slacker than its predecessor (you can adjust the head angle from 65 – 65.6 degrees), but the bike hasn’t ventured into full on Enduro territory,  it has stayed true to its adaptable roots, which make it such a exceptional all-rounder. It runs 150mm travel at both ends, and the suspension is adjustable on-the-fly with the Twin Loc system. Hitting the lever shortens the rear travel to 100mm for climbing, and firms the fork damping, or you can lock both ends out completely.

How good do those gum wall tyres look?

What makes this a women’s bike?

So what makes this bike women’s specific? Just the paint job, a women’s saddle and a ‘Contessa Custom Tune’ rear shock, as far as we can tell. The geometry is identical to the men’s version, but you don’t get wheel size options – the men’s Genius comes in both 27.5 or 29er, but the Contessa is 27.5 only, rolling on high-volume 2.8″ Maxxis rubber. In all though, there’s not a lot of difference between this bike and the men’s version.

The Twin Loc system is neatly integrated – you can barely see where the cable meets the rest shock.

By way of comparison, we’re also going to be reviewing the men’s version of this bike, but in a 29er format. Our experiences with the Genius go way back over a decade now, so we’re itching to experience the improvements of this new evolution.

The left hand side of the bar is a busy place, with the Twin Loc lever and seat post dropper remote.

Check out our reviews of the earlier versions of the Genius below too

Tested: Scott Genius 700 Plus Tuned

Tested: Scott Genius 710 Plus

Tested: Scott Genius 710

Tested: Scott Genius LT 700 Tuned


 

2018 Scott Genius – First Ride

Following on from the drastic changes to the featherweight Scott Spark last year, it was no surprise to see the new Genius has adopted many of the design and construction methods into the longer travel platform to achieve a ridiculously low frame weight of 2249g with shock and hardware. In true Scott fashion, the new frame is leading the 150mm travel trail bike category on the scales; we’re very impressed.

Scott’s new recruit, one of downhill racing most experienced, Andrew Neethling holding the medium size Genius frame we weighed at 2180g. Yes, that’s ridiculously light.
2018 Genius 900 Tuned. Photo – Markus Greber.


So, in a carbon nutshell what is new?

One frame, two wheel sizes, and for many reasons.

The new Genius has been designed to accept 27.5” and 29” using one frame, changing wheel diameters will only requiring a flipping of the geometry chip on the upper shock mount to change bottom bracket height. Scott are confident that without the need to change parts like the headset and forks, the bike can ride in a manner that they are happy with. This means less models to manufacture, and in the end the pricing will reflect at dealer level, that is always a plus (ha, get it…).

Choose your size, 27.5″ and 29er.

The names remain the same, any Genius models in the 700 range use 27.5″ wheels with 2.7″ tyres, and the Genius 900  models use 29″ wheels with 2.6″ tyres.

Brendan Fairclough was frothing to get his new Genius built and hit the trails. 27.5″ wheels for his Genius, always.

Don’t call a Genius a ‘plus’ no more.

Well, sort of, plus it is still there, but in an effort to simplify the enormous Scott range there will be with fewer models in the catalogue. All the 27.5” Genius bikes will have 2.8” tyres (plus, pretty much) and not called ‘plus’ bikes as such. We’d be happy if the rest of the industry followed suit on this move, tyres are tyres, bigger tyres are bigger tyres, that should do it.

The new Maxxis 2.8” Rekon tyres are the rubber of choice for the Genius, and when compared to the Maxxis 2.5” Minion WT tyre, there is an only 1mm difference in the width between them, though the 2.8″ does appear to have the larger volume. Like what we have seen with the release of the new Pivot Mach 5.5, we predict the era of plus tyres bikes to shrink in size and find the sweet spot, and 2.6″ on 30-35mm wide rims seems to provide enough air volume and tread patch without too much bounce and roll from being too huge. Traction is a good thing, but not with a sacrifice of weight, speed and the ability to blast into a berm without the tyre blowing off. We like this.

Big tyres on 27.5″ wheels = agility and traction. Or choose the 29er and you’ve got some serious speed on your side, with a trade off for some of that rapid agility.
2.8″ rubber in a lightweight tread pattern and casing, we had no flat tyres during four days of hard riding.

An entirely new frame construction.

Put the new Genius and the cross country oriented Scott Spark side by side and you’ll see a strong resemblance, the tiny carbon linkage drives the new trunnion mount rear shock down toward the bottom bracket region, this frees the top tube to become much lighter without having to bear the load of the shock. Also, the whole bottom bracket area needs to be strong to manage all the forces that go into the bottom bracket and crank region, so to combine it with the rear shock it’s a no-brainer.

While the 100/120mm travel Spark uses a one-piece rear end and a flex-stay arrangement, the Genius uses 150mm of goodness so a flex pivot arrangement wasn’t achievable and they’ve opted for a lightweight bushing in place of a cartridge bearing on the chainstay. Bushings are so 1995, but we’re totally going to trust the engineers on this one, as this pivot has only a small jog to do, and a bushing can do it.

Taking advantage of the expired patent surrounding the Horst Link that Specialized held for many years, the Genius shifts the suspension pivot from the seat stay to the chain stay.

The big change was shifting the rear shock down towards the centre of the frame to share pedalling and suspension forces in one area.
Frame cutaway showing the Shimano Di2 battery mount integrated into the downtube protector and very nice cable routing. The trunnion mount shock lets it all fit into a smaller space than before.
Yes, 2.18kg for a 150m travel frame with rear shock and hardware. Crazy stuff.
New vs. old – full carbon construction, less aluminium bonded into carbon. The new chain stays are HUGE.
The seat stays are much lighter and simpler too with fewer parts providing marginal gains to an overall lighter bike, losing 100g right here. A bushing is used in the chain stay pivot to save grams.

TwinLoc, the remote lever that simultaneously adjusts the front and rear suspension.

Nothing new here, Scott’s tried and tested Twinloc lets you toggle between open, traction and locked mode. In open mode you have all the 150mm of travel out the back, traction mode closes part of the FOX Nude rear shock’s air chamber limiting it to 110mm of travel with a much more progressive feel, and then the climb mode is locked out completely.

The three modes also have an effect on the fork, adding compression and locking it out to match the rear. It’s a great system, and so very easy to activate.

The Twinloc lever integrated into the Syncros grip with the FOX Transfer dropper post lever too.
The FOX Nude shock has the Twinloc cable entering from the underside of the shock, very tidy!

That cockpit!

The moment we set eyes on the thing, it was the one-piece Syncros cockpit that had our attention. Scott’s in-house parts and accessories brand – Syncros – have come up with a crazy new one-piece bar and stem called the Hixon iC. With a virtual stem length of 50mm and 760mm wide, it weighs only 290g. It’s not eh first-time Syncros have done such a thing, the Scott Foil aero road bike also uses a one-piece cockpit.

