Friday, 25 September 2009

Thursday, 24 September 2009

V . D .

"will you still need me , will you still feed me ? " *

Ah yes . The windmills of your mind . Like a wheel within a wheel .

We've just been up to the Manchester Velodrome for some ' accreditation ' action .' Was'nt too sure what to expect . Re: earlier post . I'd been fortunate enough to sample the delights of fixed wheel track riding just a few weeks ago at the Scott thingy . Stuart and I probably did about an hour or so ,just messing about really . I was fairly tired after that ,so today I was expecting mucho paino , what with over 5 hrs of track time to come .

I've been to a few taster sessions , that have been good , and I even have a ' fixie ' these days too , so it should'nt be that hard . Should it ?

We started out by being put through our paces doing fairly basic drills , just warming up I guess . John ( 64 ) was coaching us round in his rough rawtenstallian ( ? ) bellowing style . It's fair to say we were all over the place .

Gareth and I had , somehow , managed to be on the back for a couple of the drills and we both said how much more difficult it was. The thing is any tiny mistakes up on the front of the group are magnified as they travel down the line . Personally I love riding bikes , and I dont have any worries over my bike handling abilities . If I fall off , I fall off . It does happen from time to time , honest . The biggest problem I had on the day was trusting other peoples abilities . Being a MTBer ( mostly ) , I'm used to having a bit more room to manouvre and do my thang , but when your half a wheel off the person in front and they look a bit , well , dithery , it's not very confidence inspiring .

In subsequent drills I selfishly positioned myself a bit farther up the line , which made things a lot easier .

Another big problem I had on the day was hearing . I'm more than a bit mutt + jeff at the best of times . We set off on one of the drills were as riders rode off the front and up in a 'chaingang ' style it came to my turn and I'm sure someone said " dont go up " . I put in the extra effort off the front though ,and pulled away from the group . I can see that it's a serious thing , but , you've got to laugh .

Later on John had a word with a few of us , me included . He said to me that '' I really needed to concentrate more to pass the test''. I was just thinking that I was needing to relax . Hmm. What was it , Kung Fu ? Did I have to pick up a red hot cauldron with my bare wrists ?

Since I've got the fixie bike I feel a lot happier adjusting my speed on the 'drome , feeling the sprocket , and all that . I think I was watching other people too much and trying to adapt , rather than just chilling into the groove. He also said that " maybe my fitness was'nt as good as I thought " . I was a little tired by then but it honestly wasnt a problem . The pace was never too high , and on the individual efforts I felt OK . There was one thing we did in 2 groups ,where each lead rider on the whistle had to sprint off the front and join the back of the other group . I particularly enjoyed that .

Towards the end we did a kind of ' mock race ' . I honestly havent got a clue what was going on . We were changing off the front on full laps , and then half laps , then it was ' every man for himself ' . My bad leg ( I dont like to talk about ) was very tight by then , and I was digging deep . I found myself behind Gareth for a lap or two . He pulled up and I went with him . I can see now that it was probably my turn to pull , haha . I just kept on digging and according to Stuart ( who'd turned up to photograph some kids in Lycra ) , John said " I was worried about his fitness , and he's just won that " .
I dunno . Did he mean me ? If all it takes to win a race on the velodrome is ride round blindly for 20 laps and put in a bit of a spin to finish then Chris Hoy'd better watch out . Especially since he started doing all his TV work and getting a bit porky.

All in all a very enjoyable day out . We put in over 50 miles of laps in the end . I've kinda got it out of my system for a while .Itch , scratched . It wont be replacing the mountainbiking just yet , but I will definitely be getting up there again for some of the SQT sessions .

* When I'm 64 .

Thursday, 17 September 2009


"See I reckon you're about an 8 or a 9,
Maybe even 9 and a half in four beers time."

I've delayed doing this blog for a few reasons . Partly I've been busy ,and a little tired . Mostly I wanted to kinda calm down before I did it . Collect my thoughts , and take stock . See , If I'd rushed into doing the write up of the Genius when I got home ,quicksnap , it might have stretched to a million words of gibberish . Foaming at the mouth type blahgadafnuhahmmm.

Suffice to say , I am calm . Ommmmmmmm

The bike is good .

