Small Gambler 710. £5,099 Fox RC4 Air Shock with a floating linkage. BB, head angle and chain stay adjustability. 26 and 27.5 compatible. Full Shimano Saint components.
A few weeks ago I took delivery of a very exciting new bike. It’s been a year since I rode a downhill bike, and although my trail bike has one foot firmly in the gap its left there is nothing quite like smashing laps on a big bike.
Straight out of the box
So here’s my new long termer, a small Scott Gambler 710, 27.5 with a floating linkage system, an air shock in the rear and a lot of adjustability to play with. Straight out of the box I’m loving the bold, stylish colour combinations and the attention to detail in the machining of the flip links and around the rear axle. Everything on this bike has been critiqued and finished really nicely, a particular touch I’m a fan of are the built in fork bumpers that also protect and tidy the cables.
I’m really interested in the set up process in order to get it feeling amazing, as there’s a lot that can be changed or tweaked to suit your riding style or the terrain.
The Gambler arrives out of the box in the short chain stay setting, with a low BB and the neutral headset cups. The bars are of epic proportions at 800mm and with the stanchions flush to the top of the crowns the front end feels quite high. So my immediate tweaks before even getting on the bike were to get the pipe cutters out and lop 60mm straight off the bars, as well as dropping the crowns 10 mm onto the fork.
The first stop for the Gambler was Mojo suspension, I had spent a week with Chris Porter at Fort William so we had discussed the air shock and bike set up in detail and I was keen to get his input. We put some spacers in the shock and a token more in the forks as it really was quite soft. As well as this we made a few tweaks to the cockpit, including adjusting the stem to the longer setting that is provided on the Syncros stem and rolling the bars forward more to encourage me to shift my weight over the front of the bike. Chris explained that the bike is made for attacking, so hiding behind the saddle is not going to help you get the best out of the Gambler.
A photo posted by Monet-rose Adams (@monetroseadams) on
Pleney mainline in the soaking wet
Pleney mainline in the soaking wet was the first day back punching runs. It was fast and sucked up the breaking bumps a dream. As I gained confidence a few runs in and rode the bike a bit more physically, I found myself blowing straight through the travel which gave me the uncomfortable sensation that my pedals and bottom bracket were going to sump out as I pushed into fast corners.
Although I only weigh 64kgs, I’m quite an aggressive rider and as the rear travel is completely linear, there’s no ramp up in the rear travel initially. It did however feel incredibly stable between my feet, like it would just tank through anything.
It tracks the ground immensely well which is apparently due to the minimal bearing load on the linkage allowing it to react to small bumps. The rear wheel sits in corners with minimal flex which is hardly surprising when you consider the speed riders and designers such as Brendog and Ben Walker are railing down Morgins and Champery, the stomping grounds of Scott Bikes. I knew if I could tune up the rear to have a bit more of a platform and be a little more reactive I would have a hell of a ride.
One of the stickiest, muddiest affairs I have ever raced.
Crankworx Europe was my first race back and I was peaking to put this bike against a clock and fly down the side of Mont Chery. It wasn’t to be though as the heavens opened for the majority of the week and made the track one of the stickiest, muddiest affairs I have ever raced. Something that would of come in really handy could have been the option to seamless swap between 27.5 and 26 wheels on this bike. The extra clearance between the frame and the tyres would have stopped the bike clogging up so quickly, and I heard a few riders were making the same decision.
Between practice sessions for racing I rode some faster tracks that allowed me to push the bike a bit harder, luckily with Gstaad Scott in attendance at Crankworx I was able to grab Ben, Brens mechanic to give the bike a quick look over. He immediately put a lot more air into my shock and told me to pack it full of spacers. It seems that the adjustability of the rear shock is the key to getting the lively ride, and out of the box the Gambler is on the travel happy side!
Components-wise the bike is kitted out with a full Shimano Saint kit, which is in keeping with its focus on durability and quality. The Fox 40s up front have so far performed quietly and perfectly after setting the sag in the car park and the tubeless ready Syncros wheels come dressed in Schwalbe Magic Mary’s, a great intermediate tyre that handled the slidy Pleney terrain
(Above) Monet’s first race on the Gambler was a big, nasty, muddy one – Crankworx DH. It was a great first test.
Smash hard all year with out too much faff
I will be updating the cockpit to something similar to Brendan’s, as I am a Deity components rider. I am also tempted to try a reach adjusting head set in the frame as I feel like I am on the fence between a small and medium at 5’ 7″. Reading about some of the design features of the bike such as the particularly stiff rear axle and the decreased load on the linkage bearings it seems a precedent has been placed on making a bike that you can smash hard all year with out too much faff. This is something I really hope is the case, not through laziness but because this is how I think it should be for most riders.
My first impressions on the bike are that I’m looking forward to my summer back on a DH bike. The Gambler is filling the spot that the Vitus doesn’t quite stretch to perfectly, but is a proper downhill bike, that means its easy to divide the love between the DH bike and the trail bike still.