Last year I had the privilege to head to Switzerland for Scott’s 2014 range release. At that launch they dropped the brand new 27.5 Genius LT on us as well as a slightly updated Genius range and some swanky new Sparks. Well a couple of weeks ago I headed off to Scott’s 2015 range release in Deer Valley, Utah. Hopping on the plane I had a bit of an idea what I was going to see. Scott’s Australasian distributor had already shown their dealers what was coming at their Melbourne show a few weeks ago, they didn’t have everything but they did have new Gamblers and Geniuses but no Genius LTs.
Anyway, we brought you a brief look at some of their bikes back here and here. But this was a chance to ride the bikes on some decent singletrack, at altitude mind you—the top of Deer Valley is 3048m high (Aoraki / Mount Cook is 3754m)—and ride them back to back with other bikes in the range.
So after falling in love with the Genius LT last year in Champéry after the launch, I was itching to get back on one. But it wasn’t to be, as there were only a handful of larges and an unusually large number of tall journalists, so I headed off with a Genius 700 Tuned (27.5). It had been a year since I’d first ridden this bike and I was pleasantly surprised yet again. Okay, so I struggled with remembering which lever to hit to shorten the travel and to drop or raise the seat, but after twenty minutes on the bike that stuff had come back (though I still made the odd wrong button press here and there). As a refresher, the Genius is a 150mm travel trail bike, the top Tuned model (featured above) and all but the two lowest spec’d models feature Scott’s Nude shock technology. After partnering with Fox last year, the Nude shock has been elevated in terms of both reliability and tuneability. The Nude shock enables you change the bike’s travel and geometry with the push of a lever. One click on the TwinLoc lever takes the Genius from 150mm and reduces the air volume in the rear shock to give you 100m of travel as well as giving less sag and a steeper head angle. All this is in aid of making it climb better, which it most definitely does, in fact it’s like you just hopped on a different bike. If that climb is long and unrelenting there’s one more click left which essentially closes the damper circuit in the rear shock, effectively locking it out and steepening the head angle even further. This last click turns the Genius into a bike that climbs like a scalded cat, even with an engorged water buffalo like me on top of it. Oh yeah, while you are hitting that lever, the Fox fork is also moving through its CTD settings.
For 2015 there’s not a whole lot of changes for the Genius, that said though, of the few changes there are one or two worth writing home about. When Scott’s engineers were working on carbon layup for their high-end road bikes, they realised they could apply the same techniques and modifications to the Genius lineup, and the result is a weight saving of 90 grams and a stiffer frame to boot.
The Genius models, as well as the LT and Spark models also now feature a much much cleaner one piece TwinLoc lever that’s integrated in to the lock-on grip clamp, so hopefully you like the Syncros grips!
As with the first 27.5 Genius model the geometry is adjustable via the Geo Chip, adjusting the BB height by 6mm and adjusting the head angle by .4º. I did have a crack at changing it out on the trail and it is seriously one of the quickest Geo change chips that I’ve ever adjusted. So simple.
Also Scott’s Syncros brand has launched its own range of saddles for 2015 and the Genius Tuned models get the cream of the crop with the XM01 saddle. Designed to relieve pressure on those sensitive bits, it sports quick responding PU foam core and as well as carbon rails. After spending two days on the saddle with my 12kg camera bag, I can honestly attest to the XMo1’s resolved and comfortable design.
I rode the Genius 700 Tuned and 900 Tuned (the 29″ version) models back to back on the identical trail. It involved a high speed, wide open descent, a big traverse across the tops of Deer Valley and then down probably one of the most fun progressive trails on the mountain, (it’s the only trail with jumps that have landings!) and the Genius (in both wheel sizes) just ate it up. I ended up not even using the full climb mode as I found the Traction setting snappy enough and when pointing the thing down it moved through the travel so smoothly that you didn’t even feel like you were using it, but the O-Ring didn’t lie. That’s not in a bad way; the trails were rough and had some drops and square edge bumps but you never felt it. There was an occasion on one of the gnarlier trails which I took the Genius 900 down where I felt the Fox 32s weren’t up to it, but for the most of the time the 32s coped fine. Really if you want something burlier that’s where the Genuis LT steps in!