The bike is very good .

Genius ? Probably . Did I say geeky ? OK , yes I did . I'm having a Jeremy Clarkson . The one where he tests an Alfa . Completely derides it from top to toe . Ridiculous depreciation ,dodgy lectrics , bits dropping off etc etc . Would he buy one over ,say , a 5 series B-emm. Definitely .

Unfortunately ,the Genius is the 5 series . It's the best bike I have ever ridden , I think . We didnt do a massive loop ,but we were on our local trails and included the best bits . Like the Scale and the Spark ,to find fault with the Genius is splitting the atom. The 3 position fork is a little fiddly to adjust with gloves on , but I soon got used to it ,and was perfect for getting the front end weighted nice. Combined with the clever gadget Tracloc lever thingy on the bars to lock the rear shock it climbs very well . Not as sprinty as the Scale ,or even the Spark , but sit in and it could wind up a pyramid.

Downhill with everything swinging free , it's , well , bonkers . I dont go in for the DH thing too much . I'm too old school , or maybe , just too old . I let the brakes go on a rutty run across the moors and it just flew . Up ahead a couple were walking up the trail . Not wishing to run them over I need to adjust my line to the other side of the trail . The trail is rutted along the direction of travel with 6" or so deep ruts . Normally this would require a certain amount of ' english ' ,and it's advisable to cross them a bit more square on . You know ? And then you still might lose your teeth.

It's all happening a bit quick , so I take what the kids would call a 'sick line ' . Right across the ruts at an acute angle . This is not allowed . It's Newton , or something . Probably . Dope .

Bike's ace . Very direct . Very fun . Very . "Handles like a fish " , someone once said .

Biggish drops appear . No sweat . Dude . Chill . Quicksnap.

OK ,get the picture ? The Genius is very very capable .
We head on . Heading back . Cake and coffee beckons . But before that , Ice Cream .

The Ice Cream Run . It's very mention can strike fear into the heart of many a mountainbiker . Grrr. I think it's my favourite hill . I've ridden up it once , or twice , but mostly it's for going down . Starting fairly innocuously , sweeping , it opens into a corner and then , Blammo ! Wheel sized gaps sit and wait for their prey . Ready to spit you over the top . It's all do-able , but it requires a certain attitude . Let's just say it commands a certain respect . I like nothing better than choosing a line ,weight off the back , and going with it , working the bike into the turns , onto the slab and then a hop off the front onto loose , fist sized ,cobbles , scattering them like marbles . Get it wrong and it bites . I've been bitten over the years . I'm not looking to get hurt these days , but when there's a variable present ,and you just cant be sure , it tends to sharpen the senses . Focuses the mind . You command the bike to do your bidding , you're the boss . Boss it .
Ah , but the Genius , see . It's just too good . Is that possible . Really too too good. Even though the brakes are set the wrong way , opposite handed , I'm pushing it . I hit the first turn just a little higher up the bank than I ought , through the moguls at the top and at speed , jump off the slab . It's all too easy . Going fast isnt meant to be this easy , not here . The 6" of the Genius gives it a capability far beyond what I personally am looking for . I'm going way too fast than I am happy with . The alarm bells are ringing in my head . Capable or not , a stack here at this speed would be very bad . Personally I prefer something with a bit more involvement . An Alfa ? I dunno . Do they make bikes ?
And then I've got a puncture . Hmm .Durex innertubes.
Walking the latter part of the hill you really get to see the rocks . They're not massive , but still it doesnt make sense that a simple device such as a pedal cycle should be able to negotiate it's way down with so little fuss.
So . Good thing ? Bad thing ?
Hmm . Very very very . Er....

On reflection , and this is opinion , I'd go for the Spark . The 4" of travel gives it the perfect balance . Just enough to take the sting out of a downhill like this , but also light , efficient , simple , er , elegant . Classic . You're riding the thing , not just tagging along for the ride.Perfect week to week , and perfect for a big day out , lakes / peaks thing.

The Scale ? Amazing . The fastest bike I've ever ridden . A level of speed that is unreal , matched with some comfort . Enough comfort for a 40yr old with a bad back . Occasionally . But to live with it week in week out would be hard . Too full on . Besides , I already have one . It's a pound or two heavier and says ' Diamond Back Axis ' on it .

