Scott Scale 29 Comp review£850.00

Fast on groomed trails

BikeRadar score2/5

Scott’s swift handling and light Comp 29er is fast on groomed trails, but a lousy fork, wooden brakes and a stiff frame make off-piste work painful.

Ride & handling: Sorted handling, but poor fork exacerbates frame harshness and brake numbness

The Scott's Suntour fork was okay to start with but things were notchy by hour two of our initial test ride, and went rapidly down hill. Granted snow and ice aren’t your average trail conditions, but within a few kilometres the tidemark of fork travel was sinking ever lower on stanchions covered in grey, gritty metallic spew from the seals.

Movement was minimal over small stuff whether we had the lockout lever switched on or off, and over bigger hits the stroke was jarring and violently unpredictable. A couple of hours later and the bike limped back to the car park effectively fully rigid and stayed that way for the rest of the test.

The random ricochet reaction also meant that despite the slack head angle and short stem agility we love on Scott’s other 29er platforms, keeping the rigid, race-focused frame of the Scale on track on narrow, rocky singletrack was a real fight. As a final blow the Tektro Draco brakes are wooden and unco-operative, demanding serious pressure to give reasonable stopping at the point your battered forearms are crying out for respite.    

Keep the Scale 29 Comp to smoother trails and its low weight makes it very responsive and altitude eager for its price, showing other bikes in this price range a clean set of heels on anything smooth and strenuous. There’s certainly the potential to create a great race bike too if you upgrade the fork enough to let the naturally agile handling breathe.

Given how much we enjoyed last year’s bike we thought the Scott might be the price underdog that ended up on top. It’s an impressively light and potentially agile package for the money, with some of the best 29er geometry around. Sadly, the disappointing fork and brake performance highlights the frame’s relative harshness.

Frame & equipment: Lightweight chassis is worth upgrading for hard and fast riding

Scott’s Scale alloy 29er frame is largely unchanged from last year apart from new rear dropouts with post-mount brake fixtures to keep things tidy. This also means the Delta seatstay bridge can be dropped as stopping torque is more efficiently handled. 

The same short 44mm head tube keeps the flat bar front end low. While it comes rigged for a straight-gauge steerer, a tapered fork can be used if you fit a larger diameter external bottom cup. Generous top tube length offsets the swift handling short stem choice, while its steep slope means decent straddle space despite big wheels. The curved seat tube tucks the rear wheel in tight for a reasonably short back end.

Scott were the first mainstream brand to go for a slacker-than-70-degree head angle for extra steering stability, and that geometry carries over for 2012. Own-brand cockpit kit is well shaped, with a very short (in cross-country terms) 70mm stem syncing well with the more relaxed steering angle. The 680mm wide flat bar gives a reasonable amount of leverage.

The rest of the spec looks adequate for the money, with a Shimano SLX rear mech brightening up the Alivio transmission. It’s an Octalink splined crank and bottom bracket rather than external cup, which you can feel as flex when you put the power down. 

Alex rimmed wheels are par for the course at this price and the Active compound Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres balance rolling speed and grip as well as we’d expect for a basic model of tyre at this price. The Tektro Draco brakes are bottom drawer hydraulics and the non-rebound adjustable Suntour fork isn’t up to the job.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
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