At A Glance
The Genius range is a major part of Scott's heritage, having been around for some time, but always undergoing tweaks and developments to keep it up to date. This time, we see the Genius get fat, but not too fat; just a bit of middle age spread perhaps? The plus sized movement is gathering momentum, and Scott have embraced it, not as some manufacturers have, in a half-hearted way, but dived straight it and slapped some plus size rubber right in the middle of their popular hard hitting long travel bike.Buy Enduro Bikes on
Before me stood something really quite new, a 160mm plus bike! It features all the things we expect from a standard (skinny?) Genius, including a Carbon frame (aluminium back end), Fox 36s and suspension controlled from the cockpit. This is classic Genius, with a three position lever allowing total lockout of both front and rear, fully open and something in between. Elsewhere the spec is quality, if not overly showy with SRAM GX doing the drivetrain and Shimano SLX covering the brakes. The wheels are Boosted and are Syncros hubs and rims with a 40mm width. Syncros finds it way into most of the finishing kit with logos on the seat, stem, bars and headset. A 150mm reverb is fitted on the large, which is great to see manufacturers speccing such a large drop on big frames, there are also other touches like a 30t chainring to keep the large wheels turning with ease.
On The Trail
The large size Scott is a bit on the short side for a 160mm bike. With a 439mm reach in size large and no XL offered in the long travel range, lanky folks may have a few issues. As one of these oversized riders, I found it a little cramped, but fortunately, the bike was so intriguing to the other testers at IMB that I had a queue forming for rides on it. With the bike in demand, this write up is, therefore, an amalgamation of multiple different riders.
First off is the question of what this bike is really for? We are yet to really see any plus sized action at high-level enduro races, yet this is precisely the sort of suspension platform one would expect from a race bike. I've also been told multiple times that plus bikes are 'good for beginners', but I can't imagine a beginner buying a 160mm enduro bike. There is also the argument that plus size is perfect for hardtails to soften the ride out the back, but softening the ride of full suspension bike is hardly necessary. The real advantages of the plus sized tyres which are marketed by Scott to the consumer are that they give 21% more grip, 8% better resistance to snake bites and only a 5W increase in rolling resistance. What's not to like about more grip?
Let's work through the initial surprises of this bike, firstly pedalling and climbing. Now being relatively new to this plus sized thing, I had already decided it might be a bit 'draggy' on the climbs. This could not be further from the truth, and there is absolutely nothing fat, plus or lazy about the way it ascends. It's simply rapid; there is no feeling of drag and with the shock locked out you can hammer as hard as you like with no bobbing around. The reasonably steep seat angle and conservative cockpit set up give a perfect position for putting the hammer down and putting that plus grip to good use. The grip is definitely there, and given half a chance this thing will attempt to scale anything you try and point it at, the only weak part of the equation will be legs or lungs!
The geometry is tried and tested, if a little shorter than I'd hope in reach for a big bike, but it creates a playful and lightweight feel to the package. Hopping and popping from features feels natural although the slightly long chainstays which aid stability, mean it's not instantly keen to get on the back wheel. This manoeuvrable and playful nature is great fun, and cornering is a fantastically exciting experience. What becomes a little disconcerting is how much grip is available from the tyres, finding the confidence to push harder, especially in dry conditions was rewarded with a ton of exit speed and a slightly confused expression.
This massive grip does come at the expense of feedback from the trail, and at times when trails were narrow and required precise line choice we could find ourselves quickly off the line. There was a feeling that the wider tyres lacked the 'edge' to cut back onto our chosen line quickly. This slight vagueness in holding a line certainly didn't slow the bike down, and at times it could barrel along at high speeds, never quite 100% on the perfect line, but never slowing down. The monster truck nature of the bigger tyres just keeps on moving no matter what was put in front of them.
On rocky and bouldery trails, it was very clear that there are two types of suspension going on. The standard 160mm and the 2.8 inch of undamped tyre spring! This bouncy tyre syndrome led to yet more monster truck behaviour through the rocks, once again getting off line and once again never really slowing down. This behaviour led to some wild times and brand new lines on trails we ride regularly. When no line choice is required, and a more straight line approach is adopted, things got really fun. I've never seen a bike plough through the rough quite as well as this and have never seen an accompanying grin quite as big.
The biggest component issues with the Scott, and with all plus sized bikes currently, are tyres. The 2.8 Nobby Nics look the business, but in order to keep weight down the sidewalls offer scant protection from anything remotely resembling a rock. My first ride saw two punctures and the rear tyre written off, leaving me less than positive about the whole thing. On the plus side (pun intended) I swapped out the rear to a Vee Tire Bulldozer, which has been excellent, no punctures for 100s of km and rekindled my hope for more robust tyres in this size. New offerings from Schwalbe and Maxxis this year will no doubt continue the arms race for plus sized dominance.
Suspension performance has been good, but the climb switch is sometimes needed on climbs to calm down the rear end. I would perhaps experiment with removing the lever on the handlebars to clean up the look of the cockpit, but then that is what the Genius range is all about, I just prefer fewer buttons. The Fox 36s have been their usual super stiff self, and even without the magic Kashima coating do an excellent job of making the front of the bike feel both indestructible and supple at the same time.
Other components have all worked as expected, and there is not much to say about them that hasn't already been said. We are certainly in a golden age of drivetrains and brakes, which I couldn't have imagined ten years ago. All the Syncros kit has gone mostly unnoticed and performed functionally and quietly.
In some respects, this test has created more questions for me than it has answered. Plus-size wheels and tyres are still relatively new and are trying to find a home within the mountain bike world. I can't help feeling that 160mm of travel in addition to the large tyres give too much of a disconnect between the rider and the trail. Sometimes it just felt a little numb, perhaps like taking a bazooka to a knife fight, especially at trail centres.
However, if we stop trying to pigeon hole it, we all agreed it to be a great fun bike, and very capable in all aspects, especially climbing. The level of grip is really impressive and allows for a creative approach to riding which re-invigorated us on our tried and tested local trails. There are few downsides to the plus tyres other than the risk from sidewall related punctures., Although we might not be seeing them on the start line at enduro races, there aren't many riding situations that the Genius LT can't handle. It does all this in its own inimitable style which is invariably half monster truck, half mountain goat.
This review was in Issue 42 of IMB.For more information visit Scott Bicycles
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.