While it may sit at the more budget conscious end of the Scale family, the Scott Scale 965 shares the same basic frame design as the XC-championship-winning superbikes (ridden by the likes of Nino Schurter) at the other end of the spectrum.
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Instead of the multilayered carbon fibre used to build its fancy relatives, the 965’s frame is constructed using custom-butted aluminium tubing.
The frame is light and stiff (total bike weight is an impressive 12.62kg / 27.8lb), while the short travel fork does what it’s designed to do and happily eats up small trail stubble.
Push it hard though and it quickly devours its travel and bobs significantly when sprinting out of the saddle. Fortunately, the bike comes equipped with a remote fork lock-out on the bars, which enables you to easily stiffen the front end up when you need to.
Scott has redesigned the entire range of Scale frames for 2017 giving them shorter chainstays and a steeper seat angle of 73 degrees, which results in a slightly longer reach of 439mm (size large).
The stiff yet compliant nature of the Scale lets you accelerate quickly and put plenty of power down through the spec highlight of 1x11 SRAM NX crankset and gears.
Gear changes are swift and accurate, and the 30t front ring combined with a 11-42t cassette gives plenty of range. The clutch equipped rear mech makes for a quiet ride too.
As you’d hope from an XC bike, the Scale carries speed very well. The 29in wheels easily roll you over most small obstacles as if they were not there.
The rims come from Scott’s in-house component brand Syncros and sit on Formula hubs. The tyres are entry-level Maxxis Icons and, while their hard compound makes them swift and fast rolling, they offer limited levels of grip and can get downright sketchy in the wet.
The 720mm bars here are becoming the norm for a cross-country bike and we can see why, as they provide useful levels of leverage as you tear along the trail.
The stem is still a fairly traditional 80mm though. Like the Marley and the Core, the Scale also comes equipped with Shimano M365 brakes, which do a reasonable job — despite the long levers feeling cumbersome.
If you’re looking for a value-for-money XC bike for trail centre blasting, then the Scale provides that in spades. Like most bikes at this price though we’d suggest upgrading to grippier tyres as soon as possible.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.