If you have been paying attention to Spoke's Instagram account or Facebook page you will have noticed we've just been in Switzerland for the Scott 2014 product launch. As with pretty much every product launch this year, the main gist of it was the medium wheel size. Now Scott were early adopters of the whole 27.5/650b thing with the 2013 Genius (which we reviewed here) being one of the first medium sized complete bikes available here in New Zealand. For 2014 they are adding a redesigned Genius LT, the Spark as well as the World Cup winning XC sled the Scale.
So if you're at all familiar with current Scott Spark or Genius models you will immediately notice a few differences with these new bikes, namely the new partnership with Fox Racing Shox. And just to get it out of the way, no, the rear shocks are not backwards compatible so you'll have to keep running that old DT Swiss, I'm sorry. Also the LT pictured has moved from the old linkage to match kinematics and silhouette of the current Spark and Genius models, offering a much lower standover height than before and as far as I'm concerned a much, much sexier bike, and up front there is now a 170mm travel Fox 34 fork.
The partnership with Fox works out pretty well. On the top "Tuned" models Fox have utilized Scott's patents to provide a system that decreases the air volume and travel as you click the handlebar mounted TwinLoc remote. From the Open/Descend setting on the Genius LT to the Trail setting you decrease the travel from 170mm to 135mm travel, which in turn raises the BB height and the geometry by half a degree into a more trail ready position. A final push from Trail to Climb locks out (with a platform valve) the suspension and shifts the 170mm bike into an even more ascent-friendly whip. On the lower models the handlebar remote simply changes a standard Fox CTD shock and fork so you receive the firmness benefits but no change in geometry.
Some pretty fricken tech unidirectional carbon fibre layup processes ensure a super stiff chassis for the Genius LT and it's probably worth mentioning at this point that Scott have done one of the coolest things a bike company could do. They've standardised all the hardware on all their bikes. That's right, every BB, bolt, bearing and dropout across all the full suspension models is the same, which is pretty damn cool. And like most companies are espousing these days, Scott are also pretty confident that once you roll the bike off the showroom floor there's not much you'll need to change; long top tubes coupled with short 65mm stems and wide 760mm bars ensure that the cockpit is mostly dialled, as the flat bar might not be to everyone's taste, but the 1x11 setup with chain guide will make most users pretty chuffed.
The Genius LT features removable ISCG05 tabs and comes standard with an E13 chain guide and burly Hans Dampf tyres and some very rad internal cable routing that works well with a New Zealand setup with the front brake on the right as well. The Frame weighs in 400grams lighter than the old 26" model at a respectable 2450 grams with shock and hardware, but luckily Scott haven't gone too crazy on the weight front and have spec'd a Reverb Stealth as standard.
All the cables head in to one large slot on the side of the head tube and Scott's house brand Syncros have stepped up to Easton's new 35mm bar clamp standard for stiffer and wider bars.
So how does the LT ride? Well, without going into a pretty complicated and long story, the trails around Gstaad were pretty average—the vistas were cool, I mean we were in Switzerland—but there was pretty much nothing there that really would have tested the LT to its limit. Luckily for me I'd decided to hang around for an extra day and head to Champery with Scott employee, bike designer and all round shredder Ben Walker. We rode/hiked to the Swiss/French border where Ben showed me one of the raddest pieces of singletrack I've ever ridden. And it just so happened to be pretty much the perfect trail to put the LT through its paces; although one run down a tech Swiss track won't give you the full impression, I can say that this bike is something pretty special. I honestly couldn't believe how often I was using the TwinLoc lever; every little pinch climb along the ridge I'd engage the trail setting and the 170mm enduro race machine would morph into a sprightly trail bike. The long travel, short rear stays and 650b wheels crushed the descent and ate up some super tight switchbacks with ease.
So yeah as the post's title states, Scott were releasing three new 650b/27.5 models and the venerable Spark was the next bike in the lineup to get the wheel overhaul. The 26" model is now gone from Scott's Spark lineup but the 29er remains, and much like all the hardware being compatible across the ranges, the 29 vs 27.5 model differences are solely in the wheel size. Walk into a shop, get the spiel from the shop guy about which model bike will be right for you, and the only option left is to choose the wheel size (which also dictates the travel; 27.5 = 120mm 29" = 100mm). Pretty simple really.
It may seem like a small thing but over the last few years companies seem to have ignored the fact that people drink water, and that they might like to put water bottles on their bikes. Scott went about changing the down tube to ensure that even large bottles will fit on all sizes of the Spark. Even with the change to the BB area the new Spark comes in 5% stiffer than last year's 26" version.
The rear IDS-SL axle is also pretty trick and is compatible with all rear wheel configurations from 135 and 142 x 12 to your good old 135mm QR.
Internal cable routing is again well utilized and having ridden one of the test bikes on a two hour XC death march I can confirm that the routing works well for us Kiwis but the 34t XX1 front chain ring on my test bike had me ready to cough up a lung!
One of the big features of Scott's current full suspension system is the adjustable Geometry Chip. Flipping it will adjust the BB height and your head tube angle by .5 a degree and just like the Genius LT it also features the new FOX Nude CTD shock.
Now to be honest the Scale doesn't really interest me personally, but seeing as Nino Shurter, Florien Vogel and Frishi were all at the launch and crushing everyone on all the rides with their seats up I figure there's still a demand for a full blown XC whip. Turns out Nino rode this bike at the Olympics, well, one that was 15% stiffer and way too uncomfortable for any normal human being to cope with. That said, this one pictured is 5% stiffer than last year's 26" model. Also the old 899 moniker is gone as the new weight is now 960 grams and Scale 960 doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
As with all new Scott carbon bikes the Scale series comes with a press fit BB with a full 92mm of width for increased stiffness and acceleration. There is also a nifty little BB cable guide piece that can be separated to enable individual front and rear mech cable changes.
The engineers at Scott have gone to town on the 2014 Scale. With careful carbon layup and design of the rear seat stays, they've allowed for 4.6mm of vertical compliance that even works with the rider standing and putting down the hammer, smoothing out and dampening square edge bumps, and providing a more comfortable ride.
Nice cable routing again as well as Scott's Rideloc lever for on the fly adjustments to the front fork.
And Scott's IDS SL rear dropout is again utilized for maximum rear wheel compatibility.