Bike Check: Nino Schurter’s Scott Spark RC 900

Nino’s Scott Spark RC 900 is a real beauty, with amazing finishing touches and attention to detail everywhere you look.

We’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Medium frame Scott Spark RC 900, the ultra-light 29er XC race bike with 100mm of travel controlled by the Twinloc remote lever.
Nino in the rocks of Nove Mesto. Photo – Armin Kuestenbrueck/Red Bull.
The Champion alright…
Nino doing his thing in the final World Cup of the 2018 season, Val di Sole, Italy. Photo – Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull.
A 38 tooth SRAM Eagle chainring would be too hard to push for you, or I.
A neat touch, the little Nino character tucked away behind the seat tube.
That is right, only 9.38kg as seen here.
Nino swapped to a 29″ wheel Spark and Scale mid last year ahead of the Rio Olympics, which he won. He’s never raced a 27.5″ Spark since. A 90mm stem with massive negative rise helps the position he needs.
Slammed enough?
The move from DT Swiss to a complete SRAM bike meant RockShox for the champ.

The Twinloc lever toggles the rear shock travel amount, lock and also the fork compression adjustment with one lever.
A de-stickered FOX Nude shock is not an ideal scenario for the SRAM rider, though RockShox would surely be developing a shock to suit the bike.
DT Swiss carbon wheels with gold spoke nipples, so trick.

Gold SRAM XX1 drivetrain, of course.
2.1″ Maxxis Aspen tyres.

N1NO – The Hunt for Glory – Chapter 12 #NEWBIKEDAY

What does it take to be a champion? World class talent, world class drive, and world class equipment. To develop the best products, it is important to get feedback from the best athletes in the world in order to create podium worthy bikes.

Check out how Nino shaped the development of the new Scale and Spark in the latest release of “Hunt for Glory.”


See our first ride impressions of the new Scott Spark range here:

Flow’s First Bite: 2017 Scott Spark

And the Scott Scale range too!

Flow’s First Bite: 2017 Scott Scale

Flow’s First Bite: 2017 Scott Scale

_LOW3233
The Scale RC SL is the flagship model in the Scale lineup, the challenge to find a lighter bike off the shelf is set.

Check out the Scott Spark too, and our first impressions of the dual suspension brother to the Scale here: 2017 Scott Spark.


New Scott Scale

_LOW3323
This thing is incredibly fast, the responsiveness is superb.

Dropping weight at the same time improving the comfort and handling of a new bike must be quite a tall task to pull off, but from what we’ve seen it’s all about the small gains from every section of the frame, adding up to a final product that leaves the big name brands behind in the race of the lightest hardtail frame.

Nino Schurter raced this bike at the Albstadt World Cup.
Nino Schurter raced this bike at the Albstadt World Cup, he won it too.

“In today’s market it’s getting easier for anyone to go to Asia and release a mediocre carbon hardtail frame and call it good. That’s where we are different. Focussing passionately on every little detail, no matter how small the gain is really sets us apart from everybody else, and puts the new Scale firmly ahead of the competition.” Dan Roberts, Scott Scale Engineer.

_LOW3224
Skinny and bow-legged like an old salty cowboy.

Using a new carbon layup procedure in the frame Scott’s carbon engineers are able to make the most of their latest HMX-SL composite material (found on their high end road bikes) to reduce mass around the larger sections of the frame. Boost hub spacing comes into the Scott range for 2017 allowing for more freedom to push sections of the frame outwards, the wider hub, chain line and the single-ring specific drivetrain version and use of the new Shimano side swing front derailleur arrangement lets the Scale engineers get serious on creating big shapes where they need them. But its the rear end of the frame that most of the weight loss is, er, gained.

251401
Slenderness meets brawn. The down tube are beefy but the top tube and seat stays are slim.
_LOW3302
Good looking stuff.

SDS2 Shock Damping System: The Scale even looks comfortable just standing there with its wafer-thin seat stays and curvy seat tube, can’t say that we’ve haven’t seen such a slender rear on a mountain bike before. Claiming a 35% increase in seated comfort than the previous Scale, and 27% more comfort when standing, there’s a lot of focus on this area for the new frame. The new frame shapes are said to allow 6mm of flex in the frame at the seat tub and the dropouts can move 2.5mm in the event of a hard impact.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 3.18.56 PM
Two distinct regions of the frame give the Scale its comfort and stiffness.
_LOW3238
The beefy downtube swoops into fat chain stays, while the upper part of the frame remains reactive to impacts.

