If there’s one area where bigger wheeled 29er bikes are making conventional-hooped rides look like cold blooded egg layers it’s high speed, long distance hardtails. Nothing does it better for each buck than Scott’s carbon weave wagon wheeler either.
For a start, at just over a kilo the full-carbon Scale Pro frame is as light as most 26in hardtail frames. The tapered head tube, oversize down tube and Press-Fit PF92 bottom bracket area means it’s not losing out on stiffness and steering accuracy.
By curving the seat tube and bringing the back wheel in as close as possible and ﬁtting a short stem as standard, steering responsiveness and precision is as good, if not better, than most race bikes. Scott have used their road-bred SDS super-slim seatstays to remove some rear end rattle before it gets to the rider and ﬁtted big volume 2.25in tyres to cushion the ride.
However sorted the Scott is, 29ers feel signiﬁcantly different to a conventional bike. The increased inertia of the bigger wheels means slightly slower acceleration and a correspondingly sluggish feel. Ironically the way the wheels smooth out rough sections removes the rattle and blur that creates much of the speed sensation of riding, which can create an underwhelming ﬁrst impression.
As soon as our testers kept cranking those wheels for a few more turns, though,they started to pull clear of the rest of the pack without even trying. The rougher the trail got the more obvious the rolling advantage of the wheels was to riders and followers. Rather than relying on the right suspension path or shock setup, the shallower contact angle, longer contact patch and increased momentum let the Scott skim over the top of trouble.
Traction is outstanding for a hardtail too, ﬁnding purchase and free speed on the loose pebbles or scree that sucked other bikes to a standstill. It also rolled up the stepped or rough slab paved paths of high passes with ease, surging ahead as others struggled. Even with a relatively simple fork, cornering and descending control are equally enhanced.
If we had to compare its capability with anything it would be with the best short-travel suspension bikes. There’s no way you’d get a full suspension bike anywhere near this weight and responsiveness at this price though. There's masses of upgrade potential left in the workmanlike spec on this chassis too, making it even more of a bargain.
Experienced 29er riders were stunned with how well sorted, light and responsive the Scott was for a £2,000 bike. Big wheel freshers were blown away with the combination of enhanced speed, smoothness and control that the Scale Pro delivered. Either way, this is a superb example of state of the art superlight hardtail performance at a remarkably good price.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.