Scott has been putting race rigs under some of the world’s fastest cross country riders for decades now. But that doesn’t mean its bikes are treacherously twitchy or narrow-bar-minded off the trail and if you like to mix miles with smiles then the Scale 960 is a belter for doing just that.
That’s not to say it’s lacking serious flat-out talent. Scott’s carbon race frames are crazy light, but its alloy frames have never been far behind and are actually lighter than a lot of the composite competition from other brands. The multi-butted, subtly shaped frame gets internal cable routing for clean lines plus a post mount rear brake for easy adjustment and tapered head tube too.
Neat internal routing makes for clean aesthetics
Whatever frame size you ride you’ve a choice of wheel sizes too as the Scale 760 uses 27.5in wheels with an otherwise identical spec rather than limiting you to bigger wheels in bigger frames and vice versa.
The 29er wheels – especially when wrapped in our favourite Maxxis Ikon speed tyres – are undoubtedly the fastest rolling conventional set-up on rough trails, and that’s great news for speed freaks. While you don’t get a thru-axle on the RockShox TK30 fork you do get a remote control lockout to stop distracting and speed-killing suspension bob when sprinting up smooth climbs or towards finishing lines.
But still fun
Lightweight 29ers with lockout forks aren’t rare – particularly among European brands – and you could probably find one better specced than the mostly Shimano Deore-equipped Scale without looking too hard.
The Scale is solidly specced with Deore-based kit
Where Scott wins in terms of overall appeal though is the more relaxed handling feel of a 69-degree head angle and a 720mm-wide bar. This not only lets its racers really rip the descents (Google Nino Schurter for proof) but it also provides more confidence and control when you’re pushing the pace or playing around on the trail, even with flexy 30mm stanchion fork legs.
Frame stiffness isn’t as brutal as the most pure race chassis either, giving more forgiveness if you slap something hard and better speed sustain through assorted trail junk while also reducing fatigue over time.
This is a bike that exhibits rare poise on the descents for a 29er hardtail
The reasonable volume Ikon tyres and skinny seatpost help to give a less bruising character that encourages you to take the fight to the trail rather than hiding from it, and most riders would be surprised how quick and capable a well-balanced big-wheel hardtail like this can feel on descents. That’s only going to get better with a fork upgrade and it’s certainly a frame worth investing in.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.