The last word in 2014 bike reviews goes to what was arguably our favorite bike of the year—the Gear of the Year-winning Scott Addict.
Few companies have pushed the boundaries of lightweight road bike design as consistently as Scott has in the last 15 years. They were the first to release a sub-1,000-gram road frame all the way back in 2001, and their CR1, launched in 2003, was a benchmark that fueled the weight wars.
With the resurrection of the Addict last year, the company hasn't quite undercut the other brands as in the past, but that's mostly because everything has gotten so light that the gains to be made are nominal. Still, the new Addict frame set comes in at under 1,000 grams (including fork), which puts the bike in the rarefied company of models such as the Cervélo RCA, the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Black Inc., and the new Trek Émonda.
Weight however, is just part of the story. What Scott has managed to do is to craft a bike that's not just lighter than almost everything else out there, but also stiffer, more aerodynamic, and, most importantly, more comfortable.
The Addict was cut from the line-up in 2011, which Scott said owed to the fact that the new Foil was as light and more aero. That was likely just good marketing, giving the new model time to get established and allowing Scott time to complete a ground-up revise of the Addict. But as long-time fans of the bike, we lamented its departure.
On its return, it was immediately clear that the new frame was influenced by the Foil, borrowing the bike's truncated airfoil design for better aerodynamics, but in a lighter, skinnier design to save weight. The shaping is also quite similar to that of the Trek Madone and Cervélo RCA.
The Foil comes in three grades based on the amount of hi-modulus carbon fiber, which is stiffer, lighter, and, naturally, more expensive than regular carbon. All of the frames, however, come from the exact same molds. The top-level Addict SL gets the most of this high-grade carbon, and it's the only frame and fork combo that hits that sub-1,000 gram benchmark, though at a high cost: $9,250 for the complete bike, which, it must be noted, is still significantly less than the superlight competition. The top spec'ed Trek Émonda, for example, costs almost $16,000. We tested the Addict Team Issue, which is only 100 grams heavier but goes for $8,000. And though the frames on the Addict 10, 15, 20, and 30 all use the medium-grade HMF carbon fiber, they still tip the scales at a respectable 890 grams (not including the fork).
The magic of this frame, however, isn't just how much it weighs but how it feels. Whereas previous iterations of the Addict were awesome but bone-jarringly stiff, our tester felt stiff where we wanted it to be—the bottom bracket and the head tube—but much more compliant overall. It steers and accelerates like a race bike, which it should at 13.7 pounds for our size 56 tester, but the bike is also smooth and comfortable enough to ride all day without breaking your back. And unlike some other superlight bikes we've tried, the Addict is as confident and hard-charging down technical, sinuous descents as it is on steep, climbing ramps.
There's not much to complain about with this bike, except that Scott hasn't yet created a way to integrate internal housing for both mechanical and electronic drivetrains. That means that if you buy one setup now but want to switch to the other format down the line, you'll need a new bike. We hope that Scott will soon take other manufacturers' lead and make the Addict—all their bikes, really—compatible with every group set out there.
As expected, there's not much to niggle over in terms of components. Shimano Dura Ace 9000 is, in our opinion, the benchmark for mechanical components, with light action on the shifting, quick and accurate gear changes, and solid braking. We did notice a bit more oscillation in the braking than with other Dura Ace setups, a result of the Syncros RL1.1 carbon wheels.
That's perhaps the only real limitation of this Addict: that you are locked into this wheel set. At this price range, many riders will have their own wheel preferences (and likely a spare set or two), so you might be paying a premium for hoops you don't want or use. Scott, however, now owns Syncros, so the house brand accounts for pretty much every part on the bike. And though we weren't totally in love with the wheels, which felt a bit soft to us when really pushed in corners and also seemed grabby on the brakes, they hardly qualify as bad. At 1,310 grams, they are superlight for a set of clinchers, and as such awesome for climbing.
The other upside: All those Syncros parts make for a concerted, beautifully matched look, from the bars and stem, to the seat post and saddle, and even the wheels.
The new Addict is ostensibly a climber's bike, so feathery that it beats the UCI weight limit by over a pound and with gossamer wheels that make ascending feel like cheating. But the bike's real appeal is that while it's superlight, it is sure-footed as any all-arounder and as comfortable as a race bike can be. It is as capable and awe-inspring as the RCA or the Supersix EVO, but at much more reasonable pricing. As such, it must be considered a benchmark for racers, though the lack of coverage of both mechanical and electronic drivetrains is worth pondering if you tend to keep bikes for more than a year or two.
And while the Team Issue is beautiful and blingy, the real value proposition is the lower spec'd bikes. The Addict 20, in particular, with an almost complete Shimano Ultegra 6800 group set and color-matched Sycnros RP2.2 wheels represents excellent value for money at $3,500. It would be the perfect entry-level race bike.
Specs and builds aside, Scott has managed to elevate its game once more with this Addict. The only thing that would have made us happier is if we'd been able to keep this bike forever.
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