The Solace is Scott's new comfort model, designed for sportives, rough roads and long distances. It takes over from the CR1, which continues in the range as an entry-level carbon fibre model.
Four variants of the Solace will be available: the 30 (Shimano 105), 20 (Shimano Ultegra 11-speed), 10 (Dura-Ace 9000) and Premium (Dura-Ace Di2). BikeRadar tested the Solace 10 at Scott's international launch in the Swiss Alps.
Ride & handling: Comfort and stability with undertones of raciness
The Solace has a shorter top tube and taller head tube than Scott's race models, as is the sportive bike convention. From the off you feel more relaxed and ready to ride for a long time, not a fast time.
While we were initially cynical about the frame's split Comfort and Power Zones (see below), they are surprisingly tangible. Aiming the Solace straight through broken sections of Switzerland's generally excellent roads quickly established that it successfully reduces shocks and vibration through the saddle.
Furthermore, aggressive out-of-the-saddle efforts and fast descending confirmed that the bottom bracket and head tube rigidity aren't compromised. In fact, the power transfer and steering accuracy is on par with that of many dedicated race bikes. The more relaxed geometry makes the steering slower and calmer but, because the precision is retained, cornering is still fun.
We do have some reservations about Scott's approach to comfort, though. Rather than focus on vibration damping, they've worked on increasing the controlled flex at the saddle and front axle. This means they can easily quantify the gains and claim, for instance, that the Solace is 42 percent more comfortable than the CR1.
Scott Solace 10
While the feel through the Solace perch is smoother, you can only take saddle flex so far. What's more, the direction Scott have taken means that more vibration than expected still comes through the pedals and, especially, alloy cockpit. We're surprised that Scott's Syncros division didn't design a 27.2mm carbon fibre handlebar that could offer some extra compliance.
The Solace is light and responsive. Hard climbing is fun and rewarding; you don't feel as though you're having to drag the bike up hills. Factor in the ultra-compact gearing and it's a machine to help you conquer the next challenging ride you think might be beyond you.
Less frantic and more cossetting than a pure race bike, the Solace is still ready to throw down when there's a town sign to sprint for or a demanding descent to carve up.
If your sportive goals revolve around high placings and gold-standard times, the Solace's compromises (small as they might be) are probably more than you'll want to live with. The taller riding position and fatter tyres make it noticeably slower than the new Scott Addict we rode back-to-back on the same roads (stay tuned for a first ride review of that bike). If you're that speed focused then you should be on a race bike. And probably in an actual race.
Frame & equipment: Split personality frame with Syncros and Shimano kit
There are two versions of the Solace frame – the Premium uses Scott's higher grade HMX Net carbon fibre for both the frame and fork (claimed to weigh 890g and 330g respectively in a 54cm size), while the standard model is made from the more affordable HMF Net (950g frame, 380g fork; still very light). Every frame has size-specific geometry and layup, including the women's Contessa versions.
Scott began R&D for the Solace by researching the role of each frame section in terms of ride comfort and pedalling stiffness. They found that the strength of the head tube, down tube, bottom bracket and chainstays are – as you'd expect – essential to creating a laterally and torsionally stiff frame for efficient power transfer.
Scott's engineers also found that the seatstays, seat tube and top tube play a much lesser role in frame performance but a far greater one in comfort. This led them to split the frame into the Power Zone and Comfort Zone areas, optimising the design of each accordingly.
One of the first things you'll notice is that the rear brake is mounted under the chainstays, behind the bottom bracket. This is something you will see on many time trial bikes but it isn't to make the Solace more aerodynamic. Rather, it relieves the seatstays of braking duty, freeing them up to provide comfort.
What's missing here? The rear brake sits behind the BB on the Solace 10
The seatstays are very thin and there's no brake bridge, so you can actually squeeze them together by as much as 10mm with one hand. At their top ends, they join to the top tube more than the seat tube, allowing each part to flex in a more natural direction to provide damping.
The seatpost is another key element of the ride comfort – it's a Syncros FL2.0 of 27.2mm diatameter; an 'Ergoptimized' carbon layup means it's designed to flex backwards to take the sting out of bumps, without wobbling back and forth. Clever stuff.
Syncros are owned by Scott and their component range has had a huge makeover for 2014, so it's no surprise to see it all over the Solace 10 – saddle, seatpost, stem, bar and wheels. The saddle has chromoly rails and the cockpit is all aluminium. The wheels are the OEM-only aluminium RP2.0 models, shod with 25mm Schwalbe One V-Guard tyres.
The Solace 10 has a complete Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 11-speed groupset, with a sportive friendly 50/34 crankset and 11-32 cassette combination.