Bike maker Scott has revamped its high-end suspension bikes for 2013, with a new range of Genius 150mm travel rigs with 29er wheels and with the intermediate 650B/27.5in wheel size. The company’s acquisition of the Syncros brand name back in January is also bearing fruit with a range of parts and accessories.
The UK arm of bike maker Scott Sports spent last week travelling the country showing off its 2013 range to dealers. Bikemagic caught up with the good folks from Scott at the High Wycombe show to get an insight into the range highlights.
Scott’s big news is the Genius 7XX range of 150mm suspension bikes. The range comprises five bikes with 650B/27.5in wheels, three in carbon fiber and two in aluminium, and Scott claims the top carbon bike, the Genius 700, has the lightest 150mm travel frame available. There are also 29er versions of all five bikes, with 130mm of travel.
Incidentally, Scott has a new model naming convention. The numbers indicate wheel size (9XX for 29ers, 7XX for 27.5in/650B and 6XX for 26-inch wheels) and position in the range from X00 at the top. The Genius 700 SL is the top model 27.5/650B Genius, then, while the Scale 970 and Scale 670 are the value end of the race hardtail range, in 29er and 26-inch respectively.
The new Geniuses use the linkage and push-shock design Scott introduced on the Spark, abandoning the pull-shocks of old. Scott says the Dual Air Spring shock is more tunable than the old Equalizer2 shock, and its position in the frame means it’s better protected from flying crud.
Like many manufacturers Scott has run into the limitations of wheel travel on 29ers and has settled on 650B/27.5in as the solution. There are both 29er and 650B/27.5in versions of the Genius, with 130mm and 150mm of travel respectively. (The 185mm travel Genius LT remains a 26er.)
Scott has an extensive explanation of the thinking behind the size choice on its website, but it boils down to keeping the ride and handling characteristics right. To make a 150mm travel bike with 29-inch wheels would require a longer wheelbase and other design compromises that Scott wanted to avoid.
There’s a lot more to the new Genius models than just wheel sizes though. Scott has improved its three-position suspension travel technology, which gives you a lock-out option and two different amounts of travel for riding and descending. Not only can fork and shock be adjusted from the same switch, but there are different damper settings in the Nude2 rear shock for each of the two travel lengths.
All the pivots have been made larger compared to the Genius’ previous bearings and the linkage is a single piece for improved rigidity.
The front subframe is moulded in one piece in Scott’s IMP process and all the details are thoroughly modern: BB92 bottom bracket shell, internal cabling, Chainblocker plate and ISCG mounts, interchangeable drop-outs and post mount brakes on the chainstays.
Like a lot of Scott’s bikes for 2013, the Geniuses use predominantly Shimano component sets. Phil Stevenson says Scott were not happy with other suppliers’ brakes, so went with Shimano for stopping performance.
If all this talk of a new wheel size gives you a headache, scroll down to the bottom of the page for a bit of – we hope – useful explanation of what’s going on.
Gear and clothes: Syncros flies again & more
In January of this year, Scott bought the Syncros brand name from Ritchey, who owned it since 2003 after it underwent a tortuous journey from its Canadian roots thorough various hands.
Scott’s 2013 bikes use plenty of Syncros-branded components, including wheels, bars, stems and seaposts. It looks very much as though Syncros will become to Scott what Bontrager is to Trek, a good-quality house brand for components and accessories. Welcome back.
Scott won an award at the Eurobike show for AMT jersey and shorts, which are super-lightweight and easy to pack. There’s also a matching light jacket that weighs a claimed 60g.
Anyone who’s ever fallen off a bike knows you rarely land directly on your head in the way simulated by helmet standard tests. Rolling and rotational impacts can do severe damage to your brain, according to the inventors of a helmet design called Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) that Scott has adopted for two of its helmet models.
In a MIPS helmet, the internal cradle grips your head, but the outer shell can move slightly to absorb rotational impacts. You’ll find it on Scott’s lin and taal helmet models.
For the space between your helmet and your nose, Scott has some new cycling eyewear in the form of the Leap wrap-arounds. They’re available in various dark-lens options, with clear lenses for dark conditions and with photochromic lenses for those days the weather can’t make up its mind.
650B/27.5inch wheels & tyres: what you need to know
There are now three mountain bike wheel and tyre sizes duking it out. Reports of the death of the venerable 26-inch wheel are probably premature, but the wheel size we’ve known since the 70s is definitely under threat.
The danger man is the 29-inch size that’s become popular over the last few years. This uses the same rim size as road bikes, known as 700C or, if you like techie designations, ISO 622mm.
That number is the size of the rim where the tyre sits. Add a 50mm tall tyre and you get a wheel 722mm across in total. There are 25.4 millimetres to the inch so that’s about 28.5 inches in old money, though everyone rounds it up to 29.
A 26-inch mountain bike tyre is ISO 559mm. Add our 50mm tyres and we get 659mm which is almost exactly 26 inches.
Some designers think that 29-inch wheels are just too big, especially for smaller riders and longer-travel bikes. They’ve picked up an old French wheel size – 650B – as a happy medium.
A 650B wheel is ISO 584mm, so actually yields a wheel and tyre combo 27 inches across. However, we’re seeing plenty of fatter tyres on these bikes, so they do end up about 27.5 inches.
The claim is that 650B/27.5in gets you some of the faster-rolling advantage of a 29-inch wheel without as much of the extra weight. If you’re a designer trying to make a long-travel bike it also means you can achieve that without the bars ending up too high, or the wheelbase too long.
Nobody seems to be 100 percent sure what to call these wheels and tyres. The French designation 650B doesn’t mean much to anyone but tyre nerds, but “twenty-seven point five inches” doesn’t trip off the tongue so much as fall on its face and break its nose. One German manufacturer we were talking to recently pointed out that “sechshundert fünfzig beh” was clunky too.
We’re therefore hedging our bets and going with 650B/27.5in.
The Bikemagic crystal ball looks pretty murky when we try and predict the future of wheel sizes, but if you force us to make a prediction, we’d say 650B/27.5in is going to carve a niche in longer-travel bikes, and 29-inch is going to dominate hardtails and shorter-travel rigs.