After years spent watching Scott’s pro riders fly about on a Voltage hardtail that wasn’t quite the same as the one in the shops, the Swiss firm has finally made it available to us mere mortals. Would it meet our expectations?
Massively stiff, but some unconvincing kit
Jump bikes still use 26in wheels and geometry only tends to vary by 10mm here and a degree there. A couple of things do make the Voltage stand out though. The seat tube ends in front of the BB shell, not on top of it, allowing for chainstays that are just 375mm long (with the hub slammed in the dropouts).
The Shimano rear brake is pretty sketchy in operation
This makes for a back wheel happy bike – something we found a little tricky to get used to, coming off longer machines such as the NS Soda Slope. The Scott is super low too – the 261mm seat tube leaves plenty of room to boost hops and jumps, and adds to the massive overall stiffness of the bike.
It’s a good sign when you see a RockShox Pike on the front of a bike – it’s one less thing to worry about. Unfortunately the cheap Shimano rear brake’s lack of bite left us nervous that we’d loop out when manualling and the freehub felt like a bad freecoaster, with massive gaps between engagement.
A Pike is a comforting sight
The normally reliable Schwalbe Table Top tyres were left fighting for grip on some tarmac and concrete surfaces, though they were fine at the dirt jumps. The 35mm-diameter Syncros cockpit is well shaped and the bar is wide enough at 760mm, but a little too stiff for our liking when matched with this frame.
Rear wheel-centric ride
After we got used to the short, low frame and landing almost every hop to a manual, we loved the Voltage’s fun and lively ride. It’s happiest on the back wheel, for sure, but it’s still easy enough to pull nose taps and manuals over blocks and kerbs – you’ll just want to land them to a manual now!
Whips are a breeze aboard the Voltage YZ
The spacers on the steerer tube meant we could get the bar height just right, which is important with such a short back end – too high and the balance point is easy to loop past, too low and you won’t get the front end up. The Voltage is easy to spin, but unlike on some slightly more BMX-influenced frames, you have to put a fair amount of effort into the twist.
At the dirt jumps it took a while to get used to the light front end, resulting in a few ‘stem shagger’ step-downs and rear wheel landings, but we were soon flowing through the trails like we’d had the bike for years. The low top tube lets you tuck your knee over to get super-flat tables, and pulling the back wheel around for a moto whip is effortless.
A few overshot flat landings on the super-stiff frame did leave us with sore feet, but that’s nothing a turn on the shovel couldn’t remedy.