Scott's Genius has been around since 2004 with various shapes, funny shocks, and personality changing levers. Building on the success of the Olympic winning Spark platform that was launched last year, the new Genius takes on the same four-bar linkage with the TwinLoc system, a progressive kinematic, modern geometry and close attention to detail and specification.
Light weight is always a focus for the Swiss brand and this 150mm travel, carbon framed, 900 Tuned model weighs in at a svelte 12.4kgs. As we know, lighter weight also coincides with wallet weight savings, with this almost top-of-the-line bike is priced to sell at...well, hold your breath, prices to be confirmed later this year.
Scott Genius Details
• Intended use: trail / all mountain
• Wheel size: 27.5" / 29"
• Rear wheel travel: 150mm
• 65º / 65.6º head angle via a flip chip
• TwinLoc System
• 7 models with carbon and alloy frames
• MSRP: $TBC
• Weight: 27.34lb / 12.4kg (Genius 900 Tuned, claimed)
• Available: September 2017
Scott produces one of, if not the largest range of bikes on the market. The Genius is available in seven models from the TwinLoc-less RockShox equipped alloy 750, all the way to the Genius Ultimate, which is another step above the super-pimped 900 Tuned featured here. The 900 Tuned is specced with Kashima coated Fox Suspension front and rear along with a 150mm drop Transfer post. SRAM Eagle drivetrain, Guide Ultimate 180mm/180mm brakes, Syncros parts and DT Swiss alloy rims.
Following on from the latest Spark, the Genius uses a four-bar linkage.
Out with the old and in with the new. Gone is the single pivot system and linkage driven shock mounted underneath of the top tube. The new four-bar linkage may look like many other designs, but the truth is that this popular system offers engineers a massive range of options to tweak all of the various forces and characteristics of the bike. The new suspension design has almost opposing characteristics to the old version; progressive through the main portion of the travel and tailing off slightly towards the end to avoid harshness as air springs ramp up massively at the end of the stroke.
A trunnion mount Fox shock has allowed Scott to distribute incoming forces into the huge bottom bracket area, shedding weight from the top tube, as well as disguising the TwinLoc remote cable, which is barely visible from the exit port into the damper.
Internal cable routing only to keep things clean.
The brake mounts fit a 180mm rotor directly.
Scott were one of the first brands to push Plus sized tires two years ago, launching a wide range of bikes with the mid-fat offenders. The 'Plus' word has gone, along with a heavy desperation from all Scott staff to not even say it out loud. The new concept is one frame and fork size, and the choice of 29" with 2.5-2.6"-ish tires or 27.5" rims and 2.6-3.0"-ish rubber–it's not 'Plus' anymore, it's just 27.5". Most models will have the option of either size at your local dealer. A simple flip chip on the linkage can be used to maintain a similar ride height in either wheelsize, but doing so also adjusts the head angle by 0.6º degrees, giving a steeper head angle for the smaller wheel.
The Genius geometry follows suit with the "three L's" trend, and in fact, they have brought to market one of the longest and slackest trail bikes out there - arguably, the first of the big brands to go over the scary 500mm reach threshold. The head angle loses 2.5º to the previous model and now sits at 65º in low setting. The reach numbers grow across all sizes. The XL sees the biggest increase by 30mm, but is now spec'ed with a 50mm stem instead of 70mm, giving a similar feet to hand distance, but with the handling advantage of a shorter stem.
At the back of the bike, the chainstay is cropped 7mm (down to 438mm) and the bottom bracket is set around 345mm from the floor, depending upon tire volume and flip-chip setting. The seat angle has been steepened to 75º, and the wheelbase on my XL choice was 1270mm.
The numbers are certainly at the progressive end of things for such a big brand, and they were keen to point out that this is a trail bike, not for enduro. Does that mean there will be a replacement for the Genius LT in the future with even more extreme numbers? I hope so...
What is TwinLoc?
TwinLoc has been a staple of Scott's lineup for years, starting out with funky pull shocks, more recently it has been integrated into conventional shocks. The Fox Nude shocks have been developed between the two brands and offer three modes. Fully open gives 150mm of travel and the compression damping is the most open. The middle 'Traction Control' mode increases compression and closes down part of the air chamber volume, reducing the volume effectively reduces the travel to 110mm at the rear. In this setting, the fork still has full travel, but damping is increased. The third setting is close to a full lockout.
The Hixon integrated handlebar cleans up the most complicated cockpit on the market.
Syncros is part of the Scott Sports group and produces one of the widest range of medal winning components in the industry. Being part of the same group allows them to develop parts in conjunction with bikes. There are some neat touches on the Genius including the one-by chain guide, the Hixon integrated bar/stem/headset combo, and the lock on grips.
The 290g Hixon integrated handlebar stem is designed to save weight, strengthen and simplify. The unorthodox shape takes some getting used to visually, especially when looking down the fork being greeted by a view of the entire headtube. Three 'virtual stem lengths' are available in 40mm, 50, and 60mm. I liked the 5º/9º up and backsweep, but they measured in narrow at 760mm for such a big bike. If you don't like the sweep, my suggestion would be the Production Privee CR35 grip that can adjust these angles.
The headset, stem, and spacers all interlock with each other. Still, that doesn't make aligning the handlebar with the front wheel any easier.
Syncros is part of the Scott Sports group which allows them to produce components to work with their bike models. The lock-on clamp for these grips also acts as a mount for the Fox Transfer dropper and the TwinLoc suspension levers.
The Syncros fender is a nice detail. It also shields the fork arch from packing with mud.
The devil is in the details. Another Syncros product is this proprietary one-by chain guide.
The Syncros fender takes care of mud, and neatly covers the recesses in the back of the fork arch to prevent mud buildup. Unfortunately, the cutaways around the fork stanchions are needed for bottom out clearance, losing the advantage of Marsh Guard style guards that also keep fork seals much cleaner and cut down on service intervals. Instead of ugly cable ties, the guard takes advantage of the threaded holes designed to work with Fox's Live Valve electronic system. This injection molded guard is spec'ed on the Tuned and Ultimate models and will be available aftermarket for €14
Any bike that weighs under 13kgs should be easy to climb with, and the Genius got on with the job well. Even on the XL size, the seated position was nicely over the bottom bracket, but I went further, slamming the seat forward on the rails to help put the power down even more as the climbs steepened.
Under pedal power, the Genius isn't exceptionally firm but it did pedal through the bumps better than many lightweight trail machines. It feels like Scott have chosen a more active setup, and the TwinLoc should be used to counter pedal bob if that is an issue for you. The middle, Traction Control Twinloc setting does help to speed up the response on mellow trails and increase ride height, which is better for pedaling through chunky stuff. But, as the trail gets steeper going uphill, I don't like the fork riding higher in its travel (in the past, I have disengaged to fork lockout). For trail centers or more mellow trails, the middle setting can be an advantage. I'm not a fan of the full lockout mode, maybe if you need to out-sprint your friends on the last 100m of road to get the first beer, it could help, but riding locked out on the road gives a bouncy, almost reverberating feeling, and again, trying to climb steep stuff with the fork at maximum extension makes it harder to get over the front of the bike.
The newer TwinLoc lever that sits under that bars is a lot cleaner than previous models. Now, it's combined with a single clamp with the Fox Transfer post and a Syncros grip. The downside of this, is that it needs some getting used to if you are a serial bike swapper who is used to a single lever on the left-hand side. I found myself on a few occasions boosting my seat up my ass instead of unlocking the TwinLoc, giving the worst of both worlds heading into steep and gnarly sections.
The suspension is on the progressive side of the spectrum for such a lightweight trail bike, in fact, I never managed to bottom out front or rear, always having an equal 10mm in the bank for an unexpected big hit. The suspension is supple off the top, and really gives something to push against in the mid stroke to gain cornering grip and pumping speed. If I had more time on the bike, I would have reduced the volume spacers in both shocks, or put some more aggressive and heavier casing tires on to really start pushing its limits.
Going down the steep runs of Aosta with the majority of time spent trying to slow down, my hands were nicely behind the front axle and finding confidence to weight the front end to find braking grip on the front was easy.
In the loose and dusty corners, I did struggle to keep the front end weighted correctly. This could have been due to a number of factors which had me swapping between understeer and oversteer. Compared to the huge front center, chainstays are on the short side, in their presentation, Scott talked a lot about creating a good balance on this bike, like all brands. At the end of the day, there is no way to have a front center that differs over 10cm between sizes with one chainstay length, somebody is getting a short straw, most likely the smallest and tallest consumers.
The other factor could be the 51mm offsets fork combined with the slack head angle and short stem, something about this still feels strange to me, but it's difficult to put my finger on it. A longer offset should speed up the steering at slow speeds, but once you're rolling past jogging pace on a trail things start to get twitchy and more difficult to predict and counter steer.
I was also on the lower limit of the 150mm dropper post with my 33" inseam. Riders who plan to go up a frame size should check this at their dealer.
Overall, it appears that Scott have done a superb job on the new Genius. A trail bike that has modern numbers and should play well with most riders on a wide variety of terrain with active and capable suspension, and it's very lightweight (if that is your thing) with great attention to detail and integration. Let's just hope that the powerful Swiss Franc doesn't blow the pricing out of range when it is announced.
About the Reviewer Stats:
Age: 31 • Height: 6'1” • Ape Index: +4" • Weight: 75kg • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None • Instagram: astonatorPaul Aston is a racer and dirt-jumper at heart. Previously adding to the list of non-qualifiers at World Cup DH events, he attacked enduro before it was fashionable, then realized he was old and achy. From the UK, but often found residing in mainland Europe.