Scott Bicycles Spark 29 Expert  2012 Mountain Bike Review

Scott Bicycles Spark 29 Expert 2012

Reviews / XC Bikes

Scott Bicycles 606,583

At a glance

Having ridden and loved the Scott Genius last year I was looking forward to putting some miles in on the Spark 29er and had the bike ready to roll the afternoon it arrived so that I could get an evening ride in straight away.

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Tech heads

The Spark 29 has a carbon front triangle mated to an aluminium rear end. There is 100mm of travel front at both ends and a reversible chip at the shock mount that drops the bottom bracket by 7mm and takes .5º off the head tube angle.

Suspension comes via a single pivot design, with a low main pivot point controlled by a DT Swiss M210 ABS with remote lockout. The front end has a Rock Shox Reba RL 100mm w/remote lockout and a QR axle.

Both the front and rear suspension are controlled via a handle bar mounted switch lever that operates both the front and rear lockouts together. Drivetrain is a mix of Shimano SLX and XT, brakes are Avid 5S with 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors.

DT Swiss provide the wheels in the shape of their XR39 wheelset. These weigh in at a sensible if not impressive 1770g. A set of Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.25 tyres offer a good compromise between grip and speed.

Scott provides the 80mm stem and 685mm bars.

Geometry for our medium test bike in the low bottom bracket setting.

Scott Spark 29 Expert Medium

Seat tube 440mm
Effective top tube 600mm
Head tube 105mm
Chain stay 448mm
Front triangle 664mm
Wheel base 1112mm
BB height 317mm
Head angle 69.5°
Seat angle 72.5°
Reach 409mm
Stack 606mm

Weight w/o pedals 25.6lbs

On the trail

I set the suspension up at 25% sag which is my start point on XC-orientated bikes, it took a fair amount of time and dabbling to get to the point where I decided that both front and back required higher pressures to get the most out of the bike.

From the outset I did not feel that the Spark 29 was a particularly efficient pedaller and it did not ‘scamper’ up the climbs in the way that I had expected, it does, however, dig in and give plenty of traction and I found that settling into a fast rhythm worked well and I clawed my way up some very technical climbs.

Once on swooping trails and fast ground the Scott soon picked up speed and gathered momentum. It was these occasions that required the bike to be set up firm, almost harsh even, as ‘standard settings’ simply could not cope with trail riding at the high speeds that I constantly found myself travelling at.

I covered several hundred miles on the Scott, taking in a 30-mile daily commute of mostly double tracks. These just flowed under the wheels and then each evening I found myself adding more and more fun trails to the journey home. My fatigue levels were so low and my pleasure at riding so fast that I just wanted to keep going.

Handling is precise and the attacking geometry makes for a manoeuvrable bike that corners hard and maintains grip which helps maintain a flowing momentum.

Overall

I rode the bike constantly in the low bottom bracket setting. I also decided to make the most of its speed and attacking geometry by fitting wider bars and a dropper seat post. Speed wise the Spark 29 is fast! It rolls at a pace that is a few notches above what you would roll on a 26’’ bike. Speed and fantastic handling make the Spark 29 a fast bike to race and a fun bike to ride.

As it stands the Spark 29 expert is a very fast, sweet handling XC bike that will see you riding faster and further than before but do not expect your riding buddies to keep up.

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This review was in Issue 18 of IMB.

For more information visit Scott Bicycles

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By George Woodward

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