It’s been three months since we first got our hands on the brand new Scott Ransom. Fully redesigned for 2019 and beyond, the Ransom glides into the Scott lineup as the bigger and brawnier brother to the Genius. Equipped with no less than 170mm of travel at both ends, the Ransom is a burly 29er enduro bike that, with the flip of a geometry chip, will also accommodate 27.5+ wheels.
I’ve been testing the top-end Ransom 900 Tuned. It’s built upon a fancy HMX carbon fibre frame, which is claimed to weigh a rather incredible 2.65kg – and that’s with the rear shock and hardware. Despite the headline-grabbing weight figure, Scott’s engineers also claim that this is the strongest carbon frame they’ve ever tested.
With an eye-watering, comment-inducing £7k price tag, the 900 Tuned sits at the top of the Ransom tree. It’s equipped with a slick SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, Code RSC brakes, and that stunning one-piece carbon fibre handlebar and stem from Syncros. There’s a Fox Factory Series suspension package that includes a custom-built Nude TR shock, and it’s all wired up to the TwinLoc handlebar remote to deliver on-the-fly adjustability.
Even with the big Fox 36, chunky Maxxis tyres and alloy Syncros wheels, the Ransom 900 Tuned somehow still comes in under 30lb (13.12kg for the stock Medium test bike). Quite incredible for a bike of this stature.
You can read all about the technical marvels of the new Ransom in the news story here, which includes frame, geometry and spec information on the full range. You can also read my initial ride review, which details my experience after spending the first month aboard the Ransom 900 Tuned.
Euro Road Trippin’
Since then, I’ve spent a further two months aboard the Ransom. I’ve racked up around 1000km of riding during my Euro road trip, which took in some incredible destinations like Punta Ala, Finale Ligure and Molini in Italy, the Costa Blanca and Sierra Nevada in Spain, as well as Lagos and Lousa in Portugal.
Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of time to get to know each other. From exhausting two hour climbs in the mountains to reach technical, rocky and high exposure alpine trails, through to chasing trail riders while zooming around smooth, speedy beachside singletrack, the Ransom has seen a lot.
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With 95% of the riding being on new-to-me trails, I’ve certainly been glad to have brought all that travel along – the Ransom has saved my bacon numerous times when I’d exhausted every last drop of my available talent.
But there’s no denying that the Ransom’s heady combination of a 64.5° head angle, high-volume 2.6in tyres and 170mm of travel gushes confidence, and that translates well to the pilot. I’ve relished in tapping into the Ransom’s ground-hugging stability for traveling at speeds I wouldn’t dare of attempting on a lesser travel bike. For me, that’s progressed my confidence and riding abilities in leaps and bounds.
Equally, it’s the comfort and fatigue-fighting nature of the Ransom’s travel and geometry that left me eager not just to try more challenging trails, but also to ride them for longer. There were plenty of big descents that I probably could have done on a 140mm bike, but my body (and mind) would have been beaten to a pulp by the end. Instead, I’ve finished 90-minute long descents feeling relatively fresh and ready for more.
Do You Even Climb Bro?
To access those big descents in the first place, I’ve had to do a whole lot of pedalling. In total, I’ve only had about four days of uplift on this bike – everything else has been powered by muesli bars and my sweaty, hairy legs. For me, this was vitally important to test how well-rounded the Ransom is. After all, it isn’t just a downhill bike – it has to go uphill too right?
Some climbs were pretty hefty too. In the northern Italian alps, I climbed nearly 3000m vertical during a huge day out that left me a little pale, a little clammy, and questioning my current life direction.
The Ransom was also joined me for a lot of plain ol’ simple trail riding. On less demanding and pedally singletrack, the Ransom isn’t as dull as you’d think. Sure, there’s a bit more insulation between you and the ground, and the tyres aren’t exactly zippy, but it isn’t a difficult bike to handle. The chainstays are short relative to the wheelsize and travel figure, and with minimal understeer through the front end, the Ransom carves surprisingly well once you get it up to speed. It’s no nippy trail bike, but the low-slung top tube allows you to move around pretty freely, and the low overall weight aids in ducking and weaving through tight turns.
No doubt the ace up the Ransom’s sleeve though is the TwinLoc system.
For going uphill on smooth fireroad or bitumen, being able to lock out both ends of the bike with a single paddle is a joy. Of course regular forks and shocks can be locked out too – you just need to reach down to activate them. For long climbs, that’s fine. But for short, punchy ones, it’s awkward enough that it isn’t worth the bother.
