You can’t walk into a bike shop these days without tripping over all the 29ers – big wheels are the Big Thing and well-proven in cross-country racing (in case you hadn’t noticed). Which begs the question, why are Scott building a race bike with 26in wheels?
Ride & handling: Efficient precision instrument to dissect trails at speed
The Scale 610 is not a bike that suffers fools gladly. From the only-just-comfy shape of the saddle to the flat bar, narrow tyres and uncompromisingly stiff frame, this is a bike that demands all of your attention, all of the time.
Throw in the nature of those smaller wheels – which unquestionably don’t roll as easily over rough trails – and you’re soon well acquainted with the exact locations of your shoulder and lower back muscles, and what it would feel like if they ever caught fire.
If you’re after pure speed, agree that ‘pain is just weakness leaving the body’ and are fit enough to stay on top of it for the duration, the Scale is stupidly fast. The slender carbon seatstays at least try not to shatter you completely; good news, considering the frame’s undoubted torsional rigidity.
The Scale 610 in action
The Scale’s low weight and vibration-damping carbon chassis make for a floaty feel at speed, as the wheels skim happily across the trail’s high points in a way that’s speed-enhancing and satisfying.
Don’t mistake this floaty feel for lack of control, though. The fork’s handy remote, combined with Fox’s three-position CTD adjustment, means you’re always in charge of what’s happening under the front wheel. Once you’re used to the near road bike-like power delivery, you’ll be practically flying down the trail.
Frame & equipment: Incredibly light with sharp geometry
There’s a clue to Scott’s 26in rationale in the Scale 610’s weight. Or, rather, impressive lack of it. At less than 10kg (22lb) without pedals – despite wearing Shimano’s not especially feathery but thoroughly reliable XT components in an over-geared (but Euro-pleasing) 3x10 format – it’s got a huge advantage over most of the competition from the start.
But that’s only part of the story, because a big chunk of the weight saving over the 29in competition is, in fact, in the wheels. At just 1.6kg (3.5lb), the Scale 610’s front wheel is 300g lighter than a typical 29er equivalent, with a similar saving at the rear.
Scott Scale 610
This matters because much of that weight reduction is where it really counts – out at the rim and tyre. Rotating weight is accelerated twice – around and along – and so counts for more than static weight (of, say, the frame and components).
It’s a difference that’s instantly, dramatically noticeable. The Scott 610 surges forward with each pedal stroke in a way that’s initially disconcerting, until you realise that more of your effort really is going into pushing the bike forward. The result is faster climbs in higher gears, noticeably better acceleration and an addictive sense that if you can just… push… one… gear… higher… you’ll get there faster. It’s addictive.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.