Cast your minds back — way back — to 2006 and you may just well remember Scott debuting the Ransom for the very first time. Its quirky frame shape, complex, multi-mode shock and big hit capability made it incredibly appealing all that time ago. But will this equally versatile yet modern take on the original still muster the same excitement? We have a feeling it will…
Scott Ransom 900 Tuned spec overview
- Frame: IMP/HMX carbon frame with 170mm of travel
- Fork: Fox 36 Factory FIT4 with 170mm of travel
- Shock: Fox NUDE TR EVOL with TwinLoc technology
- Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle 12-speed gearing and custom Scott chainguide
- Wheelset: Syncros Revelstoke 1.5 wheels
- Tryes: Maxxis Minion DHF 3C MaxxTerra EXO TR 29x2.6in
- Brakes: SRAM Code RSC (200mm front, 180mm rear rotors)
- Bar: Syncros Hixon iC Rise Carbon 780mm
- Stem: 50mm effective stem length
- Seatpost: Fox Factory Transfer, 150mm
- Saddle: Syncros Tofino 1.5
- Weight: 13.51kg (29.8lb) size medium, without pedals
- Stack: 613.6mm (medium)
- Reach: 439.5mm (medium)
- Wheelbase: 1218mm
- Head angle: 64.3 degrees
- Seat angle: 75 degrees
Same same but different
A quick glance at the new Ransom and it’s no great surprise to see just where Scott’s inspiration has come from. Like the Spark and its more closely matched counterpart, the Genius, the Ransom looks very similar in terms of overall layout, and significantly different to its quirkier predecessor.
Understandably though, while their frame shapes may look quite alike, the Ransom is designed to be a totally different beast on the hill. According to Scott it’s “built for speed” and is “super versatile”.
Like the Genius, the Ransom uses a four-bar linkage layout with the shock sitting vertically in the front triangle and firmly anchored just above and ahead of the bulbous bottom bracket junction.
The Ransom sports 20mm more travel than the Genius though, delivering 170mm, all of which is controlled by the new Fox NUDE TR EVOL shock, but more on that later.
To cater for that extra travel, and the Ransom’s more extreme intentions, Scott claims to have created the toughest carbon bike it's ever produced. Compared to the Genius, the Ransom’s rocker link has been visibly beefed up, as has the bottom bracket junction precisely where the shock nestles and a section of the frame is under constant stress.
Adding extra material down here adds a little weight, but as it’s so low in the frame, it’s certainly no bad thing.
The main pivot is wider than that of the Genius too (it measures 63.1mm on the Ransom — same as the Spark RC — and 54.6mm on the Genius) to help boost stiffness in that all-important region, but as a result does mean there’s no space to fit a front mech.
Add to that some clever carbon layering and reinforcement in key sections along the “stiffness backbone” (the term that Scott uses to refer to the down tube and chainstays) and the Ransom should, in theory at least, feel taut and efficient when it counts.
Despite the fact that Scott claims the Ransom frame is strong enough to withstand having a 1 tonne weight hung from the bottom bracket without cracking, the Ransom is far from a heavy weight.
Scott was keen to point out that it wanted the Ransom to go easy on the scales and be one of the lightest long-travel, big-hitting trail bikes on the market. The full carbon frame, complete with shock and hardware (size medium), is claimed to weigh 2,650g.
In fact, my complete test bike weighed just 13.5kg / 29.8lb, which is really impressive considering the travel on tap here.
All new NUDE
It’s not just a new frame that Scott is launching, but a new shock too. In this case, it’s the Fox NUDE TR EVOL which will appear on various Ransom and Genius models for 2019.
The new shock offers a larger volume than previous NUDE shocks and has more adjustment too. The ‘TR’ stands for ‘Trail’ and ‘Ramp Control’. The small, two-position Ramp Control lever allows the rider to tailor the level of progression when riding with the shock fully open by closing off or opening up the shock’s additional air chamber.
Scott claims that in the more progressive mode, the initial stroke of the shock won’t be affected and will remain nicely supple and sensitive, but will really ramp up towards 80-percent of travel.
If you want to tweak the feel of the 170mm of travel further, the NUDE TR will accept the same volume spacers as used in the formidable Float X2.
Should you wish to ditch the NUDE shock, Scott has ensured there’s enough room in the frame that you’ll be able to run other trunnion-style piggy back shocks, which is handy for those looking to build a frame up from scratch.
More than meets the eye
While 170mm of travel on a trail bike sounds like a lot, the Ransom was designed to be more than just a “mini downhill bike”, as Scott puts it. That’s thanks in part to the TwinLoc travel adjust feature which lets you toggle through the three different shock/fork settings via a bar mounted remote.
TwinLoc isn’t new, it’s featured across a number of Scott bikes for years now, but Scott has made some refinements to the twin lever remote for 2019. These include a shorter throw to lock the suspension out and a re-positioned anchor bolt for easier access.
The three modes on offer are Descend, Traction Control and Lockout. As you’d expect, Descend mode is when the shock is fully open, but by flicking the TwinLoc remote into Traction Control one of the shock's positive air chambers is closed off and the low-speed compression damping is increased.
This leads to a more progressive spring curve, reducing effective travel and sitting the bike higher up in its travel. This means sag is reduced, which in turn effects the bike's dynamic geometry, effectively steepening the seat and head angle (when compared with the dynamic geometry in Descend mode) for a more efficient climbing position and keeping the bottom bracket higher off the floor, which is handy on really awkward, lumpy climbs where you’re likely to clout a pedal.