While we would usually expect a 150mm travel bike to be fitted with a 780mm handlebar, we typically would trim to 760mm anyhow. There is a 780mm bar in the pipeline, perhaps a feature on a longer travel Genius LT to be released next year.

A 290g bar and stem anyone?
The Syncros stem and matching spacers give the front end a sleek shape. The bars we had on the demo bikes are pre-production samples; the final product will have a glass finish to match the frames.

Getting dirty, how does it ride? Oh yes, and ride we did.

Sticking to its heritage as a bike born in the Alps of Europe, the Genius is the all-day trail bike personified. It is super-light, efficient to climb, and for want of a better description, not too big or not too small. 150mm travel at both ends may seem like a lot, and it does feel super plush when you jump on, but with a flick of the Twinloc lever, the bike can be quickly adapted. While we are a long way down under from the snow-capped craggy peaks of the Alps where cows roam the fields and trails are often hundreds of years old, the adage of ‘earning your turns’, or simply climbing long roads to bomb back down gnarly singletrack translates anywhere in the world.

Dropping in, the Genius was quite capable of hitting trails blind, pinned and safe.

Scott have always put a lot of emphasis on creating bikes that climb well, hence the Twinloc and frame geometry that remains sensible and practical, rather than going for the buzz-word trends like; short chain stays, massive top tubes and slack head angles the Genius plays it fairly safe with numbers, and that is its key to the balance. Scott were keen to stress te point that the new Genius is not an enduro race bike, rather a trail bike with a wide range of versatility. We can only bet a Genius LT using the new frame configuration will be up for renewal next year

Talking frame geometry the new Genius is far longer in reach, slacker in the head angle and steeper in the seat angle. We’re happy to see the chain stays shorten too, down from 445 to 436mm, a big difference and gripe we had with the Genius we reviewed recently.

The numbers on the new Genius tick the boxes.
Nino and Brendan, two riders from opposing ends of the spectrum coming together on the Genius that sums it up really.
Climbing super-technical trails made much easier when using traction mode with a higher BB and less rear travel.

It was only very recently that we reviewed the outgoing 2017 model Genius Plus 700 Tuned, so it was very fresh in our minds how that bike performed. In comparison, the new model feels to have made improvements in key areas, especially the suspension curve, now with a very nice and supple feeling off the top of the stroke. The geometry tweaks make the bike more nimble in the turns, easier to manual and jump through tight landings. With the suspension, pivot moved from the seat stay to the chain stay the bike feels more planted under brakes and very supportive beneath you when pumping through the trails, and resists pedal strikes well.

27.5″ or 29″ then?

We rode both, after two long days of riding a huge variety of trails on the 27.5″ wheels with 2.8″ tyres we changed to the 29″ wheels and got back to it. The trails in Aosta Valley were ideal to gain a great understanding of what wheel size suits best, with nail-bitingly fast straights, rough embedded rock gardens all joined with the tightest switchback corners we’d ever seen. That’s Europe for you!

It was the 29er variation that we stuck with, the stability in traction won us over, though it was certainly a tougher task to ride the tight switchback turns, even resulting in one over the bars incident while attempting a nose-pivot turn at speed. Scott give you the option to choose what wheel size you want, offering many models.

How were all the parts?

The bike we rode was the Genius 700 Ultimate, a bike that will be available in Australia as a special order only as it’s going to hit a price point that would make you weak at the knees, a top-spec model with nothing shy of the ultimate parts. A SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain with its lustrous gold finish, FOX 34 forks (the 700 and 900 Tuned Genius models come with a FOX 36), DT-Swiss 30mm wide carbon wheels and a very slick black/black paint job.

Our only gripes were that on the steep, dry and loose trails of Aosta, we wished for a more aggressive front tyre, though we’re sure that on our home trails we’d have no qualms with the fast and light Maxxis Rekon, and the SRAM Guide brakes even with 180mm rotors at both ends didn’t particularly like the insanely flat-out descents into hairpin corners, though like the tyres we would surely be happy with the power of the Guide brakes on our regular trails.

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Massimo from Aosta Freeride, our guide on amazing trails, hauling through steep and slippery switchbacks.

The longer reach and slacker angles give the new Genius way more scope to push hard.

Give me more Genius!

Following the might impressive launch of the Spark last year, the release of the new Genius will solidify its place in the long-travel trail bike segment. If your rides involve a blend of exploring new places, climbing to the top on your own steam, descending hard and fast, then from our early impressions, we will back this bike with full confidence.

We’ll be back with more from the 2018 Scott range with pricing and availability, stay tuned.

Tested: Scott Genius 700 Plus Tuned

We reviewed the Genius Plus 710 model earlier this year, using the same frame as this model with a lower level parts spec for $5999. We went deep into our thoughts behind the plus bike concept and how they ride on the trails, head to that review here – Tested: Scott Genius Plus 710.

On review this time around, we have the top-end ‘Tuned’ model, which translates directly to ‘holy crap this bike is dialled!’ with its premium parts kit and absolutely gorgeous finish and impressive 12.1kg weight. Everywhere you look on this bike you are greeted with pure class, from the parts to the paint the Tuned level option is very tidy.

We love the colour scheme; it’s a kick arse looking rig.

27.5″, Plus, or 29er? Our two cents on plus bikes.

Arrgh, it’s still convoluted to explain after a couple of years coming to terms with the middle wheel size; 27.5″ plus. So, you’re a mountain biker in the market for a new bike, what wheel size do you choose? Let’s simplify it here; 27.5″ for agility, 27.5+ for traction and control, and 29er for speed and confidence. The Plus tyres are typically between 2.8″ and 3.0″ in width, they have a huge volume of air and mount to wide 35-40mm rims. This all lets you drop the tyre pressures right down low, that’s where the grip comes from.

The Plus format is an excellent option; though it’s not going to be ideal for every rider, or every trail. That said, in the world of hardtails, we do think it has the potential to take over. It makes perfect sense: Unless you’re looking for a full-blown cross-country racing machine, you’re better off on a hardtail with 27.5+ wheels/tyres. You’ll crash less, get fewer flats, have more fun. When it comes to dual suspension bikes, then the matter is a bit murkier, and it becomes more of a horses for courses kind of issue.

Plus bikes, are they your thing?

Despite the marketing teams from the big brands telling us so, we’ve still not seen a plus bike raced at the top level at an Enduro World Series race; we’d have to agree though, for race speed we’d opt for a 29er with chunky rubber on wide rims over a plus bike. It’s the way that the tyres can still bounce and squirm when pushed at race pace. That said, we are about as close to that pace as we are to winning anything, so we’ll back away from that debate and get back to bashing around the trails for the fun of it.

