Scott made a ballsy move by producing the world's first carbon freeride bike complete with unique triple chamber high pressure shock. We reckon the gamble has paid off - if you can afford it.
While Scott's long-term design consultant Peter Denk is legendary for producing the lightest frames possible, he was up against it with this one: "If a rider breaks an alloy frame he says, 'Maybe I was riding too hard'. If he breaks a carbon one he says, 'Maybe I shouldn't have bought carbon'!" With that in mind, there's no less than 300g of extra crashproofing engineered into obvious impact zones on the broad flowing Ransom frame. Also, on a practical note, there's room for big tyres, a water bottle, full seat height adjustment and complete outer cable routing from shifters to mechs. Despite some long unsupported sections such as the rear stays, it's a remarkably stiff frame, complete with optional screw-through Maxle replaceable dropouts at the rear.
Denk also created the unique Equalizer triple chamber shock for the Ransom. By flicking the neat handlebar lever you open both high pressure air chambers for full float, one for a taut climbing feel, or close them both for total lockout. The damping oil then sits in a third chamber with position-sensitive damping and the option of pull knob platform damping for a stable pedalling feel.
We did have to push the main bearing sleeves back into the frame straight from the box though, which wasn't the best way to start the test.
Scott have spared no expense in equipping the Ransom Ltd. Full XTR transmission is light and impressively tough even in a crash-rich DH environment. But even with 8in rotors the brakes lacked absolute power, and were fading noticeably through the infamous switchback sections.
We also blew up the RockShox Lyrik Two Step forks within two days. SRAM fix kits for the known problems will be available by the time you read this but, for the record, 08 bikes will run Fox 36 Talas, Avid Ultimate brakes and a SRAM X.0/Noir transmission instead anyway.
The lightweight DT rimmed and DT/XTR hubbed wheels survived really well, and the Scott tyres held out until Mega when we switched them to proper double-ply DH rubber. But you do get the ultimate Mega secret weapon included - a Maverick speedball extending seatpost for some instant pedal height or steep descent saddle positioning. The Truvativ carbon bar and the Thomson stem complete the kit list collection.
With the Speedball post and Lyrik fork our bike was significantly above the much hyped 30lb claimed weight for Ransom, but it was still much lighter than the bikes with similar travel.
Adding a very balanced 'big XC' rather than 'slack freeride' feel made it interesting to watch our various testers get used to it. Those coming off smaller XC/Trail bikes exploited its astonishing fork-rear balance, agility and easy pedalling immediately. But within minutes they turned into serious downhillers as they realised what the immaculately damped and kickback free 165mm of rear travel let them get away with.
Those coming off bigger bikes took a while to believe that such a light-feeling bike really could stick sketchy boulder sections and take the biggest drops. By halfway down they'd be raving about how well it held a line through savagely rutted corners and stayed glued down under braking. Even when having issues with brake fade, it never got scary at speeds above normal comfort levels. The instant ability to totally or partially lock it out for pedalling was hugely useful on either the smooth or short techy climbs of both the Qualifier and the Mega too.
To the surprise of many the Ransom was almost 'last bike standing' as well. The main bearing had come loose again and the shock felt pretty rough by the time we rolled into Alpe D'Huez after the race, but it was still basically intact. While we know that some Ransoms have broken, we've also seen enough dead Patriots and Bullits to know nothing is invulnerable.
- Outstanding all-round suspension and handling balance p Unique triple mode shock for mental descending or climbing
- Impressively light set-up that stays glued down
- Needs an understanding owner p Needs an even more understanding bank manager p XTR brakes unsurprisingly not quite enough for those really extreme descents