Scott claims that in Traction Control on a 15-percent pitch the Ransom will be 1.5-degrees steeper at the head and seat angle with the bottom bracket sitting 20mm higher off of the floor than when in Descend mode.
Swiss Army bike
Like the Genius, Scott was keen for the Ransom to accept both current mainstream wheel sizes, with space for 27.5x2.8in or 29x2.6in rubber.
This is achieved thanks to the flip chip located in the upper shock mount, which can easily be switched between the Ransom’s high and low settings.
With 29in wheels in place in the low setting, the head angle sits at 64.3 degrees, while the seat angle is 75 degrees and reach on a medium frame is 440mm. This leaves the bottom bracket 347mm off the floor. The wheelbase on my medium test bike measured in a shade under 1,220mm.
Icing on the cake
While it’s the frame that creates the foundation of any bike build, the little extras that top it off as well as the components that are hanging off it are also incredibly important.
Scott has routed the cables internally, and includes a cable wrap to ensure things can be tidied up at in front of the handlebar as much as possible. Rather than have the cables exit the lower end of the down tube and route them under the bottom bracket, the Ransom’s now sit a little higher and wrap around the seat tube, above the bottom bracket. This is in a bid to keep them well out of harm’s way.
There’s also plenty of integrated frame protection, including a full-length bolt on the down tube protector complete with inspection hatch, while the ribbed chainstay protector does an impressive job of silencing chainslap even when things get really rowdy.
One major talking point is the Syncros Hixon iC bar and integrated stem. The Ransom will sport the latest version of this unusual looking bit of kit, which now measures in at 780mm wide (though it is available in 800mm too), features a 20mm rise and, together with the integrated stem, creates the equivalent of a 50mm stem length. The carbon Hixon IC will only be available on the top-flight Tuned model though.
And, just as we’re seeing more brands do these days, Scott has designed the Ransom around the shorter, 44mm offset fork in a bid to complement the Ransom’s seriously slack head angle.
Scott Ransom 900 Tuned initial ride impressions
Unfortunately, my time aboard the Ransom ended rather abruptly and with a trip hospital (I broke my wrist). While I didn’t get to make the most of the few weeks I should have had to properly test the bike, I did come away with some idea of how the new bike handles, especially compared to its shorter travel counterpart, the Genius, which I’m pretty familiar with.
My time aboard the Ransom was spent on the steep slopes of Revolution Bikepark in Wales where the fast, loose and rough conditions are a real test for any downhill bike, let alone a long-travel trail bike.
I felt totally at home aboard my medium test bike almost immediately. While it’s not radically long, it still feels spacious enough and suitably raked out and stable when it counts and things start getting rougher and steeper. When things did get rough and steep I was really impressed with just how planted such a light bike could feel, and how much control and traction I had, even on really blown out, loose surfaces.
While there are hints of Genius in the Ransom’s ride feel, it’s very much a more comfortable, confident bike. You still get that taut, super-responsive chassis feel when flicking the Ransom through tight turns or hopping between trail obstacles, just as you do on the Genius, but the Ransom feels far more forgiving on repeated hits.
Where the Genius can at times feel like it has less than the 150mm of travel it comes equipped with, you definitely feel like you can make the most of every millimetre on offer from the Ransom.
Rear travel is delivered in a well-measured manner too and the small Ramp Control lever certainly makes a difference, offering a subtle but obvious change to the end stroke of the shock. After riding the same section in both shock settings, I certainly preferred the slightly firmer feel of the more progressive set up where things felt a little more supportive — ideal for loading the bike on the lip of a jump or hard through corners.
Although I like to fiddle with bar roll quite a bit during my bike set up, I must say, I felt comfy on the new Hixon integrated bar and stem. Obviously not everyone will be into this and, I must admit, I’d prefer a standard set up if I was buying this particular bike, but I had no major issues with it on the hill.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get enough time to make the most of the TwinLoc function, but on the short uphill stints I did ride in Traction Control mode, I was impressed by just how eager this lightweight, big travel machine was to climb.
I can only apologise for my lack of thoroughness here, but I will be following up with a more detailed review once I’m properly fixed up.
My brief time aboard the new bike did get me thinking though; with a bike as light and efficient yet seriously capable as the Ransom, where does this leave the slightly shorter travel Genius in all of this?
Scott Ransom range and pricing at a glance
Scott Ransom 900/700 Tuned
- Specs: Full carbon frame with Fox 36 Factory FIT4 fork and Fox NUDE TR EVOL shock, SRAM X01 Eagle gearing and Code RSC brakes
- £6,999 / €7,499 / $7,500
Scott Ransom 910
- Specs: Carbon mainframe, alloy swing arm with Fox 36 Performance FIT4 fork and Fox NUDE TR EVOL rear shock, SRAM GX Eagle gearing and Shimano XT M8020 brakes
- £5,099 / €5,499 / $5,400
Scott Ransom 920/720
- Specs: Full alloy frame with Fox 36 Performance GRIP 2 fork and Fox NUDE T EVOL rear shock, SRAM NX Eagle gearing and Shimano MT520 brakes
- £3,599 / €3,799 / $3,800
Scott Ransom 930
- Specs: Full alloy frame with RockShox Yari RL fork and X-Fusion NUDE rear shock, SRAM NX Eagle gearing and Shimano MT500 brakes
- £2,799 / €2,999 / $3,000
Scott Ransom early verdict
The new Ransom feels seriously planted and ultra-capable when pointed downhill, but light, stiff and nimble enough to make it more of an all-rounder than the amount of travel on tap might suggest.