This Scott Genius Plus uses 2.8″ Maxxis tyres on 35mm internal width Syncros rims, which traditionally is on the smaller end of the scale to what we’ve used previously on plus bikes. The Maxxis tyres also have a more regular shape to them, the Maxxis Minion tyre on the front is particularly incredible.

Why not just big tyres on wide rims? Well, that’s a good question, thanks for bringing it up. While we’re not able to see into the future, we can bet on a few things now and then that the industry is up to, and where things are going. After the release of the new Pivot Mach 5.5 with its 2.6″ Maxxis tyres on 35mm wide DT Swiss rims and the 2017 Specialized Enduro 650B with 2.6″ tyres, we’re expecting that platform to put a dent in the popularity of the big 3″ tyre plus bikes next season. Or we could be very wrong, let’s see.


The traction. 

There is so much traction, the dilemma we had testing this thing was what to do with it all? Jumping onto the Genius after riding various long travel 29ers we found ourselves doing some pretty cool things when we began to get comfortable. Like pedalling anywhere and all the time, keeping our feet up through sketchy corners, blasting long jumps over obstacles with a complete lack of regard of line choice. It was damn good fun!

Imagine a 2.8″ Maxxis Minion… Yeah, exactly.

There are always sections of trail that challenge the traction of a mountain bike tyre when we dropped the tyres down to around the 20 psi mark and even lower, we were able to claw our way up steep and loose sections of the track so, so, so much easier.

When compared to the Schwalbe or Specialized 3″ tyres we’ve tried, the Maxxis tyres have more bite and cornering feel than the larger balloon shaped tyres, it helps the bike find good precision on the trails, a criticism we had with the Stumpjumper FSR 6Fattie and the original Schwalbe Rocket Ron 3″ tyres on the earlier Scott Genius Plus models.


The high-end bits.

The Tuned model is the top offering from Scott in the plus bike range, the FOX suspension is the best you can get with all the adjustments and slick Kashima coated bits, the SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain is a big winner in our hearts, and the finishing touches from Syncros like the carbon bar, stem and saddle finish it perfectly. All the small bolts like the seatpost clamp, bar/stem, and grips are all torx keys, too.

Big wheels need good brakes and the SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes are well and truly up to the task, it’s also nice to see the aluminium carrier rotors as standard too, very fancy.

Even the unstoppable FOX Transfer post is the flashy Kashima one, there’s really nothing to dislike about this parts spec at all.

Top FOX kit, front and back. The suspension is superb.
That’s what we call high end, a FOX Transfer dropper post, Kashima too!
The Syncros cockpit is carbon, no corners cut here at all.
Adjustable frame geometry via a little reversible chip at the rear shock.

When compared around with other big-name brands, the Scott stacks up very well indeed, have a look for yourself. Where top-end carbon bikes tend to hover around the $9-$11K mark, it makes this one an attractive option if you’re interested.


Twinloc.

Scott’s dual suspension bikes are built around their Twinloc suspension adjustment system, it works perfectly and gives Scott a point of difference from the masses. The nicely ergonomic Twinloc lever sits closely to your left thumb to toggle the rear shock between 130mm, 90mm and locked out. It simultaneously adjusts the fork too, to match the rear end. Yes it does add extra cables that might put off the fussiest riders, though with some time with a pair of cable cutters and some trial and error you’ll be able to tidy it up just fine.

The Twinloc lever on the left side of the bar.
The remote cable to the rear shock is hidden from view, nice touch.

In Open mode, the suspension feel is super buttery, with a really lively feel, that ramps up nicely. Like we mentioned in the review of the Genius 710 Plus, the single-pivot suspension design coupled with the Twinloc is a great pairing. There’s no pedalling platform, and with very little anti-squat in the suspension configuration, it’s very responsive. Hit the lever and engage Climb mode, and the feeling is very different – the bike sits up higher in its travel, raising the bottom bracket, and the suspension becomes much firmer. As we’ve noted above, the Plus tyres still take the edge off, so the ride is surprisingly smooth even with only 90mm of travel.

The full lock-out is really useful on the road, but where we would normally let rear suspension help find traction on loose fire road climbs we would still be able to lock it out and rely on the big tyre and low pressure to bite in hard.


Want more on how it rides?

Click through to our video review of the Scott Genius 710 Plus to see it in action and hear more of our thoughts on the bike’s construction and ride character. 


Cut to it.

The Genius Plus is an all-terrain monster; it’s a big bike with massive ability. Take it to a trail that you’ve found challenging, and your worries will fade away as the traction machine gets going. Don’t look for the Genius Plus for a bike park or race track, give it a challenge, not a clock, and it’ll sure be a great companion on many trails to come.

Max traction, maximum fun.

The stunning finish, incredible parts, adjustable frame geometry, adjustable suspension and grippy Maxxis 2.8″ tyres are a real standout. And on the trail, it’s super confident, lovely and smooth and dead quiet.

Flow’s First Bite: Scott Genius 710 Plus

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 Read our interview with Scott’s International Sales Manager, here, for a full discussion of Scott’s decision to embrace 27.5+


Is it wise to have invested so much, so early? Or is 27.5+ going to float on by? We think the success of 27.5+ is going to depend on one thing: getting people to try this format. One ride, and you can feel and see what the fuss is all about! Our prediction is that many brands will be following Scott and Specialized’s lead in 2017.

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The Genius Plus 710 is described by Scott as a ‘fun hog’. Don’t confuse the implication – it’s not a pig/hog of a bike (it weighs only just over 13kg), but it does looks like it might take more than its fair share of good times on the trail! With 130/140mm travel and 2.8″ tyres mounted to 40mm rims, the Genius 710 Plus is a beast.

Like the regular Genius, the 710 Plus is equipped with Scott TwinLoc suspension system, so you can drop the rear travel from 130mm to just 90mm, or lock the whole bike out completely, with the push of a button. We imagine this feature will be even more beneficial than usual with this bike, not because it’ll need any more climbing assistance, but because the larger tyre volume should mean that just 90mm travel is a viable option for more situations.

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It’s nice to see a 1×11 drivetrain on this bike. With the TwinLoc system, the bars are already pretty busy, so we can do without the faff of a front derailleur too.

Like we’ve said above, the entire bike weighs just over 13kg once you’ve converted it to tubeless, and if you remove the wheels from the bike you’ll be pleasantly surprised how light they actually are. The 2.8″ Schwalbe rubber sealed up tubeless just as easily as a regular tyre, and on the wide 40mm they look to be very nicely supported. If we take the front tyre, a Nobby Nic, as an example, compared to the equivalent tyre in a 2.35″ size, the weight penalty for the much bigger rubber is only 140g! For our first ride, we ran about 17psi out back and 15psi up front.

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40mm Syncros rims.
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Even on the big rims, the 2.8″ tyres keep a good profile.

Geometry-wise, the Genius Plus’s chain stay measurement immediately jumps out at us – at 445mm, they’re long indeed. A small flip-chip gives you some geometry adjustment, and we’ll be leaving it in the lower, slacker position for a 67.5 degree head angle.

