Scott’s Spark 700 Plus Tuned is a blazingly good short-travel ripper that owns the rowdiest of trails
Need to know
- Complete redesign for Scott’s short-travel suspension bike
- Choose from 27.5in, 27.5 Plus and 29in wheel versions
- Carbon and aluminium frame options
- TwinLoc remote lets you firm suspension and reduce the travel from 120mm to 85mm
Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned
Is there such a thing as too much choice? That’s the question we couldn’t help asking when we looked at Scott’s Spark range for 2017. With no less than 25 different models in the line-up and a bewildering array of frame materials, wheel options and sizes, it’s enough to make your head spin. Taking into account different frame sizes, there are, by our calculations, 149 different permutations on offer, which is utterly bonkers!
So let us save you the hassle of wading through the entire range and cut right to the chase — this is the Spark you need to experience for yourself.
Riding the Spark 700 Tuned Plus is like taking a knife to a gunfight and still swaggering away from the ensuing bloodbath like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. It’s a bike that punches well above its weight and delivers knock-out blow after knock-out blow, even on lift-assisted alpine trails.
So why is this new Spark such a ripper? Well, for 2017 Scott has gone back to the drawing board and completely redesigned the frame. The shock is no longer slung beneath the top tube, and instead it runs parallel to the seat tube and gets actuated by a rocker link.
This move has allowed Scott to reduce weight from the top tube and seatstays and focus on creating a stiff, solid backbone running from the head tube, along the down tube and through the chainstays. Along with a streamlined, pivotless swingarm, simpler dropouts and new developments in carbon technology, Scott has been able to save 200g over the old frame.
The Spark has also adopted the new Trunnion shock mount, which allows for stiffer attachment and a longer-stroke shock, without increasing the eye-to-eye length. The result is better damping control and improved standover across the board. Scott has also tweaked the suspension kinematics to better suit today’s air shocks with their more linear spring curves and stronger negative springs.
Love it or loathe it, you still get Scott’s three-position TwinLoc system. On this bike it lets you reduce the rear wheel travel from 120mm to 85mm. The remote is now positioned under the handlebars, which makes it a lot more ergonomic, but it still looks home-made, and leaves cables sprouting from the bars like weeds. The bike pedals very efficiently without resorting to Scott’s Traction mode, so we’d debate it’s really needed.
When allied to Scott’s inspired choice of Maxxis Rekon 2.8in tyres, all of these changes add up to something pretty special. Something that will likely blow away all of your preconceptions of what’s possible on a short-travel race bike. We rode it for two days on serious Alpine trails around Lenzerheide, in Switzerland, and Kitzbuhel, in Austria, and it didn’t just survive, it thrived.
We treated the trails with the kind of contempt we’d normally reserve for a 160mm bike, not a 120mm ripper, and yet it absolutely lapped up the punishment. The new frame and revised kinematics, combined with the more contemporary geometry and superb tyres, redefined what we consider possible from such a lightweight, short-travel machine. And not only that, it did it with style and flair.
So while all eyes were on Nino Schurter winning Olympic gold in Rio on the 29er Spark RC this month, we’re more excited about how much fun can be had on a 25lb bike with ludicrous cartoon tyres.