I mentioned to a friend that I was psyched to be heading to Scott headquarters to preview the 2018 line which was followed by a perplexed look and the statement, “you are that excited to head to Sun Valley?” Sun Valley is nice and all but I don’t think anyone would argue that it is a little more exciting to head to Switzerland over Idaho. It is surprising how many folks still think of Scott as a US-based brand. While Scott did start in Sun Valley, they became a Swiss brand about 20 years ago with Swiss ownership and world headquarters.
For a few days before we arrived in the small resort town of Lenzerheide, there had been significant snowfall. You could sense pent up frustration with the people who had arrived a few days earlier since everyone was anxious to get out on the new Scott Genius. Luckily by the time I arrived the trails were ready to roll. The Genius really intrigued me as it is designed to go between the 29″ x 2.5″ and 27.5″ x 2.8″ tire sizes. The suspension can be quickly tuned for the slight geometry differences brought on by two different diameter wheelsets by flipping a small chip in the suspension linkage. Having been a big fan of 29″ wheeled bikes and only embracing the 27.5″ size when the wider plus sized tires arrived, I was excited to see how it would perform. After two days of riding on a variety of terrain including technical sections with wet tree roots and a few fast open downhills, I would say the bigger wheels offer more high speed stability and feel like they roll a touch faster while maintaining noticeably more traction than a standard 29″ tire. This might be the perfect setup for riding up in Park City while the smaller wheels make the bike a bit more quick and agile perfect for an awesome Moab bike.
There is definitely a lot more to the Genius than two different wheel sizes. The six inches of travel combined with Scott’s Twin-Loc suspension adjustment really provide the tools to ride any type of terrain. The bike climbs well in the “climb-mode” of the suspension and definitely descends beyond my skill level in the full-travel mode. Plus the Syncros Hixon carbon, one-piece stem and handlebar is pretty darn cool. It is light, looks great and adds a finishing touch to the front end. All in, I think the Genius is going to be a great bike for that person who wants total confidence at speed on the descents while at the same time can have a bike that climbs efficiently. Look for models to start arrive in mid September!
On our second day as the travel and time change caught up to us, a lot of our group elected to go out and test the new E-Spark. Out of the nine of us riding, I think I was the only person in the group that had spent much time on an E-MTB. We did a quick three or four mile loop and then headed over to the World Cup cross country course where Nino Schurter had recently won. At one point where we had stopped to take in a few sights, someone made a comment about how everyone had a huge smile on their face. I also was paying special attention on how E-bikes, which made up about 25% of the riders outside of the lift-served areas, seemed to coexist really well with other riders and hikers. E-MTBs are not a question mark in Europe. They’re happening and companies like Scott go deep with nearly 50 models of E-Bikes in the European market.
The E-Spark and the Shimano Steps motor system have both been a long time coming to the US Market. As I ride a Spark at home, I was very familiar with the suspension and general layout of the bike. With that being said, the E-Spark definitely has a different ride that I would mostly attribute to the additional thirty pounds of weight. The E-Spark is a little less nimble but also has more ability to keep traction. There is definitely an adjustment in your riding style on a heavier bike. I can see how riding a fifty pound bike might seem a little less than perfect. Luckily, the weight is so low that the bike feels incredibly stable and traction never seems to be an issue. As far as the drive system goes, I really liked the Shimano Steps system. In comparing to the Bosch drivetrain, I cannot say that one is much better than the other in a maximum power or range. Both systems seem to make the same, low-level noise The Shimano system seems to feel a bit more “normal” when pedaling in no-assist or low-assist modes. Shimano’s integration of the Di2 shifting and the Steps drivetrain was seamless. They use one display (and one battery) to merge all of the computer needs (gear indicator, range, level of assistance, speedometer functionality, etc) into one unit that seemed to have everything short of GPS. In just a few hours, we covered a lot of ground taking in the sites and getting a good workout. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to steal any of Nino’s Strava records as handling the power of the E-bike on wet, tree-rooted sections of the course did prove difficult.
Our final day of riding was limited by the need for an afternoon bus ride back to Zurich. Since we had to wait a little bit for the gondola to open, a few of the guys opted to hit the ten foot drop at the bottom of the World Cup downhill course. I opted not to for reasons that seem obvious to me. We also checked out the mega bike washing station at the bottom of the ski hill of ten stations with high pressure hoses for cleaning bikes before reboarding the gondola. After a gondola ride followed by a tram ride to get to the near 10,000 foot summit, we rode in gale-force winds down a rocky descent with amazing scenery The descent was rocky and somewhat exposed to high winds. Riding the flow-trail was super fun and there were some big obstacles in the form of cows and some smaller obstacles in the form of…….cowpies.