“Engineers don’t like design compromises. Splitting the Spark family into three models allowed us to create bikes with a shared DNA and distinct purpose. The Spark RC is a 100% race dedicated full suspension bike – by designing a 1x specific platform and using HMX-SL fibres for the first time on MTB we’ve set a new benchmark in terms of weight. The final bike is the result of hundreds of careful design decisions which combine to create the perfect racing tool for our racers to keep on winning.” – Joe Higgins, Chief of MTB Engineering.
Check out the insanely light 2017 Scott Scale hardtail in our first impressions piece here: 2017 Scott Scale.
The New Spark
First spotted in the hands of World Champion Nino Schurter, the new Spark sent the internet forums into a whirlwind. What was this crazy looking thing, visibly so different to the current Spark!? Let alone that it was in fact a 29er (sorry 27.5″ fans, Nino will choose to race a 29er Spark or Scale at Rio).
Well, firstly the lightest configuration of the new Spark SL frame is a ridiculous 1779g for the 29er and 1749g for 27.5″. Taking 217 grams out of the already category leading 2016 frame was a result of hundreds of marginal gains. For 2017 the R&D gurus at Scott drew upon a deep wealth of expertise in carbon, and especially road bike technology to take their Spark and Scale frames to the next level.
The weight loss comes down to more intelligent shapes for the new carbon composite layers, simplifying the frame with 1X and 2X drivetrains, a new pivot-free rear triangle, a new brake mount, and a lighter rocker link. And a lot of this can be attributed to the emergence of a few new standards, like Boost hub spacing and the new Trunnion Mount rear shock.
Frame geometry and suspension curves also score an overhaul, bringing it up to speed with the modern demands. Scott’s excellent Twin-Loc suspension adjustment system carries forward, the tw0-position air volume adjustment controlled at the handlebar is key to the Scott range’s impressive versatility choose between Descend Mode, Traction Mode and locked out.
New Rear Triangle: The new pivotless swingarm allows the rear triangle to be moulded in just two continuos carbon parts, where the older version was made up from 18 seperate parts. The 130g saving is where most of the weight has been taken from the frame. The rear end will now give a few degrees of flex to allow the suspension to do its thing, instead of a bushing pivot and all its hardware.
To allow the frame to flex freely a new brake mount was designed, anchored around the axle and chain stay, this allows the seat stay to move the way it needs to. A 160mm and 180mm disc rotor size mount is available.
Metric Trunnion Shock Mount: Two new standards of the rear shock is found on the new Spark, metric shock sizing and the shorter sized Trunnion Mounting arrangement. The stout and short shock allows greater freedom for the frame design, sitting lower and wider in the frame, and also more stroke length with the same eye-to-eye length.
The new downward pointing rear shock allows freedom with frame sizes too, removing the shock from fixing to the top tube (which grows as the sizes do) is an obvious benefit and more economical.
New Sandwich Dropout: The new dropout is also an area of weight saving, on the Scale hardtail also. Available for both Shimano Direct Mount and SRAM it integrates into the thu-axle for a leaner and stiffer section.
Suspension and Geometry: A criticism we had with our review of the 2016 Scott Spark 900 Premium recently was the frame geometry was a little out-dated, we wanted shorter stays, and slacker angles to let the bike ride better. So we’re stoked that the new Spark is all that and more.
For the 29er the chain stays are 13mm shorter than before, now a respectable 435mm. Reach is longer, head angle slackens off 1.3 degrees and the whole standover is a huge 28mm lower.
Scott have worked on developing a more sensitive suspension curve too, and coupled with the Twin-Loc dual air chamber of the rear shock, this is one seriously adaptable bike.
While we are sure to admit the Scott range is overwhelming and a little confusing at times, the result is excellent choice and options for the rider. Here’s a quick overview of the Spark range coming to Australia.
The new Spark platform comes with three different wheel sizes and different travel options. The frame of the 27.5″ wheel Spark RC 700 SL weighs in at only 1749 g (including shock and hardware). The frame of the 29″ frame Spark RC 900 SL weighs in at only 1779g (including shock and hardware).
Spark RC 900 / Spark 900: The all-out 29er race bike.
First impressions: You want to race? This is your weapon, there are few bikes as successful on the race circuit as the new Spark, and the new version cements itself at the top by shaving serious weight. Hitting the trails on the Spark 900 RC was quite an experience, the acceleration and rolling speed is outstanding. Your power goes straight to the rear wheel, and the perfectly ergonomic Twin-Loc lever is there for the sprints and climbs, lock it or switch to climb mode and you’re so well supported to mash on the pedals in anger.
Spark RC 700 / Spark 700: Lightweight 27.5″ wheel race bike.The 120mm trail-ready version of the Spark.
First Impressions: This is the Spark for the trail rider, with both wheel size options, the ‘regular’ spark feels so much more neutral than it’s racey RC brother. With meatier tyres, dropper posts, 34mm leg forks this is a seriously progressive bike from Scott.
We spent a lot of time on this bike, and we can see massive appeal for the trail rider that races a few times a year.
Spark 700 Plus: Super fun and capable trail bike. So much traction!
The Plus is a 130/12omm travel bike with 2.8″ Maxxis tyres for a completely different character to the racey Spark range but sharing the same incredibly light frame.
First Impressions: For those who are yet to experience a plus bike, we urge you to try one. This Spark Plus is a completely different bike, while it shares the same lightweight frame, the extra fork travel and 2.8″ Maxxis plus tyres transform it into a capable and fun bike to blast through trails in confidence. 2.8″ tyres can climb up harder, steeper and looser ascents, and turn the bike into a descent and you’ve got control in spades.
Maxxis make an appearance on the new Scott range, previously very involved with Schwalbe, testing proved them not to be durable enough, and Maxxis are much more affordable too, all good from our end.
We could bang on about plus bikes for ages, they really are great fun to ride. Check out review of the Scott Genius Plus here: Scott Genius Plus review.
New the concept of plus? What’s it all about? Click here for a little more on Plus.