The Spoke Word: Scott’s 2011 bikes

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Bike Press Camp Part 3

Now in its second year, Press Camp is a four-day gathering of journalists and companies from the bike industry. Mornings are filled with one-on-one informational meetings, while the afternoons are reserved for product testing. This year Press Camp was held in Deer Valley, Utah, which gave us access to high-mountain roads and lift-served singletrack on the slopes of the ski resort. Here and in upcoming posts, I’ll highlight some of the best of what I saw.

Scott Hits the Mountains…

Scott’s popular Genius trail bike gets a big sibling for2011. The carbon Genius LT is, as the name would suggest, a long-travel versionof the company’s versatile trail platform, built to handle shuttle- andlift-served downhilling but with an adjustable-travel design that firms up foruphill pedaling.

Two key innovations set the Genius line apart—athree-cylinder rear shock, called the Equalizer3, that effectively acts as twoshocks in one (for short and long travel), and Scott’s handlebar-mounted Twin-Locremote, which controls both the fork and rear shock.On the existing Genius, the three-position Twin-Loc togglesbetween a fully-open setting with six inches of travel front and rear, a middle“Traction” setting that leaves the fork open but reduces rear travel to 3.75inches, and a closed setting that locks out both front and rear.

The Genius LT has the Twin-Loc remote with full lockout, butthe numbers get bigger. Fully open now means slightly more than seven inches of travel,front and rear, while Traction mode reduces rear travel to 4.3 inches. The rearshock also has a two-position mount for those who would like to drop the rearend slightly for slacker steering angles (better for descending). Scottpositions the Genius LT as a bike for riders who spend about 35 percent oftheir time going uphill.

If the Equalizer shock looks familiar, it’s because it’s anevolution of a Scott design created, in part, by German engineer Peter Denk,who now works for Cannondale and designed that company’s two-in-one shock Iwrote about last week. There are some key differences between the two, however,including the rebound damping on the Cannondale shock and the fact that onlythe Scott design includes a lockout.

As expected, the Genius LT frame has been enhanced to takethe abuse of more aggressive all-mountain riding. The one-piece carbonmainframe has a tapered head tube (wider at the bottom than the top forincreased stiffness), while the burly aluminum rear triangle meets themainframe via oversized pivot bearings (stiffer and more durable).

I took the LT out for a couple of lift-served runs at DeerValley that included sustained climbs and big-hit technical downhill sections.I admit I’m not an aggressive enough downhiller to push a 7.2-inch-travel biketo its limits. But I did take some drops I wouldn’t normally try on thedescents, including jumps off manmade features in very tight sections of trail.The bike let me ride beyond my ability. (Only barely. I did go down in asnowbank.)

The Genius LT does climb as advertised—nothing like across-country thoroughbred but way beyond what I’d expect of aseven-inch-travel bike. It’s more bike than I need in terms of suspension, butnot so much that it’s a beast to pedal. I’m a big fan of the Genius, which ismore applicable to the type of mountain biking I do. But for a certain type ofaggressive, all-mountain rider, the Genius LT warrants a look.

Scott has also tweaked its Scale hardtail XC-race frame for2011, dropping weight and also adding a 29-inch version to the lineup. Claimedframe weights are 899 grams and 949 grams (1.98 lbs and 2.09 lbs),respectively, and are printed right on the top tubes. Will be easy to build upeither bike in the 16- or 17-lb range, I would think.

I haven’t had a chance to ride either Scale, but the 29erlooks intriguing. The Scale’s appeal has always been weight, but I have nodesire ever to ride a 26-inch hardtail again. The bigger, easy-rolling wheelsof 29ers, however, slightly reduce the harsh characteristics of hardtail designswhile preserving the benefits (light weight and more efficient pedalingperformance). Hardtail 29ers are becoming increasingly popular on the racecircuit, and the Scale 949 will likely be a popular choice.

…And Goes Aero Road

Scott hasn’t forgotten about its road line. The day beforethe start of the Tour de France last week in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Scottunveiled its new aero-road frame, the  F01.

Aero road bikes combine the slippery, elongated tube shapesof triathlon and time-trial bikes with the stiffness and handling of regularroad bikes. In theory, anyway. The idea is that the slight aero benefits willhelp riders during long stages or in solo breakaways. The reality is that aerotube shapes are heavier and inherently less stiff, laterally, which makes forpoor pedaling and handling performance. Scott says it has overcome these problems with the F01.

Thecompany claims the bike is just as stiff, laterally, as Scott’s top-end Addictroad frame and only 5 percent heavier (840 grams). So no loss of handling orpedaling efficiency, and only a negligible weight penalty, but in a frame that isdecidedly more aerodynamic.Scott’s sponsored pros on Team HTC-Columbia will be racingboth the F01 and Addict frames during the Tour. If the F01 can handle the abuseof sprinter Mark Cavendish, it may indeed be as stiff as Scott claims, whichwould make it a remarkable aero design.  

—John Bradley


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