I'm sitting in LAX waiting for my flight home to New Zealand and taking time to reflect on an amazing week here in the USA at Scott Week.
Scott week is a epicurean celebration of everything that Scott Sports has to offer the bike world. Based in the beautiful ski resort of Deer Valley, Utah, the week is designed to introduce and educate the countries' media, sales reps and retailers on all Scott's newest fare for the year.
I'd arrived a day early, due to the long haul from the nether regions of the world and was greeted at the hotel bar by Sean from South Africa and Mick from Australia. Sounds like the premise for a bloody good joke - A Kiwi, an Aussie and a South African walk into a bar....but no it turns out that as the only three media reps from the southern hemisphere we had all arrived early to combat jet lag and maximise our time in Deer Valley.
Next morning we had the bonus of getting in an extra days riding, over the N American press crews who hadn't arrived yet. We teamed up with Scott marketing guru Lionel Girardin, engineer Rene Krattinger and a couple of other staffers and headed out to the chairlift accessed haven that is Deer Valley.
Scott's focus was on their new range of 27.5 Plus bikes; a new breed of wide rimmed trail sleds that utilise boost technology and 2.8" tyres to enhance grip and traction. We were each set up with the top of the line Genius Plus Tuned rig and let loose for the day.
Wide-eyed at the endless scope of riding that we could see from the chair yet apprehensive about the new bikes we were on, we rolled into the first trail. No warm-up, no casual get-the-feel-of-it run just straight into a testosterone fuelled pinned run. The combination of the flowing track and the handling of the new bikes had us all hollering and high-fiving at the mid station.
It was amazing to actually go ride these bikes with the guys from Scott who were behind the development, and in such a relaxed environment. No bullshit or hype just guys out riding bikes and loving life. They quizzed us on the bike's performance and answered all our probing questions as to why this? and why that?. After a mind-blowing 20min descent into Park City we sat around having lunch and a cold beer, and the conversation never left the the topic of riding and Plus technology. What I didn't realise at the time was that, that time spent with just the small intimate crew of guys was the most valuable to me of the whole week. As getting that personal riding time and feedback from the brains behind the bikes was better than any powerpoint presentation or tech session out there.
The rest of the week was a blast, a mix of presentations, socialising and a lot of time on the trails - testing!
The other key bikes that I took the time to ride and look over were the Genius 720 plus and the standard Genius 720. Little old New Zealand is not going to get the top of the line Tuned Plus bike as a standard offering (only by special order) as the price tag puts it way up there in the spectrum of bikes. So Kiwi's will be looking at the slightly lower speced Genius 720 Plus as our pick of the range.
So what were my first impression of Plus bikes? Well much to the dismay of many of your who are not wanting to purchase a new bike - I loved them.
Scott have built their range around their existing 29'er carbon front end. Why 29'er? Well imagine a 27.5 rim with a oversize 2.8" tyre on it, the overall circumference is not far off a 29 rim with a skinny tyre, so the 29'er is the perfect chassis for them. What this means is that the rolling speed and momentum conservation of the plus bike is very impressive despite it's wide, low pressure tyres. Another added bonus here is the ability to change wheelsets; yes if you get yourself a 29'er wheelset with boost hubs you can drop them straight in and have two bikes in one!
Ok so how do those fat plus tyres roll and grip?
At first we were a bit shocked when the mechanics told us that we were running 13psi in the front and 15psi in the back as standard, but as we began to trust the grip and lean these bikes over more and more to was obvious that the low pressure was the key to performance. The tyres conformed to the terrain, gripped on loose Utah gravel and made a mockery of rocks and roots. Maybe they suit my lazy style of riding or I was seduced by the romance of riding chairlifts all day but I struggled to fault them. However looking at he grins on the Mick and Sean's faces I wasn't the only one enjoying the Plus experience.
We will be getting a Genius 720 Plus as soon as they arrive in New Zealand for a long-term test on our home trails and without the seduction of the Utah scenery to sway us, see keep an eye out on the site for more.
The other highlight of the week for me was sneaking away early one morning, with our new found riding buddies the Scott staff to do a lap on the legendary Wasatch Ridge Trail. It runs from high above Deer valley, along a spectacular ridegline before dropping all the way down to the Canyons ski resort down the valley, 21 kms of radness. The last 20-30mins are pure unadulterated singletrack porn and of course we all took our plus bikes.
Its hard to sum up a week like Scott week - I met a lot of very cool, like-minded people and rode some of the best trails of my life on a new style of bike that blew my mind. I'm sure the next time I sit on a Plus bike it will be in a much more familiar surroundings and maybe it won't quite have the same feel but this technology is here to stay in my mind. The advantages and benefits are glaringly obvious and it won't be long before all the major bike manufactures will be following Scott's lead and investing in Plus.
We will have a magazine article and reviews coming up over the next couple of issues so keep an eye out for more from Deer Valley.