The Genius . Just that . Genius . Too bloody clever . I said to Stu it was a 'biscuit jointer' . You may be forgiven for not knowing what a biscuit jointer is . It is a power tool that has taken all the fun , and skill , out of mortice and tenons. See ,if it was good downhill , but a bit lumpy and heavy uphill ,say , that'd be OK . Or the other way round even , but to do it all so well . That's inexcusable. Where do I fit in to the equation Einstein ? " I'm here . Hello ! "

Anything actually wrong with it ? Not really . I'm going to nitpick . It's 3 1/2 grand so it deserves it . Cable routing . Two things . Firstly aesthetic . The cables / hoses run along the top of the downtube and go on to perform their various functions very well . They just look a little untidy . I'm sure they'd look a lot nicer under the downtube .
If that was all it was , I wouldnt have mentioned it , but on our 12month old test bikes there was a worrying amount of cable rub exactly halfway up the headtube where the cables have to pass . Apart from it just looking a bit crap on your 3 1/2 grand bike , it being carbon and all that , it might over time ,weaken the headtube . Maybe , maybe not . But it doesnt inspire confidence .
Routing the cables under the downtube , coupled with a simple retainer would solve this . Oh , the front mech cable already is routed under , so why not the rest ? Anyway .

Componentry was generally excellent , but , the rear wheel on the Genius was very slack . It's probably had a hard life and needed a 'true and tension '.

Hardly the definitive nod then . It's just too bloody good . That's its flaw. It's fit , but my gosh , don't it just know it.

And next year it's even better ........ Get one . No . Really . You'll love it.

Coffee , cake etc etc as we discussed Carl Jung and the meaning of life.

OK , the 8 track's finished . I'm going to bed .


Thursday, 10 September 2009

5 , 4 , 3, 2, ONE


" I was looking for a job and then I found a job...." *

Just got back from an evenings jolly at the Manchester Velodrome . It was the launch for the 2010 Scott models . I spent most of the early part of the evening banging on about how good the demo bikes have been . Preaching to the converted , one might say. They have certainly won me over . I never had a special fondness for Scott . I'd never thought bad of them either . Just kinda indifferent to them . Way back in the day the old purple Scott boulder's were never ever going to win over the 'cooler ' brands from the states that i'd grown up lusting after .
OK ,that said , I knew they werent ever bad bikes either and in more recent years they've gone down the techno route , knocking out bikes that borrow more from NASA ,and opting for carbon fibre rather than a good old oxy-acetelene torch and some Tange prestige . Progress ,certainly . Nothing wrong with that . The bikes still had'nt quite jumped out to me though . I remember seeing a German couple touring around the Peak District just a few years ago . We'd all stopped at a gate near Ladybower Res' . We're circumnavigating one way ,they the other . It was the first time I'd really seen a Genius up close , and whilst obviously a very serious ,and interesting piece of kit , they were just a bit too ,er , Euro . Geeky . My opinion , but ,there you go .

So time moves ever on. Fast forward a few years . We're demoing bikes . It's going well . Low key . Under the radar . "Subliminal ", I said tonight . We've had some good bikes these last few years . The Commencals are good . They rode well ,and are arguably ' cool ' at the minute . I liked the Gary Fisher . Well I would . Arguably not as cool , but 'understated , and ' mature' . Like moi. How euro's that ? Moi . A hardtail , entry level GT was ,crap fork notwithstanding , a joy. In a" je ne sais quoi" ,type of way.

Then we got the cannondales. 09 .I'd always wanted a Dale ,so I guess had to like them . Nothing wrong with them ,very good in fact . ' Cool ' ? I think so ,but I wanted one with 'power cam ' brakes and a 24" rear wheel in the ' 80s ,so I'm not entirely unbiased. It's scotts night tonight ,so I wont wax lyrical about the Cannondales . But I could .