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Hold on tight for our full review soon, we think this bike is going to be fast and very fun!

Tested: Scott Scale 720 Plus

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.

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Big on bounce.
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Getting dirty on the Scale 720 Plus.

What’s Plus?

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.

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2.8″ of rubber and air.
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Not really a hardtail with this much rubber beneath you.

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.


The parts:

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.

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Suntour, Syncros, Shimano, Schwalbe, Scott, Super, Sweet.
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Shimano brakes and shifters.

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.

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Shimano XT rear derailleur, but the older non-clutch style version.

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 frame:

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.

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Neat and smooth, the frame finish is classic Scott.
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Rad graphics.

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.


The Ride:

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.

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Wooohooooooo! Plus hardtails are a hoot.

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.

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Let 2.8″ of rubber lead you, it’s a very different feel.

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.


Verdict:

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.

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Try one out for yourself.

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.

Flow’s First Bite: Scott Scale 720 Plus

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2.8″ is a whole lot of rubber, in a really good way.

On review we have the $2299 Scott Scale 720 Plus, the only plus hardtail from Scott coming Down Under, let’s take a look at it before we get rowdy.

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She’s a real looker, with brilliant colours and finishing we’ve grown to love from Scott.

What’s Plus?

What is a ‘plus bike’ you’re asking? In a nutshell it’s just a 27.5″ wheel bike with bigger tyres, like this one with a voluminous 2.8″. No it’s not a fat bike, they ride more like regular bikes in our experience, and the best plus bikes are a result of finding the sweet spot between all the wheel size factors like diameter, width, volume and tread.

Scott are well and truly at the forefront of the new plus thing, we’ve learnt that one already.

The outer diameter of the wheel is close to that of a 29er, but the actual wheel is a regular 27.5″. So the rolling benefits of the large diameter is there, but you still get a lively and agile feeling bike. 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 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 rims the tyre doesn’t squirm around like you’d expect with low pressure, the support is ace.


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.

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Imagine what you could do with tread like this!?
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40mm wide rims, a key factor in supporting the low pressure tyres.

The frame.

This Swiss brand’s aluminium frames often look better than many brand’s expensive carbon ones, and this Scale 720 is no exception, it’s a real beauty.

Bold green and blue graphics drip all over the smooth matte black finish, with internally routed cables, smooth welds and a neat set of dropouts with the Shimano direct mounting for the rear derailleur.

There’s provisions for a dropper post (phew) 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.

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Stumpy little headtube, handy if you want to dump the stem down low.
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Internal cabling done nicely.

The parts.

The Scale 720 is the entry level Plus bike from Scott and the most affordable Plus bike we’ve ridden, at this price point the challenge is set to keep the bike’s weight down whilst still speccing it with the parts that will let it realise it potential on the trail.

Not here to win cross country races, the Plus bike just wants to have a good time, so the fork is 120mm, bars are wide and the stem is short, and of course the tyres are meaty. But there is no dropper post or tubeless ready rims or tyres.

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A Suntour fork Raidon fork is fitted up front with 32mm diameter legs, 120mm of travel and a remote handlebar lockout. We’ve not ridden any recent forks from Suntour, but from where we sit there seems to be plenty of development and high end riders on Suntour suspension, so we are very curious as to how they feel.

The Raidon is an air and coil sprung fork with adjustable rebound and their unique Q LOC quick release axle. We’ve seen RockShox and FOX master their take on the QR axle, but Manitou’s dismal attempt on the Specialized Fuse 6 Fattie drove us mad, so let’s hope this one goes ok.

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Shimano brakes and shifters.
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Shimano throughout.
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Shimano XT rear derailleur, but the older version without the clutch. Bugger.

Shimano take care of the brakes and drivetrain, with a mix of Deore and XT but there’s a distinct absence of a clutch mechanism on the rear derailleur. The clutch cuts down the noise and chain slap via a clever tension resistance switch on the derailleur cage. It’s not the biggest issue, but it’ll surely make the bike feel a little outdated in terms of noise and chain security.

The double chainring setup will ensure you’ll be able to climb anything and never run out of gears, and the gear cables are sealed and out of way from the elements so it’ll be a great all-weather bike for sure.

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Double chainring for maximum range!
Testing the Scale 710 in Dear Valley last year at the 2016 launch.
Testing the Scale 710 in Dear Valley last year at the 2016 launch. Now it’s time to test the Scale on home soil.

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Righto, let’s ride!

Stay tuned for our full review.

Tested: Scott Genius Plus & Scott Scale Plus

Scott make no mistakes when it comes to picking trends, the industry giant has put their weight behind emerging wheel sizes in the past and haven’t looked back. The same thing couldn’t be said for many other big players.

27.5+ is the next big thing in the development of mountain bikes, and we can guarantee that over the next short while we’ll see just about every bike brand, tyre and wheel manufacturer getting behind it too.

We weren’t without frustration when the news of a new standard broke, and are happy to admit that initially we didn’t give a toss for all this fuss. But looking back we can safely put all that behind us now. It’s a hard story to tell in words, you need to ride one to make it crystal.

Scott Plus 2

Genius Plus
Mick taking on ‘The Spine’, a remarkably intimidating line of pure jagged rock.

We spent a few days in Deer Valley, Utah on new bikes from the 2016 Plus bikes – Genius and Scale – we wanted to know exactly where these ‘diet fat’ bikes fit in and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. For more on 2016 Scotts, take a peek at our quick look at the range here – Scott 2016 bikes.


What’s it all about, what the hell is a ‘Plus bike’?

It’s all about really big tyres. To benefit the experience of mountain biking by enhancing the control of the rider through increased traction and stability, Plus bikes use 27.5″ diameter wheels with wider rims and bigger tyres.

– The Scott Plus bikes are from the new category of 27.5+ bikes.

– 27.5+ will use a 40mm wide (internal width) rim and a specifically developed Schwalbe 2.8″ width tyre. Typically the average trail bike uses a rim between 21-27mm wide and a tyre between 2.0″ and 2.4″.

– Scott and Schwalbe worked to develop the best tyre size for the job, initially beginning testing with a 3″ width prototype, then down to a 2.8″ and ultimately residing with a 2.8″ with lower profile tread. The third generation tyre wasn’t ready for our media launch, all the bikes we rode and are pictured here with the second version with taller tread.

– Scott will have the 2.8″ Schwalbe Plus tyres to themselves for one year before other brands can spec them.

– The tyres will weigh around 800-850 grams.

– Genius Plus is 250g heavier than a comparable spec Genius 29er.

– All the main tyre manufacturers will have 27.5 Plus tyres soon.

– Genius Plus uses the new standard Boost 148mm wide rear hubs and 110mm front hubs.