Because you never have to take your hands off the grips to activate the TwinLoc lever, you use the lockout a bazillion times more. That equals less wasted energy on boring climbs, so you can keep more in reserve for the descents. That under-the-bar remote also makes it a helluva lot easier to reactivate the suspension if you’ve accidentally entered a steep descent with it locked out. Ahem…
When the surface gets rough and the climb morphs into singletrack though, it’s the middle Traction Control setting that really transforms the Ransom. Shortening rear travel to 120mm and firming up the fork compression, the Traction Control setting improves the Ransom’s pedal efficiency and responsiveness.
More importantly though, the springier shock physically lifts the BB height to increase pedal clearance and sharpen the head and seat angles. The difference is instantly noticeable.
For getting your weight forward to ride up properly steep and technical pinches, the Ransom’s TwinLoc system is an absolute godsend. There’s less wander to the front wheel and the pedals are free to spin away through root-laden ruts. And the firmer suspension means less of your effort gets sucked into the travel when you’re laying down a punchy power move to heave the bike up and over big rocks.
Because it is such an adept climber though, I was regularly wishing for a smaller chainring – a 30t or even a 28t would be a better match for the big 29in wheels and the Ransom’s vivacious thirst for acquiring altitude.
Being able to rely on the Traction Control mode for climbing on the Ransom, you’re able to really prioritise the suspension setup for descending.
On the rear shock, I’ve steadily worked my way down from 170psi to 155psi, increasing sag to 35% in the process. This has lowered the sagged BB height to 294mm, which coincidentally, is exactly the same as the Genius. It’s worth pointing this out, as other reviewers have claimed the Ransom has a high BB. This is true if you’re only looking at the Ransom’s BB height on paper. Once you’re actually sitting on the bike and factor sag into the 170mm of rear travel, you and the bike get a whole lot lower to the ground.
The rear suspension action overall is smooth, willing and effective, and even in the Linear mode there’s good progression to support the very end of the travel. I only managed to bottom it out in this setting twice in the entire test period, and that was hitting some hefty hucks-to-flat after following a jumpy Portuguese local a little too closely.
With the Nude TR’s Ramp Control switch set to the Progressive setting, you do get much more bottom-out support, which is ideal for those who see their wheels frequently leaving the ground. Unless I was on smoother bikepark-style terrain though, the Progressive mode felt a little too firm for my liking. I found my feet getting blown off the pedals more, even with the rebound damping slowed down a click. And unless you adjust the fork accordingly, it does create a slightly mismatched feel.
Though the rear suspension has good small-bump sensitivity and is mostly effective through the travel, if I was getting really picky I’d say the Nude TR doesn’t have the most reactive feel deeper in its 65mm stroke. I haven’t had the opportunity to try, but I’d love to see how the Ransom would behave with something like a Fox DPX2, a Cane Creek DBair or even a coil shock, since the frame will take it.
Still, the Nude TR performs exceptionally well, and especially so considering all the damping guts are inside. There’s minimal heat buildup, even on long and rough half hour long descents. The shock body does get pretty warm, but I didn’t encounter a drastic effect on the damping quality. That air can is absolutely huge so there’s more metal there to distribute heat away from the damping oil.
The Fox 36 has continued to work fine, though it doesn’t feel quite as good as the rear suspension. It’s gotten smoother as the seals and bushings have broken in, and as my confidence has improved and I’m riding further over the front of the bike, I’m also weighting the front tyre more to help engage the fork and that slack head angle sooner.
However, on the fast and rough trails that the Ransom thrives on, the FIT4 damper just isn’t as gluey as Fox’s higher-end GRIP2 damper, or an equivalent RockShox Lyrik.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a spare GRIP2 damper to try out, but I did fit one of Formula’s Neopos volume spacers inside the Float air spring for shits and giggles. I’ll have a separate review coming on the Neopos spacer, but I can tell you that it had an immediate effect on the 36’s plushness and comfort. As well as improving small-bump sensitivity (it actually does), the compressible volume spacer also gives a noticeably more active feel through the latter part of the travel, which gave a significantly better balance with the Ransom’s rear suspension.
Stay tuned for a full ride report on that little guy.
