Since the news came out that Brendan Fairclough had signed for Scott for the 2012 season, the new Gambler has been one of the most hotly anticipated bikes of recent years. Everyone wants to be able to ride like Brendan – can the Scott help them do that?
Ride & handling: Full-on speedster with great potential
Shock setup wasn’t straightforward with the Gambler. Initially we had problems with a lack of mid-stroke feeling. There was a tendency to fall through the travel without feeling as though there was enough resistance behind it. We experimented with spring rates, compression settings and even other shocks – in the end we managed to solve the problem by simply increasing the air pressure in the shock reservoir.
This created a positive, progressive feeling, to the point that we felt we could move down a spring rate to run the correct sag again. Luckily, once we’d got the setup sorted we didn’t need to change any settings, even for drastically different tracks.
The Gambler bucks the recent trend for lightweight downhill bikes – the full bike weighs in at 18.1kg (39.8lb). The weight penalty rears its head as soon as any pedalling is required. This isn’t helped by the slow-rolling stock Schwalbe tyres.
The Gambler really comes into its own when pushing down steep technical tracks. Here, the slack 63-degree head angle adds stability. In the short chainstay (425mm) setting, getting round the tightest corners becomes a breeze, and the suspension goes on a grip offensive mission even in suspect conditions.
The rear end is very laterally stiff, meaning it’s slightly easier to get sliding than some more flexy frames, but more consistent and predictable, which is a huge plus if you have a loose riding style.
Frame & equipment: Top-end racing build
The frame is constructed from a 6061 aluminium tubeset with a massive forged bottom bracket shell and lower pivot assembly, which all combine to create a frame that hasn’t followed the lightweight trend. The Floating Link suspension puts out 210mm (8.3in) travel, designed to give a progressive feel that can also be tuned to suit your riding preferences.
The downhill standard 12x150mm rear end features adjustable chainstay length, and the 1.5in head tube boasts angle adjustment, which is achieved through different cups. There’s also bottom bracket height adjustment on the lower shock mount.
This top end build is littered with World Cup race-worthy components. Fox take care of the suspension with the FIT damper-equipped 40 fork and DHX RC2 shock, while Shimano are on drivetrain duty.
The new Zee mech and shifter feeds the chain to a Saint chainset, kept secure by e*thirteen’s LG1+ chainguide. Shimano Zee brakes stop the Schwalbe-wrapped DT Swiss wheelset nicely, and Funn and Syncros finishing kit tops it all off.