With a truckload of traction thanks to its 2.8in tyres, the Genius Plus is a riot to ride on any trail
Need to know
- Do-it-all carbon trail bike with 2.8in Plus tyres
- Fox Nude rear shock delivers 130mm travel while the new Downside TwinLoc remote lets you toggle between the three suspension modes
- Fox 34 Fit4 fork with 140mm travel
- Shock mount with flip chip offers two geometry settings
- SRAM XO1 Boost drivetrain
It’s April 2015 and I’m in Tuscany, Italy. Scott has just launched an impressive range of Plus bikes, with depth in numbers to rival the girth of the tyres. E-bikes, trail bikes, enduro bikes, hardtails… you name it, Scott has it with 2.8in or 3.0in tyres.
It’s the first time I’ve seen a Plus bike in the flesh, and I’m trying to keep an open mind, even though the bikes look more than a little kooky. But then I thought the same about 29ers when they emerged, and I’m determined not to make the same mistake twice.
Following advice from the Scott tech team, I head out on the Genius 700 Tuned Plus with 14.5 psi in the tyres. The bike rolls along effortlessly on the blacktop that snakes its way up to the trailhead, and any concerns about increased rolling resistance with the fatter tyres quickly vanish.
Off-road, on the hard-pack trails of Massa Vecchia, the Plus tyres felt a little vague and floaty when cornering hard. Sure, braking and climbing traction were both amazing, but it was hard to get a feel for the benefits of the bigger tyres without the opportunity to pre-ride the trails on regular size tyres.
Not that it really mattered, as the ride turned into a stop-start affair thanks to multiple pinch flats, even though the tyres were set up tubeless. Given that Scott had been boasting about the 2.8in Nobby Nic weighing less than 700g — a fair bit lighter than any 2.35in tyre I’d normally use — I couldn’t help thinking that Plus bikes were non-starters. As such, I left Italy feeling a little nonplussed about Plus.
It wasn’t until I rode the Genius 700 Tuned Plus on my local trails that the benefits of the bigger volume tyres became apparent. Even in damp, slippery conditions the harder PaceStar compound 2.8in tyres hooked up.
With every corner, my confidence in the Nobby Nic front tyre grew, even if the distinct lack of side knobs on the semi-slick Rocket Ron out back meant the rear end was almost overtaking the front with frequent controlled drifts. I was hooked.
Running 16.5psi in the front tyre and 1psi more in the rear, the wafer-thin casing felt very stable mounted to the wide, 40mm Syncros rims. The extra bounce in the tyres gave the bike more pop too, which instantly translated to improved manoeuvrability and more fun. But it was the massive increase in traction, up or down, that really sold me on the fatter tyres.
In my short time on the Scott, the only quirk that I uncovered in the handling was an occasionally steering shimmy when overloading the tyres in fast, bermed corners. Once you know it’s going to happen, it ceases to be unsettling. And if this is the only negative to Plus size tyres, it’s a compromise that I’m more than happy to live with, especially given all of the other benefits.
In fact, I was much more concerned about the ever-changing bite point on the XTR brakes. Shimano has assured us that this is now fixed. We have a new set of brakes on the way, so I’ll keep you posted.
As for how the Scott Genius 700 Tuned Plus stacks up against the competition, it’s hard to say, as there aren’t many six grand trail bikes with Plus tyres to compare it with. What I can say, with certainty, however, is that it’s the only bike that I want to ride at the moment. And given how many great test bikes we currently have in the mbr shed, that’s high praise indeed.