Scott recently invited the mountain biking press to the company’s USA headquarters in Sun Valley, ID to for a peek at the 2011 Scott bike lineup, and to ride some hot new bikes on the stellar Sun Valley singletrack. Lucky me.
Scott’s all-new-for-2011 Genius LT, which replaces the Ransom in Scott’s lineup, is designed to provide more travel (up to 185mm) at a lighter weight (6.2 lbs frame/shock) than conventional all-mountain bikes. The main frame of the carbon Genius LT is molded as a single piece using Scott’s IMP technology, a variation on traditional monocoque technique in which the internal mold that the carbon fibers are wrapped around stays in place during the final molding process. (internal mold is then removed). Scott engineers honed the frame design and eliminated much of the aluminum used in the Ranson, in places such as the full-carbon BB92 press-fit bottom bracket and the 180mm post-style caliper mounts (203mm adapter available). The Genuis LT comes with 142x12mm through-axle; and a clever replaceable rear dropout design allows quick/easy conversion to either a 135x12mm through-axle or a 135mm QR rear end. Additional frame tech details include: main pivot bearings 15mm wider than the Ransom, 2X/3X chain blocker standard, routing for telescopic seatpost, uninterrupted seat tube, room for a full water bottle, ISCG05 mounts, and down tube cable routing with full housing for a clean aesthetics.
Functionally speaking, the Scott Genius LT conjures up one word: versatility. A handlebar remote offers 185, 110, or 0mm travel modes at the push of a thumb-lever. In addition to controlling the travel of the Equalizer3 rear shock (that Scott developed with DT-Swiss), the handlebar remote also simultaneously controls the travel of the RockShox Lyrik up front. That’s slick. Compared to prior versions, the Equallizer3 has longer stroke and reduced air pressure which combine to produce a more linear spring curve (though a special, high-pressure air pump is still required to air up the shock). The Equalizer rebound damping is externally adjustable and compression damping is set at the factory.
But the versatility doesn’t stop there. Two geometry settings are selectable via toggling the "shock chip" in the rear shock linkage to either the slacker "low" position or the steeper "high" position. With the travel set at 185mm and the chip set at "low" the head angle is 66.3 degrees and the bottom bracket sits 14.1 inches off the ground. Switching to the "high" position steepens the head angle to 67 degrees a raises the BB to 14.4 inches. The effect is similar in the 110mm-travel mode. Note: all quoted values are with suspension un-sagged.
Two carbon fiber and two aluminum alloy Genius LT models will be offered with the frames weighing in at 6.2 and 7.0 lbs. respectively (with rear shock). The top model weighs in at under 30 lbs, with 3×10 drivetrain. Prices will range from $2,500 to $6,800 MSRP.
On the Sun Valley trails, the versatility of the Genius LT came shining through. My morning began with an extended lift-assisted run down the curvy, flowy and sporadically rocky trails at Sun Valley resort. The gravity run offered an accelerated lesson in the Genius LT’s handling, and allowed me the opportunity to dial in my set-up. With the scenery ripping by at a high rate of speed, I relied on my instincts and trusted the bike. The Genius came through with flying colors. At least I felt like I was flying at points. The Genius LT was Stable at speed, cornered with conviction and gobbled up rocks and roots quite well, thank you very much.
Later in the day the fine folks from Western Spirit shuttled our crew to the hills outside of town where we set up a camp and spent the afternoon on a multi-hour XC loop on the "Deer Creek" trails. The ride started out with about 45 minutes of climbing on a mix of gradual dirt road and switchback-filled singletrack, where toggling into the 110mm-travel "traction" mode felt almost like cheating. In the shorter-travel mode the suspension had a firmer feeling that made climbing feel more efficient. And the steeper angles were just the ticket for negotiation steep uphill switchbacks.
With the initial climb out of the way, the rest of the day was net downhill, with rolling terrain that mostly rolled downward. Switching between elevate mode and the longer-travel "flow" mode, as the conditions dictated, became second nature after a short time on the bike. And the full "lockout" mode even came in handy here and there during my day of test riding. With the Genius LT, Scott was looking to redefine the "all-mountain" category by increasing the amount of travel available in a lightweight, pedalable package. From day-long test session, I’d have to give them kudos for delivering a bike that performs as advertised.
The all-new carbon fiber Scott Scale 29 was my reward for dragging myself out of my tent then next morning. Well that, a cup of cowboy coffee, a hearty breakfast and the promise of epic singletrack. But I digress.
The addition of a 29er within the carbon Scale line is news in itself. Additionally, both the 29" and 26" frames share several newsworthy upgrades. The IMP construction process (see above) replaces the prior tube-to-tube technique, which helps reduce the weight of the 26" frame to a remarkable 899g (compared to 970g for the prior Scale). The new 29er frame tips the scales at 949g. Also helping with the weight reduction is the use of a full-carbon bottom bracket (press-fit BB30 standard) that replaces the aluminum BB shell used in prior versions (and improves BB stiffness by 15%). The Scale 29 uses a press-fit BB92 standard, which provides more chainstay clearance for the bigger wheels. The chainstays, seatstays and rear dropout are now molded as one carbon fiber piece (what Scott calls "tubular structure") which uses less aluminum and is lighter. The headtube is now 1 1/18" to 1.5" tapered, leading to a 10% stiffer frame in the headtube area.
The rear stays on the carbon Scale frame are designed to provide vertical compliance, while remaining laterally stiff. The stays are oval shaped, thinner vertically and wider in the lateral direction, which helps provide the desired effect. Through the use of unidirectional carbon fiber layers, Scott is also able to orient each tubes’ fibers in the direction required to provide the proper blend of stiffness and compliance at any point within the structure. The end result is a rear end that is 20% more vertically compliant, 10% stiffer laterally, and 25g lighter than last year.
On the trail, the "attention to details" that went into the making of the Scale 29 translated into an efficient, fast hardtail that was fun to ride. For the most part, the climb up to the pass on the Greenhorn Gulch trail followed a more gradual grade than the prior day’s ride. The 2×10 drivetrain mated to this light, efficient hardtail was just what the doctor ordered for cranking up the mountain. I never felt the need for a triple on this particular ride, though Scott will offer 26" and 29" Scale models with both 2×10 and 3×10 drivetrains.
For 2011 Scott added 10mm to the top tube length on both the 26" and 29" Scale models, and the cockpit felt spot-on to me. I was in a comfortable riding position, and there was no overlap of my size tens with the front wheel. The 12.2" high bottom bracket (same for the 26") was low enough to feel stable at speed, yet my cranks stayed out of harm’s way in the rocks. That seems like a good number (12.2") for a hardtail with a 100mm fork up front. The bike’s geometry felt comfortable when picking the Scale 29 through slow, technical terrain as well hammering it on fast, swoopy sections. Granted, my test time was limited, but my first impression was a good one, so I’m giving the geometry a thumbs up. The carbon fiber frame felt like it lived up to it’s claimed blend of lateral stiffness, with a hint of vertical compliance. The comfortable yet efficient Scale 29 seems versatile enough for anything that the XC rider might throw at it—a quick lunchtime session, an epic singletrack adventure, or a day at the races.
Scott will be offering the 2011 Scale 29 in 3 carbon fiber and 2 aluminum alloy models, with prices ranging from $950 to $6,300 MSRP. I’m told that the top model will weigh in at just about 19lbs.
Click the thumbnails to enlarge the photos from trip to Scott. All photos by yours truly, except those designated by Scott Markowitz.