The Scott Scale 710 is a slightly de-militarised version of their ultra successful, 650b cross-country race weapon – World Champion Nino Schurter’s Scale 700 RC. But even a surprise early launch and that pro pedigree didn’t prepare us for just how good this understated but outstandingly fun and fast hardtail is.
Ride & handling: Explosively responsive, tenaciously anchored
Our experience with 27.5in (650b) wheels has been rather underwhelming, up to this point. That fact – and a shortage of bikes for the riders in our Thursday Night Fight Club test team – meant we actually passed up the first chance to get a session on the Scott.
Instead, the honour went to TNFC stalwart Broadband, a rider not renowned for his tolerance of test bikes. Yet he clicked with the Scott straight away. We’re used to him leading us out round the first singletrack and short climbs hard, but this time we were properly hammering it to keep him in sight.
Slippery rock and sand sections weren’t bothering him either. His instant pace forced us to really dig deep in an effort to clear sections we’d not managed in months, but that he seemed to romp up.
We’d forgotten to reverse the Euro-spec levers on the powerful brakes, but he was still up in the mix of ribbon singletrack, bogs and intermittent rock heaps as we dived into the dusk faster than was wise.
Scott scale 710: Sam Needham/Future Publishing
Scott Scale 710
The big clue that this wasn’t just a good night for Mr B, but something Scott-related instead, came during the last big moorland climb. Every time we crawled and cursed onto his back wheel, he’d grin, kick hard and put several metres into us.
No less traction, no obviously rougher ride over the gritstone lumps, but a massive difference in jump every time he decided to twist the knife in our punctured egos. If we could catch him we’d take the damn thing back.
The long singletrack drop into the forest, studded with glittering boulders and thick bogs, was just another opportunity for the Scale. Its outstanding mix of poised handling and surefooted traction combine with a phenomenal punch, making every metre of trail count in a way that even the lightest 29ers couldn’t match.
Through the hop, drop and twist of the woodland loam, around the fireroad and up the climb to the pub, the Scale was still ignoring the fact it was way past the normal bedtime of Broadband’s legs.
That was still definitely him shoving the slack angled (for a race bike) fork underneath us into every turn, showing us a clean pair of Schwalbes on every climb and generally running rings around us all the way to the car park. To double check, we let him do the same during the second ride. Enough, frankly, was enough – it was time to find out for ourselves what the Scale can do.
The scott makes the most of the in-between 27.5in (650b) wheel size advantages : Sam Needham/Future Publishing
The Scott makes the most of the in-between wheel size
Unlike on a 29er, turn-in is immediate, and it dives into corners harder than a 26in-wheeled bike could. The harder we rode, the more the Scott squared up to the challenge. It makes a party piece of grunting up climbs that even the most pimped full suss 29ers struggle on, waves its rear wheel insolently past other bikes on the brakes and kicks out of corners on afterburners.
Even on long, rough descents, its hop and pop agility and immediate acceleration help it stay in contact with larger-wheeled prey, and it preserves its tyres better than the 26ers in its wake.
Its natural stability, accuracy and technical tenacity mean we didn’t even back off much on steep, old-school downhill courses, despite the short fork and race-friendly low cockpit. It’s one of those truly rare bikes that novice riders and every-ride-is-a-race headcases enjoyed with equal relish.
Frame & equipment: Race light and makes 650b worth it
At under 10kg (22lb), with a 920g frame built from Scott’s premium quality HMX NET carbon, we weren’t surprised the Scale accelerates extremely well. Its unflinchingly direct power delivery translates every clenched muscle – from shoulders to shins – through the 142x12mm rear axle to turn its low wheel weight into a 29er-killing kick.
The placement of the 69-degree head-angled Fox fork in relation to your feet and hands is outstanding. The low bottom bracket lets you exploit the CTD (Climb Trail Descend) damping control and increased 650b front-end grip to the maximum.
The careful carbon layup – dubbed SDS, for Shock Damping System – and that long seatpost extension keep the bike impressively smooth; it’s not as floated as a 29er, but it skims happily along the trail at tickover without thumping or choking on every rock or root.
Scott have deliberately made the production 710 more trail friendly than Schurter’s race bike. Changes include a slacker head angle, a longer top tube and a separate rather than built-in seat clamp – the last of which stops a stripped thread writing off your frame. Sensible.
Shimano xt kit is great, if not the very lightest: Sam Needham/Future Publishing
Shimano XT kit is great, if not the very lightest
While the DT Swiss-based wheels and race-width tyres are light enough, the XT stop/go bits definitely put functional durability over the ultimate in weight saving. Add alloy finishing kit and, while the current spec doesn’t hold it back, there’s the potential to upgrade the 710 into something truly exceptional. Oh, and it’s worth noting that the RC frameset follows Nino’s race geometry – not angles of this 710.
Scott’s Scale 710 delivers true race breed speed and an aggressive attitude that spans the 29er smoothness/26er sprint gap superbly. Its mix of immediate punch plus instant agility – with a traction-boosting trail connection and its smooth float over staccato roots and rocks – marks it out as a fantastic and fast technical singletrack weapon. The Scale 710 sets a whole new benchmark for hardtails of any wheel size in the process.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.