No other bike comes close to challenging its lead
The basis of the Scott Genius 720 layout comes from the Scott Spark, which means it gets an upside down shock, cradled in a Trunnion mount at the down tube.
12 months ago, Scott walked away with the win in this test thanks to the progressive geometry and finely tuned suspension of its short travel Scott Spark 710 Plus.
This year it’s back with the new Scott Genius, and while it closely resembles the bike that impressed us so much last year – even down to the battle-ship grey paintjob – it’s packing an extra 30mm of travel, a more aggressive attitude and the burden of even greater levels of expectation.
Scott Genius 720 review
There’s the familiar Twinloc system, that reduces rear travel to 100mm and firms the compression damping on the fork and shock via a twin lever remote under the bar, and there’s the tangled web of cables that accompany it.
But the extra travel of the Genius means it gets a chainstay pivot, rather than the flex-stay arrangement found on the Spark, and instead of an array of different frames to suit various travels and wheel sizes, the Genius uses a single chassis with the choice of either 27.5in or 29in wheels. It’s refreshingly simple, with 2.8in tyres on the 27.5in bike and 2.6in rubber on the 29er allied to a neat flip-chip at the rocker link that lets you tweak the head angle and BB height accordingly.
The four-bar suspension design dishes out 150mm of travel via the longest stroke shock in this category. This means the damping doesn’t have to work as hard and helps keep temperatures down on long descents.
Even without a bearing in the top shock eyelet, it’s still impressively supple on small imperfections, offers plenty of support for loading up the bike in turns, and doesn’t bottom out too easily. In short, it’s the best suspension here by a long shot.
And yet thumb the lower lever of the remote and the travel drops to 100mm, the damping tenses up, the dynamic ride height raises and it transforms into a superb climber and a ruthlessly efficient pedaller.
And because you can alter the attitude of the bike so easily, it meant we could run more sag (30 per cent) and use the lower BB position for better DH performance, and yet still avoid catching pedals everywhere on flat trails and lumpy climbs.
Bolted to the arch of the Fox 34 Performance fork is a specially designed Syncros mudguard. Unfortunately, as neat as it looks, it lacks the coverage to really keep mud out of your face when the bike is leant over.
The Scott is the only bike here with Shimano brakes, but the SLX units offer stacks of power and plenty of modulation from their stubby levers.
Equally impressive is the shifting quality of the GX Eagle drivetrain, but Scott has missed a trick by fitting longer 175mm cranks. When the BB is as low as it is on the Genius, we’d rather sacrifice 5mm of leverage for a bit of extra pedal clearance.
We didn’t need to get the tape measure out to realise that the Genius has by far the most progressive geometry here. From the first pedal stroke it was obvious that it boasts the slackest head angle, t=he longest wheelbase and the lowest bottom bracket (measured in the low position). But, what’s equally clear is that it feels completely natural to ride, and we never got tangled up in the bike around tight switchbacks or rapid direction changes. Indeed, thanks to its perfectly judged suspension and excellent proportions, the Genius is the most agile bike of the bunch.
It was almost as efficient as the Intense on the climbs, easily the fastest bike on the descents (despite lacking the grippiest tyres) thanks to the sheer confidence it inspired, and yet it was also the most playful.
Scott is on a roll. The new Genius moves the game on from the bewilderingly capable Spark with a trail bike that lets you have your cake and eat it. While the suspension and geometry let you go full hooligan on the descents, the Twinloc remote means you never pay a penalty on the climbs. As good as the Genius 720 is, there are still a few areas we feel could be improved, which it why we’ve held back that perfect 10 rating. The Twinloc remote is still clumsy and takes priority over the dropper post lever, and we don’t think it benefits from being hooked up to the fork. The lockout mode feels awful, too, with a teeth-sucking knock when pedalling out of the saddle. We’d also like to see shorter cranks, a wider bar and a slightly steeper seat angle. Not an inconsiderable wish-list then, but the fact that the Genius still stands head and shoulder above the rest of the bikes in this category shows how Scott has completely nailed the fundamentals.