So then we get the Scotts . I still have a few Cannondales and can directly compare . I realise it's hard enough reading the actual words of this blog ,but if you can read between the lines of the previous posts the only criticism of the Scotts is'nt really a criticism at all . The price . The models we've been fortunate enough to test have been up at the top end . Mid £3k - £4k territory . Serious dosh . I think if money were no object ,and Stu said this earlier , you'd have " one of each " in the shed . That's a Scale , a Spark ,and a Genius. No question . Money however ,being the finite thing it is , for most of us it can't , if you excuse the pun , be discounted.


It is what it is . They are what they is . The Scotts are a highly technical ,unique thing. They have their own special shocks , and that gimmick that is'nt on the handlebars . Unbelievable light weights , good componentry . Good . All good . Anything wrong ? You'd be splitting hairs.

So . Tonight . Manchester Velodrome . Launch .
First impressions . Mega 'r kid. Graphically they look the best they ever have . I'm sure Scott havent just rebadged last years bikes ,but to my eye the 3 mountainbikes look largely unchanged. I'm sure it's subtle stuff , a nip and a tuck . It aint exactly broke . The handlebar gimmick has now been refined to be even cleverer, locking front and rear shocks . I'm looking forward to 2011s cerebral implant line.
The essential pick up test was good . Very light , as expected . The Addict roadbike . Dont ask . Bonkers.
It's hard to be anything but positive about them . As I said above , I have been won over . And I've still to ride the Genius.

Better than the Cannondales ? My lime green baby ? Hmm . Right now I think so . Price caveat firmly inserted.

Big thanks to all the team at Scott . All obviously show a great passion for what they do . A great night , great venue . Cold pizza .

That's it ! I'm sticking with the 'dales . I'm sure we got warm pizza . I'll check . And , hang on , now I think about it ,they didnt push us to the point of exhaustion ,on bikes with no brakes , NO brakes I say , and then at the nadir of exhaustion / hunger ask, " How many bikes ve can put you down for ? "
Alan , You're gonna need a bigger shop , I just couldnt help it .....

They'll have me listening to 'daft punk ' next .

Ok , I need to be up before I go to bed . * heaven knows I'm miserable now .

TIM. Geek

Sunday, 6 September 2009


"Oh, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town
This town has dragged you down,
Oh, no, and everybody's got to live their life
And God knows I've got to live mine. " *


I would have really liked to have come along on this one ,but life just got in the way . Bit too much on .
As you can see the lads had a great time ,and the bikes were tested ,er ,completely .
I'll let the lads send me some words to include here .
It was great Tim. Really good day out, despite the lack-of-endurance-fitness-pain and the weather. Kirroughtree is just such a pleasure to ride.
I agree with your thoughts, though at Kirroughtree I found even the Ralf's pretty damn good. It was only on smooth wet rock that they struggled, but on the Kirroughtree hardpack they were great. Rolled real nice. I was amazed at how direct and stiff it was and how efficient it was. Every rism of energy you put into the pedal comes out the back tyre. Incredible. I spent the first half of the ride in middle ring and only found granny to be a life saver when I started cramping on the last quarter of the ride because it is just so easy to pedal. I'd have died on the Hustler at that stage. ( Doesnt 'rism ' relate to hydrophobicity ? Hmm )
The carbon frame is just a dream. Stupid light, yet doesn't get knocked off line too bad, crazy stiff, flickable and, unbelievably, really comfortable. It's almost a soft-tail level of comfort. I thought I was gonna get a right asspounding (and not just from Ste), but I commented about how I hadn't even missed my suspension seatpost.
The XT/XTR kit is also insanely good. The 9speed system shifts instantly and always accurately, even under heavy load and covered in grime and gunk. (Are you a groupset fundamentalist?)
We reckon we were a lot faster than we all would've been on our regular bikes and all of us were talking about stripping our current FS bikes back to more all mountain / XC weights. Everything's all got too heavy and DH-oriented.
The only criticisms I'd have to say about the Scale are that the grips are too narrow, as are the bars (just by an inch or two) and I found the forks very divey, but think they needed a stronger spring in them for my weight. ( Arent they air sprung ? )
( Yes ,they are . )
It was also very interesting to see just how much the bikes positioned themselves in rider order. I reckon me, Stu and Steve are currently pretty level in terms of (lack of) fitness, but almost without fail I led on the climbs, followed by Stu, followed by Steve and the order reversed on the descents.
I'll leave Steve to review the Genius if you don't mind. He's had far more experience of it and he rode the right sized frame, so is in a better position to give it a fairer trial.
Forgot to comment on the brakes, which are also fantastic. LOADS of modulation and control, yet all the braking power you'd need for trails / XC riding.
Also think the post markings are a great idea and should be standard on all seatposts.
Reckon that covers just about everything.
Thanks to Rick for the pics also,excellent as per . Additional ones can be seen on his picasa page ,HERE .
*More Smiths . "William ,william it was ,really nothing.... "
If there's something you'd like to try ,ask me I won't say no .
How could I ?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009



