Scott developed two new Genius trail bike platforms alongside each other, abandoning 26in wheels in favour of 150mm travel 650b/27.5in wheel 700 bikes and the 130mm travel, 29in wheel 900 family. We were lucky enough to leave big dust trails all over the Las Vegas desert at the Interbike trade show on the flagship 900 SL.
Ride & handling: Speed and handling don’t disappoint
The race bike weight translates into similarly race bike-style acceleration. There’s still an element of the van rather than car-style lag that typifies 29ers’ typical responses to the first few crank strokes. The lightweight wheel/tyre combo and serious head tube to rear dropout stiffness means this is the sort of modded, massive horsepower dragster van you see in YouTube clips, not your average Transit.
We had no trouble blasting it up to speed time and time again for photos, and whether we’re hitting rock piles or drifting dust trails through climbing corners the Genius just felt great under power. The ability to choke down the shock and fork to a firmer or locked setting at the push of a lever became an addictive advantage to getting every last bit of speed out of short sprint or smooth climb sections.
The rare combination of really light weight and precision placement also makes the Scott easy to put exactly where you want it. It’ll respond instantly to properly dynamic flick and lift, pre-jump or hip inputs that heavier 29ers normally need written notice for.
While there’s a fair amount of flex in the wheels and the extended mix front fork, the low slung geometry option keeps your feet firmly planted enough to push the hard inside line and let the bike slide its way into sync on the exit. You could get even more aggressive with the handling with a wider bar and a Fox 34 fork up front, but that would be adding weight to what is essentially a fast cross-country/trail battle cruiser not a fully-fledged all-mountain monster.
If you’re thinking that sounds at odds with the statements we’ve made about all-conquering 120-140mm travel 29ers from Santa Cruz, Norco and Commencal that’s because the Nude Shock undersells rather than overplays the travel.
At 190mm overall length it’s already on the short side for rear wheel to shock stroke ratio and the subdivision into two internal chambers cuts the effective volume even further. Add a typically tight DT shock seal and, from experience, even after bedding in it’ll feel pert rather than plush and there’s definitely not the ground sucking suppleness that you’d get from a Kashima Fox in the same position.
Suspension adjustments can be made at the push of a lever
The positioning of the rear pivot above the dropout means it’s essentially a simple arc wheel path bike, which means a less forgiving wheel feel over flat faces and other momentum mangling obstacles. The remote control option does give the Genius a whole suite of instant access suspension options that you don’t get on other bikes though, and that’s something that Scott and a lot of European riders value too, judging by its massive popularity on the continent.
If your riding involves a lot of long, hard, fast climbs then we totally get it too, and having ridden both 650b and 29in wheeled formats, the bigger wheels definitely offset the slightly stilted shock feel and sustain speed better than the mid-sized hoops.
Frame & equipment: Good value as a complete package
Scott have been one of the leading composite frame creators since introducing their distinctive E-Stay Endorphin frame in the mid-Nineties. The company have elevated the art of layering and joining carbon sheets to give maximum strength for minimum weight in its IMP frames to a level that few others can get close to.
So, while the claimed weight for the 130mm travel 900 frame and shock might seem implausibly low at 2,290g (5.04lb), experience tells us it’s likely to be absolutely accurate.
The pull shock of the previous Genius has gone and overall suspension architecture is similar to that of the 100mm travel Spark. Rear end movement and sideways stress is managed by a short, top tube-mounted swing link, wrapped around the front of the seat tube.
The Genius-specific DT Swiss Nude shock is mounted on rose joints to reduce potentially damaging side loading. The short 190mm can is further subdivided into two separate air chambers that can be opened sequentially via the handlebar-mounted Twinloc remote lever to give 90 or 130mm of travel or a complete lockout. The rear shock bolt screws into a reversible chip on the swing link that changes bottom bracket height by 7mm and head angle by half a degree.
The shock’s air can is divided into two chambers to give three travel options
Scott haven’t skimped on practical details either. Reverting to a more normal 31.6mm (from 34.9) diameter seat tube makes it dropper post compatible and the RockShox Reverb Stealth uses an internally routed actuator hose for clean external lines.
The shift and rear shock control cables are routed internally from the extended box behind the hollow headstock. There’s a conventional bottle mount on the down tube and the press-fit 92mm bottom bracket shell has a removable ISCG (International Standard Chain Guide) mount ready for a chainguide.
The dropped seatstay bridge means there’s ample room even with a chunky tyre and the post-style brake dropouts make for easy alignment. The IDS SL rear dropouts can be swapped from the 142x12mm thru-axle to 135x12mm or 135x10mm options should you want to.
The almost entirely carbon frame is backed up by a similarly carbon rich, cost-no-object spec, including a lot of gear from Scott-acquired component brand Syncros. This includes lightweight carbon rims, carbon railed saddle, a cockpit lowering but relatively narrow flat bar and a welcome short carbon wrapped stem. The SRAM 2x10 crank arms are also carbon, as are the rear mech cage and brake levers.
Scott have also sneaked on two performance-significant hidden gems from its top range XX groupset; the ultra-light rear cassette and trigger shifters.
As well as the custom shock the Genius also gets an extended 130mm travel remix of Fox’s top of the range Kashima coated CTD (Climb Trail Descend) 32 29er fork. It’s also linked into the Twinloc remote lever so both ends of the bike flow, firm up or lock out with a single thumb push.
Schwalbe’s high volume, high velocity but low weight Nobby Nic Evo triple compound tubeless-ready 2.25in tyres complete the astonishingly gram-free overall package.
While the remote control shock certainly divides opinion, there’s no doubt that the Genius 900 frame is an absolute masterpiece, with properly outstanding handling, stiffness, weight and attention to feature detail. The kit package that Scott have put together is even better than it looks at first, providing a suitably superlative performance to suit this genuine XC/fast trail super bike.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.