Recently road bikes have been ringing the changes, becoming more versatile, comfortable and confident than ever before. The Solace Disc is Scott’s answer to this growing segment of bikes aimed at road enthusiasts who don’t care about what the pros’ ride.
Here we review the 2016 Solace 10 Disc – a model that's extremely similar to the 2015 Solace Disc 15 we reviewed a few months ago, albeit with a few minor refinements.
Racy character can be heard, but it’s muffled
With 28c wide tyres, disc brakes and an ultra-wide gearing range, the Solace 10 Disc should sit squarely in the endurance bike market. However, geometry that’s a little on the more aggressive side means there’s a sporty edge lurking in there somewhere too.
This geometry lines up extremely similar to Scott’s racier Addict series, but with a marginally shorter and higher reach. On average, the Solace’s head tube sits 25mm higher, and the top tube is 5mm shorter. From the get-go we felt right at home on the Solace, but just a little more upright and relaxed than what we’re used to with the Addict.
With 405mm chainstays and a wheelbase under 100cm, the Solace’s ride is more nimble than the many other endurance bikes that can be a 'sit back and cruise' experience.
Disc brakes mean thin and uninterrupted seatstays for comfort
The Solace is smooth but not soft. Given the wide rubber and a frame with clear vibration-damping design, you’d expect the road to be muted. Instead, the ride is kept lively, with a feeling of what’s happening beneath the wheels.
Smoother roads find the Solace humming along with little disturbance through the saddle, allowing you to concentrate on your pedalling action and what lies ahead. Hit a more corrugated stretch though and you’re soon reminded this is no cloud-like ride.
Extremely rough surfaces such as a gravel path will rattle you. Again, the wide tyres and disc brakes help to keep the Solace in control, but don’t expect this ride to take you much further off the beaten track than a racier road bike.
That fact is most apparent up front, where the stiff and straight-tracking fork doesn’t do quite as much as the rear to smooth the road’s imperfections. That said, though this isn't a class-leadingly smooth, it’ll still be an impressive experience if you’re moving from an older ride that rolls on 23c tyres.
Hit the climbs and the Solace will see you to the top, though you’ll be thankful for the extremely low gearing available. The wide, and puncture resistant rubber along with the additional weight of the disc brakes soon sap the zip of this ride.
As you might expect, aggressive attacks aren’t rewarded in the same vein as bikes with lighter rolling stock. Our small sized sample weighs in at 8.15kg without pedals, some 600g more than the rim-braked version of the Solace 10.
Wide rubber, sporty geometry and disc brakes make this a hoot on descents
Where the extra weight, which all sits down low, can feel a little sluggish when the pace is pushed, hit the crest of the climb and you’ll quickly receive a return. The Solace Disc loves to descend and pushes you to brake later, corner harder and hit rougher lines. Confident descenders may laugh at just how far this ride can be pushed, while nervous riders will be buying themselves confidence.
Of course, much of this is down to the additional braking point control the Shimano hydraulic discs provide, but that’s not the whole story. The frame and its thru-axle equipped wheels are ideally stiff where needed and holds the lines pointed toward, while those wider treads do well to stick to that line without waver.
Split personality design
Come out of the corner hot and the Solace is ready to receive your power. Scott has craftily split the Solace's full-carbon frame design into two halves, with a ‘Power Zone’ at the bottom, which meets a ‘Comfort Zone’ above. Here, the bottom bracket and head tube show little sign of give and help direct your efforts into those traction-rich tyres.
The Solace is a sitff, but not jarring platform under power
Looking at the bottom half, an oversized down tube tapers to its widest as it uses the full width of the PF86 bottom bracket shell. Flowing on from there at the same width, the deep asymmetrical chainstays are there to direct pedalling input to the stiff 142 x 12mm rear thru-axle.
Tube shapes flow nicely and are kept thin where flex is desired
Up top, as mentioned above, the frame’s design turns its eye to comfort. Here a wide and flat top tube leads into uninterrupted ultra thin and flexible seatstays, something you can easily flex in your hand (don’t squeeze too hard!), as there is no brake bridge to contend with. A skinny 27.2mm carbon seatpost further aids in reducing vibration.
Up front, the updated full carbon fork offers a lighter road-specific 12mm front thru-axle. The fork features a bowed shape, which in theory should smooth the ride without introducing flex. It does the latter well, but as mentioned, the front end could be smoother.
Road specific disc brake mounts for the Solace
New Flat Mount disc brake mounts on this frame are the latest standard to road bikes. For 2016, these receive matching brake calipers for a cleaner look and slightly lighter setup.
Internal cable routing on the Solace Disc is well refined. Sitting at the left of the head tube, both gear cables feed into a replaceable plug. Upgrading to electronic shifting would simply mean replacing this plug with a Di2 version.
