The Spark, the latest in a long line of lightweight carbon fibre bikes from Scott, sets a new benchmark for feathery light full suspension rigs. They haven’t skimped on travel or features either, and the 10 is a remarkably able, surprisingly tough trail bike as well as a blisteringly fast weapon.
The mainframe uses a unique new ‘top secret’ IMP (Integrated Moulding Process) technique to create the top tube, head tube and down tube in a single piece. It’s derived from the ultra-complex, pre-stressed construction of the Strike frames and the wrapped tube technology of the Genius and Scale frames, and gets the advantages of both. Namely, good quality control so material can be minimised and the use of long, continuous monocoque style fibres without weak spots.
Even the front shock mount, cable guides and drop outs are carbon fibre too, with the Scott’s typically tiny pivots mounted into fattened frame sections in the seat tube and top tube. Fat asymmetric chainstays cut straight to the wheel on the offside, while the equally big bridgeless seat stays form a continuous ‘U’ around their top end to give impressive stiffness. That’s certainly impressive when you consider that the whole frame and shock weighs under 4lbs.
The LTD frameset saves even more weight by extending the seat post all the way to the saddle base for custom chopping, but the conventional post and clamp arrangement here is far more practical for adjustment and car stowage. Scott has even fitted a QR lever on the collar rather than a minimalist bolted clamp.
Other practical pleasantries include masses of mudroom (even with 2.2in tyres), continuous outer gear cable routing for weather sealing and room for a big water bottle in the conventional down tube mount. The custom-built DT shock also moves on ball-jointed mounts to remove any potential wear and tear.
Sizing is more straightforward than previous Scott bikes too, with an average 23in top tube reach on our medium-sized bike, 24in on the large one and so on. 69/73.5 head and seat angles keep handling stable and secure up front, but push body weight forward for maximum front wheel cornering and climbing grip.
The layout immediately puts you into the classic ‘attack’ position and from here the bike does the rest. At under 23lbs with fast rolling tyres, acceleration is astonishing and it can be floated effortlessly from line to line or over serious trouble.
The naturally fluid 110mm of rear suspension can take a hell of a lot in its stride though, and we were shocked by its appetite for high speed descents. GPS computer readouts showed we were slamming it through serious bottom-out ruts at 50kph-plus when racing, without any loss of control or composure.
There’s little noticeable pedal feedback and the bike sucks onto the ground for surefooted cornering and climbing traction, although it does bob noticeably under power. Travel can be reduced to a stiffer 70mm ‘TC’ Traction Control setting or locked out totally from the ‘instant release’ handlebar remote, though.
The medium 69.8-degree head angle means it prefers to be swung wide and fast through corners, but the steep 73.5-degree seat angle means the front wheel stays absolutely nailed, even on sketchy surfaces. Fast stem reactions also let you really push the traction limits, but it needs encouragement to hustle through tight stuff. While the low 12.5in bottom bracket adds stability, it does mean more pedal grounding than average.
Although it’s a rung below the truly exotic ‘Spark Ltd’, Scott has paid real attention to the spec details to still get it truly superlight.
For a start, the ceramic bearing hubbed, blade-spoked DT wheelset is one of the lightest available without getting stupid on price or practicality. Carbon fibre and titanium-bolted Ritchey WCS kit and carbon-hulled Selle Italia saddle provide a superlight cockpit and seating. The Avid Ultimate brakes also use a combined ‘Matchmaker’ clamp to mate to the X.O triggers.
Production bikes should be getting Truvativ’s new Noir carbon crank too, although we’ve no complaints about the XTR unit on our sample. It’s not just gram loss over survival though, and Scott still spec a big 185mm front rotor for huge stopping power. While the Ozon tyres are light and fast-rolling, they’re still a full 2.2in girth for extra fl oat when the Spark has goaded you into absolutely nailing it down a rocky track in the big ring.
The Spark’s ultra low weight converts into incredible acceleration and climbing speed, but what really surprised us was how well it descended.
Handling is superbly balanced for high speed, ragged edge control and the TC shock gives perfect suspension response for every eventuality on the trail. Add some neat practical touches and a properly obsessive weight saving kit collection and suddenly almost £4000 seems a reasonable price for truly cutting-edge class.