Good trail bike for getting started, but nervy on technical terrain
Buy if, You want a budget bike for forest paths and bridleways, and like an upright riding position
Pros: Sturdy feeling frame with good power transference on the pedal stroke means it’s nippy. Though dated, the 3x8 Shimano gearing provides plenty of range for getting up steep climbs.
Cons: Tyres are super sketchy, and well worth upgrading immediate for better traction. The geometry and upright position places the rider high and forward; great for flats and climbs, nervy on technical terrain and descents.
For a ride sporting a lower price tag, the Scott Contessa 720 has eye-catching looks, with neon green cables loudly matching its green and purple frame graphics.
Short and steep
The Contessa features steep head and seat tube angles, combined with its women’s-specific design giving a shorter reach. The result is a bike that feels great at a steady pace around more sedate trails, but starts to become twitchy and nervous when you pick up the pace – I felt like I was perched on top, with the high centre of gravity definitely not adding to my confidence.
The 3×8 gearing will haul you up most thingsRussell Burton
On the plus side, the hardtail design and sturdy alloy frame give excellent power transfer when pedalling, and the Contessa easily generates a good lick of speed on the flat.
It is however relatively heavy at 14.4kg, which you do feel in the climbs. Thankfully the 3×8 Shimano gear set gives a wide range, and popping it in the smallest ring at the front allows you to spin up steep inclines fairly easily. I found that changing to the smallest ring with the chain under tension sometimes caused it to skip, and gear jumps are large, but shifting was mostly reliable.
Uneven kit selection
I was impressed to see Tektro hydraulic disc brakes on a bike at this price, which give smooth and powerful braking, and confidence inspiring control on descents. The levers did sit wide of the bars, however, which may cause problems for riders with small hands.
We’d change the rubber ASAPRussell Burton
Front suspension comes via the coil sprung Suntour XCM-HLO forks, with 100mm of travel which smoothed rough trails, but dove through its travel far too easily over drops and bigger hits. I also found the cheap Kenda treads to be unnervingly sktechy – they should be number one on your upgrade hitlist.
Overall, while this bike is good for getting started, and will work well around parks, smoother forest trails and some easier trails, we found the high centre of gravity, short reach and narrow bars unsuited for harder trails or technical terrain. On those simpler trails, you can get a fair lick of fun speed, but bring drops into the mix and the bike feels nervy.
Geometry base on size Medium
Formula DC-25RQR disc
Top Tube (in)
Standover Height (in)
Seat Tube (in)
Bottom Bracket Height (in)
14 G, stainless, black
Tektro SCH - F15
Shimano SL-M310-8R R-fire plus
Contessa Active, 27.2mm
Contessa SCT 2016
Syncros X-37 Disc 32H
Kenda Slant 6 27.5x2.1 / 30TPI
Shimano Altus RD-M370 24 Speed
XS S M L
GW 1SI110 OE integ
Contessa Active 640mm, black
Kenda Slant 6 27.5x2.1 / 30TPI
Formula DC-19FQR disc
Shimano FD-M190 / 31.8mm
Contessa Active 700 series / 6061 Alloy
Suntour XCM-HLO Lockout, 100mm travel Softer spring setup