Scott Spark 940 2017 review
We had a selection of new Scotts for demo and I wanted to test a new Scott Spark. I have ordered a Spark RC 900 World Cup which is due in January and had previously tried the Sparks in Lenzerhiede, Switzerland last July. That was a long time ago and the bikes that I rode all cost £8K plus. I had booked out the £6,799 Spark 700 Ultimate, whilst not the RC (XC racing version), nor a 900 (29er) it was the closest thing to what I am getting especially in the weight department. However, my ride didn’t start too well as it had been nicked by our mechanic! I ended up using the Spark 940 which is very much an all round trail bike, just what nearly every rider wants these days.
The consequence of this bike change was that I left conscious of the extra weight and my fears of ordering full suspension over a hard tail increased. So it was quite a shock when I headed off for a spin around town to find the bike so fast – a good omen for Sunday’s ride.
It was minus 5⁰C when we set out so the one certainty was that the ride would be awesome. Frozen rides are my favourite. What was not good was that my companion, my brother, as he was on the Scott Scale 910, he owns a Whyte 905 and so was excited to be riding a super light XC 29er race machine. With nearly 8 kilos between his bike and mine and my recent three weeks off the bike; I was struggling and chasing from the start. He, on the other hand relished the sprightly, nimble ride of his XC race machine.
I seemed to be going OK despite heavy legs but it was difficult to judge my performance against the over excited young sibling. I decided to head for a downhill to even up the score. Greyfriars might not be the longest downhill but it is the most exciting. Here’s a first! I remembered to set the suspension to soft and I even lowered the dropper post. The DH was fantastic albeit interrupted by a friendly chat with a dog walker. The Spark 940 made me feel safe and fast, however, the climb out was not what I either wanted or needed but the Spark’s gearing and grip allowed me to climb a slope that my mind said would be impossible. It goes up as well as down!
As the ride went on I started to get used to the suspension, please note that all through the autumn I have been riding all of our favourite mountain bike trails on a Whyte Gisburn (gravel/cross bike). Heart Attack felt a breeze and on the fire road climb up from the Pest House I did what I had done with a much older Spark many years ago. I flicked the Traction Control lever from soft to firm to lock and back again over and over again. Scott feature one thumb shifter to control both fork and shock together. Despite weary and aching legs I never noticed any difference in power or effort as I went through the three suspension modes. I was in the big ring so not twiddling an easy gear. My fears of a full suspension wrong decision had gone. The ultimate confirmation of full suspension choice came as we hit a flat and very bumpy path, the Spark was flying as the rough and frozen trail smashed Joe to bits as I cruised, full speed ahead. My choice was confirmed, I need full suspension as the energy saving and increase in speed on the flat parts of the South Downs Way would help me get a fast time next year. Finally, even on the sheep track I was only just behind. Come on legs, you’ve had your rest. Now is the time to warm up for the coming season!
Details of the bike
Historically, the Spark has been considered an XC race machine but as you may have seen in the last two Olympics cross country racing now involves rock gardens, big drops, jumps and super technical downhill sections. So the best cross country bikes such as the Scott Sparks are really just lightweight trail bikes. The standard Spark like the 940 is based on the Olympic winning cross country machine but with a 1.3⁰ slacker head angle (67.2⁰) and 120mm travel (20mm more).
Suspension comes from a FOX 34 Float Performance Air Grip 3 modes 15x110mm fork and FOX NUDE Trunnion rear shock with SCOTT custom travel, 3 modes: Lockout - Traction Control –Descend, Travel 120 – 85mm.
This is the 2x11 Shimano XT version with Boost hubs, 120mm travel and a 67.2⁰ head angle, add the combination of 29 inch wheels, grippy Maxxis Forekaster 2.35 tyres and a FOX Transfer 125 dropper seatpost and you feel that you can take on any descent. The 29 inch wheels make riding distances fast and easy, why not head over the Whiteways?
Shimano have done a great job on the new M800 XT SL shifters and now they work without feeling stiff and clunky. That is a big bonus over the last two years. The brakes are so good that that I assumed that they were XT too but checked afterwards and they are Shimano Deore M615. Congratulations to Scott for fitting top level Maxxis Forekaster 2 .35 / 120TPI Kevlar Bead TR Tubeless Ready / EXO / 3C tyres on tubeless ready 23mm Syncros rims.
In conclusion a fantastic South Downs trail muncher that will get you there fast and reward you with a smile when it gets steep and tricky. It’ll beg you for some trips to Wales where it can really show off. What would I change? Possibly the saddle and probably the grips, but I’d do that on any bike as I have to customise anything that I ride. It is a direct alternative to the new Whyte T-129..... I can feel a 29er trail face off coming on!
Price: £2,899. We have ordered the Scott Spark 730 as our demo and I am now sure that having a 27.5" as a demo is a mistake for this part of the world despite market trends. 29ers are coming back, mark my words! At least we have the Whyte T-129 demo if you yearn for speed.