Scott’s new trail bike is more evolution than revolution, but there’s certainly some very smart thinking in there.
Most companies are now configuring their all-round trail bikes in one of two ways: going lighter or going longer travel. Never one to miss a challenge, Scott have done both and the results are impressive on the scales and on the trails.
The raw numbers we’re talking here are just over 10kg/22lb for the top LTD model but with 150mm travel front and rear. Yup that’s right – 6 inches of travel for way less than most 4in bikes.
Making that possible is a totally new 2250g/4.96lbs chassis (1840g frame/410g shock) built using their new IMP 4 carbon construction technology.
Despite the layout remaining visually very similar to the old Genius, on closer inspection there’s a lot going on in the detail too.
Firstly there’s a significant pivot shift at the back end. The Horst link chainstay pivot is now swapped for a seat stay pivot to side step US patents and turn the rear from true four bar to low pivot swingarm ‘faux’ bar.
‘Gusset’ style reinforcing bulges sit under the head tube throat and seat tube armpit of the frame and the seat tube flares out massively where it bottoms onto the downtube.
In fact there’s a lot of profiling all over the place, depending on where the vectors impact/cornering/power loads are likely to be coming in from. The result is a frame that’s no iron bar, but certainly a lot stiffer than we expected and well within acceptable limits for its superlight category.
This is all the more impressive because as usual DT have mounted the shock top and bottom using a rose joint, to isolate it from potentially damaging frame loads.
Based on the ‘Equalizer’ unit from Scott’s Ransom, the Equalizer 2 triple chamber design looks like a small chemical plant tucked in between mainframe and back wheel. Oil flow – and therefore air spring compression – between the three chambers is controlled by a remote ‘Tracloc’ lever on the handlebars.
In ‘fully open’ all three chambers are used to give 150mm of travel. In the ‘Traction Control’ mid setting one chamber is closed, limiting travel to a much more progressive 95mm. Finally ‘Lockout’ closes the valves to the sub chambers for a completely solid shock mode with a pre set blow off valve for protection when (not if) you hit a descent without remembering to let it loose.
The new metal double push remote lever (think inverted SRAM trigger) is well placed just under your thumb and toggling between modes soon becomes second nature as terrain varies.
Cable routing is completely sealed from shifter to mech. to minimise maintenance and maximise smoothness. All frame sizes except the Small (which takes a medium 500ml bidon) can fit a large water bottle into the mainframe cage. Scott have also placed the rocker link pivots separately on either side of the seat tube so you’ve got full, interruption-free seatpost height adjustment. Tyre clearances are good too, with a 75mm chainstay spacing giving ample room for a 2.35in tyre in typical UK race conditions.
The actual trail connection and confidence takes a while to gain, purely because the bike is so light and rings all the wrong delicate anorexic alarm bells. You have to really concentrate to squat it down onto the trail for traction but as long as you keep low and keep believing, it actually takes big hits and gulley-gouged mogul fields really well. Dial in the dual rebound and there’s no obvious kick up from the big stuff and it’s tight enough to really rail off camber stuff as hard as the Schwalbe rubber will let you. In fact we were surprised by just how much confidence we were placing in the bike and how fast and loose we were letting it run even after only two (admittedly long and full-on) days spent riding it.
Are we done yet?
The bike is a lot more trail-capable and confident than we were expecting from something this light. How much extra speed and control that extra 20mm of travel over most of its competitors gives is a longer term test question. What we will say though, is that the base shape of the bike and its geometry are excellent and DT’s involvement should be a big help in terms of shock reliability and consistency.
There’s no escaping the fact that the price of the LTD version pictured means it should be an exceptional bike. At 9000 euros it will be one of the most expensive off-the-peg bikes whatever exchange rate you run that through. That chunk of change does get you the latest carbon chassis RWS15 axled DT 150mm fork plus carbon rimmed wheels and Formula’s stunning new R1 ultralight brakes amongst highlights though.
The cheaper bikes are belters too. The Genius 20 with Fox 150 fork and XT trim on the same frame actually felt noticeably smoother and more confident on fast, technical trail sections than the LTD. The significantly cheaper alloy versions look really good too complete with custom Rock Shox Revelation 150mm forks.
Genius is definitely the big news for Scott in 2009 (especially in the US where Genius hasn’t been available before for patent reasons), but there’s plenty more going on too.
Scott are launching an alloy-framed Spark bike, and you’d be hard pressed to tell its smoothly manipulated lines from the carbon version unless you’re close enough to see the few non-smoothed welds. You get the same remote control three-mode shock too.
Thomas Frishneckt and Adrian Montgomery were both equally excited about the new Addict CX too. TF took great pleasure in his ironic description of cyclo cross as the ‘new’ hot sport, but the Addict definitely sets new benchmarks for the genre. Frame weight is sub kilo depending on size. Neat details include a love/hate but undoubtedly light cut-to-length integrated seat tube design à la Addict, Spark and Scale. The barrel adjuster for the rear cantilever brakes is also integrated, adding to the slick appearance.
At the opposite end of the off road spectrum the Voltage is the new jump bike for Scott team mentalists such as Timo Pritzel and Lance McDermot. Airborne rotation is made even easier by using what must be the shortest possible back end with a 26in rear wheel. By spreading the chainstays as wide as possible you’ve no chance of getting a granny ring in there, but the super short wheelbase makes it insanely agile and you can stick your arse so far out the back that manuals are pretty much guaranteed every few seconds.
The front end uses a headtube with built-in gussets wrapping round the front and extending back along top and down tube. The top tube is pretty much directly in line with the seatstays for massive step thru clearance. Replaceable dropouts for 12mm axles mean the back wheel won’t be going anywhere you don’t want it too either.
There’s a new Scale hardtail too, although details on that were scarce apart from the fact it seemed to weigh about the same as a decent road bike, even with new wet conditions Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres wrapped round it’s carbon rims.