- Tested: Scott Addict Gravel 30
- From: Scott
- Price: £3,099.00
- Tested for: 3 months
Gravel comes in many flavours
How else do you explain the diversity of the machines that the industry markets as gravel bikes? One label encompasses all manner of variations, from burly steel beasts, with mountain bike tyre clearance and flared bars that would intimidate an auroch, to sleek carbon race machines that could easily pass as road bikes on a club run.
Scott’s answer to this question is simple: a gravel bike is a cyclocross bike. Almost. The Addict Gravel shares the same frame as its Addict CX race bike, with a few tweaks, which we’ll get to in a second.
Range-wise, the Addict 30 sits some way down the tier containing its poshest, raciest gravel bikes, with the £6,000 Addict Gravel 10 at the top. The 30 gets a carbon frame, but with alloy wheels and components and a 2×10 Shimano drivetrain, rather than the 1x SRAM and carbon wheels of its boutique brethren. Scott also have a more value-oriented range based around its Speedster alloy frame, so the Cycle to Work crowd don’t miss out on the fireroad fun.
A fine frame
Weighing in at a claimed 1300g, the Addict’s frame comes accompanied by all sorts of claims of increased stiffness, none of which I’d take issue with. Its lean lines are a nice contrast to the blobbiness of some composite frames, which can look a bit like they were prototyped in plasticene, although the industrial colour scheme of hi-viz yellow and concrete grey isn’t particularly flattering. At the rear triangle, like an increasing number of carbon frames these days, there’s no chainstay bridge, which does clean up the lines nicely, as well as emphasising that this is not a frame which the designer envisages being encumbered with mudguards.
Twin bottle cage mounts sit above a press fit BB, and there’s internal cable routing with neat bolt-in port covers. A rubber grommet seals the cable hole on the forks, or at least, it did until it popped out and got lost while I was washing the bike. Atop a stealthily branded carbon seatpost, the Syncros saddle has a huge range of fore and aft adjustment, and an embossed pattern that looks rather snazzy but also collects mud in its grooves.
While we’re picking over the details, a slight quirk of the bike is that is eschews normal hex bolts for Torx headed fixings – on the seat clamp, the stem and even the bottle cage bolts. I’m not sure what the rationale for this is, apart from forcing you to buy a new multitool, but it’s one of a few ways that the bike strives to make itself stand out – the odd cuboid headset spacers being another.
Up front, the Syncros Creston Flare handlebars have a lot going on. Not only is there a slight flare to the drops for more control, the bars have an unusual swept-back shape that helps offset the longer hoods of hydraulic brakes. There’s also a thicker tube diameter across the top of the bar, which makes it a supremely comfortable to rest your battered palms. Even if you have a favourite bar, give these a try.
Wheels and tyres
The Addict 30 gets Syncros’s alloy-rimmed RP2.0 wheelset, which weighs in at 1788g bare. It’s tubeless-compatible and comes taped up ready to convert, although the deep centre well of the rim means you’ll probably need an inflation device with a bit more puff than your trusty track pump. The 28 spoke wheels are plenty tough enough for a bit of rough stuff, although their 19mm rim width doesn’t add much cush to tyres.
The Schwalbe G-One tyres, here in their 35 mm format, are a popular choice on the gravel race scene. Getting the tyres set up tubeless was a bit of a battle, and the set I got had a tendency to lose air, so be generous with the sealant and don’t try and set them up the night before a big ride.
The Addict Gravel features a Shimano 105 groupset, which means that you get a 2×11 setup rather than the 1×11 SRAM Force of the top-of-the-range model. With a 50-34 compact chainset and an 11-32 cassette, the gearing is low enough to get up everything you’d expect to get up on a gravel bike, and the frame boasts a neat built-in chain retention device which works flawlessly. Things aren’t quite so well-controlled at the back end though: Shimano only make one clutch mech for road bikes at present, and it’s not a 105, so the Addict comes with a neoprene chainstay protector which looks quite out of place on its sleek frame.
The 105 hydraulic STIs have finned brake pads and centre lock rotors, which thankfully don’t seem to have the usual slight amount of built-in movement. The flat disc mounts add to the tidy look of the frame, as do the neat Syncros through-axles, which have a clever sprung lever that can be left in any position.
Ride or race?
The Addict is sold as an out-and-out race bike, and it certainly feels like one. The frame and wheels are stiff and very responsive, putting quick acceleration and lively handling before such trifling concerns as rider comfort. However it does feel happier than some bikes when you’re nursing it through slow-speed technical stuff. The stiff steering makes it easy to pick a line, and the BB height and the 172.5mm cranks also help with clearance if you’re threading your way through a rock garden.
At 5’10” I was slightly between sizes. A 56 cm frame felt stretched out and racy, and I suspect riders coming from a road and ‘cross background will be fine with this, while mountain bikers might prefer to go smaller. I enjoyed the room on the Addict on smoother stuff, but on the roughest, fastest trails that I started to wish I had more choice over my body position.
