First Ride Review : Pete’s Scott Spark RC Team Issue AXS.

Pete heads to the Borders to see what he makes of Scott’s redesigned World Cup cross country full suspension platform, the Spark.

A soggy lap of Glentress’ classic red route would be Pete’s first outing on the Scott Spark RC Team Issue AXS and the perfect opportunity to see what the redesigned World Cup XC machine can do.

Key features:

  • RockShox SID Select RL3 120mm Fork
  • RS Nude 5 RL3 shock
  • SRAM GX Eagle AXS 12 speed drive
  • Shimano XT 2-piston brakes
  • Syncros Silverton 2.0 TR Wheels
  • Syncros Duncan seat post
  • £4,599.99 RRP
  • Scott-Sports.com

The new Scott Spark casts a very different silhouette to its predecessor with the shock now contained within the frame. This should come as no surprise as Scott acquired Bold who housed their shocks within the frame too. What this has allowed the Scott engineers to do is lower the centre of gravity, shorten links and put larger frame bearings in.

A handy sag guide is located on the swingarm of what is a flex pivot frame with a link-driven trunnion shock, providing 120mm at the rear. On the Spark RC, this is matched by a 120mm SID, and on this bike, a Select RL3 model. A plastic cover allows you to adjust rebound and air pressure, while a cut out in the frame shows you were the O-ring is.

Geometry has been updated too, with reach and wheelbase growing across the sizes. On top of this, an angleset in the headset allows you to clip a full degree off the head tube angle.

Pay enough attention to the bike and you’ll notice the three tools hidden in the rear axle. A T25, a T30 and a 6mm will all become handy at some point on this bike.

The Team Issue AXS model here comes with Rockshox dampers, SRAM’s GX Eagle AXS drivetrain, XT 2-piston brakes, Syncros Silverton 2.0 TR wheels and a solid run of Syncros finishing kit. This would be the first bike I have ridden in a long old while that has a fixed post…

Geometry

On the size small tested, you get a 411mm reach with a 415mm seat tube. Head tube angle in the ‘Race’ setting is 67.2 degrees, but with a twist of the headset cups, you can drop this to 66.2. Seat tube angle is 75.9 degrees. Chainstays are fixed across the sizes at 437.5mm, with the small having a wheelbase of 1129mm.

Opening Moves

It’s not since my Merida NinetySix that I’ve had anything as racey as the Scott Spark to test, and despite boasting more travel, the Spark RC definitely feels like a racier beast out of the box. The Maxxis Recon Race tyres are the first giveaway, as opposed to the High Roller 2s on the Merida.

With the TwinLoc lever doing away with any compression faff, it was merely a case of sag setting and away we went. Unclipping the plastic cover to do this on the shock is no real issue either. Probably what stood out for me more was that the seat post is fixed. I don’t think I have ever tested a bike with a fixed post… That said, this is an XC race machine, so some may have no interest in a dropper. I think I might though.

Out of the car park and the Spark made mincemeat of the climbs, even with the suspension fully open. No messing, just your power to the ground. The Recon Races run fast and smooth whenever some coasting was required. I probably haven’t ever done the red lap at Glentress quicker and didn’t really feel like we’d been out long.

The descents were somewhat hampered by the tall seat post. At its lowest it was as high as I’d want it so just had to take it easy on the jumps and drops. Where the going was fast and swoopy though, which to be fair is most of the red, the Spark was on a mission. The frame emits a low hum as you hack across the ground, covering the dirt with alarming speed, and the tyres provide far more grip than I gave them credit for.

Even when the pace started to climb, the dampers did sterling work of keeping everything under control. the rear feels like it has far more than 120mm available, and I’m sure once I can get the saddle out of the way on the descents, the Spark will be faster than I am. Watch this space.

You can check out the Scott Spark RC on Scott’s website here.