Scott's Genius has been around since 2004 and gone through some pretty dramatic changes over the years, including the metamorphosis to the bike we see before us today. With updated geometry, a totally new frame design and completely overhauled suspension platform it certainly looks like a promising proposition even before the tyres hit the dirt.
- The Scott Genius 940 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
Scott Genius 940 frame
Like its shorter travel counterpart, the Spark, the Genius has had its shock flipped vertically in the frame, where it's compressed via the upper link and anchored at its base just above the bulbous bottom-bracket junction.
Scott has also decided to do away with the single pivot, linkage driven (faux bar) rear end, in favour of a Horst Link (four bar) suspension layout in a bid to increase mid-stroke support and end-stroke progression.
The rear end also gets widened and now uses 148mm axle spacing. The proprietary TwinLoc system carries over though, where the under bar remote lever allows you to toggle through the three modes, which include fully open (150mm of travel), trail mode (effectively decreasing travel to 110mm of travel) and a fully locked-out mode for long tarmac stints or lengthy climbs.
Thanks to the flip-chip located in the upper shock mount, geometry can be tweaked in order to switch between 650b plus wheels (tyres ranging from 2.5-2.8in) or 29in wheels (where there's clearance for 2.4-2.6in rubber).
In the lowest setting with 29in wheels fitted, my 940's head angle measured in at 65.4-degrees while the bottom bracket sat at a reasonable but not slammed 345mm off the floor.
Reach on my Medium bike is 439mm, which is in line with much of the competition, as is the 1200mm wheelbase.
Scott Genius 940 kit
Scott's choice to spec the Fox 34, rather than the burlier 36 upfront is an interesting one.
On the surface, the 34 may look run of the mill, but inside it's a little different, using thicker e-bike-specific stanchions. This provided the Scott engineers with the stiffness they were after, especially when combining the fork with the big 29in wheels wrapped in 2.6in tyres. Scott claims that, even in this configuration, it is able to save weight and reduce friction over the 36 equivalent fork.
My test bike came with 2.6in Maxxis Rekon tyres rather than the Schwalbe Nobby Nics that other 29in-wheeled bikes are treated to. While the Rekons are decent enough on hard pack surfaces, their relatively shallow centre and shoulder tread mean they struggle in muddy situations.
They also struggle to hold their shape when pushed hard, so I ended up running more pressure in them to avoid any tyre squirm when sliding into high-load turns.
Scott Genius 940 ride impressions
The revised Genius geometry is quick to adapt and helps create a well-centred position on the bike where I felt at home immediately. The suspension does take some time to get right though.
While there's enough progression at the rear to ensure the Genius will happily take some heavy landings or a thumping through braking bumps (it comes with the second largest volume spacer fitted as standard), it does sit quite low into its 150mm of travel which, when running the fork as I would normally, throws the balance of the bike out somewhat and can make weighting the front tyre more of an effort in high-load or flat turns.
Take the time to alter fork and shock sag, and it doesn't take long to strike a better balance between the fork and shock, and things soon get more capable on the trail. Providing you feel comfortable on the Maxxis Rekon tyres, that is.
Even in the 2.6in width, I found it felt vague when navigating technical rutted sections and on hard pack surfaces, requiring a touch more pressure to prevent squirming when pushed hard.
That said, their width and cushion does give you a sense of shoulder shrugging, reckless abandon when hooning into piles of root or rock where you can simply let off the brakes and let the bike and tyres do the work for you. But that lack of precision won't be to everyone's liking, even if it does make the Genius faster than it sometimes feels.
Climbing is impressive and thanks to Scott's TwinLoc remote, efficient too. The TwinLoc's position takes time to get acquainted with and more than once I jabbed at the lever hoping to drop the post only to find I'd locked out the suspension.
On more technical climbs — providing it's not too gloopy — the broad tyres do well when clawing up loose surfaces, while the vast spread of gears that come courtesy of SRAM's GX Eagle transmission gives you the range to tackle just about any hill, even when you're tired.
Slinging the 29in wheels wrapped in the big 2.6in rubber through consecutive tight turns didn't feel quite as natural or fluid as some other 29ers I tested the Genius back to back with, though with time I did adapt. This could partly be down to the tall, flimsy tyres though.
In steep, rough sections, the smooth, active back-end of the Genius does well to keep the shallow treaded tyre connected to the ground. And while the custom 34 fork feels competent and stiff enough, I did experience hand pain on rougher trails, though this is partly down to the high speeds and lack of power from the Deore brakes. I can't help thinking that a burlier 36 bolted up front would bolster precision and confidence that bit further.
Still, what all of this underlines for me is that the Genius is a bike that's less about aggressive, corner-smashing riding. Despite what you see Brendan Fairclough do aboard his, this is more of a long-legged trail bike than some kind of enduro race machine.
- BikeRadar would like to thank Life Cycle Adventures, Sanremo Bike Resort, MET Helmets, Bluegrass Eagle Protection, Mercedes Benz and Brittany Ferries for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.
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