Scott Speedster S35 £899

Good all-rounder for adverse weather and long rides

BikeRadar score 4/5

Scott's Speedster S35 lives up to its name. This is a quick, enjoyable bike with no major vices and a thoroughly planted feel that’s deeply reassuring in bad weather and comforting on longer rides in the hills. Along with the cheaper S55, this is one of two UK-specific models in Scott's Speedster range for 2011. They're variants on the S30 and S50 respectively, with more space for mudguards and fatter tyres.

  • Frame: Tidy and forgiving, the S35’s frame wouldn’t be embarrassed by substantial equipment upgrading, and lends itself well to year-round adventures (8/10)
  • Handling: Predictable, accurate and surefooted, it doesn’t put a tyre wrong in poor conditions, yet remains light and inspiring for better days (9/10)
  • Equipment: Great to see Tiagra shifters and a well thought out gear range in an overall good spec, but we’d like mudguards in the package, and the brakes are unimpressive (8/10)
  • Wheels: Competent but not flashy, the Alex rims, Scott-branded hubs and Continental tyres are tempting targets for eventual upgrades (9/10)

The heart of the Speedster is a double-butted 6061 aluminium frame and carbon fork with aluminium steerer. This is mature technology, and the frame that Scott's designed around it is stable and precise. It drops evenly and accurately into corners and makes short work of high-speed descents. On one test ride we had no hesitation in letting it rip down the 40mph plummet back to the office, despite being buffeted by gale-force winds.

The carbon fork takes the edge off rough road surfaces while still being adequately stiff. With its aluminium steerer it’s no featherweight, but that helps keep the S35 firmly on line: it simply shrugs off minor deflections such as road debris and potholes and ploughs on merrily.

At a little over 9kg (20lb) without pedals, the Speedster S35 is decently light for a size 56 bike in this class. That manifests in its cheerfully cooperative nature when the road points up. The compact chainset and 26-tooth largest sprocket help, though on the steepest of our local climbs we were wishing for the 28-tooth listed in the official spec.

Nevertheless, the only thing holding the S35 back on climbs is your ability, not the bike’s. The Truvativ Touro compact chainset and SRAM 12-26 cassette are mated to a mix of Shimano components: Tiagra shifters and front derailleur, and a 105 rear derailleur. The rear plonks along with typical Shimano efficiency, but the front upshift is a shade slow. It gets there eventually, but if you’re going to slap it into the big ring for a speed-limit-sign sprint, you’ll want to pick your gear early.

The S35’s Continental Ultra Sport tyres are decent compromise rubber. In this 25mm incarnation they provide cushioning and fair grip in the wet, but aren't the fastest or toughest around. You might want to swap to something quicker for the summer, or more puncture-resistant for the winter.

The Alex 28 Aero rims are built onto basic hubs to make light, laterally stiff wheels that contribute to the bike’s overall feel of reassuring solidity. The white paint finish looks good on the shop floor but cracks when you take a tyre lever to it – we’d prefer good old silver.

The cockpit is all Scott own-brand gear, with a comfortable, flat-profile, well-padded saddle and a short-reach shallow drop bar for a cruisy riding position. The bar won’t suit everyone, though. One of our longer-bodied testers was unable to get comfortable on the hoods despite fitting a longer stem and dropping the front end right down.

The only really significant negatives are the Scott-branded Tektro brakes, which lack authority, especially in the wet. While an upgrade to something like Shimano R650s won’t be cheap, it would pay off in terms of better control. Other welcome features include rack mounts on the chainstays so you can press the S35 into luggage-carrying service, and a chainhanger pip on the inside of the left seatstay so you can hook the chain out of the way when you drop the wheel out.

We’re disappointed not to get mudguards included in the price, though. Not only would this save £25 or so, it would spare you the faff of fitting them. That said, we threw on a set of Crud Roadracers and they worked well.

Overall, the Speedster S35 is a really well-executed all-rounder for UK conditions. With room for fat tyres and mudguards it’ll get you through the winter, and when the weather turns good its ride manners are impeccable.

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