With its sights on gold in Rio, Scott has sharpened both its racing blades – the full-suspension Spark and the hardtail Scale – with new frames, kinematics and multiple wheel size options.

Need to know

  • New full-suspension racing platform from Scott
  • Lighter, stiffer frames with new geometry and kinematics
  • 27.5in, 27.5 Plus and 29in versions available
  • Spark retains Twin-lock remote system
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The Spark RC raced by Nino Schurter at La Bresse

Haven’t I seen Nino Schurter racing on this bike already?

Indeed you have. He rode it at the World Cup in La Bresse, with a half-hearted camouflage paintjob that probably attracted more attention than it diverted. As you may already have spotted, the shock is no longer in-line with the top tube. Instead it moves to a vertical position, being anchored to the down tube/bottom bracket area, with a rocker link taking over from the swing-link.

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Here you can see the Metric shock with trunnion mount. The shock is inverted to better integrate with the wide profile of the down tube, and it reduces unsprung weight.

Why has it done this? Now it really stands out against the other bikes in the range?

There is sound engineering reasoning behind the new configuration, although the decision to switch wasn’t taken lightly. At the start of the three-year development process, Scott’s engineers split the bike into two zones. The stiffness backbone – built to handle the bulk of the loads and hang off the major components such as fork, bars, cranks and wheels – which consists of the head tube, down tube, bottom bracket and chainstays. Which leaves the top tube, seat tube and seatstays as the comfort zone, subject to – you guessed it – lighter loads, and important in terms of frame compliance and rider comfort.

The shock placement on the previous Spark sent forces along the top tube, which meant it needed to be built to handle those forces. Which added weight. And reduced compliance.

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Super stiff, wide bottom bracket/shock mount and main pivot area on the 1X only version of the Spark frame.

So, the new shock placement saves weight?

Yes, it’s lighter, but it’s also stiffer along that critical backbone. 36% stiffer according to Scott’s in-house testing.

How’s that?

The Spark uses one of the new Metric shocks – short story: simplified, consolidated sizing to reduce confusion – and gets the new trunnion mounting system, with two bolts anchoring the shock body, rather than a bolt through an eyelet and bushing. It’s a design that Trek has been using for a while on its Remedy, and the benefits are stiffness and packaging (the shock effectively becomes more compact, so it can run a longer stroke for the same eye-to-eye length). Scott has also tuned the kinematics to better suit today’s more linear air shocks. As such there’s more support and progression built into the leverage curve. As standard the Fox Nude shocks run a medium volume spacer, so you can go up or down from stock depending on your weight and preference.

MY17 Scott Spark Metric shock

Does it still have the funky lock-out gizmo on the bars?

You mean the Scott Twin-lock remote? Yes, it does, along with the two travel modes and a full lockout option for, well, World Cup racers. Good news; the remote is now located under the handlebars (as long as you go for a single-ring drivetrain). Bad news; it’s still a bit agricultural, and (apart from to check it was fully open) we didn’t feel the need to reach for the lever during any of our test rides on the new bike.

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Twin-lock remote has been refined, but we’d hardly call it sleek.

Come on then, how much weight did Scott save?

Headline weight for the 100mm travel RC 29er frame that Nino will race on, including shock, in size medium, is 1,779g. That’s 200g lighter than the old Spark and over 300g lighter than it’s nearest competitor – the Cannondale Scalpel – according to Scott. 130g alone was shed from the swingarm, now utilising pivotless flex-stays and consisting of three pieces, instead of 18 on the old bike. The new linkage saved 68g. I could go on. Claimed complete bike weight for the RC 700 SL (Medium frame) is 9.8KG (21.6lb). And yet, all along, material was being added, not only to improve strength and stiffness, but to bring revised – read longer, lower, slacker, geometry.

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Pivot-less flex stays save weight, as does clever alloy brake mount.

Long, low, slack? Isn’t this meant to be a race bike?

If you’ve watched any of the World Cup XC races recently, you’ve have seen how technical they are. Sure, they can be pretty artificial, but races are no longer won or lost on the climbs alone. As such, the even the 100mm travel RC models get 68.5 head angles, 425mm chainstays (435mm on the 29er) sub-320mm BB heights and over 450mm reach on the size large frames.

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New mech hanger design is simpler to mould and lighter than the old parts.

So you’re saying you can ride them like a trail bike?

That’s exactly what we’re saying. And, speaking from experience, one Spark in particular punches way above its meagre weight in pretty serious alpine terrain.

Go on then, spill the beans…

We rode the Spark 700 Plus Tuned – yes, that’s the 27.5 Plus version – extensively at the bike’s launch in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on typical alpine singletrack. Trails not lacking in rocks, roots, switchbacks and big speeds. We rode it with the contempt for the terrain we’d normally reserve for a 160mm bike, not a 120mm ripper, and it absolutely lapped it up. The new frame, and revised kinematics, combined with the more contemporary geometry and superb Maxxis Recon Plus 2.8in tyres redefined what we considered possible from such a lightweight (we weighed it at 11.52KG/25.3lb), short travel machine. If that’s whetted your appetite, be sure to look out for our first ride in the next issue.

<<<Read our complete guide to wheel sizes>>>

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Not just for racers: the Spark 700 Plus Tuned is bewilderingly capable.

Three wheel sizes, two different travel options, carbon and aluminium frames – sounds like there’s going to be a bewildering number of models in the range?

We counted 25 including the women-specific Contessa models. No word yet as to prices and which ones will come into the UK, either, so more news as we get it.