An engaging and capable bike with a bias towards trail riding
The alloy Scott Spark 940 shares an almost identical frame design to the RC version but tweaks to the geometry and tubing really boost its trail confidence.
Scott Spark 940 review
This year, we’re testing the ‘regular’ Spark 940; with 120mm travel and a dropper post it further blurs the line between XC racing and trail riding.
The 940 gets Scott TwinLoc handlebar-mounted remote to provide three distinct travel settings. Push the lever and the rear suspension effortlessly flicks between the full 120mm travel, a shorter 85mm Traction mode and a complete lockout. The inverted trunnion-mounted shock ensuring that the remote cable is neatly tucked inside the down tube.
Up front, Scott reinforces the trail emphasis of the Spark 940 with a stout Fox 34 suspension fork, albeit a lower spec Rhythm version. This comes with a Grip 3 damping cartridge, and it’s hardwired to the TwinLoc remote to offer three settings – just like the shock.
With so much going on it would be easy to assume a miss-matched suspension response front and rear, but the opposite is in fact true, as the 120mm fork has an incredibly smooth action and perfectly matches the progression and feel of the rear suspension.
The 1x SRAM Eagle drivetrain on the Spark mixes a 12-speed GX rear derailleur and the latest NX shifter to provide smooth, reliable shifting. And Scott doesn’t mind mixing and matching components either; the brakes on the 940 are Shimano SLX, with extra stopping power coming from the bigger 180mm rear rotor. The SLX levers have a similar profile to higher end Shimano brakes, just without the tool-free reach adjustment, and they offered more consistent stopping power than the SRAM Level brakes on a Specialized Epic, especially in wet conditions.
One unique and somewhat annoying aspect of the Spark’s build is the reliance on Torx bolts. This is not just for frame pivots, but also for all finishing kit thanks to its component partner Syncros. And while Torx heads should prevent even the most ham-fisted of us rounding off precious fixings, it does mean you need a multi-tool with all the correct sizes to keep things rolling out on the trail.
One cost-cutting area of the Spark’s build is the Syncros X-25S/Formula wheelset, contributing to the extra half kilo in weight over a Specialized Epic Evo. Robust they might be, but these hoops make for sluggish acceleration.
Sling a leg over the Spark for the first time and it’s obvious that it more of a trail bike than out and out race machine. The extra travel and the boosted trail fork encouraging you to ride it flat out. It’s a really fun bike and when the riding got rowdy the Spark was the bike everyone wished they were on. Given how capable it is on the descents, we were surprised at just how good the Spark was at climbing. Not the flat out, smooth type of climbing – lighter wheels and tighter rear suspension on a Specialized Epic make that bike the king of the fire-road climb, but proper nadgery, steep, technical climbs. In this instance the active rear suspension on the Scott really claws into the ground and provides levels of grip only held back by the minimal tread of the rear tyre.
We were also surprised at just how small the bike felt, much smaller than the generous 460mm reach measurement on the size L suggests. We can only attribute this to the 740mm handlebar.
With a bias towards trail riding, the Spark 940 really is an engaging and capable bike. The suspension performance is certainly the best of the two bikes in this category (the other being the Specialized Epic), and if you are looking for versatility you can instantly switch from performance XC to all-mountain ripping with the TwinLoc remote. However, the Spark 940 doesn't bring the same level of urgency that made the RC version our test winner last year. The additional weight and wheel package stifled its acceleration, allowong the Specialized Epic Evo to win by the narrowest of margins.