SCOTT Spark RC vs Santa Cruz Blur vs Orbea OIZ Cross Country Bike Comparison
Cross-country bikes have become more capable and faster in the last few years. The industry has turned away slightly from making everything as light as possible, with the interest of durability and functionality in mind. Three of our brands have made their racing bikes into extremely capable beasts. SCOTT and Orbea both give their bikes 120mm of travel front and rear, which is 20mm more than the factory standard of two years ago. Santa Cruz kept their cross-country bike a more traditional 100mm front and rear, but they gave the bike a single-pivot linkage to increase traction.
SCOTT, Santa Cruz, and Orbea have all released their bikes that will be all over the podium for the next year. Each of these bikes will be highly unique, fast, and responsive, but each will excel under different conditions. I will show you where each bike will be best for each condition, and what specific features each will have.
SHOP CROSS-COUNTRY MOUNTAIN BIKES
Santa Cruz Blur
Each of these bikes has a geometry that highlights different aspects of XC racing. The most aggressive bike is going to be the Santa Cruz Blur (and its sibling, the Juliana Wilder). The Blur follows a more 'traditional’ cross-country geometry. It has a 68.3º head angle to give the bike a shorter wheelbase to increase responsiveness and handling. The Blur has the shortest stack height of the bikes, which puts you into a more aggressive and ‘racey’ position. The bike built up will weigh around 23 lbs which is pretty much the standard of XC bikes. This bike would be great for you if you are looking for a great race bike, it may not be as capable as the Spark RC or the OIZ.
The Blur transitions away from the Santa Cruz Virtual Pivot Point linkage to a lightweight single-pivot linkage. This new linkage adds traction to the rear wheel which helps the bike climb fast. The single pivot is also set up to be stiffer at the beginning of its suspension travel, to help keep high cornering speeds when the shock is unlocked. This makes the bike responsive in the corners, while not sacrificing too much on the roots and rocks.
SCOTT Spark RC
The SCOTT Spark RC has the most unique frame out of these three. The rear shock is encased in the frame in order to have it in the most optimal position. This makes the bike reliant on the Twinloc three-position lockout to keep up its fast characteristics. Luckily, the lockout allows you to put the bike into ‘traction mode’ which utilizes 60% of the suspension to make the bike climb well. The rear shock provides high traction over all terrain allowing the rear wheel to stay planted while descending and not skip and chatter on the trail.
The bike has a 67.2º head angle and a slightly longer wheelbase when compared to the Blur, to give the bike a high-performance capability in technical sections. With the highest stack height of all of the bikes on the list, and the shortest reach, the Spark will likely have riders in a slightly more upright position compared to the other bikes. To give the bike a more aggressive feel SCOTT usually puts on a negative stem to lower the height of the handlebars. The Spark will be a little heavier than the other two, but the World Cup podiums and World Championship wins speak louder than the weight penalty. SCOTT Spark RC bikes will still be less than 25 lbs on average for a complete build.
The lightest bike and frame of these three goes to the Orbea OIZ. Weighing at 1740g, the frame provides an ultra-lightweight chassis for all the parts you may want. This makes it reasonable to get a 23 lbs bike without breaking the bank. Orbea focused on the small details to make this frame stand out. They gave the bike a knock block to stop the bars from being able to smack the top tube and damage the carbon. Orbea designed the SIC system for this bike, which allows you to run internal cable routing, with any bar and stem you may want.
This year the OIZ got a massive geometry overhaul as well. The headtube angle is slacker, now at 67º, which gives this bike the longest wheelbase on this list. This bike is designed to be able to tackle the toughest XCO courses as well as excel over longer distances like marathon racing. To put it into local terms, this bike was designed for the Park City Point to Point. Orbea gave this bike their UFO pivotless linkage, which increases stiffness in the rear triangle and increases pedaling efficiency. This may cause the rear wheel to be a little chattery at high speeds but since it boosts the pedaling performance it may be a necessary compromise to have on a race bike.
