The Scott Scale 920 is a finely tuned XC race machine with a huge trophy cabinet to prove it
If you’re after a cross country race hardtail with a proven track record, then look no further than the Scott Scale 920.
Under Nino Schurter, the Scott Scale has dominated XC racing like no other bike, and in every wheel size too. And while Nino was slow to make the switch to 29in wheels, take one look at the 15-strong Scott Scale range and the shift to 29in wheels is striking; only two 27.5in bikes remain and both are entry-level.
Scott Scale 920 review
There’s also the Scale RC range that’s even more race-focused, but with prices starting at £2,799, we had to settle for the regular Scale 920. Not that we’re complaining. The IMP carbon frame is a thing of beauty. The down tube runs seamlessly into the chainstays while the flattened seatstays bypass the back of the seat tube to send trail buzz straight into the top-tube. In that regard, it’s very similar to the Specialized, but the slacker seat angle makes it slightly more compliant.
With internal cable routing, the cleans lines of the Scale frame are enhanced further, where Scott’s ICCR design uses full length cable outer and a variety of alloy inserts at the entry and exit ports so you can customise the routing to fit a front derailleur or dropper post.
Keeping an eye on the prize means the Scott comes with bolt-thru quick release axles front and rear, just like the Trek Procaliber 9.7. Unlike the Trek however, the rear axle on the Scott clears the stays, making it easier and faster to remove the rear wheel if you get a puncture. Also because the rear disc brake mount cups the rear hub, it is super easy to locate the treaded end of the axle in the drive-side dropout.
Releasing RockShox’s grip in this test, the Scale 920 gets a 100mm travel Fox 32 suspension fork – the cutaway Step-Cast lower legs increasing stiffness without growing the overall stature for the fork. The Rideloc remote is integrated into the lock-on collar of the grip and sits neatly under the bar. It offers three compression settings, but we couldn’t feel much difference between the mid-setting and fully open, so Scott could use a two-position remote with less lever throw that just offers lock out and the fully open setting.
There’s no faulting the performance of the 32 fork though. It’s supple off-the-top, so there’s plenty of grip, and it’s also progressive, so it offers plenty of support and doesn’t bottom on bigger impacts or g-outs. In short, it offers stable handling and consistent traction.
All of the bikes in this test boast a 12-speed SRAM Eagle drivetrain, but only the Scott gets the full 500 per cent gear range with a 10-50t cassette. Not only do you benefit from more top-end speed, the higher quality SRAM XG-1275 cassette offers faster, more precise shifts, most noticeably when you’re shifting down the cassette under power. Freehub engagement is also rapid, so you can brake hard and get back on the gas in an instant.
We’ve always had a soft spot for the Scott Scale. It’s the XC race bike that maintains a laser sharp focus on the task at hand, while retaining a lighter side to its personality that makes it fun and surprisingly capable too. It’s not the most compliant bike in this test, that honour goes to the Trek, nor is it that lightest, again the Trek wins on weight, but the Scale 920 is so freaking fast in every situation, it’s easy to see how it has accrued so many championship titles.
Stomp on the pedals and the Scale leaps into action. It’s a bike that actively encourages you to dig deep, then bury yourself. It has the best power delivery in the test, without the organ rattling ride of a bike that’s overly stiff. In fact, with a lighter wheelset, the Scale 920 could have added this test to its long list of titles.