– The Scott Genius Plus uses a 29er front triangle, with a new aluminium rear end to compensate for extra tyre clearance.

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40mm wide rims on the Plus bike.
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It must be like having really big feet, harder to fall over right?

– The bigger tyre gives you a larger contact patch on the ground, for a huge increase in traction.

– The rider can run low tyre pressure without the tyre rolling around on the rim.

– With such a large air volume, the risk of flat tyres is significantly reduced.

– Scott’s Plus bike range will consist of three bikes for 2016 in various models. The Genius with 140mm travel, it’s bigger brother the 160mm travel Genius LT (unfortunately not a model distributed into Australia for 2016) and the Scale Plus hardtail. More details on the range here – Scott 2016 bikes.


How does it ride?

Our first impressions were not clear, nor was our mind after a numbing flight to Utah from Sydney. In all honesty we were a little unsure whether we liked it or not, the Genius Plus felt so different to anything we’ve ever ridden here at Flow. The closest we’d ridden was testing the Specialized Fuse Expert 6Fattie hardtail, but this was our first time on a dually.

The sheer amount of traction on offer really does take some getting used to. But in this case it wasn’t just the foreign bike that threw us into a spin, being at altitude in Deer Valley the trail conditions were a world apart from a cold and wet Sydney, the bike park trails were open, super-fast, loose, rough and bone dry. We found the tyres to sit on top of the trail surfaces, rather than biting into it and on loose gravel the big bag would swim across the surface somewhat, we can only imagine that this is how it would feel in deep mud.

It was at that point after a couple laps of the trails that we couldn’t help but suspect this could have been an over-hyped and unnecessary new fad, but we were wrong.

To paint a clearer picture in our minds, we swapped back to the standard 27.5″ wheel Genius with 2.35″ width tyres for a few laps. After a whole day riding the chunky Plus bike switching back gave us the feeling like we’d just thrown a leg over a skinny cyclocross bike! The ‘tiny’ 2.35″ tyres were certainly very zippy and quick, but felt too sketchy and nervous on the trails we were only just getting the feel for. We’d grown used to the feeling of the Plus bike without really knowing it. So it was time to jump back onto the big 2.8er, really give it some and open the throttle wide open. Our ambitious riding went to another level and we loved every minute of it!

When pushed harder and harder, the big tyres held on to the ground like nothing we’ve ever ridden. We braked later coming into turns, and generally braked less across the board, holding more speed and blasting around the trails with a brave sense of renewed ambition.

We’ve spent plenty of time on downhill bikes over the years, but to find the limits of traction on big DH bikes you need to be going really, really fast. The Genius Plus was so much more agile than that, and twice as playful.

You do notice the bigger tyres when making quick direction changes, the added weight on the outer of the wheels creates a gyroscopic effect, and it’s hard to ignore. Throwing the bike around the bike felt slightly slower to react, like you were riding a 29er with heavy wheels. Dropping the bike down onto the side knobs of the tyres into a corner, or quickly smashing a berm required a bit more body language. We did get used to it, and intuitively adapted our riding style.

We found ourselves taking wider lines into turns and staying off the brakes, putting unprecedented faith in the traction of the big tyres. Grabbing a handful of brakes would almost send you over the bars as the bike would bite down into the dirt rather than skimming across the top. And the noise the tyres make is pretty crazy, so much rubber amplifies the sound of the tread grabbing the trail, in a group of riders on Plus bikes it sounds like a traction party at happy hour!

For the fun of it you could also ignore the best line through a berm and go right through the inside, with a confident trust in the big treads. With 445mm chain stays the bike does feel quite long, making super tight corners and popping a manual a bit harder than we’d like, but at speed the stability from the length is well and truly worth a little compromise.

Climbing loose trails is another area that the Plus shines, with more grip under your rear wheel you don’t need to hunt for the best line nearly as much. You’re able to really put more effort into the pedals, rather than dividing your attention between finding traction and laying down strong pedal strokes.

At slow speed the big tyres really conform to the terrain underneath you resisting slipping around, we could ride the steepest sections of trail, controlling your speed easily with one finger on the brakes.

Scott Plus 14
Don’t be scared, stay off the brakes and the massive quantity of traction will reward you, and double your skills.
Scott Plus 15
It’s fun, so let it hang out and enjoy the fun feeling without crashing on your face for a change.

Setup.

With such a massive volume of air in the tyres, setting your tyre pressure becomes more important than ever. Too high and you won’t benefit from the potential traction, and too low and it’ll feel like pedalling through wet sand. After much experimenting with tyre pressure by going too high, then too low and resting at the sweet spot of 13 and 15 psi for the front and rear tyre. Mick weighs 70kg plus gear and would increase pressure when carrying more gear and water etc.

Scott Plus 8
Tyre pressure setup is critical, it’s all about low pressure, but not too low. Experiment and you’ll find the right number.
Scott Plus 6
Wind out the compression dials and slow down the rebound of your suspension.

Next up was suspension, we chatted to Rene Krattinger the head of mountain bike engineering at Scott about how suggested we go about it. With a lighter compression setting and slower rebound the tyre won’t squash underneath your weight as much, and/or bounce and oscillate from repeated impacts like braking bumps or hardpacked ruts.


Genius Plus.

The Genius has been a Flow favourite forever. Lightweight frames, stable geometry and a category leading suspension efficiency via their long serving TwinLoc system. 

TwinLoc is a thumb actuated remote lever that allows you to toggle between three modes offering simultaneous control of rear shock travel and fork lockout. 

There’s less travel than the regular Genius line, with a 14omm travel FOX Float fork, and 130mm of travel out back via Scott’s proprietary FOX Nude shock. The open position allows full travel, front and rear. One click switches the rear shock to Traction mode, while the fork receives a light compression setting. One more click and rear shock and fork lock at the same time.

Scott Scale Plus 1 (1)
The new FOX Nude shock with the EVOL air can, next level suppleness.

For 2016 the Scott Genius will benefit from the FOX EVOL air can, with the extra air volume the suppleness in the suspension is magnificent. With what is effectively a single pivot suspension design, the Genius isn’t known for being the most supple and grounded bike, yet it has always been very efficient under pedalling action. With the EVOL rear shock the new bikes feel significantly more supple and plush.

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The Genius Plus uses a Genius 29er front end, and is also compatible with 29″ wheels using Boost hubs (148mm rear and 110mm front). The Plus uses a 445mm long chain stay and a 67.5 degree head angle. For 2016 Australian consumers will have the choice of two Genius Plus bikes. The Genius 710 Plus for $5999 and the Genius 720 Plus for $4599.

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The Scott Genius 710 Plus.

Scott Plus 17


 Scale Plus.

Scott Scale Plus
Putting the fun back into hardtails, the Scale Plus is our type of thing.