The hydraulic rear brake hose enters at the right of the head tube and reveals itself on the inside of the left chainstay just before the brake caliper. The front is guided through the fork leg. Both provide a clean look and thankfully the sealed nature of the system means maintenance should be rare.
Despite the wide 28c rubber already in place, we believe the frame and fork can handle wider yet. The limitation here is the material behind the bottom bracket and the chunky chainstays, but low height 30c tyres should be possible.
No provisions or space for fenders
Scott has certainly gone bare bones in the name of weight savings and aesthetics with no provisions for fenders (sorry UK readers, we mean mudguards of course). If you regularly ride in foul weather or are seeking a super commuter, then you may find the Solace Disc frame falls short here. Of course there are always strap-on options, but they're typically a compromise.
Reliable kit with a few cost-cutting compromises
Disc brakes on road bikes come at a premium, and in order for the Solace 10 Disc to hit the price it does, some things had to give.
The ultra wide range gearing is a perfect fit for the bike
You won’t hear us complaining of the Shimano 11-speed Ultegra-level transmission. It shifts superbly well, runs quietly and is sure to last a very long time.
If there is any noise in this drivetrain, it’s heard at the Shimano R685 shift and hydraulic brake levers. Riding rough roads reveals chatter in these levers that can only be fixed by crudely sticking something soft inside as a buffer.
Shimano's hydraulic levers do extend the reach somewhat. Just beware of this if you're seeking an ultimately upright ride
Housing the hydraulic master cylinder, the levers are longer than the full mechanical counterparts. It’s a non-issue for most, but if you're after a position that's as upright as possible you may need to seek out ultra short-reach bars to overcome this additional reach. Of course, such a warning applies to any bike using these levers.
Thankfully, that additional reach comes with immense stopping power and control. With 160mm rotors, the disc brakes offer wonderful modulation and the power on tap is perfectly useable with the puncture resistant and sticky 28c Schwalbe Duranos.
Scott hasn’t skimped in the braking department and has provided Shimano’s Ice-Tech rotors and brake pads, both of which feature cooling fins for ultimate heat management on long descents.
Back to the gearing and there’s a long cage version of the Ultegra derailleur provided to handle the mountain bike-sized 11-32t rear cassette. While durability and shift quality is no problem, the cheaper and heavier 105 cassette is the first sign of cost cuttings.
Normal road bikes typically have a rear hub width of 130mm, and so the 142mm spacing of the Solace is relatively wide. By widening this, Scott has then had to overcome the potential for heel rub on the frame, something achieved by equipping a crankset with wider spacing between the two crankarms (aka Q-factor).
It's a cheaper crankset, but for a reason
The problem here is that these wider cranks are not yet the norm in road cycling and so choices are far more limited. Partly out of cost saving and partly out of need, Scott has equipped the Shimano Ultegra-level Solace 10 Disc with a cheaper non-series RS500 crankset.
Shifting and durability is up to scratch on the RS500 crankset, but on paper it sits a model lower than 105 and carries a 120g weight penalty over an Ultegra unit.
Looking to the wheels, RP-2.0 Disc items from Scott-owned Syncros appear. Both the three-pawl sealed bearing hubs and straight-pull aero spokes are made by DT Swiss, and have held up perfectly during out testing.
Hard out-of-saddle sprints reveal the slightest whisper from the front brake rotor skimming the pads. It's certainly not lost speed, but does reveal a minute amount of flex at the hub or dropout. Outside of these forceful sprints, the brakes remained rub-free during our test period.
At 18mm wide, the disc-specific rims offer a generous volume for the mounted 28c tyres. The rims are said to be tubeless-ready too, although the bike didn’t come with the necessary tape, valves or compatible tyres to make such a swap.
Syncros labelled DT Swiss RWS thru-axles are given front and rear
Holding these wheels in place are stiff and secure thru-axles with the DT Swiss RWS design. Here, you simply wind them up, and can then freely ratchet the handle to whichever position you prefer. It’s a clean setup and one that’s quick and easy to use.
The rest of the build is completed with more components from Syncros, which prior to being owned by Scott belonged to Ritchey. These components all deserve to be on a bike of this price, and certainly hold their own. We have no qualms with the alloy stem or handlebar, and the carbon seatpost is a quality item.
Not a bad saddle, but likely a little narrow for most
Perhaps the one exception is the Syncros FL2.0 saddle. It’s a huge improvement on Scott’s previous plastic perch choice, but we feel a medium width version would be a better choice over the narrow 135mm width supplied.
In the end, the latest Solace Disc has plenty to offer the rider looking to go further and seek out new roads. It may not be the fastest bike in the bunch, but it’s certainly a stable and descent-loving ride that does a great job of softening poor road surfaces without removing feel. With the exception of a different saddle and ideally a lighter crank, there’s very little we'd change.
The Scott Solace 10 Disc retails for £2,599 / $3,500 / AU$4,500.