Mmmm, the Genius LT. Love at first sight! If you read the story in Spoke’s pages last year, you’d know that the trails in Gstaad were fairly lacklustre and it wasn’t until I left the launch and took the bike to Champery that I discovered what it was made of and what it was made for, and that is shredding hard! Like its little brother, the Genius LT Tuned features Scott’s TwinLoc technology and utilises the Fox Nude shock, but travel is stepped up a few notches. Wide open, the Genius LT features 170mm travel front and rear, in Traction mode that’s reduced to 110 and then firmed up in the Climb setting. Again there’s not a whole lot of changes in for the Genius LT, I mean the bike only arrived on the scene last year, but again there are a couple of very noteworthy changes.
From this photo here you’ll see the most major one and probably the most welcome and anticipated change to the Genius LT, and that is the addition of forks actually suited to the bike’s intended purpose. There’s no denying the fact Scott are a weight-oriented company, but luckily for you and me though the new Fox 36 actually weighs less than the current 34, so it was a no-brainer for the product managers at Scott to swap it out. On the trail the change to the 36 is instantly noticeable. On top of the classic test loop that both the lesser travel Genius bikes were ridden on, I took the LT down two of the gnarlier pieces of singletrack at Deer Valley, Fireswamp and an old NORBA race track, NCS. Both of those tracks were eaten up by the Genius LT, the only limiting factor being the bike’s pilot. But that’s always reassuring, the fact that it’s you holding things back and not the bike. On the LT you often find yourself forgetting that you’re on a bike with some serious travel and one bulletproof front end. Scott’s XC focus and heritage is clear in the bike; in the Traction mode it’s so efficient you forget you’re essentially on a bike with freeride/bike park numbers it pedals that well. And much like my time spent on the Genius bikes, you finish a run thinking you haven’t used all the travel only to realise you have. If you need reminding just how capable this bike is, you just need to imagine that you’re Thomas Lapeyrie in the below video.
The whole fork and nothing but the fork, oh and a little spacer underneath the steerer to return the bike to last year’s geo as Fox’s new fork has a much lower axle to crown measurement. The Genius LTs will be shipping with a set of Syncros angle-adjustable headset cups that let you add or increase the head angle by 0.7º. Combine that with the flippable Geo Chip (lowers the BB by 6mm and adjusts head angle by .5º) and you have one seriously adjustable and versatile bike.
Taking a cue from a lot of the cats on the EWS circuit, Scott are not content with just relying wholeheartedly on SRAM’s amazing 1×11 drivetrain and have developed their own chain guide to boot. A dropped chain in the fast-paced world of enduro racing will cost you the podium and in the not-so-fast-paced world of being a weekend warrior, a dropped chain could send you straight over the bars. That said, I have SRAM’s 1×11 on both my bikes and in the last year haven’t dropped a chain once. But the added security in those high-pressure situations is certainly welcome. Fox have also adjusted the tune of the rear shock on the LT to better match the new Fox 36. To be honest, being a year since I rode the bike last, I couldn’t really tell you I noticed a big difference but after riding with a couple of Scott engineers and designers for a few days I trust them when they say it’s an improvement, because those dudes can ride.
Cockpit wise, it’s much the same as last year, with a very sexy 35mm 760mm Syncros bar and colour-matched Syncros stem. Stem length on the small and medium is 50mm and on the large it’s 60mm.
Interestingly the 1×11 XO1 drivetrain shipped with real world numbers. Yes, that is a 30t up front; you should now be able to clean that Whites Bay climb!
Droppers are good for keeping shots of large bikes nice, hey?