The Schwalbe G-One tyres are well loved by a lot of racers but, as someone who’s used to battering through trails on a 2.3” or wider, I really didn’t click with them. We didn’t get off to a good start, after a failed tubeless attempt before a trip left me having to go back to using inner tubes, which rapidly turned into a plague of pinch flats. There’s always a fine balance between a tyre flexing enough to feel supple, yet having enough meat to shrug off the odd clonk on a rock or water bar. The G-Ones definitely erred towards the supple side, which for me meant having to pump them up uncomfortably hard.
If they stayed inflated, the tyres were surprisingly grippy – until they weren’t. Mud and wet grass completely flummoxed them, which isn’t ideal in the UK. In the spirit of enquiry, I did run the Addict with a set of 42c WTB Resolutes for a bit. This helped with comfort and increased the all-weather potential of the bike hugely, but there was some residual harshness to the ride which even huge tyres couldn’t quite mask. The bike’s rear triangle is also designed to take a narrower tyre – 38c or 40c at a push – and shoe-horning anything bigger in there leaves it with precious little mud clearance.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time aboard the Addict. I felt like someone had loaned me a sports car for the weekend: it might not have been the height of plushness, but ragging it around was still a huge amount of fun. Some aspects of the bike were truly excellent: the steering precise, the handling nimble. The light overall weight and stiff frame give it a fierce burst of speed, even with a mediocre rider aboard. I’ve already waxed lyrical about the comfortable choice of positions offered by the bars, and the brakes had such a light action that I found myself riding technical trails on the hoods instead of the drops – a welcome choice on longer rides.
I also tried the Addict Gravel for a bit of laden riding, and the internal cable routing means it’s easy to mount up frame bags. The frame was plenty stiff enough to cope with the sort of weight you can carry in soft luggage, and the 32T cassette sprocket definitely came into its own. Touring isn’t what this bike’s about, but it can cope with it if that’s what you decide to do.
Creaks and dings
Over the course of a few months I had very little go wrong with the Addict Gravel. One of the aforementioned pinch flats did produce a tiny flat spot on the front rim, but the wheels shrugged off some fairly brutal knocks and still ran true.
Unfortunately but predictably, the pressfit BB did develop a slight creak. There was also a bit of noise from the internal cable guides, but not in the way you’d think. The ports are nicely machined bits of aluminium, which are designed to accept the bare end of a gear cable, but this means that the wire in the cut end of the cable sits in contact with the metal, which can generate a surprisingly loud cracking noise when you turn the handlebars.
- Frame // Scott Addict Gravel Disc HMF carbon fibre
- Fork // Addict Gravel Disc HMF Flatmount 1 1/8″ – 1 1/4″ tapered carbon steerer, alloy dropout
- Wheels // Syncros RP2.0 Disc
- Tyres // Schwalbe G-ONE Allround FOLD 700x35C
- Chainset // Shimano 105 FC-5800 Black Hyperdrive 50/34t
- Bottom Bracket // Shimano BB-RS500-PB
- Rear Mech // Shimano 105 Black RD-5800-GS 22 Speed
- Shifters // Shimano ST-RS505 dual control 22 Speed
- Cassette // Shimano 105 CS-5800 11-32
- Brakes // Shimano BR-RS505 Hyd Disc160/F and 160/R mm SM-RT64 CL Rotor
- Stem // Syncros RR2.0 1 1/8″ / four Bolt 31.8mm
- Bars // Syncros Creston 2.0 Flare Alloy 31.8mm
- Seatpost // Syncros R1.2 Carbon/AL 27.2mm
- Saddle // Syncros FL2.0
- Size Tested // L/56cm (geometry here)
- Sizes available // XS(49cm), S(52cm), M(54cm), L(56cm), XL(58cm)
- Price // £3,099
The Addict Gravel wears its race heritage on its sleeve (or at least, its seat tube) and seems to be aimed at someone who already has a high-end road bike and wants an N+1 with a familiar feel. However it’s more versatile then you might think. It plays well with soft luggage thanks to the internal cabling, and has a solid, reliable build. The only part of the spec I didn’t get on with was the tyres, which are great for fast, dusty fire roads or cobbled climbs, but aren’t ready for the exciting variety of trail conditions the UK throws up.
The bike isn’t perfect: its limited tyre clearance is inherited from its cyclocross parentage, and doesn’t hold the bike back too much, but will annoy anyone who wants to take a gravel bike on trails that would normally be tackled on a mountain bike. There are also some details, like the cable guides and the Torx bolts, which seem to be trying a bit too hard to be distinctive. All in all though, it’s a ruthlessly efficient gravel “weapon” which will have you marking out next year’s calendar with race dates before you know it.