Good things come to those who wait. Scott Spark RC 900 WC first ride

Scott Spark RC 900 WCIn this world of instant gratification and next day delivery I appear to be out of sync. The supply of and preparation of my new bike has been protracted to say the least. In July I tried the bike that I thought would be my answer to some more speed on the South Downs Way. In fact I tested it on the Lenzerheide World Cup cross country circuit. I ordered it in August and then began the long wait. Scott, to their credit never rush a new arrival. They want it perfect and disregard the pressure to ship early. This happens with every one of their new models but the benefit is virtually no warranty problems on any frame particularly the carbon ones. When you have the reputation that Scott has for producing the lightest frames on the market, that caution and attention to detail is understandable.

My bike is the Scott Spark RC (Racing Concept) 900 World Cup. It is a replica of the 29er used to win the Olympic Gold medal. It has 100mm travel where as the other Scott Sparks (not RC) are more trail oriented and have 120mm travel and, at 67°, a degree and a half slacker, head angle. It finally arrived a couple of weeks ago. Despite my efforts to remain calm and cool I ended up building it on the day. I should have said started to build as the cheapest part of the frame, the cable cover for the internal cable/hose routing was missing. I had to wait a week for this to arrive before I could finish it off. Cables cut down, brake hoses re-routed, sag set, wheels tubeless, levers and shifter positioned and every bolt torqued to the correct setting it was ready for action. The weather forecast looked poor and the trails would be wet but I could not wait anymore. Sunday would be the day.

Unfortunately we had three hours of rain during the night so the trails were worse than anticipated. Local knowledge helps so I opted to ride the Southern Rough Ride route which the masses will be riding next weekend. There would be little or no soft mud. It could be dismissed as boring but, having ridden it four times now and it is a good training ride. Single track, like deep snow is awesome but a ride like this can still be as much fun as carving a groomed piste. The South Downs are a nice place to ride.

The weather had let me down as did my legs. I started too fast in my enthusiasm but soon opted to keep to the numbers and not go too hard. The problem then was that I felt week and tired and so the ride felt slow. Not the best way to assess a new bike bought to make me faster.

Scott new suspension designScott Spark RC 900 WC review

Despite my poor performance I can give you an appraisal of the bike.

First off it is light. It weighed in at exactly 10.2kgs as detailed in Scott’s own information. I know that that is not super light but it is the same weight as my old race ready Scott Scale but the Spark is full suspension and sporting some chunky 2.25” tyres. It will get lighter.

The fit is the same as the old hard tail but the ride is noticeably smoother on the flat fast sections of the Downs. The head angle is 68.5°, one degree slacker than the Scale so whenever it got slippery I felt secure. To be fair I didn’t take it anywhere sketchy and I wasn’t pushing it to the limit through corners but I will be doing both soon. I never touched the Traction Control lever that controls the travel/compression of both the fork and the shock which tells me two things, one - on such a hilly ride the suspension design obviously works, and two - I would probably benefit from more than the 22.5% sag that I so carefully set. The bike was designed for Nino Schurter to win the Rio Olympic Gold and he likes the first part of the travel to be soft and active. So, if I can’t be as strong as him, at least I can get as comfortable.

The aluminium rims felt at least as light as my old carbon hoops. I will report on stiffness when I do some hard cornering. The brakes are Shimano XTR, the same as the last bike and these have more one finger power than I’ll ever need. Seat post, stem and handle bar are Ritchey WCS and the carbon bar is a sensible 720mm. Finally, the transmission is perfect. I can’t see how it can be improved. Sram have moved the goal posts so far now that, for top end bikes, I struggle to see how the Japanese giant can ever get back to number one spot. The Spark has Sram X0 Eagle 1 x 12. The only change that I made was to swap the 32 chain ring for a 34. That gives me the same range as my previous 2 x 10 (38/25 and 11/36).

Well, it was muddy!What changes will I make?

The saddle will have to go, it is really too hard and I can usually cope with anything. A Prologo Nago X10 Nack (carbon) will be on it next ride. The tyres, Scwalbe Rocket Ron 2.25 will stay for now but will be swapped for Racing Ralph 2.10” just as soon as the trails dry. I will fit some ESI Racers Edge silicon grips although the Syncros grips are really nice. The problem is that the Traction Control lever is a part of the lock on grip and I want to move the lever further away from my thumb knuckle.

I just need to ride it again, and again and again....

Here's the ride. I gave up on the Windlesham School rooty track and the 2017 version adds a couple of miles heading back to Warningcamp.