If in the worst case scenario and none of this Plus takes off with dual suspension bikes, you can bet it will with a hardtail. It makes absolute sense, if you’re a hardtail fan or don’t have at least $4k to spend, a Scale Plus would be a seriously good prospect for real mountain biking.

We cut some hard and fast laps on the Scale 710 Plus and had a really good time. Where having no rear suspension would usually make the bike skip around harshly, the low pressure tyres did more than just take the sting out the trail, it really felt like we were riding a short travel dually at times.

The first thing we’d do it it were ours would be to fit a dropper post.

The Scale 720 Plus is coming to Australia and will retail for $2299.

Scott Plus 18
Traction, control, fun!

Verdict.

We weren’t into it at first, we really thought that with a standard 27.5″ bike and big tyres we’d be able to have just as much fun without the distraction and introduction of a new wheel standard, but the Scott Plus bikes are a whole lot more than we’d anticipated.

With all the stability and traction you could ever wish for in a package that ride and handles a lot more like a regular bike it’ll let both newcomers and more experienced riders do more. You can go faster and in more control, climb steeper sections, and negotiate steeper descents.

There is less risk of pesky flat tyres, and that’s always a good thing.

Is this progression? Will it replace whole categories of mountain bikes or remain a niche? Time will tell, but our bet is that it will catch on, and if a beginner can benefit from increased control so can a pro.

Scott Plus 7

Tested: Scott Genius 710

The Scott Genius is one of the few bikes that for many years has successfully blurred the lines of the genres that define bike styles. Its versatility bends the rules, and manages to do what a true all mountain bike should – open up possibilities and options to the rider, begging for adventure. And it’s all thanks to one particular clever and well thought out element, the Twinloc. What is Twinloc and how can one feature it have such a positive impact on one bike?

Whilst the one reviewed here is a 2014 model, there is little change to the Genius for 2015, we previewed the 2015 range, check it out here. 

The Genius is available in both wheel sizes, we test the 27.5″ version.

Scott Genius 710 22

[divider]Build[/divider]

This is one seriously subtle and understated carbon bike, with the black on black finish, only very minimal glossy stickers separate the graphics from the matte black frame paint. From a distance the lack of graphics is both refreshing and stealthy. And in an age of brightly branded bikes, we welcome this murdered out stealth black ride.

Scott Genius 710 17
From some angles the frame looks nude, and void of any graphics. You need to look a little closer to see the subtle logos and branding.

A carbon mainframe is joined to an aluminium rear end, the cables are a mixture of internal and externally routed and included is a super neat rubber chain stay guard finishes off the impeccable frame.

At the heart of the Scott Genius (and integral to the shorter travel Scott Spark and longer Scott Genius LT) is a nifty handlebar mounted lever that controls the rear shock and fork, the Twinloc. It may just only be one of many features of this bike, but it impacts on multiple elements of the bike’s ride character via by changing both the suspension feel and geometry. Hitting the Twin-Loc lever on the bars engages Traction mode: the rear travel is reduced from 150mm to 100mm, stiffening the suspension rate and therefore the amount of suspension sag, to aid climbing. Push the lever to its second stop and the rear suspension is locked out entirely, along with the fork, making for a rock solid pedalling machine.

Yes, the Twinloc adds an extra two cables into the mix creating a very busy cockpit. Scott are also pretty experienced with this stuff, and they manage to keep any clutter to a minimum with clean routing, but with a little bit of time and care in the workshop you could trim the cables down in length, plus shortening the gear cables and brake lines a touch will lessen the birds nest of cables in front of the bars.

Scott Genius 710 16
The Twinloc is a perfectly effective system controlled via a neat and ergonomic lever.
A bit of time in the workshop will reduce the extra clutter of the cables.
A bit of time in the workshop will reduce the extra clutter of the cables.

A bike with 150mm of travel is fantastic if the trails are on the rougher and steeper side of things, but it’s still a fair bit of bounce to be lugging up the climbs or through flatter trails. With the Twinloc it felt like we were riding two bikes in one. Heard that before? Well, try one out and you’ll see.

Not only does the Twinloc lessen the suspension travel quantity, it also sharpens the bikes important angles in favour of climbing when in Traction Mode. So the Genius will never feel like too much bike, it cleans up in the versatility stakes. You could ride the Genius hard on the rough trails and still enter the odd 24 hour or marathon race without any penalty from a non-efficient or heavy bike to battle with.

Scott Genius 710 25
Check out that massive section of the frame, the beef is where you need it on this one. Providing a sweet balance of lateral rigidity, comfort and low weight.

[divider]Spec[/divider]

Shimano XT score the majority of the business with the Genius 710, and we’re totally fine with that. Although our test bike had a slight issue with the brake calliper leaking a tiny amount of mineral oil onto the pads, making for a noisy action for a few stops before coming good again, most definitely a warranty issue that can be sorted quickly by your local bike shop. A shame, as XT brakes are usually a benchmark for reliability and consistency.

A double chainring setup gives the Genius a real ‘all mountain’ conquering range of gears. Some riders may be rushing out to single-ring their bikes but if you ride all day in steep terrain a gear range as wide as this is a real blessing! It’s silent in its operation, and we didn’t experience any dropped chains at all. The trendy conversion to a single ring would clean up the bars with one less cable and shifter, but we appreciate the useable range too much to consider that, long live the low gear range!

Scott Genius 710 13

Syncros components have been around for yonks, but a couple years ago they were snapped up by Scott and are now their in-house component brand. The benefits of the bigger brands having in-house components is boundless, with the big players able to match colour, spec and intended use of each component to the bikes models easier and cheaper. In this case with Syncros already having such a great reputation for quality prior to the merger with Scott, the perceived quality matches our positive impressions after testing. Even the saddle was a fave for all testers. A short stem and wide bars were faves too.

The wheels use Syncros hubs and rims with bladed spokes. With such a capable all mountain bike, we’d prefer the rims to be wider as some of the new generation of wide rims are really impressing us with the way they boost the tyre’s traction and low pressure abilities. They are tubeless ready though, and come with tubeless valves for quick and easy conversion.

Schwalbe handle the rubber bits with the Nobby Nic in a tacky triple compound and tubeless ready casing. We’d swap them out for a tyre more suited to our hard packed trails, perhaps a Hans Dampf on the front at least, but if your soils are softer these tyres are lightning fast and light for their size. The 2015 Genius 710 comes with the new generation Nobby Nic on the front, which we’ve been much happier with in a variety of conditions in comparison the the ones we find here.

Scott Genius 710 3
The FOX Float 32 fork led the way with a nice and supple action, but we couldn’t help wish for a fatter 34mm legged fork when things got hairy.

A RockShox Reverb adjustable seatpost with internal Stealth routing is always a welcome sight on any bike, aside from matching the paintwork like they were born together, its action is superb. Our had some leaking issues, with the hose adjoining the bottom of the post not quite tight enough, most probably our fault as we had to instal and bleed the post out of the box. Moments like these we miss external posts, or simply cable actuated ones.

