July 7, 2010
It’s taken Scott a while to get around to this whole 29er thing, but while they were redesigning their Scale hardtail to become even lighter (now down to 899g) it made sense to develop a 29er too. And what a frame! We got to ride it in some of the high-altitude, tree and sage-lined trails of Sun Valley, Idaho and came back raving about their new big wheeler.
Before we get all the 29ers frothed up about the Scale 949, here’s the 50g lighter 26in Scale 899. (Scott reckons its 50g lighter than the Cannondale Flash and 200g lighter than Trek and Specialized’s lighest hardtails too. The 26in is different to the 29er in a few ways and there are some weight saving bits on it that aren’t on the 29er, like the tiny, tiny 5g seat binder. Compared to last years 26in Scale, it has a 10mm lower BB, a 5mm higher headtube (to save on ‘heavy’ steerer and spacers) and is 10mm longer in the top tube. Both frames, however, have the same 12.2in BB height and the Scott IMP (Integrated Moulding Process) which allows it to mould frames in fewer, lighter parts. The 899 has a Press Fit BB30, which saves 30g, the seat binder saves 11g too… It all adds up.
Let’s look at the 949 and go through some of the neat things that both frames share.
The Scale 949 will come in Medium, Large and XL sizes. No small size is offered. I (that’s me, Chipps, at 5ft 9in) rode a Medium and found it fine. I could have gone up to a large at a push, so the Medium will probably work down to 5ft 6in riders without looking stupid.
But how does it ride? As you might imagine, riding a 20-odd pound hardtail race weapon, it was great. There’s still no getting over the extra time it takes to spin up the bigger wheels, but the overall weight of the bike makes it a pretty easy task. There wasn’t a hint of side-to-side flex, but the vertical aspect of the ride was very comfy – and I’m tempted to suggest that I could feel that near-5mm of ‘give’ in the rear stays. Climbing, both in and out of the saddle was consistent and flattered the rider into feeling like a climbing god, even in the thin air of the Idaho mountains. On descents, I was still smoked by the full suspension folks, but the bike was very steady steeering on the descents and not what I’d expect from a race-ready bike. No twitchiness to be felt and the bike really held a line. The inclusion of the Reba 20mm fork made a lot of sense (well, until we start seeing 29er SID forks, eh?) as it beefed up the steering feel to match the girth of the head tube assembly (which you’ll see above is HUGE).
All in all, I came away very impressed. It shows that not all Scales need be confined to race courses and ridden by experts, nor that 29ers be slaves to groomed trails.
I’m now very keen to ride the 26in Scale – after all, just the frame is 500g lighter, just think how light a whole bike’ll be!
For details of Scott’s new sub-30lb, 185mm new Genius LT bike, see our story here.