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."

No comments:

Post a Comment