FOX suspension front and back served up smooth and supple suspension as always, with the fork in particular being one of the smoother and progressive forks from the batch of 2014 forks from FOX.

[divider]Ride[/divider]

Spinning to the trails on the tarmac with the Twinloc engaged, we roll along as if we’re riding a cross country hardtail with the fork and shock locked firm. Up and into the trails we engaged the traction mode which dropped the rear travel to a taut 100mm and also firmed up the compression setting in the fork. In traction mode we were able to stand up and crank ourselves up and over the pinch climbs without losing too much energy into the suspension, but still it was able to react to impacts helping maintain traction to the rear wheel, and avoid pinging our front wheel around. We like this!

Scott Genius 710 1

When the trails turn down, we release the Twinloc into open mode and let her rip, with the 150mm or FOX suspension taking more than just the sting out of the trails. Still with the Twinloc in full travel mode, the suspension feels firm under you, the trade off is when speeds get really high the rear end feels choppier and harsher than some of the other 150mm bikes that don’t climb as well as the Genius.

Geometry wise, the Genius uses a nice and roomy front end coupled with a short stem, giving the rider quick handling but plenty of room to move around when negotiating turns and wild terrain.

The Genius is a little different to the others in its category, it may have a generous 150mm of travel front and back but the whole bike rides so light and efficiently that we forget we were packing some serious firepower beneath us for when we needed it most. Riding more like a light trail bike with some backup saved up for the gnarlier descents, the Genius won’t be one for the rougher enduro race nuts out there, but will suit the rider seeking a classic trail bike with some added travel to get up and down any mountain you need to.

[divider]Verdict[/divider]

It’s a well named bike, that’s for sure. The clever suspension adjustment and a nice balance between a lightweight all day riding bike and big hitting all mountain bike is achieved in true style and class. The subtle graphics and stealth image hides it’s racey attitude. On either side of the Genius sit the leaner Spark and burlier Genius LT, we don’t doubt that one of these three bikes would please the most demanding rider.

Flow’s First Bite: Scott 2015 Range Tested

After previewing the oh-so-lovely Scott 2015 range in Melbourne, it was time to lift the altitude to lung burning levels, throw in some relaxing chairlifts, endless dusty singletrack, a seven foot wild moose and the golden opportunity to test any 2015 Scott bike we wanted. We were in Deer Valley, Utah for some seriously intensive bike testing.

With singletrack galore at our glove tips, Flow’s Mick Ross took a hit for the team in the name of journalism and put time on both wheel size Scott Sparks, a 27.5″ Genius and its bigger brother the Genius LT, and lastly the all-new highly adjustable 27.5″ wheeled Gambler downhill bike.

Scott 2015 tested 1
Deer Valley, just out of Park City in Utah was a damn fine place to burn some brake pads and test the limits of the new Scott range.

[divider]Scott Spark[/divider]

Scott offer wheel size as an option, meaning the exact bike is available in either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels, which could be a headache for smaller markets like Australia, with bike stores and the distributors managing double options for the Scale, Spark and Genius models. This is an interesting moment for the bike industry – along with Scott, Specialized, Trek and Lapierre also offer the same bike in two wheel sizes, whilst some brands (like Giant) on the other hand have wholly adopted the 27.5″ wheel across their entire range of mountain bikes.

Regardless, rhe 29″ Sparks have slightly less suspension travel front and back (100mm) than the 27.5″ Spark (120mm) to play to the strengths the larger wheel  We are seeing it more and more these days, where brands are helping the consumer decide on the wheel size by relating the decision to frame size. Below is a graph that Scott use to communicate the ‘sizes for sizes’ concept – food for thought, anyhow.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 4.50.42 pm
Wheelsize as an option is confusing for some, but also adds more choice. Communicating the benefits to the consumer is the hard part.

Slight shock tune changes and new spec choices aside, next season’s Spark remains largely the same as the 2014 version but we were eager to spend time on them anyhow as we hold them very high on our list of preferred bikes for cross country . We seized the opportunity to take the Spark 700 Tuned and Spark 900 Tuned, the top level Spark identical in spec, size medium, in both wheel sizes out for a good old back-to-back wheel size comparison on a short and punchy test loop. Same tyres, same everything. Trying to forget any pre-existing opinions of the wheel size debate, we approached it like it was our first time.

Scott 2015 tested 13
High up above the tree line, where an adaptable and lightweight bike is a real joy.

Highlights of the 27.5″ Spark.

  • Heightened agility; The quick nature of the smaller diameter wheels translates perfectly into the Spark’s lightweight, flickable and spritely frame with crazy fast results.
  • Loves ripping around tight turns; Into and out of a slow corner, or tight squeeze between trees, the 27.5″ Spark jumps back up to speed with incredible responsiveness.
  • Promotes playful riding and jumping; Feeling a lot like the older 26″ wheeled Spark, this guy doesn’t mind a bit of airtime, manuals/wheelies or popping into the air and landing where you planned to with real predictability.
Scott 2015 tested 8
The 120mm 27.5″ wheel Spark.

Favourite aspects of the 29″ Spark.

  • Stable and comfortable; The bigger wheel – especially up front – gave us a reassuring feeling that there was more between us and the ground than with the 27.5″ Spark.
  • Loads of traction; When cornering, braking or turning the 29er exhibited more contact with the dirt, and hence increased traction.
  • Maintains speed like a perpetual motion machine; When you get moving, the Spark 29er stays moving. The bigger wheels love to be wound up and let go, maintaining speed is a real forte and very noticeable compared to its smaller wheel brother.
  • Scott 2015 tested 9
    The 100mm travel 29″ wheel Spark.

What would we choose, 27.5″ or 29″?

  • If your frame size is smaller, the 27.5″ makes sense regardless, and the same goes for a larger rider with the 29″ bike suiting best.
  • If you’re a medium size frame like we are, it’s time to give it real thought. Fun, or efficient? Not that either can’t be fun or efficient, they each have a strengths, not weaknesses.
  • Marathon or endurance races will be fantastic aboard a 29er, where the distance is gobbled up by the big rolling wheels. Also, for less-experienced riders, the confidence and sure-footedness of a bigger wheel is valuable.
  • If your trails are tighter, races shorter, or the reason you ride is pure fun, the smaller wheeled Spark won’t resist that hooligan within you coming out. It shall let you dart about the place pulling wheelies and pumping around the trails at crazy pace.

[divider]Genius[/divider]

It’s hard not to love the Scott Genius, with its category leading lightweight frame and the proven Twinloc system controlling an adaptable, supple and sensitive 150mm of rear suspension. It’s a real winner, plus since the move to FOX rear shocks last year, they just got more favourable in our books.

