We all know the value of an aerodynamic bike, wheels and helmet for time trials and triathlons, so why not look for some of the same advantage in a road bike? That’s exactly what Scott have aimed at with the Foil. It's a fantastic bike only let down by wheels that can’t keep up with the pace it sets.
Ride & handling: Aerodynamic design will help you cut minutes from long rides
Let’s make one thing clear right from the start – the Foil is fast! On the descents we ride most often we noticed that it hit 50kph sooner than we’re used to seeing and it whips along on the ﬂat too. When you get out of the saddle and apply some gas the Foil leaps forwards.
Holding the drops and pulling hard to get the maximum force into the bike reveals that it’s a very stiff frame from front to back. More than simply an absence of tangible ﬂex, the Foil gives you a very positive feeling of rigidity that really encourages you to pour in all your effort. It’s fun and inspiring.
Unfortunately, the Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels are nowhere near as stiff and rather shown up by the frame. During sprint efforts we could even hear the spokes ‘pinking’ like a cooling car engine as their tension came and went with each pedal stroke. Their weight is a clear hindrance when climbing, too.
Neither is a big issue when you’re spinning along on the ﬂat but a wheel upgrade should be your top priority ahead of some shiny new components, a training camp or feeding the kids! The frame takes the edge off the worst bumps but it’s no airbed. The steering isn’t as twitchy as you might expect: the Foil turns and carves a line with accuracy and conﬁdence.
With the stem sat above the spacers you get a sporty position that doesn’t demand extremes of ﬂexibility on your part but which still places the emphasis on speed. Whip out the spacers and you can get a really aggressive position which will keep your back ﬂat with tri bars ﬁtted. It’s just a shame that the tapered spacers look daft and ﬁt poorly when arranged in a different order.
Frame & equipment: Chassis is up with the best and well deserving of future upgrades
Before now, aero road bikes have all involved some sort of compromise. Traditional airfoil tube shapes are heavier and have less lateral rigidity than conventional frames. Scott say that a target of the Foil was to eliminate these compromises so the frame design approaches the question of aerodynamics from the opposite direction.
Instead of designing the most aero frame possible and then trying to make it light and stiff, Scott started with their excellent Addict as the benchmark and aimed to improve its aerodynamics without compromising the weight and stiffness that have a greater inﬂuence on the ride quality. Scott say that the solution is the ‘virtual airfoil’, a tube shape that uses its leading edge to make the air behave as if it’s following a long-tailed airfoil shape.
The result is a frame that weighs 1,030g in our 58cm test size and which Scott claim saves you 20 watts at 45kph over the Addict. The top three models, from the £5,999 Foil 10 up to the £9,499 Foil Premium, use Scott’s lighter HMX NET carbon ﬁbre. The Foil 20 uses HMF NET which has a slightly lower ratio of high modulus ﬁbres but, Scott say, only adds around 80g to a frame compared to the top versions.
To balance steering integrity against the frontal area, the head tube tapers from 1-1/8 to 1-1/4in at the crown of the full-carbon, aero-proﬁle fork. The frame also features an integrated clamp for the aero seatpost, internal cable routing and an oversized bottom bracket area that adds stiffness, smooths airﬂow and is shaped to accommodate an SRM power meter.
The Foil 20 comes equipped with a complete Shimano Ultegra Grey groupset. It’s well-proven and handsome kit, if extremely understated for such a racy bike. Two gearing options are available: compact with 50/34-tooth rings and an 11-28t cassette, and standard with 53/39t rings and an 11-25t cassette. Oddly, Scott refer to the latter as ‘20-speed’ but, of course, both have 20 gears.
The Mavic Cosmic Elites are entry-level aero wheels. The rims are slightly deeper, at 30mm, and they have a basic aero proﬁle that ﬁts the aims of the frame. Don’t expect them to surf the air like a set of Zipp 808s though, and keep in mind that they come with a weight penalty. The build is ﬁnished off with a Selle Italia X1 saddle and Scott’s own oversized Road Pilot Pro bar and stem, all co-ordinated in white.
This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine.