The Scott Spark is a bike that offers glimpses of greatness but is let down by reliability issues

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 6

Scott Spark 760

Pros:

  • Spark shows glimpses of speed and a flicker of fun on descents

Cons:

  • TwinLoc system adds complication at this price point. The shock died

Product:

Scott Spark 760 (2016) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1,449.00
This product is featured in: The best mountain bikes under £1,500.

Key points

  • Top quality alloy frame rides stiff, but isn’t matched by the components
  • TwinLoc remote control creates a  ‘rat’s nest’ of cables
  • X-Fusion shock has a sticky action and dials to match
  • QR fork is outgunned at this price point

Scott’s short-travel Spark 760 complements its sci-fi, neon colour scheme with a high-tech suspension lockout system with fingertip control. This three-position TwinLoc design allows on-the-fly ‘attitude’ shifts, including a Traction Control mode that enables the Spark to straddle XC and trail-riding categories.

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Inspecting the slick, hydroformed profiles, forgings and tidy welds, it’s no surprise this custom-butted 6061 frame shares its chassis with pricier alloy models (although it doesn’t come with the Spark’s usual geometry-altering ability).


Watch our Pro Bike Check on Brendan Faircluogh’s Scott Genius


This lack of a ‘flip-chip’ isn’t a deal breaker, but does fix the 760 slap bang in the middle of the high and low settings of the more expensive versions.

The Scott Spark had a slacker than advertised head angle. This made the wheelbase slightly longer and the bike more stable, and wasn’t something we really complained about once riding.

Suspension

Scott’s sophisticated TwinLoc system simultaneously controls the suspension at both ends with the flick of a lever. The double-decker thumb shifter can cycle between three modes: fully open, rear shock in ‘Traction Mode’, or, for maximum efficiency, both ends locked out. The lever design takes up handlebar real estate and introduces a lot of cables, but is ergonomic and easy to activate.

X-Fusion's nude shock exposed itself as unreliable during the test

X-Fusion’s nude shock exposed itself as unreliable during the test

The quality of the fork and shock appear to have suffered from the added expense of TwinLoc, with neither end performing well in pointy terrain — the sticky X-Fusion Nude shock feels sluggish, and RockShox’s budget 30 TK fork isn’t particularly stiff and has very basic damping control.

Components

Wheels with QR axles and old-school skewers reflect further cost-cutting, but the hubs spin freely and the rims are shod with excellent Maxxis rubber. As such, the Scott rolls as fast as the Schwalbe-equipped Anthem, but offers increased levels of grip and confidence on slippery rocks and roots.

Despite a stabilising clutch rear mech, the 3×9-speed drivetrain with graunchy Alivio shifters and Octalink BB spindle scream ‘bygone era’. Also, the Scott was plagued by chainsuck and shifting problems, and no amount of tweaking achieved reliable engagement when cranking hard.

TwinLoc has three suspension modes at the push of a button

TwinLoc has three suspension modes at the push of a button

This wasn’t just irritating; our shins felt the pain from smashed pedals following multiple slipped gear shifts.

Our size large Spark came with an 80mm stem, rather than the advertised 90mm unit, and together with a decent 720mm bar and comfy own-brand grips, the cockpit delivered a great position for everyday riding.

Performance

The Spark 760 is a little overweight for a 120mm bike, but rides faster than the scales suggest. It has a direct, almost urgent feel once flowing, and it’s relatively nimble, devouring climbs with punchiness you wouldn’t expect for a bike pushing 31lb.

The well-engineered chassis feels solid and well tuned, ensuring steering inputs and bodyweight shifts convert into the kind of precise response you’d expect from a sorted trail bike.

RockShox 30 fork feels tired with its spindly QR axle

RockShox 30 fork feels tired with its spindly QR axle

Stood up or sat down, the Scott is comfy over bumps with a racy attitude that tips your head forward just enough to encourage a sprint for the horizon or an all-out attack on fast singletrack. And, if confidence gets the better of you, those grippy Maxxis tyres do a good job of keeping things on track.

Unfortunately, X-Fusion’s Nude shock is reluctant to track repeated hits fluently, and continuously became stuck in the ‘Traction’ position. As the Open mode gives just enough extra travel to get you out of trouble, this wasn’t ideal. Worse still, the X-Fusion lost all of its pressure. Thankfully Scott’s customer service was faultless and we had a new shock within days.

Scott Spark 760 featured

Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Scott Spark 760 — it’s built around a quality lightweight alloy frame and, whether you love or hate the extra complication, the unique TwinLoc remote system changes the suspension in a useful way — as long as it works. We spotted glimpses of great trail speed and poise, but this cheaper model suffers from a clearly unreliable (in more ways than one) X-Fusion shock that’s integral to Scott’s suspension philosophy. This could have been a ‘one-of-a-kind’ moment but, combined with the drivetrain issues and ghost shifting, it was enough to dampen the Spark’s fire.

Details

Frame:6061 aluminium, 120mm travel
Shock:X-Fusion Nude, TwinLoc remote
Fork:RockShox 30 Silver TK, 120mm travel
Wheels:Formula/Shimano hubs, Syncros X-21 rims, Maxxis IKON 27.5x2.2in tyres
Drivetrain:Shimano Deore chainset, SLX f-mech, Deore r-mech and Alivio shifters
Brakes:Shimano M395, 180/160mm
Components:Syncros
Sizes:S,M, L, XL
Weight:14.06kg (31lb)
Contact:scott-sports.com
Size tested:L
Head angle:67.8°
Seat angle:68.6°
BB height:335mm
Chainstay:435mm
Front centre:725mm
Wheelbase:1,160mm
Downtube:690mm
Top tube:628mm
Reach:444mm