A rebirth of Scott's old Ransom enduro bike supersizes the successful Genius platform
The Scott Ransom replaces the old Genius LT and builds on the success of the shorter travel Genius and Spark (our previous Trail Bike of the Year winners).
Scott Ransom need to know
- Accepts 27.5in and 29in wheels and large volume tyres with flip chip
- 170mm travel front and rear can reduce to 120mm using Twinloc remote
- New Ramp Adjust feature lets you play with spring curve at the flick of a switch
- Full carbon and full alloy models available from £2,799 to £6,999
Wrap a top secret prototype in zebra-stripe camo, as is common with new cars out field testing, and increasingly trendy when it comes to new bikes as well, and it’s guaranteed to stick out like a sore thumb and attract attention wherever it goes.
Paint it in production colours however, particularly if it shares a strong DNA bond with its stable mates, and you can slap a bit of electrical tape over the model name on the top tube, take it to the busiest bike park in Britain weeks before the embargo lifts, and ride it under the noses of the unsuspecting public without anyone batting an eyelid.
Which is exactly what we did with Scott’s latest release – the reborn Ransom.
Nine times out of ten a new model will be revealed to the press in a far-flung destination, away from prying eyes and quick-draw smart phone cameras. So we jump aboard something completely new, ride it for a day or so on completely alien trails and try to figure out if it’s any good or not. With the new Ransom, Scott chose to do things differently, and it supplied a bike well ahead of the scheduled unveiling, so we could ride it as long as we wanted, on terrain we know well. Great for us; a bit of a gamble for Scott, because any potential flaws would be much more likely to bubble up to the surface on home turf.
Before we take a look at whether it lives up either of those award winning platforms, let’s examine what makes this new Ransom unmistakeably a Scott, yet still sufficiently different from a Genius to justify its existence.
Most obviously the Ransom shares the Scott family frame layout, with an upside down shock mounted vertically in front of the seat tube and driven by a rocker link. This makes room for a water bottle in the open front triangle, while the kinked top tube ensures excellent standover height. The seat tube is also kinked, which means that the actual seat angle diverges from the effective seat angle and pushes the saddle further back over the rear dropout if you have really long legs. Out back the chainstay pivot is only just below the rear axle, with each stay connected by clevis pivots.
Straddle the bike and (on the 900 and 700 Tuned model at least) you look down on a futuristic one-piece Syncros carbon bar and stem – now wider at 780mm. To the left of the cockpit, an abundance of levers and cables connect to the dropper post and Scott’s proprietary Twinloc system. This allows you to reduce the travel and firm the compression damping for climbing, sprinting and greater pedal clearance on uneven terrain.
Last but by no means least, the Ransom frame shares the Genius’s ability to run both 27.5in and 29in wheels with the reversal of a flip chip at the rocker link.
To see where the Ransom deviates from its relatives you need to get up close and personal. With a claimed 170mm, it’s packing serious heat – 20mm more than the Genius – and (considering the dual wheel capability) that puts it squarely up against the likes of the Specialized Enduro and Bold Unplugged.
While there’s space and sufficient progression in the linkage to run a coil shock, all the complete bikes come equipped with air shocks – these are bespoke Fox Nude Evol models with the top bikes getting a new Ramp Adjust feature. This lets you close a chamber within the shock to reduce the air volume and increase the progression. It’s like adding or removing a volume spacer without having to open up your shock.
And under the skin, Scott claims this is the strongest full carbon frame it’s ever made. But at 2,650g with shock and hardware (medium frame) it also reckons this is one of the lightest enduro frames on the market.
Scott Ransom first impressions
So what did I learn about the Scott Ransom during two days of bike park riding and multiple local rides around the Surrey Hills?
1) This is a very light, highly efficient bike considering the depth of travel. At 28.5lb (size large) it’s 3lb lighter than the similarly-equipped Specialized Enduro Pro 29. It also pedals better, even in the fully open mode. I was continually impressed by how little bobbing there is in the open mode when seated. Get out of the saddle, and you only need to thumb the Twinloc remote to reduce the travel and firm the compression for a remarkably direct drive as well as increased ground clearance. The benefits of this weight saving can be felt on the trail as impressive agility and less fatigue on long day rides.
2) The bottom bracket height is ultra conservative. Considering Scott has the safety blanket of the Twinloc remote to raise the dynamic ride height, and a flip chip, the BB height is just too high at 354mm(low setting with 29×2.6in wheels). Partly this is because it’s impossible to cover the difference in wheel radius between 29×2.6in and 27.5×2.6in with a mere flip chip as it’s nearly 20mm, so one wheel size will always be a bit of a compromise. But I also have a hunch that Scott may have overcompensated for the ultra-low BB height on the Genius by going too far in the other direction. Which leads to point 3…
3) To stop feeling clumsy, perched, and top heavy on the Ransom it’s imperative to run plenty of sag. I kicked off with around 20 per cent front and 25 per cent rear, but this was simply not enough, and we rode much too high in the travel and couldn’t get anywhere near the bump stops on the Fox 36 fork. In the end I settled on 32 per cent sag rear and 28 per cent front. This gave us a stable bottom bracket height that allowed us to drive out of corners and eliminate any precarious sensation on steep trails. It also noticeably boosted traction and grip.
4) But, by using the clever ramp adjust, I could add progression for jump-strewn bike park trails, or run a more linear setting (which was still sufficiently supportive) for really rough and natural tracks. Honestly, this is a brilliant feature, and you can still play with internal volume spacers if the stock tune doesn’t suit you.
5) Which brings me to the things that I didn’t like, and it’s quite a long list. I had continual issues with the cable tension on the Fox Transfer dropper post and it drove me mad. Despite Scott changing the cable at the launch, it just got worse. My guess is it’s something to do with the cable running around the grip clamp that is causing the issue. I’m not a fan of the one-piece Syncros Hixon bar and stem. Putting aside the quirky looks, it saves hardly any weight, costs a lot and locks your hands in a single position. For me there’s just too much backsweep. Although Scott has further refined its Twinloc remote, it still leaves you having to compromise on your dropper post remote and I don’t want it hooked up to the fork. In addition to the lofty BB, Scott has fitted 175mm cranks. Considering this is an enduro/all-mountain bike, I would gladly sacrifice a bit of leverage for extra clearance and a lower BB. Because the Fox 36 fork hooks up to Scott’s Twinloc system, it uses the older FIT4 damper instead of the latest Grip 2, and this does eat into the performance on long, rough descents. Lastly, the seat tube is still a bit too slack for taller riders and will put their weight too far over the back wheel.
Scott’s latest generation of bikes have been instant winners for me. The Scott Spark was shockingly capable out of the box and captured what’s so special about a short travel bike that can be ridden full gas.
Then the Scott Genius brought enduro bike capability to the trail bike market with no loss of efficiency.
But the Ransom and I didn’t click immediately. We took our time to size each other up and work out the best way to interact. Fortunately I had that time to bond, because without it I might have come to a different conclusion. As it stands now, as much I love the way that it rides and really appreciate the benefits of clever tech such as the Twinloc and Ramp Adjust, I feel Scott has taken the gadgets a bit too far and there are a few areas of the specification that leave room for improvement. Get rid of the remote fork adjust, ditch the lockout option fit some shorter cranks and a regular bar and stem and I’m all in.