A perfect playmate for newbies and veterans alike
Need to know
- Women’s version of Scott’s World Cup winning XC hardtail
- Lightweight air-sprung RockShox fork with 100mm travel and a remote lockout
- 27.5in wheels keep the chainstays short and the frame compact
- Shimano brakes get a bigger 180mm rotor up front for extra stopping power
Scott Contessa Scale 710
While I was putting the Trek Cali S and Specialized Jynx Comp hardtails through their paces, the Contessa Scale 710 arrived from Scott, giving me the perfect opportunity to take a look at exactly how much difference an extra £300 makes to the riding experience.
Is it all about the bling and those famed ‘marginal gains’ touted by the pros, or could a relative newbie really feel that extra hard-earned cash paying off on the trail?
We got off to a flying start, as the Contessa Scale 710 rolls on 27.5in wheels — my preferred wheel size, as I’m only 5ft 4in. The bike is also available in a faster-rolling 29er format designated the Contessa Scale 910. Scott’s nomenclature is a little confusing, but it’s easier to understand once you know that all of the women’s bikes come under the Contessa umbrella, and 700 series models have 27.5in wheels while the 900 series bikes use 29in wheels.
With that cleared up, I hate to start on such a ‘girly’ topic as the colour, but blimey those cables are bright! Once your eyes adjust, however, there is a top quality bike behind the neon glow. The frame proportions and sizing are spot-on, and the Shimano Deore/XT drivetrain and softer-compound Kenda tyres bode well.
Out on the trail, the first thing I noticed, other than the cables, is how much lighter the Scott feels compared to its less expensive cousins, even though it’s only 0.2kg lighter on the scales. Most of the saved weight is in the wheels, which has a much greater impact on the riding experience than the numbers suggest. So, to answer my initial question, yes, any newbie will reap the rewards.
The biggest gains, though, come from the air-sprung 100mm-travel RockShox fork. Not only does it really take the chatter out of the trail, it offers great support through berms and compressions and is a key component in providing you with the confidence needed to really pick up the pace.
The compliance of the quality aluminium frame is noticeable too — something of far greater importance on a hardtail without the cushioning comfort of rear suspension. The greater control and comfort afforded by the softer compound tyres only add to the bike’s overall capability.
With a more compact 40/30/22t chainset, the gearing on the Scott is comparatively low, with a smaller outer ring offering greater ground clearance and a nice low gear at the back to make those super-steep climbs more pleasant, or at least achievable.
The key point, though, is whether the Scott Contessa Scale 710 is fun to ride, and the answer is a resounding yes. The suspension and generally forgiving ride quality, as well as the reduced rotational weight, significantly reduce fatigue and increase control.
So is it worth splashing the extra cash? Well, of course your budget is your budget and a number of factors will dictate what you have to spend on a bike, but clearly at the lower end of the pricing scale £300 offers a massive leap in performance. In other words, if you were to plump for this well-thought-out Scott, you certainly won’t be disappointed.