Scott market their extensive Scale series – which covers the gamut from entry-level aluminium chassis to world-beating carbon sculpture – as ‘100% racing’. Occupying a position one rung above the bottom of the range, the Scale 70 is a lot lighter than most other bikes at this price.
Don't be put off by the 'race' tag though – the Scale 70 can cope with trail riding duties too. It's an accomplished all-rounder that's equally at home racking up the miles on an all-day epic as it is duking it out for a 127th place finish on the racecourse.
Ride & handling: Fast, light and inspiring ride that performs way beyond its ‘race’ tag
We’ve ridden plenty of race hardtails that we’re glad to put back in the shed after a couple of hours. Ultra rigid frames, low weight and nervy handling may be good for wannabe podium toppers, but we prefer our trail rides to be limited by rider endurance rather than a highly strung thoroughbred. The good news is that the Scale 70 takes all our preconceptions about race hardtails and throws them away.
Sure, it’s stiff. Stomp on the pedals and it’ll go with an immediacy that’s compelling. Granted, it’s light. The svelte build gives it a skippy, airy feel that has the rider ﬂoating over trail obstacles almost without realising. But nervy it isn’t. Absolutely planted weight distribution, spot-on bar width and a 100mm-travel fork give the Scott trail manners that put the competition to shame. And we don’t just mean the racers.
This is a trail companion that responds to a deft touch, offsetting its undoubted efﬁciency with an alacrity that masks most of the shortcomings of the relatively basic fork up front. And yet, despite its potential for speed it’s not a bike that’ll dump you in the weeds if you drift off for a few moments. Relaxed when you want it to be yet willing when you need to turn up the wick, the Scale 70 is the racer that’s capable of ﬂattering any rider’s trail skills.
Time to put our cards on the table: the Scale 70 is good. Very good. So good, in fact, that we’re convinced that Scott are making a mistake by marketing it as a race bike. That’s not to say it wouldn’t make a great budget racer, because clearly it will. But most riders don’t race, most of the time. And on the Scale 70, that just doesn’t matter. A pocket rocket with impeccable manners, it’s the best of all worlds.
Frame & equipment: Superbly light, stiff and balanced frame; a better fork would allow it to shine
Weighing in at 3lb less than some other bikes at this price despite wearing a collection of broadly similar components, it’s apparent that the Scale 70’s frame is a bit special. Hydroformed top and down tubes provide a rigid backbone, ﬂaring at the bike’s mid-point to encircle the seat tube and anchor the bottom bracket respectively. Joining together several inches after the head tube, they also form a reinforcing box shape for this highly stressed area.
At the rear there’s a refreshing lack of tube shape-shifting, the stays taking the shortest and most direct route from seat tube and bottom bracket to the dropouts with just enough curvature to give reasonable mud clearance. The dropouts are heavily cut away on the inside, with a tubular structure and reinforcing ribs continuing the stiff-but-light theme. Top marks to Scott for including a quick-release seat collar rather than an Allen bolt seat clamp.
As you’d expect from a bike aimed at the speed-at-all-costs fraternity, there are no rack or mudguard mounts… but designers did ﬁnd space for two bottle mounts. Despite its rigid structure and thin tube walls, the Scale 70 isn’t a noisy bike to blast down the trail. That is partly down to the Neoprene chainstay protector, which prevents a bouncing chain from becoming a noisy nuisance.
If the frame’s a bit special for the money, the componentry is about what you’d expect. Which means it’s all ﬁne, if unexciting. Own-brand kit extends from rider contact points to the front hub, while a Shimano transmission with SLX shadow rear mech transfers the rider’s efforts ﬂawlessly from pedal to tyre. Steering and rock-swallowing duties are handled by a RockShox Tora fork with 100mm of coil-sprung travel.
That's 20mm more than many race bikes but we think it's a good thing, because it extends your riding options. After all, 120mm-plus is now the norm for trail hardtails. We prefer the adjustability and overall feel of an air fork, but the Tora’s a solid and reliable budget alternative that out-performs the bulk of the coil competition at this price.