My first impressions of the Scott Contessa Scale 920’s frame and geometry were good, and this was borne out on the trails. The riding position is excellent, and the 6061 alloy frame is compliant yet reassuringly stiff when cornering at speed. And speed is exactly what you find yourself wanting to push here, with the 29in wheels cruising over the terrain, smoothing out the rough stuff, and offering a confidence-inspiring level of stability.
The 690mm bars — the widest on test — offer good control and, along with the reliability of the Shimano M395 discs, the whole set-up has you itching to go faster.
Sadly, my exuberance was kept in check by the fork. The Suntour XCR LO claims to have 100mm travel, but I wasn’t getting much movement out of them. It may have required tuning correctly for a lighter rider, but as a coil rather than an air sprung fork there was very little I could do about it. This left my hands and arms knackered after a few descents. The 3×10 Shimano Deore shifters and derailleurs give the Scott the widest spread of gears on test and shifting was both light and reliable, until grit brought the rear mech to a grinding halt, due perhaps to the exposed inner cable on the down tube getting contaminated.
The lightest of the 29ers on test, the Scott Contessa Scale 920 feels every inch the fun, pacey hardtail you would hope for. I felt instantly at home with the geometry, raring to tackle whatever was thrown at me. The subtle colour scheme also met with my approval. Its one major failing, however, was the fork. It’s like a racehorse raring to go, but someone’s shod it in lead shoes.
MBR rating: 8
Frame 6061 double-butted alloy
Fork Suntour XCR LO 29 100mm
Wheels Formula/Shimano hubs, Syncros XC-49 Disc rims, Schwalbe Rapid Rob 2.25in tyres
Drivetrain Shimano M522 chainset, Deore 3×10 shifters and mechs
Brakes Shimano M395
Weight 13.3kg (29.32lb)
Sizes S, M, L
Size tested S
On test in our Hardtail of the Year competition: