Almost everything about the 2018 Scott Genius' chassis is new, beginning with its Horst Link suspension configurations that delivers 150mm of travel, and ending with its modernized geometry that allows it to work with 29" or 27.5+ wheels. Priced at $4500, our 920 review bike is outfitted with Fox suspension, a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed transmission, and it sits in the middle of Scott's Genius lineup. I'd rate it the best performance value in the range, which starts with the $7800 Ultimate and finishes with their most affordable, $4000 Genius 930.
Genius 920 Details
• Purpose: All-mountain and trail • Carbon frame, aluminum rear swingarm • Options: 29” x 2.6” or 27.5 x 2.8” tires • Suspension: 150mm travel • Sizes: Small, medium, large and X-large • Weight: 13.5 kg / 29.7 pounds (Med. tested) • MSRP: $4499 USD • Contact: Scott Sports
The 920 shares the same carbon/aluminum hybrid frame as the 700-series, which is the Swiss brand's 27.5+ model. A "flip chip" two-position adjustment, located in the upper shock mount, is used to adjust the bottom bracket height and correct the frame geometry for the two wheel diameters. The 29er benefits most from the cloned chassis with its slacker, 65-degree head tube angle, which imbues the 920 with proper descending skills. Pair its capable handling with Scott’s TwinLoc remote suspension controls and the 920 earns a place at the top of its class.
Features and Construction
Scott made the Genius to take you where uplifts and shuttles cannot, and strove to balance its descending prowess with its pedaling efficiency so that its riders could turn the entire length of a trail into a positive experience. The Genius has always been a trail bike, and to reposition it squarely within the boundaries set by today’s riders, Scott gave it a ground-up redesign.
Hybrid frame: The front section of the Genius chassis is carbon, with internal cable and housing routing. Screw-on plastic ports provide easy access to route the lines, while some serve as caps to hide optional features like Shimano Di2 electrics. The vertically-mounted Fox shock has the aforementioned flip chip up top and a trunnion lower mount that sits in a well that is formed into the down tube. The shock location makes ample room for one large downtube-mounted water bottle.
Aluminum rear end built around 2.6" tires.
Horst Link type suspension is new for 2018.
Out back, the swingarm is wide enough to provide mud clearance for 29er tires up to 2.6 inches, and tires up to 2.8 inches when 27.5-inch wheels are used. The bottom bracket is a press-fit type, and in the Scott tradition, rubber armor and silencing treatments are liberally employed throughout the frame.
Return to 29: Our review bike was set up with the 29-inch-wheel option, which follows on the heels of 2017’s back-to-big-wheels trend. It's also fitted with large, 2.6-inch Schwalbe tires, mounted to 30-millimeter inner-width rims. I’ll talk more about those later. The story here is that the popularity of Plus-sized tires among trail riders and their subsequent and wholesale rejection by the enduro segment was a lesson learned. Scott distanced the Genius from enduro with a brighter climbing, lighter weight component spec, and reigned in the Genius’s tire widths slightly to broaden its range of speed and intensity.
Easy access port for cables or a Shimano Di2 battery doubles as a bash guard.
Shorter top tubes help reduce the stack height created by the 920's taller wheels.
A shock mount's flip chip alters the geometry to suit 27.5 or 29-inch wheels.
Two wheel options: Genius 2018 frames are designed for tires from 2.6-inch to 2.8 inches, and you can switch back and forth between 27.5 and 29-inch wheels without messing up the handling by reversing a flip-chip located in the upper shock mount. Check the geometry chart for the exact numbers. The short version is that the 29er we review here has the chip set in the low position, which makes it about a half degree slacker at the head tube and seat tube, compared to the high-position configuration, paired with 27.5" wheels and 2.8" tires. That story ends here, however, because we only reviewed the 920.
Remote control suspension: TwinLoc has helped the Genius span the chasm between cross-country and all-mountain with its three-option remote suspension control. TwinLoc was developed in the Swiss Alps, where extended climbs are the rule and trails can range from manicured gravel to two-hour descents on tracks that are little more than goat paths. Toggling between the TwinLoc’s three options (open, firm with reduced travel, and nearly locked out) is done with a pair of levers integrated into the left-side grip. TwinLoc requires some practice to commit to muscle memory, but once learned, you’ll probably use the feature as often as the shift lever.
The radial lever on the left operates the Fox Transfer dropper post. The lower TwinLoc paddle selects Traction or Lockout modes, and the upper TwinLoc paddle toggles the shock and fork back to Open mode.
How TwinLoc operates: Scott and Fox collaborated on TwinLoc. Fox builds the “Nude” shock, which has a dual air chamber that ramps up the spring rate in order to reduce the shock travel. In the middle “Traction” mode, rear-wheel travel is reduced from 150 to 115 millimeters and the shock sits higher in its stroke, which effectively increases the seat tube and head tube angles. At the same time, the front suspension is firmed up via a second cable that is routed to the remote lockout control of the bike’s Fox Float 34 fork.
A second push of the TwinLoc lever locks out both the fork and shock, but you’ll probably reserve that function for paved roads. “Traction” mode is far more effective on the dirt, because the suspension still does a fair job of keeping the wheels on the ground (which maintains momentum better), and the Genius still rewards its rider with a burst of speed when the time comes to lay down a 100-percent effort.
New rear suspension: Scott updated the Genius rear suspension from a simple single-pivot swingarm to a true four-bar linkage by moving the dropout pivot from the seat stay to the lower section of the dropout. The change, says Scott, was done to uncouple braking forces, which it seems to do well. The kinematics have also been improved, with better suspension action across the speed range. The unexpected benefit, however, was how well the new Genius chassis pedals with the suspension set to the open mode.
Previous iterations of the Genius were not great pedalers in the open mode, which lent the impression that TwinLoc was a complicated band-aid fix. That said, the new 2018 chassis pedals well enough to entertain the thought that a rider could live without the TwinLoc system altogether. I often ran the Scott’s suspension in open mode on the flats and while climbing when the terrain was especially choppy.
Improved geometry: Compared to the previous model, the latest Genius is an entirely new animal. The medium sized frame’s head tube angle drops from 68.9 to 65 degrees. Seat angles are a degree steeper across the board (Med. is 74.7°). Chainstays shrink from 450 to 438 millimeters. The wheelbase grows 57 millimeters, and the reach increases from 424 to 439 millimeters (505mm on the XL), while shorter head tubes ensure that the stack is reduced significantly throughout the size range. Combine the 29-inch wheel’s stabilizing effect with the Genius’ updated numbers and the result is a responsive chassis that remains calm under pressure.
Sharing the spotlight, the stars of the 920’s parts list, are its Fox Suspension, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, and Fox Transfer dropper post. Each delivers a stable, predictable performance that adds to the bike’s seamless feel on the trail.
House-brand parts are expected fare for mid-priced mountain bikes, and Scott’s Syncros components are usually a cut above the rest. Their cockpit items always have good ergonomics, but tops on my list are the Syncros TR2.5 wheels. The 30mm inner-width, low-profile aluminum rims are designed with internal rails that tenaciously grip the tire’s beads to prevent it from burping air, or rolling off the rim in the event of a flat at speed. Direct-pull hub flanges and a good build make for a lightweight and very durable wheelset.
Medium-sized 920s get a 125mm-stroke Fox Transfer dropper.
150mm/115mm with TwinLoc remote
Fox Nude EVOL with remote
FOX 34 Float Performance 150mm with remote
SRAM GX Eagle
Sram X1 Eagle, 32t chainring
Syncros top guide
SRAM GX Eagle
SRAM GX Eagle
SRAM GX Eagle
Sycros 12mm x 9°x 760mm, aluminum 31.8mm dia.
Syncros 50mm aluminum
Syncros Pro lock-on, left side integrated with TwinLoc levers
Shimano SLX , 180mm Rotors
29" Syncros TR2.5 SL, 30mm inside-width, aluminum
Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6" x 29", EVO - Addix Speedgrip
FOX Transfer Dropper Remote 31.6mm / S size 100mm / M 125mm / L & XL 150mm
That's a big wheel with a lot of cushion, and backed up with 150 millimeters of Fox suspension, the Genius 920 feels like it is skimming the surface.
Setting it up: TwinLoc remote’s push-to-pedal feature gives the Genius 920 rider the option to optimize the suspension for smoothing the terrain and maximizing traction without compromise. I set the rebound a little faster than I normally would and also backed off the low-speed compression. Schwalbe’s high-volume 2.6-inch Nobby Nic tires added another level of plush. Mounted to 30-millimeter rims, they gripped well and cornered without a wobble with pressures set at 19psi up front and 22psi at the rear.
Twenty-niner pilots often boast about superior roll-over, but the 920 performs at a different level. Measured at those stated pressures, the 29 x 2.6 Nobby Nics stand 29.5 inches tall (749mm) and measure 2.55 inches (64.7mm) at their widest point. That’s a big wheel with a lot of cushion, and backed up with 150 millimeters of Fox suspension, the Genius 920 feels like it is skimming the surface. The trail has to get pretty rowdy before that floating sensation transitions into the incessant rattle that most of us call “top-performing suspension.”
The new Genius encourages a more calm and calculated attack on technical climbs...
Under power, the 920 accelerates with minimal effort and maintains momentum. That may seem counter-intuitive for a 29er shod with oversized rubber, but on the dirt, in a contest for the least rolling resistance, a supple tire’s improved roll-over always trumps a stiffer tire’s minimized surface area. The reverse is true when pedaling on pavement, where the big Schwalbes feel a little more draggy than a classic 2.3-inch tire like the Maxxis Minion.
