The Best $1,000 Road Bike: Scott Speedster S40

Jul 6, 2012
Outside Magazine

Scott Speedster S40    Photo: Courtesy of Scott

With the Speedster ($850), Scott has leveraged its considerable know-how from building pro-level racers like the Addict and the Foil to create a fast, stable, hard-working road bike for the average rider. It’s not without its flaws—a few components in particular—but the good here far outweighs the bad, especially considering the price. Bonus: it looks a lot more expensive that its price tag suggests.

With the exception of a taller head tube, the geometry on the Speedster is darn close to Scott’s flagship road bike, the Foil. That’s a good thing on both counts: We absolutely loved the Foil’s agility and quick handling, and the added height up front here simply makes the steering a bit calmer and the fit a bit easier for non-racers. It was well balanced if a bit husky on climbs and steady when descending. But where we really felt this bike excelled was on flats and rolling terrain, where it hummed along like a bowling ball. Unlike some other frames out there, which take advantage of tube hydroforming to shape and tweak the ride quality, the Speedster’s straight aluminum tubing was definitely a bit jarring on rough roads. Having said that, we found that fiddling with tire pressure—especially running less than suggested, say 75 to 80 psi—can really quiet the chatter on any bike, the Speedster included.

Before we begin nitpicking, it’s worth saying that overall the components on this bike worked just fine, and the average user who has never ridden high-end bikes will have nary a complaint. With that said, there is a noticeable gap between the performance of these parts and mid-grade components like Shimano 105. The positioning of Campagnolo-esque thumb shifters on the Shimano Sora controllers means there’s absolutely no possible way to shift while in the drops. We also were surprised just how far over you have to push the brake paddle to shift up, which could be a problem for women and those with small hands. And, most important, the braking power was underwhelming. As for the drivetrain, the 50 x 34 gearing up front combined with the 28-tooth granny gear in the back provided ample range for even the steepest pitches on our local hill climb, and while shifting was quick and accurate, overall the parts felt a bit fragile. Again, everything works just fine—you simply get what you pay for.

In spite of all that grousing, we actually really, truly like the Speedster. Considering that it costs less than what many companies are selling wheels for these days, it is a great value. While the parts are a bit blah, the frame is well built and the bike tips the scales at a svelte 20.2 pounds. That makes it especially suitable for aspiring roadies and even the budding racer—it rides great out of the box, and as time and budget allows, upgraded components will simply make this a sweeter and faster ride. For the price, it’s hard to imagine a smoother, better-looking road bike.

Filed To: Road Bikes