Scott’s Gambler has proven popular with bike park senders and privateer racers. For 2015, the firm has moved from 26in to 650b wheels and made the front end a little longer, giving a more race-orientated feel. Don’t worry though, it’s still lots of fun!
Frame and equipment: simplified suspension, businesslike spec
As well as extending the reach of the frame (by 11mm on the large size) Scott has reworked the complicated looking suspension linkages. There’s now significantly less rotation of the eyelet bushings, reducing wear and friction.
The leverage curve has been tweaked too, but still errs on the plush rather than progressively racy side. Chainstay length (421mm to 440mm) and BB height (343mm to 353mm) are adjustable to suit the rider.
The parts on this entry-level build are unflashy but functional
The Gambler frame is big on adjustability; bottom bracket height, chainstay length and head angle can all be tweaked to suit personal preference, or to match to particular courses.
The componentry is solid for the price. High points include the RockShox Boxxer RC fork and Fox Van R shock – both fit-and-forget performers.
The Shimano brakes may be budget offerings but they deliver ample power and consistency. The Schwalbe treads on our test bike were though let down by skinny SnakeSkin – rather than the advertised Super Gravity – sidewalls.
Ride and handling: plush and planted
Planted is how the Gambler feels on the trail. In the low setting, the BB height is very low indeed at 343mm.
Combined with the slack 63-degree head angle and reasonably roomy front centre, this means your weight is kept firmly between the wheels when attacking technical terrain. Add immense grip and those trustworthy brakes, and the Gambler thrives on steep lines where you really have to commit, boosting confidence with every run.
The Boxxer fork is supple and controlled so long as the spring is supportive enough for you (if not, and you wind on too much compression damping instead of fitting a heavier spring, it soon starts to feel harsh). The custom-tuned shock works with the mildly progressive linkage and rearward axle path to deliver terrain-swallowing plushness.
The plush-sprung Gambler feels welded to the trail
There isn’t much in the way of midstroke support, making the Gambler rather wallowy. The high main pivot does help reduce pedal-induced bob, though.
The Magic Mary tyres are draggy but grip tenaciously in virtually all conditions. The test rig’s SnakeSkin sidewalls are pop prone and squirm when pushed hard, but Scott assures us production bikes will come with the promised, tougher Super Gravity casings.
While we stuck with the low-and-slack BB setting, we did experiment with chainstay length. The shorter option is great for tight tracks or smaller, less aggressive riders because it makes the bike easier to manual and change direction.
Bigger riders who are OK muscling the bike around will benefit from the longer setting though – it balances the roomy front triangle, boosting front end traction and making rear wheel steering more predictable.