Fun-Country. Free-Country. Or maybe just like me, you like BMXC (Bicycle Motocross-Country) better. No matter what term you use it is easy to understand what it's all about in the end.
Riding a bike that lets you enjoy a lot of pedaling but still brings out a smile on the descents or whatever fun trail sections you come across. Or well, maybe you won't enjoy all the pedaling but at least a bike like this won't make you feel like it's actively trying to kill you.
These days more and more options are hitting the market. The travel is kept short but they're getting longer and slacker than ever. Just like some burly enduro bikes can be called mini-downhill bikes, or down-duro to keep with the theme here, this new breed of bikes is almost like mini-enduro bikes.
But what happens if you take a true World Cup proven XC frame and build it up with components worthy of a place on an EWS bike? Or basically - what if you build an XC bike from a fun-loving and gravity oriented Pinkbike reader's point of view?
Only one way to find out.Inspiration and Reasons Why
If you remember some of my previous builds there's been a few memorable mile-high rigid carbon seat posts and some very lightweight stuff. But before I fell down the rabbit hole that is cross-country, I spent all my time riding BMX, downhill, and trials for a decade or more. The latter is what introduced me to cutting and drilling in bike components, but the one passion that never went away was downhill riding and I still do it a lot.
Where I live in the middle of Sweden, we have plenty of nice and relatively easy single track, but most hills or mountains worth mentioning are 15-20km away at least. So you jump on your bike, ride easy and relatively flat terrain for 20km, do the climb, enjoy the view, try to hit warp speed on the way down, and then ride back.
This is where the light and pedaling efficient racing frame comes into the picture. To make the trails fun on your way to the mountain, you want something quick and responsive. A super slack head angle won't be a lot of fun here.
But in order to enjoy the descents more or simply ride more aggressively for fun, you want a really confidence-inspiring bike. So this is where you suck up the weight penalty and go for some burly components.
When it comes to the looks, I wanted the bike to give off a vibe similar to a BMX bike, no big surprise considering the name. And while a BMX can look a million different ways I usually think matte black, chrome, and kind of beaten up. So I brought out the knife and spent too many hours stripping paint as per usual, and gave it a stealth paint job along with raw carbon and a few polished details. The absolutely massive Syncros Revelstoke 1.0 wheels helps a lot too, making the 29" wheels appear smaller and giving the bike a very compact look. Not to speak of the equally massive, for this type of frame, Fox 36 fork...Component ChoiceFrame:
It's now been close to four years since the latest Scott Spark chassis hit the races under Nino Schurter and the team. With a whole bunch of Scott bikes in my own stable, I might be a little bit biased, but one has to give it to them for this design. It's still one of the lightest out there while being a quite capable bike both on and off the racecourse thanks to its geometry. This one is the 100mm travel Spark RC SL, which uses their HMX SL fibers bringing the weight down to just 1750g including rear shock and all the hardware. This while I went with a heavier aluminium linkage just to match the fork.Fork:
The stock 100mm Fox 32 SC is a really nice XC race fork but when you start to really push the bike it's just a little bit too flexy. Anyone sensible would now go for the Fox 34 SC but come on, wouldn't a Fox 36 look super cool on a build like this? Said and done. With a little hacksaw work, the travel was brought down to 125mm which raises the front end up and slackens the head angle a bit. A GRIP2 damper makes it possible to squeeze maximum performance out of those millimeters. Blue dials would've been an eyesore on this murdered out build so it got a new nice set from Hopp Carbon Parts in - you guessed it - carbon fiber.Cockpit:
While a 9.5" rise chrome BMX handlebar would go with the name, I went with a Syncros Hixon iC Rise combo in 60mm length and cut down to 760mm width. Matte black, light, and strong, it ticks all the boxes. To keep things clean, I'm once again using my own custom remote setup that controls both the rear shock and the dropper seat post via one single remote and just one visible cable. This means you have Open Mode and Traction Mode but no Lockout Mode since that final step actuates the dropper. You can of course also push all the way through to raise or lower your seat and quickly release the shock back to open again.Seat combo:
The seat clamp and dropper seat post comes from BikeYoke, with a 175mm drop to really get that seat out of the way. It's still quite light while featuring adjustable travel and a self-bleeding system. The seat is a Syncros Comox which is their new downhill oriented model. Not that the clever cut out at the rear for better bottom-out tire clearance is necessary on this bike with the seat sky high, but the shape is really nice and suits it well.Brakes:
Limited edition stealth black Trickstuff Piccola HD. These combine the extremely light Piccola levers with their powerful 4-piston Direttissima calipers, so they're a perfect fit for the bike. This stealth black version came about from wanting to do something with parts that had very small production mistakes, such as scratches or anodizing defects. Instead of recycling them, they're sandblasted and anodized black, a win for both the company and the environment but also for lucky riders who then can have perhaps the cleanest looking brakes out there. The discs are 180mm Formula, chosen simply because they perform well but also simply for looking great.Wheels and tires:
Syncros Revelstoke 1.0 are labeled as trail wheels, but they sure give the impression of being able to handle a lot more than that. Inner rim width is 31mm and the rear hub features a 78T 6-pawl setup. The odd tire combo is a 2.35" Maxxis Rekon Race out back and a 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF up front. The idea is that the rear tire will give the bike quite a low rolling resistance but you'll still be able to corner with decent confidence thanks to the Minion DHF. To further improve ride quality and help protect the rims, they got CushCore XC tire inserts installed.Drivetrain:
Up front there's a SRAM X01 Eagle crankset that has been stripped to match the UD carbon fiber frame, paired with Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals and a 36T Garbaruk chainring. A SRAM XO1 AXS system takes care of the shifting, and to further enhance the clean wireless looks I covered up the cable port in the chainstay. The cassette is a lightweight 12 speed 10-48T version, also from Garbaruk.Scott Spark BMXC - 12.0kg / 26.5lbs including pedalsThe XC Transformation
While it wasn't planned from the start, once I had the bike built up I realized that it would be so easy to turn it into a super fun but more classic XC bike. The frame is, after all, a little rocket and the overall build is quite lightweight except for the wheel setup. With the luxury of having more than one bike, I can quickly borrow and switch wheels, handlebars, and possibly the seat in order to convert the bike into something that would do well on a racecourse.Wheels:
Truly state of the art and pictures not really doing them justice, we have the Syncros Silverton SL full carbon wheels. As in FULL carbon wheels. The rims and spokes are molded in one single step, so you have continuous carbon fibers going from one side of the wheel to the other. To create tension the two center sections are spread apart and the hub shell is inserted. The result is a wheelset weighing 1307g (actual) that is extremely responsive yet providing great ride quality. And before you hit the comment section about throwing sticks between the spokes, the spokes are highly impact-resistant but if you were to break one they can actually be repaired in many cases. As long as the wheel is not too far out of true, you can simply have the spoke fixed and you're good to go.Cockpit
Riding position is of course highly individual, but in general for XC riding and racing you want a very aggressive position that lets you put the power down. So here I switch the integrated Syncros Hixon cockpit to it's Fraser sibling, here in the Nino edition which is 90mm long with a -25 degree angle and 740mm wide. It's also the first and last time you'll see me with a pile of spacers on top of the stem as if it was a submarine conning tower.Additional changes:
Here the Minion DHF becomes a bit overkill so I'm running lightweight tires both front and rear. For really long rides, I can switch to the even more comfortable Syncros Belcarra V1.0 seat too.Scott Spark BMXC - Lycra VersionSummary and What's Next
While I'm yet to put any real time on the bike, it sure seems to have hit the mark. With the size Medium frame and 60mm handlebar combo, it feels super fun and compact for my 183cm / 6.0ft height. The Fox 36 makes a huge difference in stiffness and the geometry actually seems to work out really nicely. For being an XC frame, the Spark has a very low bottom bracket so the new height is still reasonable and actually makes it feel a little bit more agile when playing around. So it turns out you sure can do a lot with a frame like this.
Now what really took me by surprise was how nice the Lycra Version turned out. I'll still go with my regular Spark RC for things like interval training or marathon racing, but for long or more casual training rides I suspect this might turn into a favorite. With the lightweight wheels, the bike is quick and responsive but the fork and 175mm dropper seat post make it a ton of fun to ride.
Spring is just arriving and with that hopefully a lot of good times on the bike, but there's plenty of work to do as well. Next up is another Spark RC build with the goal of making it simply the best, fastest and wildest XC bike out there. But this is Pinkbike and like I mentioned earlier my downhill roots are not forgotten, so there is also a World's Lightest 29" DH Bike project in the works based on the new Scott Gambler. Super light but durable and race-ready, no shortcuts. Why go for super low weight on a downhill bike? Will it break? Is this 2010 again? Will you run 3 brake disc screws?
I can answer the last part - heck no. But for the rest, feel free to keep up with the build process via my Instagram
and stay tuned for the full story here on Pinkbike in a couple of months time!
A 2427g / 5.35lbs complete frameset weight is a good starting point to say the least.
Warning and disclaimer:Please keep in mind that any modifications such as paint stripping, repainting, sanding or in any way modify frames, components or safety equipment is potentially dangerous and can lead to crashes and injuries. It will always void any and all warranties and is strongly advised against by SCOTT Sports and all other manufacturers, which take no responsibility. It is not recommended to put any travel fork on any frame, if unsure of the fork travel limit for your frame always consult a dealer or the brand directly first. If you choose to modify your bike anyway, always make sure to do so with safety in mind and remember the points above.