There's been a whole lot of excitement surrounding the launch of Scott's new Addict range of high-end carbon fibre bikes, much of it focusing on the marketing tagline: "The lightest production road frame in the world." And we've been lucky enough to be the first to test one in the UK...
Scott pretty much set the ball rolling for the next generation of carbon frames when they released the C1 full carbon frame back in 2001. But six years ago those lighter carbon frames were viewed with scepticism by the pro riders, and most of the French Jean Delatour team who were contracted to ride Scott bikes opted at first for aluminium frames to see them through the tough early season one-day classics.
That aside, the C1 represented a new construction technique for carbon frames that used a 'bonding' layer of carbon to join the mitred tube ends together instead of complex and heavy internal lugged construction that was common at the time.
The Addict builds on the strengths of the C1 by using a thinner, tougher, ultra-high modulus carbon - but with some carbon frames costing around £800 and weighing in at 1.1kg, can paying double that figure be justified for a weight saving of around 250g? Read on...
Scott are keen to claim their 54cm Addict frame weighs just 790g, making it the lightest production frame ever. It's a claim borne out by the 875g weight of this 56cm version.
The shape and profile of the tubing is outwardly similar to the C1 that we tested five years ago but with a few changes in the detail to improve appearance and stiffness levels. To start with, they have increased the surface area at the juncture of the head and down tubes to increase strength, and have utilised an ultra-high modulus carbon to create a lighter, thinner-walled construction using the Integrated Moulding Process (IMP) and Naked External Tubeset (NET). Basically, it means that they have eliminated the outer decorative layer to save weight. Gone too are the aluminium dropouts in favour of carbon ones on both the frame and fork ends.
Run your eye along the seat tube to the clamped area and it thins near the top in much the same place as the C1 that we tested in 2001. Back then the combination of a loose fitting seatpost and an over-tightened seatpost clamp on the C1 frame had led to a crack forming near the top of the seat tube. Despite the thinness of the Addict's tube in this vulnerable area, we believe the problem has been firmly addressed because the seatpost is a firm fit in the frame. The Ltd version of the Addict frame is essentially the same as the one we've ridden here but it has an extended seat tube which does away with the need for a seatpost. It looks good but saves no weight.
The Addict is well into the red zone on the virtual stiffness scale, with every stroke of the pedal translating into forward momentum akin to the little shove that you get in a time trial as you begin the race. That said, the Isaac Sonic is marginally stiffer still as a whole, but it takes a very powerful rider to notice.
Glance down at the chainring when traversing a climb and such is the level of bottom bracket stiffness here that there is a complete absence of chain rub, and the transition between riding out of the saddle and seated is as seamless as it gets.
The slightly-built riders in the group found the ride a little uncomfortable over long distances but this directness and lightness of ride brings its own rewards on smooth roads as the rider is brought closer to the sensation of speed. While light bikes tend to be compromised when it comes to descending at speed, a couple of test riders commented that the R1 handled descents better than anything they had previously tried and stability was greater than they had expected.
Lighter wheels would have made it an even better bike for scaling a climb, but the Fulcrum wheels aid stability and make the overall set-up close to perfect for continental sportives on uncharted roads that would otherwise have required caution. Moreover, on a hill section battered by crosswinds the Addict barely flinched during a fast descent.
Such is the lightness of the Addict that a couple of testers found themselves using one gear higher than they normally would on the test circuit, and we're pleased to note that Scott have broadened the Addict's appeal by offering a compact chainset option to provide a greater spread of gears in the lower ranges.
The Italian made Fulcrum wheels are built around Campagnolo hubs, and the bearings are the angular contact type that support the balls at four points, providing better handling of radial and axial loads than a traditional ball, cup and cone hub. The front hub developed play during testing but this was sorted in seconds using a cone spanner and Allen key.
Fulcrum have taken the belt and braces approach to design using aluminium spokes and nipples that are massively oversized. While some brake rub is usually noticeable with other wheels when traversing a climb, it is virtually absent here. We can safely say that the Fulcrum R1 is the stiffest wheel you can buy.
There's an option of Campagnolo Hyperon-Ultra on the highest spec version - and they do make a startling improvement on long climbs - but those who do wish to spec these wheels will need to learn to tolerate the carbon braking surface that can grab if the brake's applied hard for more than 10 seconds at a time.
The Continental Grand Prix 4000 tyres help the Scott to corner like it's on rails and they provide ample grip for wet weather, although they're best changed for something made of sterner stuff during the winter months because the sidewalls compress more than we are used to and we managed to pick up a couple of pinch punctures on a section of road strewn with small stones.
The Addict range starts with the SRAM Force-equipped R3 version costing £3,649, followed by the Shimano Dura-Ace-equipped R2 (£3,899), rising to £6,999 for the range-topping Addict Ltd model equipped with Campagnolo Record and Hyperon-Ultra clincher wheels.
The R1 version tested here is equipped with Campagnolo Record, and there is a frame, fork, and headset-only option at £1,899. The Ritchey WCS finishing kit befits the overall package price and would add up to around £430 if the parts were to be bought individually. The finishing kits consist of the Carbon Evolution handlebars, WCS Axis oversized stem in 2014 aluminium, and the Ritchey WCS 31.6mm diameter carbon seatpost. This seatpost is the setback type and has a two-bolt fixing for the very classy looking clamp that resembles that of the Shimano Dura-Ace. It's light and easy to adjust, though we reckon some will prefer to use a USE shim together with a smaller diameter 27.2mm seatpost to provide a little more comfort for long distance cycling.
The Selle Italia SLR saddle is more comfortable than it looks but as with any saddle, you really need to try one before you decide.
The Ritchey WCS carbon bars were a hit with all of our testers, although we would like to see the curved bends available as an option (rather than shaped anatomic bars) because these are enjoying a resurgence of interest among riders who started their career with a curved bend.