Since 2011, when Specialized unveiled its Epic 29er, which became the benchmark for cross-country 29ers by notching the first big-wheeled wins on the World Cup circuit, the other major brands have been playing catch-up. To that end, this year has been a good one for consumers with the launch of the impressive Cannondale Scalpel 29er, a finely honed redesign of the Trek Superfly 100, and a handful of other lower-profile but no less interesting models (think GT’s Zaskar 100). With the Spark 29er, Scott made a long overdue and respectable entrance into the fray.
This bike was perhaps the one we anticipated most in this genre because it had the potential to marry the lightweight agility of its small-wheeled sister with the convenient three-stage suspension design that we loved on the Genius LT. After half a year riding the bike, we’re happy to report that the 2012 Spark 29er achieved that balance and more. And though it’s not without a few shortcomings, this bike comfortably keeps up with—though doesn’t outpace—the host of options in this class.