With roots deep in World Cup cross-country racing, it may be hard for all-mountain riders to seriously consider Scott as a player in the long-travel game. Scott believes that the carbon-framed Genius LT 10 will reverse that prejudice, and after spending some quality time on the 30-pound, 185-millimeter-travel machine, we might agree. Reduced to its performance and capabilities, the Genius LT 10 is a nimble-feeling, very capable descender with the potential to meet or exceed the climbing performance of anything in the 180-millimeter-travel club.
There is, however, nothing reductionist about Scott’s showcase all-mountain machine. With adjustable geometry and handlebar-remote functions that offer three shock modes; a simultaneous lockout feature for its fork and shock; and a dropper seatpost button, this is not the blunt instrument of a bike-park skidder. Rather, the Genius LT 10 is a precision tool for the experienced all-mountain rider who wants to squeeze every meter of shred from a trail system. Scott’s all-mountain over achiever retails for about $6499 USD.
One may ask why Scott, the one brand that has banked its reputation on uber-tech carbon fiber frames, would make its premier long-travel AM chassis half in carbon and half in aluminum? In he-man terms; Scott used carbon fiber to build the front section of the LT 10 because it is the strongest and lightest way to make a frame. A welded-aluminum structure is the most efficient way to weave a rear triangle around tires, chainrings and spinning crank-arms – and the perfect material to house bearings and to support brake calipers. The Genius LT 10 optimizes both materials to produce a chassis with a published weight of 2.6 kilos (5.72 pounds), including its 535-gram Equalizer shock – a figure that pencils out against the complete bike’s verified weight of 30.35 pounds without pedals (13.795 kilos). In theory, the Genius’ carbon front section is protected by its wide-stance fork and rear suspension, so the chassis should survive the relentless beating and scraping that an aggressively ridden AM/trailbike must endure.
• Purpose: All/Mountain
• HMX Carbon fiber front section, aluminum rear suspension.
• Remote control rear-wheel travel: 185mm/110mm
• Adjustable geometry
• Tapered head tube
• ISCG-05 chain guide tabs
• Thru-axle - 142/12mm, 135/12mm or 135/10mm options
• Remote lockout Fox 36 TALAS fork (140mm/180mm)
• Twinloc Handlebar Remote: simultaneous fork and shock lockout, 110mm or full travel
• DT Swiss-Made Equalizer 3 pull shock
• Weight: 30.35 pounds (13,795g)
• MSRP: $6499 USD
HMX - NET carbon:
Scott is one of those brands that manufactures as many catchy names as it does products. (Something to do with companies starting with ‘S’?) HMX refers to a special high-modulus carbon with a custom resin system that Scott uses to reinforce key areas of the LT 10’s front section. The NET part (Naked External Tube) reminds us that Scott was among the first carbon fiber bike makers to abandon the cute looking woven cosmetic outer layer and to leave the frame’s unidirectional carbon construction exposed – a strategy that saves weight and remains honest to the material. HMX material is said to be 20-percent stiffer, and thus adds rigidity and can reduce weight in the areas where it is employed. One-piece molded front section:
There are many strategies used to make carbon parts, the best method to make a strong hollow shape, like a front triangle, is to lay up the many layers of carbon material and the various bearing and shock mounts into one complete piece and then use internal pressure, evenly distributed, to compress the carbon within the mold as the part is heated to set the resin. A one-time cure produces the strongest bond between the carbon layers. This is the method used to produce the best of the best carbon frames, including the Genius LT 10.
The LT 10’s composite front section is intelligently designed to optimize the material’s unique properties, which explains why it doesn’t look like a slightly sculpted rendition of a generic welded-aluminum-tube frame. Its tri-oval top and down tubes bear a hint of convention, but its tapered head tube area, its massively oversized seat tube and the rear-set bottom bracket are voluminous monocoque constructions integrated into the design to double as suspension pick up points and to encircle its three-chambered pull-shock.All-mountain frame features:
Scott took advantage of Shimano’s PressFit bottom bracket system to boost strength and stiffness by widening the bottom bracket/seat tube as far as possible. An ISCG chain guide mount is built into the left side of the monocoque and Scott attaches a red-anodized inner guide plate to keep the chain in control and to protect the carbon from injury should the chain be forced off the inside sprocket. In the rear, the post-mount brake caliper boss is tucked inside the frame to keep the caliper out of harm’s way. A Scott and Trek exclusive for 2012 is an internal hose routing for its RockShox Reverb seat post remote-control. Scott also attaches its direct-mount front derailleur to the swingarm instead of the seat tube so the derailleur cage tracks the chain perfectly as the rear suspension compresses through its full travel. Finally, the Genius LT 10’s seat tube mast is angled back to lengthen the cockpit as the post is raised in order to accommodate taller riders and to move the rider forward in a more downhill position when the saddle is slammed low. Rear-section:
Peruse the most respected long-travel bikes from Scott, Specialized, Trek and you’ll find that an aluminum rear section paired with a carbon front is the theme that unites them all. Details are the key to successful aluminum construction, and Scott’s designers covered every trick in the welded aluminum handbook to pen the LT 10’s rear mech. The rocker link is forged in thin-wall halves and then welded into a single piece to ward off flexing. Forged bearing-journals, caliper mounts and dropouts provide rigidity while making the many contortions required to weave around key components, and also to provide ample clearance for tires up to 2.5-inches wide. Scott sells the LT 10 with a 142 x 12-millimeter through-axle system, but its interchangeable dropouts can also be configured to accept 135 x 12 and 135 x 10-millimeter through-axles.Key numbers:
A reversible ‘chip’ in the rocker link’s shock mount allows Genius LT 10 riders to alter the head angle by slightly less than one degree, which also changes the bottom bracket height. LT 10s roll out of the box with the head angle at 67-degrees – in the steeper of the two positions – which results in a BB height of 14.4 inches according to the charts. Switching the chip slackens the head angle to 66.3 degrees, with a corresponding shift to a 14.1 inch BB height. When one considers that the Fox 36 TALAS fork offers 40-millimeters of travel adjustment, you can then add another degree of angular adjustment to the settings that the chip offers (67 degrees becomes 68 with the fork compressed in the short TALAS option).
Scott’s seat angle is deliberately rear-set to lengthen the distance between the handlebar and saddle as the seat post is raised, so its quoted seat angles of 74.2 or 73.5 degrees are theoretical measurements taken at average saddle heights. The medium-size frame’s 23-inch top tube and 16.9-inch chain stays are pretty much standard fare for the all-mountain genre. Scott offers the Genius LT 10 in small, medium (tested) and large sizes.Genius LT 10 Component Check
SRAM X.0 drivetrain components are the highlight of the LT 10, beginning with the nicely geared, 24 x 38-tooth crankset and its carbon bash ring. and ending with a mention of its crisp-feeling shift paddles. Extra credit goes to Scott’s choice of a RockShox Reverb Stealth Seat post – arguably the most reliable and useful of its kind. The LT 10 rolls on DT Swiss AM 10 tubeless wheels and aggressive 2.35-inch Schwalbe Hans Damph tires. Brakes were Avid Elixir 9RS with carbon levers and a 200-millimeter front and a 180-millimeter rotor in the rear. Cockpits items were all Syncros, including a 700-millimeter-width (27.5 inches) Carbon AM handlebar. LT 10 Suspension Fork:
There is probably no need to explain the benefits of the LT 10’s 180/140-millimeter-travel Fox 36 TALAS fork, as it has become an all-mountain standard. An exclusive for Scott, Fox adds a remote lockout mech to the top of the right stanchion tube that is paired with a remote shock lockout cable at the Twinloc handlebar lever. The lockout precludes the use of a low-speed compression adjustment which can be a sore spot for fastidious suspension tuners (more about that later). Shock:
The firework show begins with one look at Scott’s DT Swiss-made Equalizer 3 shock – a massive looking device that appears to be modeled after an oil refinery. Equalizer 3 offers three remote-controlled suspension modes: Lockout, limited-travel ‘traction’ mode and full travel. To get your head around the Equalizer, one must abandon all preconceived notions about how a standard shock operates.
To begin with, it’s a pull-shock, so compressing the suspension draws the shock shaft out of the body. The main chamber is basically an oil pump that shoves fluid into one or both chambers. The bike is suspended by two air springs, one in each of the adjoining reservoirs. When the suspension is wide open, the shock pumps oil into both reservoirs, which maximizes air volume and gives the spring a very linear compression rate. When the Twinloc lever is in traction mode, the larger of the two reservoirs is switched off so oil can only travel into the small air can – which limits the suspension travel from 185 to 110 millimeters, and the corresponding reduction in air volume also causes the spring rate to be very progressive. In lockout mode, the valve between the shock and both reservoirs is switched off and the damper simply can’t move. Because the Equalizer 3 is basically one pump that drives two separate shocks, it has two low-speed rebound dials, one for full travel and another for the Traction mode. Compression damping is preset internally.
Riding the Genius LT 10
Measured by its wow-factor, Scott’s Genius LT 10 sets a high bar. Buttons, levers, paddles, hoses and housings bristle from the handlebars like a cell phone tower. The fact that all-mountain bikes must do a bang-up job as technical climbers and descenders is an invitation for mediocre compromise, though, and Scott’s handlebar array keeps the Genius LT 10’s performance sharp in both theaters of operation. After an adequate orientation period, the LT 10 rider will discover that using the Twinloc’s shock and TALAS fork modes is nearly a requisite to riding the bike.
One example that stands out happened when a test rider was lagging behind the group on a long climb. He pulled over to make an adjustment and soon passed us like we were pulling trailers. At the summit, he mentioned that although he was in short-travel traction mode on the steep climb, the 180-millimeter-stroke fork made the seat angle too slack and it was cramping his cockpit position. He said lowered the TALAS fork 40mm and the Scott climbed like a different bike. Every test rider reported a similar epiphany. Setup:
Suspension setup is critical with the LT 10. The tendency is to use too much pressure in both the fork and shock. The Equalizer 3 shock has printed recommendations for negative and positive spring pressures versus rider weight on the left-side damper body, and there is a sag meter on opposite side. Choose the spring pressure settings that result between 25 and 30-percent sag. Set the fork pressure to the same percentages. A parking lot test will feel too soft, but on the trail, it will be perfect. Commit to the remotes. Use the Twinloc lever for pedal time and run the suspension downhill soft. The Genius has seven inches of travel, so running the suspension high simply trashes its small-bump sensitivity and creates a high center of gravity.Shock tip:
Take the time to dial in the rebound separately for both the long and short-travel shock barrels on the Equalizer shock because you’ll be spending a lot of riding time in both modes.Tire pressure:
On another side of the setup, Scott chose Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires, which are excellent candidates for tubeless. We ran the tires stock with tubes for the first half of the test, and then yanked the tubes and remounted them with Stan’s sealant and the rigorous use of a floor pump. The performance increase was noticeable, with the high-volume, 2.35-inch knobbies rolling faster on the flats and sticking better around corners. Tire pressure settings are important with Hans Dampf tires. We found 22psi front and 25psi rear was about perfect for a 165-pound rider. First impressions:
Rolling out on the long-legged Scott felt more like we were riding a trailbike. It seemed too lightweight to handle the beating that an all-mountain bike is intended to take. The tendency was to baby the bike through rough sections and steep descents instead of straight-lining the rocks and simply pounding through parts of the trail that presented no clear option. For the first few rides we exited technical sections thinking we could have hit them faster and harder. Once we committed, the more we pushed the LT 10, the more it impressed us.Learn the levers:
The tendency for test riders was to avoid the myriad of handlebar remote options unless presented with a long stretch of terrain that forced the issue. To get the most from the LT 10, though, one must become as fluid with the Twinloc lever as dropper devotees are with the remote seatpost controls. With the shock and fork wide open at full travel, the LT 10 sits slightly low in the rear and its head angle slackens a degree or so – perfect for steeps or (as was the case for much of our testing) pounding down rock gardens that offer no intelligent line choices.
Climbing in the open configuration is not all that bad, but a switch to traction mode raises the tail a bit and makes the steering feel a degree sharper – a sweet setup for short climbs and ridge running. For extended climbs, reach down and drop the Fox fork 40-millimeters with the TALAS dial to brighten up the Scott’s climbing efficiency even more. Same goes for cornering. Switching on traction mode makes the LT 10 feel more nimble around tight singletrack turns, where carving quick right-left-right combinations is a useful trait, while leaving the Twinloc lever wide open is the preferred option for shoveling dirt around high-speed corners. The bottom line is that Scott’s adaptive technology defines the Genius LT 10’s performance. Use it and the bike shines in nearly every corner of the all-mountain/trail envelope. Ignore the Twinloc lever and the LT 10 rides like an elite version of the one-trick ponies that crowd the base line of the AM genre. Suspension:
Scott’s Genius LT 10 is hard-wired to its Equalizer 3 pull shock and modified Fox 36 TALAS fork, so you’ll have to live with any idiosyncrasies in its suspension. Riders used to a pro-level shock with a full compliment of high and low-speed damping controls and end-stroke adjustments will find the Scott Equalizer’s options to be inadequate, and its remote fork lockout eliminates the low-speed compression dial up front. That said, the Scott feels very smooth over a gamut of terrain features, from that’s-gonna’-hurt maximum impacts to annoying bike park braking bumps. Like with most good gravity bikes, the rear wheel stays glued the ground in the long-travel setting to the point where it needs to be popped over smaller features to get it airborne. In traction mode, the Scott’s rear end feels much like a five-inch trailbike. The tail can be lifted with a flick of the ankles and it pops off of any kicker, but the firmer shock setting means that the rear end will skip a bit over chatter bumps under hard braking.
We struggled initially with the Fox 36 TALAS fork. Its small-bump sensitivity was a disappointment. There were two issues involved: the first was that setting the fork’s spring pressure low enough to get the fork to feel supple caused a good deal of brake dive when we were descending steeps. The second issue was a lot of friction in the fork that could be only be mitigated by lubricating the wiper seals every other ride. To be sure, there is a learning curve involved with a 180-millimeter-travel dual-purpose bike. There is no way one can set the fork to feel XC firm in the pedaling department and still achieve full travel. We discovered that the best setup was to tune the fork and shock soft and supple for full-travel descending and then depend upon the Twinloc’s traction mode for all pedaling sections. As a bonus, the fork performed better when it was sagged lower into its travel. Handling notes:
Looking at the big picture, Scott did a good job on the LT 10’s numbers. The kicked-out front end is slack enough to descend with conviction and it doesn’t feel too floppy when pedaling on the flats or up rollers. The 16.9-inch (428mm) chainstay length is tight enough to make the Scott an easy climber and yet the bike feels balanced in the corners as if it had a tad longer wheelbase. On the subject of steering, the bike is nimble enough in the long-travel settings to make quick lane changes when necessary. We found that it could weave through boulders with surprising dexterity. The Scott’s handling and steering reflects that the carbon/aluminum chassis is quite rigid in the lateral sense, which was a pleasant surprise for a 180-millimeter-travel bike that only weighed 30 pounds.
As a side note on handling, we wouldn’t recommend the low bottom bracket suspension option unless you were planning on riding park all day or shuttling downhill runs with your big-bike friends. We banged the crankarms often enough in the higher setting to question why the option was there. The Scott’s laid-back seat angle, designed to stretch the cockpit for taller riders, becomes much too set back when riding with the seatpost extended. On level ground, or when climbing, the suspension compresses and pushes the pedaling ergonomics from marginally bad to just plain bad. With the saddle lowered and the bike pointed down hill, however, the low BB option comes into its own.
