Scott Aspect 50 £359

Starter mountain bike

BikeRadar score 3/5

Scott have kept the price of the Aspect 50 low by speccing rim brakes rather than discs.  As a complete bike package, it’s still very reasonable value for money, but we’d say it’s worth paying more for disc brakes and a better drivetrain if you plan to ride off-road throughout the year and you can stretch to it.

Ride & handling: Confidence inspiring ride spoiled by sluggish wheels

The overall ride experience on the Aspect 50 was excellent for a bike at this price. The handling is confidently neutral, the fork works well enough in terms of helping you to tackle bumpy off-road terrain and it’s only really the rim brakes that remind you this is an entry-level machine.

But even the low profile rapid-rolling treads were still not enough to make up for the fact that it was noticeably slow on the climbs. The overall weight of the bike is probably part of the issue, but the weight of the wheels is the real culprit – a few hundred grams of extra spinning weight adds to drag until you get up to speed.

The geometry of the Scott is a little more relaxed than that of many other bikes in this price bracket and this makes for a slightly lazier steering feel in twisty singletrack, but a lazier descending feel on rough terrain as well, which can be a confidence booster for riders who haven’t previously ridden off-road very much.

Chassis: Nice frame, well worth later parts upgrades

The frame is the highlight of the Aspect 50. It boasts lightweight double-butted hydroformed tubes and has disc brake bosses to cover the option of a later upgrade as well as luggage rack eyelets for utilitarian usage.

While the shapely tube profiling, tapering almost to square on the top tube and biaxially ovalised on the big down tube, are pleasing to the eye, the practical emphasis is on achieving the ideal combination of low weight and high strength.

There’s plenty of mud room around the seatstays and chainstays and the machined head tube offers lots of reinforcement strength around the integral headset. There’s only one set of bottle cage bosses and the seat clamp slot is on the back, prone to rear wheel spray.

The neutral handling geometry is designed around a 100mm (3.9in) travel fork and the SR Suntour XCM unit provided is a better performing fork than we’re used to finding on bikes at this price. 

The lockout lever on top of the right hand leg works for progressive compression damping too. The fork is clunky if you turn it all the way, but halfway is enough to stiffen the compression for road use and climbing.

Equipment: Good fork but heavy wheels and hefty drivetrain slow you down

It’s hard to keep overall bike weight low at this price. A heavy drivetrain and heavy wheels take the overall bike weight up to 13.9kg (30.6lb), despite the rim brakes saving some weight over discs.

The basic build of Acera gear mechs and the trouser guard equipped crankset conspire to show the bike’s lower budget against others costing just a little more.  Still, the gears kept shifting efficiently throughout the test period and we’ve never found reason to complain about Shimano’s EasyFire shifters.

The Scott Ozon tyres are fast-rolling and they don’t block in the mud, but traction in the wet is not great. The wheels are sturdily built but both inner tubes punctured on the first ride because of poor rim tapes that allowed the spoke ends to rub through.

Many riders will like the simplicity of the rim brakes but muddy conditions starting to affect the blocks and the cabling reminded us why we like the hydraulic disc brakes on more costly bikes.

The rest of the finishing kit here is reasonable quality Scott branded stuff that does the job and makes all the contact points comfortable.

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