" A double bed and a stalwart lover ,
For sure ,
These are the riches of the poor..." *

OK , Here we are .
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been ‘evaluating ‘ some very spangly Scott bikes.
We’ve had ,in a few sizes of each model , the Scale ,the Genius ,and the Spark .

The Scale is the lightest hardtail available anywhere ,apparently. It is certainly very very light. The ones we have had aren’t even the top models . They only have ’regular ’ Shimano XT and positively mediocre Fox forks ,but they still come in weighing less than the combined birth weight of any two of my children. Apart from the twins who were premature.
Climbing the Scale is a joy in the old school ‘joy of climbing’ sense. I found it perfectly balanced ,and on a particularly tricky ,technical uphill it was ,well ,just superb. Very direct. The front end wasn’t too light ,but could easily be un-weighted to enable loifting over obstacles. Unfortunately you still have to pedal the damned thing ,and I seemed to be out of gas before it had had enough . It wills you on , and given a good set of lungs ,I’m sure you could climb up the outside of gas storage tank .
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all this uphill dominating prowess would come at the expense of downhill fun. OK ,It’s no downhill bike ,but on the longest downhills in our region it was really good . OK ,again ,I’m old school and like nothing more than a good old rigid downhill sesh ,possibly with a spot of flagellation thrown in for extra masochism. The Scale seemed to change direction on the proverbial Euro, and , the back end didn’t feel as stiff as the previous climbing success might suggest, virtually eliminating that punishing calf buzz that I get on my old ( very old ) steel hardtail ,that is ,in fact ,rigid.
Difficult to find any fault with it . Shimano stuff worked well ,DT wheelset very nice , XT brakes dead good . Tyres might not be for everyone / all conditions ,oh ,and I’d fit barends .

OK . Next up is the Genius. This is such a good bike ,so dead dead good ,that I couldn’t get a go on one of them . Hmm. They havent actually gone back just yet ,so ,We'll see.
I don’t have a definitive yay or nay on it then ,however ,all the riders who were fortunate to take it out did seem impressed . Scott have stuck with the basic design ,but ,early models were criticised for being a little on the heavy side . Probably par for the course on a 6”ish full susser a few years back , but thanks to clever carbon fibrey stuff the weight has come down ,and ,the carpark lift up /chin rubbing test being the only thing I can definitively report ,I can confirm it is pretty light. For a bike knocking on the 6” door this might be a problem ,but again reports back are favourable in the stiffness/tracking dept’. ( Apparently ),the low weight helps when climbing ( well ,it would )and with a handlebar mounted 3 position shocky locky thing AND a wind-down fork the geometry shifts for more efficient climbing. The mid £3k price buys you a mix of Shimano XT and a bit of XTR . It all works very well ,but it would be interesting to see just how good a cheaper one might still be for those of us who work for a living.

