Issue 98’s bike test features three fast hardtails, all with 27.5in wheels – one carbon, one steel and one aluminium. Here’s what we thought of the aluminium Scott Scale 740…
Someone (maybe a wise man) once said: “Strong, light, cheap. Pick two.” Everyone agreed. That’s still true to a point, but in the case of the Scott Scale 740, maybe, sometimes, we can pick two-and-a-bit rather than the commonly-accepted two.
The Scale is undoubtedly strong – this particular bike has been hammered uphill and down (very rocky) dale and Canarian mountainside in the past few weeks and nothing’s fallen off or bent out of shape. It feels nice and solid. It’s light-ish – certainly a lot lighter than a relatively entry-level mountain bike used to be – and is it cheap, too? Well, a grand and a half is still a lot of money but in the context of the quality bicycle market, it’s cheap. Or ‘inexpensive’, if you prefer.
The frame is made completely from custom-butted 6061 aluminium and is bang up to date with a tapered headtube, integrated headset (for getting the stem really low, obviously), bridgeless chainstays and internally-routed cabling. No cables needed to be swapped during the test period, so we’re not sure if the internal routing is of the ‘easy’ or ‘hours of swearing and fury’ variety. The classy black and white paint job seems to fit the Scale’s racing pedigree and also appears to be nice and tough.
A high-quality Fox Float CTD Air fork with 100mm travel sits up front and while it’s a lovely suspension fork at this price, it’s the quick-release model rather than the 15mm thru-axle version. Don’t be too put off though – it’s still a great fork and plenty stiff enough for your average cross-country or marathon race course. Not only is the fork smooth and stiff, its compression damping is controlled by Scott’s brilliant Tracloc lever that gives you bar-mounted, easy switching between fully-active, ‘climb/trail’ and locked-out modes. Or ‘down’, ‘bumpy up’ and ‘smooth up’ modes. It works pretty well, but there’s not much of a difference between fully active and trail modes and you have to watch out that you don’t break the bar-mounted lever if you turn the bike upside down to mend a puncture.
The rest of the bike is built with decent-quality, dependable components. The Syncros rims look the part and aren’t heavy enough to make the bike feel like a budget racer. The hubs are Shimano Deore, as are the brakes. Gears are a mix of XT and SLX and an XT chainset completes the rock-solid going and stopping bits.
Syncros bars, stem, seatpost and saddle look after the sitting down and steering departments and the tyres are excellent Schwalbe Rocket Rons – not the fastest tyres in the world but fast enough, while not being a semi-slick that’s just going to terrify a beginner.
It’s all well-made and good-looking stuff. None of it’s the lightest kit out there, but it won’t break in a hurry and the whole package adds up to a bike that weighs under 25lb without pedals.
Of all the bikes in this test, the Scale is the one that feels the most like a long and low, arse-up, head-down, cross-country race bike. The one that you’re going to climb on and immediately want a scrap to the top of the next climb. The frame is beautifully stiff without being really harsh – out of the saddle big efforts are well rewarded with an addictive dose of forward thrust and the smaller-diameter wheels genuinely help with tight manoeuvrability, while retaining most of the long-legged rolling characteristics of a 29in sibling.
The relatively low-end (in current company) parts just don’t seem to hold this bike back at all. In our super-scientific five-minute test lap it was only ten seconds behind the Highball on lap one – but three seconds faster on lap two. So we’re calling that a draw.
You’d probably want to upgrade to some lighter parts as and when things wear out or break, especially if you like your races very hilly and/or long in duration, but for someone who wants to race and doesn’t have the means or the inclination to spend a sack of cash on something dripping in XTR and carbon, and merely wants a nice, fast off-the-peg bike that will last, you really can’t go wrong at this price.
|From:||Scott UK, scott-sports.com|
|Tested:||by Chipps and Jason Miles for two months|