_LOW3334

Brake Mount: The new Scott Spark and Scale share the clever new brake mount which attaches to the chain stay and rear hub axle, this allows the seat stays to flex more freely, and results in a cleaner and lighter dropout on that side.Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 3.19.32 PM

Note how the brake mount doesn't attach to the seat stays.
Note how the brake mount doesn’t attach to the seat stays.

SW Dropout: The new sandwich dropout is also an area of weight saving, on the Spark also. Available for both Shimano Direct Mount and SRAM it integrates into the thu-axle for a leaner and stiffer section.

New vs old dropouts.
New vs old dropouts.

_LOW3229

Geometry: You may have seen on RedBull TV that the World Cup courses are becoming increasingly gnarly, the technicality of racing has come a long way in the last few years and it is more than just a climbers race. Hence the evolution of frame geometry, and the changes in the new Scale. The 29er is 13mm shorter in the stays on 29er and combines that with a steeper seat angle and a longer reach.

Longer reach, shorter stays and slacker head angles on the new Scale.
Longer reach, shorter stays and slacker head angles on the new Scale.

Three versions of the Scale

Scale RC 700 / Scale 700:

The bike of choice of World Champ Nino Schurter, the 27.5″ wheel version of the Spark is the lightest in the whole class, and combine that with the inherently quick acceleration from the smaller wheels you have a race bike for the punchier and faster courses, or simply a more lively and agile race bike than its bigger wheel brother in the 900 series.

SCALE RC 700 / SCALE 700
Scale RC 700 / Scale 700

Scale RC 900 / Scale 900:

29er hardtail for the longer races, or for riders enjoying the confidence and stability of a 29er wheel. We may even see Nino racing the Rio Olympics on this bike, as the rolling course favours a 29″ wheel.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 3.07.08 PM
Scale RC 900 / Scale 900
_LOW3282
This is the ultimate race bike, no stone left unturned in the quest for the lightest and most efficient bike in the XC/marathon scene.

Scale Plus:

While it may not score all the delicious carbon details of the bikes above, the aluminium frame Scale Plus is the only hardtail you should ride if racing is not on the agenda. This thing is so capable, with laid-back geometry, 120mm travel forks, a dropper post and monster 2.8″ tyres it can handle anything you throw at it.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 3.07.22 PM
Scale Plus
_LOW3506
The new Scale Plus is right on the money with spec for 2017, we’d love to have this bike on test again.

We’ll be getting our grubby mitts on these bikes for a proper review as soon as possible, stay tuned for more ridiculously light carbon from Scott.

_LOW3217

Flow’s First Bite: Scott Scale 720 Plus

_LOW0121
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.

_LOW0114
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.

_LOW0064
Imagine what you could do with tread like this!?
_LOW0111
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.

_LOW0125
Stumpy little headtube, handy if you want to dump the stem down low.
_LOW0105
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.

_LOW0093

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.

_LOW0108
Shimano brakes and shifters.
_LOW0063
Shimano throughout.
_LOW0078
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.

_LOW0073
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.

_LOW0072

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.

  • News
  • Simple
  • Fancy
  • Featured
  • Plain
  • Mobile
  • Two shots - both landscape
  • Three shots - Big on top
  • Four Shots - Big on Left
  • Five Photos
  • Two shots - landscape and square
  • Three shots - Big landscape, two small squares
  • Four Shots - All Same Size
  • Mobile (new)
  • Two shots - vertically stacked, both landscape
wider-rims-diagram-121498_original_2
40mm wide rims on the Plus bike.
less-air-diagram-121497_original_2
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.

  • News
  • Simple
  • Fancy
  • Featured
  • Plain
  • Mobile
  • Two shots - both landscape
  • Three shots - Big on top
  • Four Shots - Big on Left
  • Five Photos
  • Two shots - landscape and square
  • Three shots - Big landscape, two small squares
  • Four Shots - All Same Size
  • Mobile (new)
  • Two shots - vertically stacked, both landscape

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.

Sheppards-2016-33
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

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.

Scott 2015 38
FOX and Scott have headquarters nearby each other in Switzerland, hence the collaboration with their proprietary rear shock, the Nude.
Scott 2015 tested 51
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.