Finally ,but not in last place, is the Spark. I’ve been fortunate to have ridden some fairly high end bikes over the last few years . At the top end it can ,if you excuse the pun ,become muddy. All good bikes are good . It becomes increasingly difficult to separate them ,they all are draped with choice trinkets ,and all seem to do what is required from them. OK ,there’s the subtle nuances of handling ,or even intended purpose ,XC ,AM ,FS ,blah blah , but broadly speaking all the properly good bikes have felt ,well ,proper. The Spark is up there with them. I’m not 100% convinced it’s THE absolute top bike ,BUT ,it being fresh in my mind and all that ,it might be . Does that make sense? I’ve had some Carbon Cannondales that were very good ,and definitely ’up there’ ,and the cheaper( not cheap ) Commencal Meta 5.5 was a revelation ,up and down ,across ,whatever.
Out of the box the Spark could be labelled as XC , I guess. It’s a 4” ish ,full susser . It’s carbon . It has skinny -ish tyres ( UST schwalbe rocket ron ),carbon bars , SLR saddle , some XT ,some XTR ,Fox Talas . So it’s raceable ,XC-able ,er , marathonable ,type of thing . And then you ride it . Uphill ,obviously ,it goes well. It is very light ,which helps when defying Newton , but more than that the traction was very good . I nearly said amazing . In fact I did then deleted it. With a different tyre ,on our trails ,( it’s personal ) ,it just could be.Amazing ,that is. The Scwalbes felt OK on the day ,and it was a bit damp in places ,but I reckon something a bit more edgy ,might give it the ,er , edge.
Which leads on nicely to the next bit . Going downhill on a 4” travel bike that leans more towards XC ,one might have to adapt ones style ,even to the extent of opting for the safer line . You know the score . I think with a bigger tyre ,not a mad tyre ,just a bit bigger . Say ,the Nobby Nics off the Genius it could be in that exclusive perfect bike club. (With the Muddy Fox Courier ). The Spark also has that clever handlebar mounted shock lockout . It seems a bit gimmicky at first ,and once or twice I confused it with the left hand shifter lever ,but in a short while it becomes rather very useful. Changing between the 3 settings whilst on the move is actually a good idea ,and something you end up doing more often than you previously might have. Combine this feature with the frames lateral stiffness ( very ) ,and the bikes very nice geometry ( I thought ) and it’s a flying machine . Twists and turns through the trees feel positive ,and on bigger downhills ,with some tasty rocky drops it felt ,well ,very good .
Nit picking .Shorter stem ,those tyres ? What do I know ? Obviously I need an extended evaluation period. Say ,2010 ?

Andy took the Scale around Penmachno Trail in N.Wales. Here.
Hi Tim,
Just wanted to thank you and Alan for making the Scale available on Saturday.
I expected a race bike (unforgiving and steep) however, it was a revelation - such a rounded bike it surprised me. The geometry is spot on and it weighed less than my back pack with water and food for the day.On the trail the Rocket Ron tyres took a little getting used to (found you have to be quite aggressive on climbs for traction) but descending you just have to have confidence in them and they work well.
Having never ridden a carbon bike it was very taught for power transfer and you could feel a little predicatble flex (in a nice way) when pushing into corners. I have ridden Penmachno a number of times and my back makes itself known about half way round however, on the Scale I didn't even feel anything and was fresh at the end.
Equally found myself racing Stu up a ascent about 3/4 in - both were spinning next to each other and gradually got faster and faster...( Stu was on the Spark )There were also other fireroad ascents when I just put it into big ring and cranked at what felt like warp speed. The bike comes into its own when you pick up the speed, especially on the descents.Penmachno is the perfect place to try the bike - it is tight singletrack, enhanced when taken as fast as you dare go which is encouraged by the Scale. There is a confidence in the steering, "point and shoot", and it is so light you find your self throwing it into corners and over lips. My gut feel would be that it would be deflected by trail debris however, it tracked extremely well (not sure how this is physically possible however, may be the stiffness of the frame).Overall Saturday was the most fun I have had on a bike this year. The Scale exceeds the sum of its parts to form a bike that just feels right and inspires both confidence and an eagerness in the rider to push the speed more and more. I even found myself having to brake on uphill corners because I was carrying too much speed (I am sure that has never happened before).

It is such a good bike that I was trying to pick fault so that I dont buy one...the only point I came up with was that I got three punctures due to the light weight carcass of the Rocket Rons with the slate of the trail (although more pressure may have helped).
( Dont get me going on tyres . Ed )
A great day, with good company and a great trail. Gutted I had to give it back and been trying to convince myself that I don't need one and cannot justify the cost. Although a google search has revealed a more reasonable price Scale 35.....
Thanks again, and if the demons in my head get their way I may be speaking to Alan.

