Had you asked us a year ago to gaze into a crystal ball, we would have predicted the widespread return of aluminium as a high-end frame material. Back then, all the signs were that the shortfall in the availability of carbon fibre would by now have made carbon bike frames at this price uneconomical. But having seen prices drop in recent months to previously unheard of levels, the message is to enjoy the carbon party while you can.
In the wake of stiff competition from web-based sellers, some of the biggest names in the cycle industry have, in recent months, raised the bar for value for money. So how does Scott’s CR1 Team fair against it’s website rivals?
Six years ago Scott found a way of producing a carbon frame, the C1, without using lugs, the normal method of joining carbon tubes at that time. Instead they employed a filleted joint using various layers of carbon to bind the tubes together. The Scott CR1 Team is a development of the original C1 and is based on the same high modulus carbon frame as their Pro and SL models. There are six sizes available, ranging from 47-61cm (50-59cm top tubes). It has an upright, sportive-orientated riding position but weights in a light 1,031g – but still weighs 155g more than their range-heading ultra-high modulus Addict R1 frame. The right hand chainstay is protected by a steel sheet, preventing damage to the carbon layers from an unshipped chain.
The Scott’s Ritchey Comp handlebars have an anatomic ‘pistol-grip’ bend that provides the perfect resting place for your palms. The 10-degree stem can be flipped to alter the ride height in seconds, and the Carbon Pro seatpost is easy to adjust for angle and setback. Out on the roads everyone had the same thought: that the frame deserves more compliant kit, as it all but failed to take the buzz out of a harsh ride. The compact Shimano R-600 34/50-tooth chainset is slightly at odds with the sort of rider that the CR1 is intended for – these gear ratios are on the low side for fast criteriums and road races; a 39/53 chainset from the Shimano 105 range would provide the solution, albeit for extra cost. Crucially for some, this bike is available with a triple chainset for the same price.
its top-notch frame has a riding quality that supplies a sublime sense of connection with the road
The Scott is specified with Mavic’s well proven entry-level Aksium Race wheels. These, and the Shimano equivalent WH-R500 wheels, are specified on more production bikes than any other and are neither light nor interesting to look at, but curiously manage to ride faster than you would expect. This can be attributed to high spoke tensions and a design that aims to reduce the amount of dishing needed on the rear wheel, thus increasing stiffness. The hubs use cartridge bearings and are relatively new to the Mavic range, and we have had no cause to question their quality. The Continental UltraRaces tyres are listed as high mileage tyres with a 180 TPI casing and Kevlar beneath the tread. Fitted to the Scott, they behaved well when driven hard into corners and hung on well to rain-soaked surfaces.
The original Scott C1 (2003) gave an injection of excitement, and the CR1 Team builds on that with an even greater sense of smooth refinement that makes you want to turn your hour-long training run into a longer one. The stiff and responsive ride character is thankfully one notch down from the extreme end of the stiffness spectrum, though we still found ourselves skirting around road surface irregularities to avoid numb fingers and a sore backside. The outright stiffness makes it feel planted to the road particularly at racing speeds, and while we expected the thin fork blades to create some unwanted flex on fast downhill sections, this wasn’t the case. The steering also proved to be pin-point accurate when leaning hard into corners.
Moving up the £1500 spending bracket buys you a lot of bike theses days and one that’s split into either a high-end carbon frame or a top-end groupset. The Scott represents the former; its top-notch frame has a riding quality that supplies a sublime sense of connection with the road and goes a long way to justifying the lower equipment spec level when compared to similar priced high-specified bikes. At a shade over the magic kilo, the CR1 Team frame is upgradeable to superbike status with, say, a Dura-Ace rear mech and chainset at a later date. The CR1 frame represents far better value for money than their flagship team issue Addict model, which is some 230g lighter.