Like the shorter travel Spark, the Genius comes in two flavours, 27.5″ or 29″ with a few of models to choose from $3500 – $6300 in aluminium and carbon. We spent a great deal of time on the Genius 700 Tuned, the cream of the crop model, dripping in the finest components, and constructed from Scott’s HMX highest grade carbon magic material.

Scott 2015 34
The Genius. Smart.

On the trail, the Genius doesn’t ride like a lot of the other 150mm bikes, like the Trek Slash, Lapierre Zesty, or a Giant Trance SX for example. The Genius swings more toward the theme of a long legged trail bike, rather than a mega plush, slack ground-hugging bike, with a combination of sharper angles, upright seating position, and a suspension rate that feels firm and supported. Frame geometry is adjustable via a tiny and unobtrusive reversible chip at the bottom shock mount, which allows a little bit of an ‘attitude adjustment’; we ran it in the low/slack setting, but would opt for steeper head angled if the riding was to be dominated by tighter, slower trails or more climbing.

Scott insist on speccing a 32mm legged fork on the Genius, we’d love to see a 35mm leg RockShox Pike, or a FOX 34mm legged fork up front for a little bit more front end rigidity and confidence when turning the bike under brakes.

After spending time on the Spark and Genius LT we gravitated back to the 27.5″ Genius. It’s just so capable everywhere, up the climbs, down them and anything in between. It’s a true all-mountain bike, capable of letting you explore and ride anything. If you’re always travelling, or riding new trails, the Genius would be that perfect bike for arriving at a trail unseen, you will never be under gunned or over prepared.

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FOX and Scott have headquarters nearby each other in Switzerland, hence the collaboration with their proprietary rear shock, the Nude.
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The Genius may not be the slackest 150mm bike in its category, but you could mix it up in a marathon race, as it is so efficient.

[divider]Genius LT[/divider]

Rejoice! The Scott Genius LT is coming to Australia. We’ll soon see three models ranging from $4799 for the Genius LT 720, up to the model we tested here, the Genius LT 700 Tuned for $8999.

The Genius LT, is a big rig. With a whopping 170mm of travel, big rubber and a healthy dose of burly components, this is the bike Scott’s enduro racers use. The Genius LT personifies enduro in every aspect, it’s a big rig capable of riding the roughest, steepest and fastest trails around the world. Be warned though, it needs real terrain and elevation to make the most of it. After seeking out the steepest and roughest black diamond trails in Deer Valley, we never got close to finding the upper limits of this mighty capable bike. But, we still got a very good idea what it is all about.

What the Genius LT does well is squashing a whole lot of gravity loving attitude and components into a super efficient riding bike. Just like the regular Genius and the Spark, it uses the Twinloc suspension, which does much more than lock out the suspension via a remote lever. The instant you hit that Twinloc lever, the bike jumps up, the suspension firms up and you get a real boost. It really feels like you’ve been given a push.

The frame geometry is also quite tuneable, an interchangeable headset is included with the Genius LT, and the lower rear shock mount is reversible too, to give the rider a healthy dose of options to tweak the bike to excel in the climbs, slower, faster or steeper terrain with some trial and error experimenting.

Scott 2015 tested 15
The big fella. Genius LT, which stands for long travel. 170mm of it.

[divider]Voltage[/divider]

Don’t get too excited yet, the Voltage ain’t coming to Australia. But maybe if we hassle the Scott distributor enough they may be able to put a special order in, or we’ll see them next year at least. Call it a freeride bike or a mini downhill bike, this guy would actually be a suitable choice for many downhill races at regional level.

Like a scaled down version of a downhill race bike, this chunky bike boasts a coil shock with a whopping 170-190mm of travel. It’s adjustable in its geometry and travel by reversing the lower shock mount, so it can be just as at home in the bike park throwing down tricks and jumps, or slacken it off for some higher speed downhill racing.

Scott 2015
Big improvements too the Voltage. Stiffer, adjustable, and compatible with 27.5″ and 26″ wheels.

[divider]Gambler[/divider]

The final test we did on the 2015 Scott rigs was the biggest, baddest bike in the range: the all-new Gambler. Up a wheel size for 2015 but that’s not all, with the frame completely different in almost every single aspect. The Gstaad-Scott team were racing these bikes at the Cairns World Cup in April this year, but went unnoticed as from a far looks a lot like the 26″ version.

Scott 2015 tested 31

The downhill tracks at Deer Valley were a pretty good test for the Gambler, with frightening rock gardens and heart stoppingly steep chutes everywhere. The Gambler loved it all, and confirmed our love for the 27.5″ wheel on a downhill bike. For example, take your average rock garden – just stay off the brakes, and you instantly notice that the wheels don’t get as hung up on the edges, or fall into holes. A bigger wheel is always going to help that, but when you put a big tyre on a 27.5″ wheel, you’re unstoppable.

We quickly became confident, and after a couple runs we were hitting the rock gardens at full pelt, smashing the bike into the sharpest, ugliest rocky straights we’ve ridden in ages. The Gambler is also dead quiet, the thud of the tyres is all you really hear when descending. That has always given us a little bit of a extra confidence boost, if the bike is silent the harder we will push.

Is big too big? With advice from the guys at Scott, we opted to run the Gambler in the shortest wheelbase setting, and highest bottom bracket mode. Then we lowered the fork crowns as low as possible, sharpening the head angle even further. Still, we found the Gambler to be a mighty stable, long and confident ride.

With a massive adjustability range from a 61° – 65° head angle and a chain stay length that is adjustable from 422 – 440mm, in the right hands it could be fine tuned to suit such a wide variety of terrain. Plus you can fit 26″ wheels into the frame, and then tweak the geometry to suit the smaller wheels, nifty!

The rear suspension is so incredibly supple off the top of the stroke, it helps the wheels glue to the dirt and the tyres maintain contact with the loose surface as you bounce around. Sure the tyres are great, but the traction that such a supple suspension feeling gives this bike is unreal.

Scott 2015 tested 48
Adaptability, traction and stability. The Gambler is a monster.
Scott 2015 tested 49
The high pivot (above the bottom bracket) is the key to the Gamblers rock-gobbling hunger.

 

 

In all, we found the revisions to the popular Spark, Genius and Genius LT to be a small but good step in the right direction. The Gambler is amazing, and is surely going to make for a capable and fast downhill bike for the gravity crowd. Fingers crossed the Voltage will land on our shores one day, as we’d love to hit up some freeride lines and big jumps on the downhill tracks over here.

Keep your eyes out for the full range on http://www.scott-sports.com soon.

Nino Schurter: Master of the Trail

World Cross-Country MTB Champ Nino Schurter roams the legendary trails of Southern Utah’s Gooseberry Mesa and Guacamole aboard his Scott Genius LT.

Schurter is much more than your typical World Cup XC racer; his love for speed and style while discovering and exploring challenging lines help him Master the Trail.