I was also thoroughly impressed with the stock Maxxis Minion DHF tyres, which never left me wanting for more traction. They are one of the best treads out there for riding properly rough and rocky terrain, though only when it’s dry. This was made apparent after returning home to Calderdale to ride some local valley trails, where the damp, leaf-littered trail surface caused confusion for the DHF’s shallow centre tread profile. For UK riding, I’d consider fitting a Minion DHR II or a Shorty up front.
On the stock Syncros rims with a 30mm internal rim width, it was nice to find that the tyres measured true to the claimed width of 2.6in – something that isn’t always guaranteed with Maxxis tyres. The big volume means you can get away with lower pressures for addictively high levels of traction. For my 70kg riding weight, that’s been 16psi on the front and 18psi on the rear.
The rear tyre does have a Vittoria Air-Liner fitted inside though, which has allowed me to run such low pressures and get away with it (see our review of the Air-Liner here). I would 100% recommend running a tubeless insert in at least the rear tyre – not once have I dinged the rear rim, despite ploughing the back wheel into all sorts of nasties. It’s been quiet and smooth, and the Syncros wheel survived the entire trip with no damage to the rims. It was only for the final few rides when I returned to Calderdale and removed the tubeless insert that I smacked down onto a rocky landing off a cobbled water bar, which has left a wobble in the rear wheel. I’ll be fitting a tubeless insert on the next test bike.
On the note of wheels, I’ll point out that I only tested the Ransom with the stock 29in setup. The geometry chip in the upper shock mount does allow you to flip between High and Low settings, with the High setting being recommended for 27.5+ wheels. Given my experience with testing plus tyres on the Genius though, I wasn’t interested in trying them on the bigger Ransom.
I personally don’t have any issues with handling with the big 29er hoops, and I found there to be sufficient benefits in traction, rollover and high-speed stability that I could forgive the single downside. That being occasionally having my arse slapped by the rear tyre on heavy downhill compressions.
Up front I’ve swapped the stock 780x50mm Syncros Hixon handlebar for a slightly wider and shorter 800x40mm version. The extra width has given me a little more stability up front, and the shorter virtual stem length has also sped up response time between the grips and the front hub. That’s been good for making last-minute corrections on tighter and twistier trails, and rarely have I found the Ransom difficult to manage on such trails.
Making the bars just a little wider again is a set of Ergon GE-1 EVO grips, which feature a redesigned tread pattern and Ergon’s softer Factory rubber compound. I much prefer these shapely grips to the stock Syncros items, which are a little lacking in texture and feel. To replace the stock grips on a Ransom, Genius, or Spark, Scott includes a small plastic shim that allows the TwinLoc clamp to mount directly to the handlebar, rather than via the left-hand grip’s locking collar.
Matching the grips is a new Ergon SM Pro saddle, which so far is proving to be a very comfortable perch.
Did Anything Break?
Given the lack of specialist tools I had with me, thankfully I had few issues with the Ransom during my two month road trip. Much of that was down to the spectacularly dry and dusty conditions, and the fact that I was able to avoid washing the bike. What a pleasure that has been!
As an experiment, I also avoided lubricating the chain entirely. Even with close to 1000km clocked up by the end of testing, the stock grease in the SRAM PCXX1 chain continued to do its thing and keep the chain running smooth and quiet. The dusty conditions did occasionally cause some creaking in the big 50t sprocket, but a quick squirt from a water bottle on the cassette silenced that.
Otherwise the SRAM X01 drivetrain has been mint. A bent hanger briefly caused some shifting issues, but after realigning it, I’ve had zero problems. Likewise the Code RSC brakes have been brilliant, and there’s plenty of meat left on the metal-compound brake pads – those things last forever. They do give the usual water-down-a-metal-drainpipe sound when braking at slower speeds, but ignoring that, the solid bite point, usable modulation and overall power are superb. Given the choice, I’d recommend these over Guides any day, especially if you like going fast.
The rest of the bike has been impressively quiet, with the rubber chainstay protector silencing any chain slap. Unfortunately the Ransom’s paint job hasn’t faired as well, with numerous chips around the BB area and seatstays. It’d be nice to see Scott wrapping the Ransom with protective stickers from the factory, but until that happens, make sure you fit some frame protection before the first ride.
Ransom Vs Genius
While testing the Ransom, one of the most common questions we’ve had from readers is whether I’d pick the Ransom over the Genius. Having spent six months aboard the Genius 900 Tuned before jumping onto the Ransom, I’ve a good basis for comparison between the two bikes.