On the same ride John took the Genius. A big man-sized bike in size XL.
Well what can I say? I climbed like a mountain goat. I hardly pedalled through the singletrack. Some of the hills I did not even notice. That bike is bloody awesome!
On the negative side I found it a bit too light at times with the front end pinging off at funny angles and the front end was a bit low even with the fork at full travel but that is easily sorted. Oh, did I mention the price?

I had a great day and would have struggled on my Yeti. Would I buy one? Well yes, when I win the lottery. Another thing to add is that I went out on my Yeti today and I always though it was a reasonably lightish bike. Nah! It weighs a ton compared with the Scott. Cheers Tim for sorting the bike for me (and Alan)
Jeff rode the Spark in a more normal size on our local Rivi' trails . Here.
I had the Spark last weekend. Very impressive piece of kit, handled the climbs very well, much better than I expected. Glided across the cobbled road beneath the pike at speed and handled the climb over the 'ditch' to the mast road very nicely.
I think a lot of that is down to the weight of the bike - very light and responsive.
I was suprised at how well it handled the run down to the San Marino. ( A local long fast downhill ,with some biggish drops and ruts. Ed.)Makes a nice change to have a bike that handled the downs as well as the ups. The Fox forks and Scott shock work very well together. Liked the remote lock out on the shock - a bit gimicky, but worked well nevertheless.
Overall a very enjoyable piece of kit. Personally preferred it over the Cannondales and Commencals I had tried earlier this year.
My two-penneth, FWIW. Jeff
Tony rode the Spark on our local night ride . Here .

Rode the small Scott Spark, fit was excellent as I am 5' 6" in high heels.
Felt a little light at the front on the climbs, but something I quickly came acquainted with.
The reach was not as long as I am accustomed to - my normal ride is a Marin Mount Vision. (Although I am now considering a shorter stem on my Marin - cheaper than a Spark)
The group set was excellent, the Scott rear shock with remote lockout performed flawlessly.
Note: there is a rider weight indicator on the frame so that the shock sag can be set easily.
The big thing I noticed was that towards the end of the ride I still felt fresh, one of the biggest contributors to this was my strict training regime, or was it the carbon fiber Spark, who knows???
The Scott Spark is perfectly balanced, extremely light and with an excellent group set and Fox Forx is reasonable value for money that delivers considerable ride value.
The only complaint I had was that the right brake lever operated the front brake and thinking about it the opposite was true for the left brake lever - very strange.....

10/10 if Scott sort the brake problem.
I also ride my brakes the correct way ,unlike the rest of the free world. It's not a massive issue if the levers flip over ( Avids , Formula ...) , but Shimano do not and would require ,for Tony and I at least ,a hose /bleed /swap job . I cant help it . I had a BMX . I can also make a hand signal whilst turning right and simultaneously brake the front wheel .
OK , thanks guys . If any of the rest of you would like to share your thoughts on the Scotts ,you know where I am .
* The Smiths . "I want the one I can't have."

Tuesday, 1 September 2009



"Take me out tonight ,
where there's music and there's people ,
and they're young and alive " *

First outing with the Scott demo bikes .
Night ride . Meeting at the Bob Smithy Pub ,on the road to Bolton out of Horwich.
Jeff has kindly loaned me his night riding lights ,thanks Jeff. I’m meeting Rick and a bunch of his mates for their regular Wed night MTB ride. We’re setting out from what is for me the other side of the hill ,but heading over towards my regular trails . Should be a few surprises,it's not my home ,it's their home .
Some guys are keenly waiting when I arrive in the team van , loaded with bikes ,and few more arrive a bit later on .About 10 of us in total . I’m struggling with all the names ,so this is the bit where I text Rick to fill in the blanks.

If you are one of our legion of fans who waits with baited breath for each and every blog post ,you will have missed this bit ,as Rick has only texted me the following day ,but via the magic of web ,I have inserted names,thus...
Big Trev, Ian , XC Whippet John , DH Lawrence , Simon , Mike the hat, Graham, and Dickie.I think there was one or two more ,Rick ?

