More and more, the cycling industry is pushing mountain bikes of all kinds closer toward the oft-praised enduro bike geometry. This calls for shorter chainstays, a steeper seat tube angle, a slacker head tube angle, and increased overall reach. The thinking is that as bikes go more in this direction, they’ll be calmer and more predictable on descents, but can still maintain the climbing verve and agility. While some companies have failed to properly execute this with their cross country bikes, the 2019 Scott Spark 920 succeeds, making for a bike with cross country DNA, and trail bike upbringing.
Years of development from Scott’s racing and research teams led to the cross country championship-winning package that is seen here. This starts with a revised shock placement that cuts weight along the top tube, stiffens up the bottom bracket area, and above else makes the shock more linear across the range. Called a trunnion-mount shock, it allows for much greater small-bump sensitivity without sacrificing mid-travel support; further, it resists bottoming out toward the end of travel, making the bike feel like it has much more travel than 120mm might suggest. A pivotless alloy swingarm cuts weight, and improves reliability and stiffness out of the saddle. Scott also adds their TwinLoc suspension remote lever, the ideal companion for ever-changing terrain. For 2019 Scott also increased clearance to 29 x 2.6” tires front and rear, and a new 44mm-offset fork keep things under control on high speed descents.
With this kind of DNA, it is interesting how well the Scott Spark 920 can combine climbing efficiency with descending prowess. Some of this ability is attributed to its light HMF carbon fiber frame and alloy swingarm, leading to a low 28.0 pounds. However, much of this versatility is thanks to the updated suspension setup, it can also be attributed to updated geometry. Shorter chainstays and a steeper seat tube angle make the bike climb with greater verve, while a longer toptube and a slacker head tube angle retain a similar calmness and high-speed stability that other cross country bikes don’t have. It’s not as responsive or quick-witted as a Cannondale Scalpel Si, BMC Fourstroke, or even a Scott Spark RC. What it is instead is a bike that is just at home on a tight cross country course as it is on technical singletrack.
The Scott Spark 920 might be the choice of the breed: a carbon fiber frame and alloy swingarm is paired to a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain with 1×12 gearing and Shimano SLX brakes. Further, a Fox 34 Stepcast Float Performance fork with 120mm travel pairs to a Fox NUDE EVOL rear shock. A Fox Transfer dropper seatpost raises and lowers the saddle reliably, while a Syncros Silverton 2.5 TR wheelset keeps the ball rolling. This is a bike spec’d for trail-readiness with cross country efficiency. It is available in four sizes (S-XL).
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