. Technical report
• Avid’s 9RS Carbon brakes do not stop as hard as we would expect from a top-drawer AM brake paired with a 185-millimeter rear and 200-millimeter front rotor. That said, the big rotors ensured that there was ample braking power at hand when needed, and the exchange for the lack of authority at first squeeze was a more moderate feel that was easy to modulate when traction was sketchy.
• Cornering on Schwalbe’s Hans Dampf tires was a treat. Without the pronounced edging blocks of downhill-type tread patterns, there are times when the meaty Schwalbe knobbies will slide a bit before finding their groove, but the slide feels firm and grippy and does not throw the LT 10 off its line. Braking performance is also wonderful and because the Hans Dampf is an Omni-directional tire, the same straight-line grip makes for invincible climbing traction. Considering that the Hans Dampf is an expensive tire, we figured that Scott must have liked it as much as we did to spec it.
• Scott chose a 700-millimeter Syncros AM Carbon handlebar, which was a bit narrow for some test riders. The feel of its bend and its 20-millimeter rise were judged unanimously to be just right for the bike.
• Cheers for SRAM’s low-geared two-by crankset and its bash guard. Paired with a 36-tooth cog in the rear, the 24-tooth granny offers up a low enough climbing gear to put the bike’s grippy knobbies to task. We would even go so far as to ask for a 22-tooth granny so we could top the big hero climbs. What We Would Change
Two items stand out as potential improvements for the LT 10. For riders who's stature fits within the design's sweet spot, the slack seat angle serves its intended purpose of adjusting the effective top tube length for taller or shorter riders. Once the post is elevated beyond a certain point, though, it destroys the bike’s front/rear weight balance. A shorter-travel bike can handle such an arrangement because its rear suspension doesn’t settle as much when the weight shifts back for climbing or when G-forces build up in a turn, but for a long-travel bike like the Scott LT 10, moving the rider back a couple of inches un-weights the fork and sags the rear end too far into its stroke. Put a six-footer on the medium frame and, unless the fork is set to minimum travel, the front wheel skips off the ground going uphill and the rear end sags with every pedal stroke on the flats. Scott might do better to add a fourth size and use a more conventional seat tube angle. Consider this when you size your LT 10.
The second item is less of a complaint and more of a suggestion for future Twinloc technology. We found that the Fork’s TALAS setting was far more important to maximizing the LT 10’s performance than its lockout feature. We would happily sacrifice the lockout option completely if the Twinloc lever automatically reduced the fork travel as it does the shock. It is almost funny that we had to reach down while riding to turn the fork’s TALAS knob before a climb on a bike that has seven remote control cables and hoses sprouting from its handlebar. In fact, eliminating the fork lockout in favor of a remote TALAS option would return the more-valuable low-speed compression adjustment which we needed to keep the fork from diving under braking.Pinkbike's take:
|Many All-Mountain designs serve up intelligent compromise in an effort to provide a balance between DH quality descending and XC pedaling, but the Scott Genius LT 10 manages to avoid the compromise part of that equation. Want just-right climbing geometry? Pop the saddle up, push the Twinloc lever, twist the TALAS dial and hear the angels sing. Big trouble ahead? Drop the post, open up the suspension and descend with conviction. Big road climb to the trailhead? No worries, set the seat to full height, shove the Twinloc lever to lull lockout and the LT 10 will roll happily up the highway for an hour or more. The LT 10 is not for everyone - it is a thinker's machine and by that, we mean that its performance must be managed by a rider who stays ahead of the bike as well as the terrain. A flow-type rider might find that switching ten gears and a bunch of handlebar levers all day is too much trouble. The Genius LT 10 suits a hard-driving style and a rider who wants to own the entire mountain. If that sounds like you, it would be a tough bike to beat. -RC|