Speaking to Rick earlier on ,he was convinced the bikes would be out of the van and away ,Tommy Cooper style. Leaving at 7 ,a 2 hr ride ,back to the pub for 9 o’clock. ,i.e. no lights req’d . Hmm. After 45 mins of faffing ,setting rear shocks and fitting pedals etc ,what can I say ? Thanks again Jeff . Lights definitely req’d.
Being the altruistic kind of guy that I am ,I’m slumming it on the £3k+,lime green Cannondale. All the Scott bikes are taken. First impressions from the guys are good . Hoofing it up the road before we turn off onto the moors ,everyone seems pleased with them . Good then.
We take ,for me ,an unfamiliar climb . Starting fairly innocuously ,it turns a bit nasty . Luckily I’m slumming it on the not unfamiliar Rize .Don’t feel bad for me . At the trailhead ,properly warmed up now on a balmy evening, we regroup ,and evaluate. It’s early days ,but everyone seems pretty stoked on them . Guys are talking about not getting on with the Shimano after their Sram kit ,and obvious peripheral tyre talk abounds. Groupset choice is a funny thing . Same as tyres . Personally I prefer Shimano, I also prefer to have tyres . I’ve experienced some ,shall we say , less than perfect results with Sram kit . High end stuff too . Maybe it wasn’t set up correctly ,I don’t know ,but you have to base your opinions on something concrete . It’s not Catholicism. This gang seem to prefer Sram kit ,but luckily aren’t raving mad Groupset Fundamentalists ,and are prepared to accept the differences ,and move on ,in a kind of quasi mutual Groupset harmony.Shimano is a superior system. I believe it as a matter of faith. How can they hear me say those words ,and still they dont believe me ? And if they dont believe me now ,will they ever believe me ?

On more familiar trails now we head across Walker Fold towards the bottom of Smithills ,and the ‘Two Lads’, a local geological ‘lump’. Before we get there ,however , the Groupset tension is almost irrevocably shattered. Stay tuned.
Ian , a fairly ‘well built gentleman’ finishes the climb portaging his bike, the Scott Spark . It transpires the rear hub freewheel arrangement has completely failed, giving him no forward drive. This could tip the balance of mutual acceptance ,but luckily ,ironically even ,the rear hub is DT SWISS . Which of course ,luckily and ironically can only be neutral. Phew. Ian takes it most sportingly , run/walks up the Two Lads ,and freewheels the downhill to the Dog Kennels and then heads back with Graham for an early bath.
At this point it doesn’t look very good for the Scott ,but something daft like a busted freewheel is virtually impossible to predict. Still ill , I wonder ,could life ever be sane again?
So we carry on . Around the back of the Pike ,and down the Ice Cream Run, getting darkish now. Going good . The energy of a night ride is hard to beat . My dusk vision is terrible ,which gives a certain added buzz to things. The young lad is buzzing too , XC whippet style on the Scale. Youth is wasted on the young .How we laughed as he jumped off the path on to Sheep House Lane ,at an angle ,and decked it on the slippy steel of the cattle grid. Not as much as the late night roadie whose path he crossed at high speed though. That was close.
We head around the trees and the waters edge ,Return of the Jedi stylee ,on narrow trails , more darkish now. More buzzing. Mosquitoes ,probably.
Some climbs to tick off on the return leg . The concrete climb up to Wilderswood is a good one . Lungs tight in the moist night air . My only weakness ,well ,never mind, never mind. At the top the general consensus is that the Scotts are pretty good, doing all that is asked ,and maybe a bit more . “Efficient “ ,and “ direct “ are words that may have been used ,along with “ possible future maintenance issues “.The Genius ,that seems to be well received ,is certainly a little ‘techno’ looking with a 400psi rear shock . I suppose that that is how it is these days with multi pivot suspension bikes ,and if you’re in the market ,it goes with the territory. I have been assured that the rear shock can be serviced very quickly ,by Scott ,competitively priced, within a week turnaround .
And so ,on and up ,and away. For one night at least the relative merits of one God or another can be put aside.
Momentarily ,it seems ,we are ensconced within the pub discussing club T-shirts. I wondered why they should want to assimilate so ,but then a strange fear gripped me and I just couldnt ask.
Good night ,good lads ,good crack.
We are all ,of course ,just riding bikes.

*Pint O' Smiths. there is a light that never goes out. Thanks Jeff.