Orbea OIZ Build Kits
Each of these brands will have build kits available at a large range of price. The Orbea OIZ is offered in three different framesets, their Hydro Alloy frame, their OMF Carbon frame, and the top-end OMX Carbon frame. The OIZ is the only bike in this comparison that is offered in an alloy frame (Scott offers alloy in the Spark only). As such, the Oiz H30 is the entry point to these XC bikes.
The Orbea OIZ M30 steps to an OMF carbon frame, Shimano Deore drivetrain, and Fox suspension. Their high-end OMX carbon frame starts with an Oiz M-Pro for a Shimano XTR and Fox Factory suspension build.
For the big ballers out there, you can get all the bells and whistles on the Orbea Oiz M-LTD. OMX frame with a SRAM XX1 AXS drivetrain, Fox Factory Suspension and Dropper, and OQUO MP30LTD carbon wheels.
Santa Cruz Blur Build Kits
The Santa Cruz Blur (and the Juliana Wilder) is offered in two different carbon frameset options: The Blur C and the Blur CC. The Blur C S starts with a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and RockShox Select+ suspension. To upgrade to their CC frame, the X01 build and up is the way to go.
If you want their fully kitted out bike, the Santa Cruz Blur CC XX1 AXS RSV bike offers SRAM XX1 AXS, a RockShox SID Ultimate Suspension, and Reserve 28 Carbon wheels.
SCOTT Spark RC Build Kits
SCOTT offers the Spark RC with three different carbon frame options: HMF, HMX, and their top-end HMX SL. The HMF frame is available on 4 different models, starting with the Spark RC Comp for with SRAM NX Eagle and Fox Rhythm suspension. The HMX frame is first available on the Spark RC World Cup, equipped with SRAM X01 AXS and RockShox Select+ suspension.
The HMX SL frame is only available on the Spark RC SL which is built with Fox Factory suspension and dropper, XX1 AXS drivetrain, and Syncros Silverton SL wheels.
One of the things that should come to mind when buying a new bike is the maintainability of it. One of the compounding factors of maintenance is, How many proprietary parts are on it? Here is a table of all the proprietary parts on each bike to show what would need to be maintained.
The table is color-coded: Green indicates either an easily serviceable part or a part that would not provide issues. Red indicates parts that are more likely to need to be replaced or serviced.
The SCOTT Spark, as shown in the table, will have the most proprietary parts. The stem, while not being completely proprietary, will lose the clean aesthetic look if you were to swap to a different branded stem. SCOTT wants you to run the integrated Fraser IC SL handlebar and stem combination. The Cranks are also not entirely proprietary, but they do require a longer spindle length (ex. DUB Wide instead of just DUB).
We try to keep all proprietary parts for the Spark RC, Blur, and Oiz in stock to be able to service them. These brands are also pretty good about getting proprietary parts shipped out quickly if needed. These parts are designed well for what they have to do and provide an advantage when it comes to the functionality of the bikes. The drawback of proprietary parts is that you can only order them from dealers that carry their brands.
These are all great options for a cross-country race bike. The SCOTT Spark RC will be great for all types of cross-country Olympic races and still provide confidence and capability on tough terrain. The Orbea OIZ is made for long days in the saddle, so it is great for marathon and endurance specialists. This bike will excel everywhere, so it is a good option for people who aren’t only going to race on it. The Santa Cruz Blur and Juliana Wilder is for the speed lovers out there. This bike will be fast and aggressive everywhere, compromising speed for nothing else.
Whichever one of these bikes you end up getting, you will not wish for anything different on the trails. We have these in stock at both our Park City and Salt Lake City shops. Give us a call at (801) 364-0344 or drop us a message in our chat. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
SHOP CROSS-COUNTRY MOUNTAIN BIKES
That Orbea looks sweet! May have to see if I can pick one of them up…
Ted Weiss on