Steep climbing is made easier by the combined grip of the 29-inch wheel’s elongated contact patch and the wider, more conforming rear tire. The steeper seat tube angle places the rider in a more effective pedaling position, and as the grade turns skywards, the longer front center prevents the front wheel from getting too light to maintain a decisive line. The new Genius encourages a more calm and calculated attack on technical climbs, which proved to be far more successful than the hopeful burst of power that is my usual strategy.
I prefer a cockpit that is devoid of buttons, levers and remote adjustments. As a test rider, however, I commit to the purpose and technology of each design that I happen to be reviewing. From my first ride on the Genius 920, I used its TwinLoc remote as many times as I found an opportunity in order to quickly master the system. Assisted by the lever’s audible click and distinct feedback, I was intuitively toggling between “open” and the middle “traction” modes after three solid rides.
I rarely used full lockout, unless I was riding pavement to a distant trailhead. I usually left the suspension in traction mode anytime I was riding relatively smooth trails, dirt roads, and similar terrain. When trails were interspersed with rough or techy situations, I was inclined to leave the bike wide open and rely on its improved kinematics to maintain efficient power output.
What I liked most about TwinLoc was the ability to instantly firm up the pedaling at the bottom of short, punchy climbs, jump out of the saddle and power over without losing much momentum. Toggling between open and traction mode allowed me to maintain my pace on rolling terrain that I normally would cruise in a slower, energy-saving gear.
Scott's TwinLoc simultaneously adjusts the fork and shock: Open mode, Traction mode, (with firmer damping and reduced travel), and Lockout mode.
Scott’s new Genius earns high marks for its cornering and handling. Its front wheel holds a trustworthy line when the chassis is pushed to the limits of traction in the turns. I expected its Nobby Nic tread to give me trouble on Southern California’s dry and slippery soil, so I was surprised they gripped so well in the larger format. When I turned the 920 over to Harold Preston for a second opinion, he reported similar results.
Steering feels predictable, especially when line choices are reduced to bad or not so good. The 920 responds equally well to an exaggerated lean, or steering inputs when changing direction in a tight spot. It aced switchbacks better than I’d imagine a 29er could manage. At speed, like most 29ers, a quick counter-steer will instantly commit the bike into a tight corner or berm, and the chassis responds to corrections with minimal drama.
Previous editions of Scott’s Genius taught me to enter steep downhills with a measure of caution. It took some saddle time before I could set aside my trepidation and begin to enjoy this “new and improved” model. The balance is such that I could move the wheels around or get hard on the brakes while remaining more or less centered over the chassis. From there, I could easily loft the front wheel or back-side step-downs, and if I misjudged something, the bike would usually have my back. It can (as I discovered) roll out of some improbable holes and drops. Now that I’ve learned how capable it can be, it’s the bike I reach for most often, even when I’m going to hit the bigger lines.
Syncros TR 2.5 rims: Low pressures, lots of rocks and no dings or loose spokes. I’d call that a win for any lightweight aluminum rim. I like where Syncros is going with the rim’s low flange design and locking bead. The extra security it offers is worth the additional hassle that users will face when removing the tire. You’ll need a good tire lever to unseat the bead from the rim. I found it helps to rotate the lever between the bead and rim flange to work the bead into the rim’s center well.
Integrated TwinLoc Grip: The left grip is integrated into the TwinLoc controls to conserve real estate between the brake lever and the grip. Scott ships the Genius with an adapter if you want to switch grips, so ask your dealer for it. Another space saver was Scott’s decision to use a radial remote control for the Fox Transfer post. You’ll need to keep the cable adjusted to prevent the dropper lever from activating the TwinLoc. Also, the force required to operate the Fox post is greater with the radial lever than with the more preferable thumb paddle. All said and done, though, I’d prefer the dropper control to remain on the left side, so I’ll accept Scott’s compromise as the lesser evil.
Aluminum swingarm: I’d like to see the 920’s weight drop a half pound or so, but that'd likely require a full carbon frame, which is available on the 900 model. However, the choice to go with carbon up front and an aluminum tail section makes sense when one considers that those are the frame members that will see the most abuse from rock strikes and the like. A number of bike makers are using the hybrid material strategy to the same end. It could be a win for long-term ownership.
How do you define a contemporary trail bike? Scott hits the mark with the Genius 920. It's priced right and with its pedal-friendly suspension kinematics, up-to-date frame numbers and a lightweight component selection, it strikes a near-magical balance - one that keeps your legs spinning circles all day without spoiling the fun when the downs get hot and heavy. Riding the 920 made me not miss my enduro bike.—RC