- Scapin Nope
- £995 (frame only)
- Steel/carbon frame with Italian flair
Italian manufacturer Scapin started life as a builder of the finest road bikes in 1957, but more recently has used its experience and expertise to build some great-looking MTB frames. Scapin has built its reputation in steel, but they’re not stuck in the dark ages. The curiously-named Nope presents a mix of high quality steel with a dash of carbon for a truly tasty package.
One upon a time, steel was the only choice for a racer’s steed. Now though you’re more likely to find racers aboard full-carbon rigs. Scapin has blended both materials into one frame, something not often seen. All the tubes except the seat and head are Columbus Spirit triple-butted steel, and are ceramic bead blasted before a weather proofing treatment is applied. The whole thing is hand-made in Italy.
The carbon seat tube is bonded neatly into the frame, and the steel head tube has a carbon tube hidden inside, supposedly for reinforcement. The Scapin logo is cut away to reveal the carbon beneath, a nice touch. The collection of tubes in the front triangle is fairly chunky considering they’re steel, and the down tube is ovalised towards the bottom bracket. The rear triangle is the opposite though, a collection of very skinny tubes. They do the usual twist-and-shake for heel and tyre clearance – ample with the 2in tyres fitted – but also s-bend along the opposite axis. The chain stays have a similar sexy curve throughout their length. The juxtaposition works well and received many admiring looks from other riders, especially with the white paint and flash decals.
At the end of the stays there’s a tidy compact dropout on the drive side, while on the non-drive side the dropout/disc mount is an extended loop which meets the stays further along. The idea is to feed the forces from the brake caliper into the dropout rather than into the skinny seatstay. Evidently Scapin like to approach frame design from a different angle, and this is reflected in the unique double-bolted seat clamp. It’s designed to avoid carbon posts slipping. It stops you fitting a QR clamp, but that’s not likely to be an issue for most potential Nope owners.
Talking angles, the Scapin is your standard XC fare. Our medium test bike with an 80mm fork measured 73 seat, 70.50 head, 23.1in top tube, 16.25in seat stays and a 41.6in wheelbase, with a low 11.5in BB. The claimed weight is a rather startling (for a predominantly steel frame) 1.5kg (3.3lb) – we didn’t get the chance to verify this, though. All in it’s a tidy frame beautifully, and evidently lovingly put together.
Usually we ride test bikes just as they come, but we made an exception for the Nope. This is for two reasons – UK importers Veloce Bikes do a range of build kits so you can pretty much choose what you want, and also because we couldn’t get on with the front end. There’s nothing in the slightest bit wrong with Race Face Deus stems and carbon bars, but even allowing for the uncompromising XCness of the Nope the 130mm stem and cut-down bars really didn’t flatter it. So we swapped things around a bit.
This aside, the Scapin came with a reassuring spec, all robust and lightweight kit. Race Face cranks and bars, stem and seatpost, Avid Juicy Seven disc brakes and, continuing the sans Shimano build, a SRAM front and rear mech, cassette and chain.
The frame’s designed for short travel forks so no surprise to find the Fox F80 RLT fitted the bill just right. It’s a fork that works great for the intended riding, and we had no complaints. The Bontrager RaceLite wheels, with DT-sourced hubs, were a highlight. Light and stiff they matched the frame nicely, with Bontrager Jones MudX 2in dual compound tubeless tyres.
In every situation the Scapin is blisteringly fast. Give it all you’ve got in any gear and you’d better hope you’ve got a good hold on the handlebars. The bike fitted this tester just perfectly, which made extracting 100% from the frame an easy job. It’s not overly stiff, but not at all waywardly floppy, just enough give here and there where you want it. Steering is direct and crisp, and there’s plenty of feedback from the back so it’s easy to keep traction on all but the steepest climbs, feeding in just enough power to keep you at the front of the pack. It’s undeniably a racer’s bike, but, and this was something of a revelation to us, it’s quite happy going at a more sedate pace and will happily meander along from tea shop to pub. But to be honest that’d be a waste of the frame’s potential for going very, very fast.
The low BB, although it means the occasional pedal/rock interaction (just pay attention to your lines) made cornering a joy. It dives into the apex with a solid conviction, keeps dialled into the line you’ve pre-paid for, and never strays off. The front end is low and the fork takes just enough out of the trail. And everyone knows white bikes are faster, right?
Positives: Fast, looks great, fast, white, beautifully made, fast, exclusive. And fast
Negatives: Won’t take a seat QR, lots and lots of money
Absolutely one of the fastest test bikes we’ve tested, both in a straight line but also around bends and through rough technical sections. The steel/carbon mix creates a finely responsive frame with a lot of feel, feedback is great, and the fit of the frame is spot on. It’s a bike that steps out from the herd in every sense. Beautifully made, but you’ll pay handsomely for it.