Scott is still very much associated with cross-country racing, even though the brand did win the downhill overall World Cup as recently as 2020, and sponsor freeracing phenom Brendan Fairclough, Whether it's down to the bikes themselves or the barnstorming talent they have at their disposal, their bikes certainly see frequent trips to the podium at World Cups.
As with most things Scott in 2022, the new Scale hardtail is at the forefront of cable integration. However, compared to the full-suspension Genius or Spark, the lack of hidden rear shock at the rear of this bike makes this thing look like a halfway house.
Yes, the headset cables are routed internally, but for a bike like this, I don't see it putting too many people off. In fact, this frame seems to have been the product of a very thorough of small but important details. Whereas something like an enduro bike is full of compromise, a true XC race hardtail is more clear-cut - and you can see that thinking reflected in the pursuit of reducing weight throughout.
• Intended use: cross-country
• Travel: 100 mm fork
• Carbon fiber monocoque
• Small, medium, large, and XL sizes
• Claimed weights as low as 8.9 kg / 19.6 lb
• Weight: 1,390 - 1,555 grams
• MSRP: $3,499 - 13,999 USD
• More info: www.scott-sports.com
The frame is made of carbon. In areas where stiffness is prioritized, a higher proportion of ultra-high and high-modulus carbon was used. These areas, such as the head tube or bottom bracket, will be stiffer under load compared to something like the top tube-seatpost junction or the seat stays. The carbon here is more flexible to hopefully give more comfort to the rider.
The frame is manufactured with just three molds. This means there can be fewer joins, which can need to be overbuilt to ensure stiffness. This monocoque bike is, as is nearly always the case with new-generation XC bikes - a bit lighter than the previous version. That said, at this point, the gains are relatively marginal. That's not to say unimportant but rather the return is somewhat diminished as the XC race bike is already somewhat refined. The top-end HMX-SL frame sheds 22 grams compared to the outgoing model, to achieve a claimed weight of 847 g. The mid-tier HMX frame has a weight of 912 g. For the entry-level bike, the HMF, the gains for the new model are more substantial, and it cuts out an impressive 126 grams.
Something that will seem like a why haven't we always done this
moment for some, while completely inconsequential to others will be the bottle cage inserts. These not only sit flush with the frame but can also be swapped out with blanks. It's a very small detail - but a nice one all the same. In a similar vein, the bike has a hollow dropout. This enables the axle to sit completely flush within the frame and shaves off 20 grams.
Something that isn't inconsequential, however, would be the frame mount, and - good news sports fans - it's a standard post mount. In recent years we've seen some brands going to the, in my opinion, inferior flat-mount system that you may well find on a road bike. The bike will also impress the home mechanic with a service window around the BB for ease of routing. There is also a simplified and lightweight chain guide that can be removed completely, and replaced with a blanking plug.
As mentioned, the cables do go through the headset, and much like other Scotts, this features the Fraser one-piece bar. It also features adjustable headset cups, which are something of a novelty for XC hardtails. These cups mean you can steepen the head angle by 0.6 degrees in a reasonably isolated fashion.GeometryModels
Although at $3,500 for a hardtail, it's certainly not cheap, the Scale RC Team model does represent the best value of the bunch and, in my opinion at least, should prove enough for most, if not nearly all, amateur racers. The HMF frame is slightly heavier and doesn't feature the same exotic blend of fibers, but it has seen the most aggressive weight reduction for this product cycle. The bike also does without the carbon Fraser bar, making use of an alloy one. The XT-equipped bike has a SID bolted to the front and a claimed weight of 10.6 kg.
Next up, is the World Cup model. As you'd probably guess, this sees a big jump in terms of spec. For $7,500, you'd certainly hope so. It uses the lighter HMX frame, the very high-end drivetrain from SRAM with an X01 AXS drivetrain, carbon DT Swiss XRC1501 wheels, and a Select+ SID from Rockshox. The bike has a claimed weight of 9.7 kg.
The World Cup Evo model features a SRAM powermeter, full AXS, DT Swiss XRC1200 CL wheels and XTR brakes. All of which gets the weight down to an impressive 9.2 kg.
Should that still not quite be what you're after, then the $14,000 RC SL goes to Trickstuff brakes and Syncros Silverton wheels. It also uses the HMX SL frame, as opposed to the HMX, and weighs a mere 8.9 kg.