Scott Contessa Scale RC women’s bike review

Female-specific high-end racer

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £2,499.00 RRP
Scott Contessa Scale RC

Our review

Blindingly fast and a match for the most aggressive of racers, the Contessa Scale RC has everything you need to take on the racetrack and win
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True high-end race bikes for women are few and far between but the Contessa Scale RC is rght up there on our wishlist.

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Ride and handling: Quintessential cross-country race hardtail

The first thing to note about the Contessa Scale is that the frame geometry is identical to the equivalent men’s Scale 20. This means it won’t suit riders looking for the short, upright riding position offered by women’s bikes from other brands. This isn’t an oversight; it’s simply that Scott realise that riders who are going to spend two-and-a-half grand on a bike are likely to be experienced and therefore appreciative of the longer, more aggressive riding position.

When working flat-out, the Scale makes short work of singletrack, threading through the twists and turns on an apparently laser-guided path, and the aggressive ‘proper’ riding position balances your body weight evenly between front and rear wheels, boosting traction and making swift line shifts a satisfyingly succint process.

The combination of light overall weight and super-stiff back end can be a bit of a handful on rougher descents – skittish, rather than uncomfortable – but careful attention to tyre pressures helps turn its lightness of touch into straightforward speed. And, as you’d expect from a bike with a race moniker, climbing performance is blinding.

It’s rare we spend as much time in the big ring as we did on this bike – the granny was barely touched, and the Contessa only ever asked for more. If your aspirations lie elsewhere than racing, then it will do all-day trail riding too, though be prepared for a rough ride once you’ve worn each other out.

Frame: Quality carbon chassis with vibration-damping stays

Scott’s Scale hardtail line has been around for a few years now, spawning everything from quality mid-range machines all the way up to top-dollar superbikes. The geometry is a proven winner – you’ll see various iterations on cross-country race courses around the world – and despite the proliferation of lightweight short-travel full-suspension bikes at this price, there’s no beating the Contessa’s combination of ‘pure’ cross-country geometry and quality carbon manufacture.

The Contessa Scale RC combines the company’s propietary CR1 technology with SDS (shock damping system) stays. The seatstays have been flattened vertically in a bid to improve the damping properties of the carbon and while we’re not convinced that you’ll ever feel a difference on trails that leave your eyeballs revolving in their sockets, it certainly hasn’t proved detrimental to the Scale’s ability to shift power to pedals without a wasted watt.

Equipment: Great fork and reliable, race-ready kit

The 100mm-travel RockShox Reba SL fork is the perfect compliment to the frame. It’s stiffer than other racer faves and the weight penalty is minimal, as well as being worth every tweak of the reassuringly immediate steering response.

Sticking with the non-condescending approach to female bike spec, Scott have shunned overly padded contact points and instead gone for Fizik’s Vitesse – once marketed as a women’s saddle before becoming ‘unisex’ due to its all-round appeal.

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Bars are kept comfortably wide for improved control and comfort. The full DT wheelset, zippy Rocket Ron tyres and Shimano XT drivechain take the Contessa Scale the rest of the way to long-running singletrack bliss.

Product Specifications


Name Name, 0, 10, Name, Contessa Scale RC (10)
Brand Brand, 0, 20, Brand, Scott

Bottom Bracket Bottom Bracket, 2, 0, Bottom Bracket, Cartridge shell 73mm
Brakes Brakes, 2, 0, Brakes, Elixir R CarbonF/185 mm R/160mm Rotor
Cassette Cassette, 2, 0, Cassette, Shimano XT CS-M77011-34 T
Chain Chain, 2, 0, Chain, CN-HG73
Cranks Cranks, 2, 0, Cranks, XT FC-M 770Hollowtech 244x32x22 T
Fork Fork, 2, 0, Fork, Reba SLreb. adj / Lockout100 mm travel
Frame Material Frame Material, 2, 0, Frame Material, Scott Scale Carbon CR1 HMF-NET technologycustom disc dropoutreplacable dropout hangerSDS shock damping system
Front Derailleur Front Derailleur, 2, 0, Front Derailleur, XT FD-M772 / E-Type
Front Hub Front Hub, 2, 0, Front Hub, XR20 Disc
Front Tyre Front Tyre, 2, 0, Front Tyre, Schwalbe Rocket Ron26 x 2.1 / 127EPI Kevlar BeadEvolution / triple compound
Handlebar Handlebar, 2, 0, Handlebar, MC ProLower Rizer / 620mm
Headset Type Headset Type, 2, 0, Headset Type, PRO Integrated
Pedals Pedals, 2, 0, Pedals, PD-M520Clipless pedal
Rear Derailleur Rear Derailleur, 2, 0, Rear Derailleur, XT RD-M772 SGS / Shadow Type27 Speed
Rear Hub Rear Hub, 2, 0, Rear Hub, XR20 Disc
Rear Tyre Rear Tyre, 2, 0, Rear Tyre, Schwalbe Rocket Ron26 x 2.1 / 127EPI Kevlar BeadEvolution / triple compound
Rims Rims, 2, 0, Rims, XR20 Disc32H / Black
Saddle Saddle, 2, 0, Saddle, Vitesse HP
Seatpost Seatpost, 2, 0, Seatpost, RC 03 6061 / 34.9mm
Shifters Shifters, 2, 0, Shifters, XTRapidfire Plus 2w/gear indicator
Stem Stem, 2, 0, Stem, Pro OS4 Bolt1-1/8" / 6° rise
Weight (kg) Weight (kg), 2, 0, Weight (kg), 10.2
Weight (lb) Weight (lb), 2, 0, Weight (lb), 22.47
Brake Levers Brake Levers, 2, 0, Brake Levers, Avid Elixir R Carbon
Spoke Type Spoke Type, 2, 0, Spoke Type, DT Swiss XR20 Disc