For a start, the Ransom is simply spec’d better for technical riding. It has more powerful brakes, a longer-stroke dropper post, a wider handlebar, and more aggressive tyres. Those all give it a load more oomph on the descents, as does the 1° slacker head angle and longer wheelbase.
The most noticeable difference in handling though comes from the shorter 44mm fork offset. The extra 5mm of trail doesn’t sound like much, but it has the effect of steadying the front wheel as the speeds increase and the gradient turns sharply downwards. The sensation in your hands is one of more damping to the steering, giving the Ransom a calmer feel.
The summation of all those factors is that the Ransom is a much more confident and competent descender. It excels in rough terrain, and offers more stability for keeping off the brakes for longer. It also holds speed better than the Genius, and it is 100% the bike I’d go for if I was dabbling in some enduro racing, or had a trip to the alps on the cards.
As for less gnar riding, the Genius is of course a more sprightly trail bike. It’s lighter (12.37kg vs 13.12kg), and its longer fork offset gives it nippier and more intuitive steering. It also comes with lighter wheels and tyres, which see it speeding up climbs with more vivacity. It’s a superb technical trail bike.
However, by the time you add ‘proper’ tyres to the Genius, much of the difference in rolling speed evaporates. And because the Ransom climbs so damn well, even with all that travel, for me it’s the more versatile bike of the two.
The Suggestion Box
I do think Scott would do well to offer a kind of pumped up ‘EVO-style’ model option in the Ransom line. I’m sure there are a lot of riders out there – UK riders in particular – who would simply discount the Ransom in the first place because it has two extra cables on the bars. For these riders, the Ransom has a lot of appeal, but I have no doubts there’d be more appeal if there was a non-TwinLoc version that came with a piggyback rear shock, a GRIP2 fork and some even toothier tyres. Given the TwinLoc system is Scott’s USP though, that’s unlikely to happen.
Of course you could make all those changes yourself if you so desired. But I reckon you’d be missing the point of the Ransom, because this isn’t a shuttle-only bike. This is a bike that’s most at home on huge all-day epics out in the hills, scaling tough and long climbs to search out the biggest, fastest, and roughest lines off the top of the mountain.
It’s a bike that devours technical singletrack both up and down, while scoffing at the mere suggestion of mechanical assistance. You wanna earn your turns? So does the Ransom.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve really enjoyed my time with this bike. And the more time I’ve spent with the Ransom, the more impressed I’ve been with its capabilities.
With a high quality chassis, sorted geometry and all of that travel, it is of course a terrific descender. But really it’s been the bike’s zest for climbing that has allowed me to enjoy all that descending in the first place. And that’s where its magic lies.
Given its all-round versatility, the Ransom 900 Tuned is no doubt worthy of superbike status. Of course it also comes with the superbike price tag, but then the very best bikes out there rarely don’t.
2019 Scott Ransom 900 Tuned Specifications
- Frame // HMX Carbon Fibre, 170mm Travel
- Fork // Fox 36 Float Factory FIT4, 170mm Travel w/3-Position TwinLoc Remote
- Shock // Fox NUDE TR EVOL w/3-Position TwinLoc Remote, 205x65mm
- Hubs // Syncros Revelstoke 1.5, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
- Rims // Syncros Revelstoke 1.5, 28h, 30mm Internal Rim Width
- Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.6in Wide
- Chainset // SRAM X01 Carbon Eagle GXP w/32t X-Sync 2 Chainring
- Rear Mech // SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-Speed
- Shifter // SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-Speed
- Cassette // SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-Speed, XG1295, 10-50t
- Brakes // SRAM Code RSC, 200mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
- Stem // Syncros Hixon iC Rise Carbon, 40mm Length
- Bar // Syncros Hixon iC Rise Carbon, 20mm Rise, 800mm Wide
- Grips // Ergon GE1 EVO Factory, Slim Diameter
- Seatpost // Fox Transfer, Kashima Coat, 31.6mm, 150mm Travel
- Saddle // Ergon SM Pro, S/M Size, TiNox Rails
- Size Tested // Medium
- Sizes Available // Small, Medium (tested), Large & X-Large
- Confirmed Weight // 13.67 kg (30 lbs – including tubeless tyre inserts)
- RRP // £6,999
|Product:||Ransom 900 Tuned|
|From:||Scott Sports, scott-sports.com|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 3 months|