Honest First Thoughts on the Spark 900 SL



If you didn’t already know, I want to disclose that I am sponsored by Scott Bicycles. And there is good reason for that. They make great bikes. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t want to be sponsored by them. But because I truly believe in their stuff, the brand, and what we at The Adrenalin Project are trying to do in conjunction with Scott, I’m giving you my honest two cents.

Scott Spark 900 SL

I took my Scott Spark 900 SL out for it’s first spin this past weekend at White Ranch in Golden, CO. Right away I noticed several things about this bike.

  • Wow this thing is light! Scott’s website specs the bike at 21.34 lbs and they weren’t kidding. The Specialized I rode all last year was a bit over 27 lbs, and trust me, that 6 lbs makes a BIG difference.
  • The saddle on this thing is about as comfortable as a cinder block. Ouch! It’s light weight, but at the cost of comfort.
  • The Twin Loc system is smooth at butter and quite natural to use.
  • The 1×11 set up should be on every bike.
  • Even using the “low” setting for the geometry/BB height, the bottom bracket still had plenty of clearance.
  • Foam grips, though lightweight, left my hands pretty sore when I was descending for more that a few minutes.
  • XTR brakes are wicked pissa.

 

This bike has the best of the best when it comes to components and it truly does make a difference. If I had to pick just one of those as my recommended upgrade for all the riders out there, it would actually be a tie between the 1×11 and the Twin Loc system.

SRAM_XX1

Using the 1×11 drivetrain took a little getting used to. I reached for the front shifter a few times and just ended up playing with the lockout settings on the shocks instead. But once I got used to it, I felt like I always had the right gear. You don’t have to shift front and rear to find the sweet spot. Just one or two shifts with your right thumb and you had exactly what you wanted.

This kinda reminds me of cleaning out your closet. At first it’s hard to get rid of things. You don’t want to throw them out because you’re used to having them there. You don’t use them, but you have a hard time letting go. But once you do, all of a sudden a weight is lifted from your shoulders and you feel refreshed. Lighter. Less cluttered. Same thing goes for those 2 rings up front. Get rid of one and all of a sudden, the brainpower that was used to think about which ring to be in (yes I realize it’s not much), is now free to focus on other things. I went from taking “some effort” to find the right gear, to taking “almost no effort whatsoever.” And when you add up the hundreds and hundreds of shifts over the course of a ride, it really does make a difference.

 

Twin LocIf taking away the 2nd ring and shifter up front makes things simpler and less mentally taxing, then does putting on a dual locking system just add that clutter back? If you had asked me before the right I might have said yes. After about an hour of riding… no, nope, and triple nada. I have been riding Specialized Brain technology for the last 3 years (smart lockout technology) and I initally thought this might be a step backwards, but boy o boy was I wrong! The system has 3 settings. Climb, Trail, Descend (CTD). Climb mode fully locks out the front and rear (felt like I was on a fully rigid bike). Trail mode gives your some travel, but doesn’t leave you bobbing up and down when you sit and peddle. Descend mode opens it all up and lets you go brrrraaaaappppp! It really was completely natural to use, incredibly ergonomic, and perfectly built mechanically speaking. I felt like I could always have the exact amount of suspension that I wanted for that specific section of trail.

 

You push the upper lever once to move to Trail mode. Push it again to go to Climb mode. I’m still not quite sure how or why, but without even thinking about it, my brain knew that that is how the lever should work. Scott must have hired a psychologist or something. How did they know my brain knew even when I didn’t know that I knew… you know? To switch from Climb to Trail to Descend, you just touch the lower lever with your thumb. Again, I didn’t even really have to think about it. Somehow my brain already knew this.

Twin Loc 2nd View

I’ve used remote lockouts before, but with all the levers there, it’s hard to get it in the right spot. Well Scott figured it out with this one because it’s spot on. No moving your thumb above and below the bar trying to hit it. It’s in the perfect spot (even if there had been a front shifter there).

The amount of effort it took to activate each of the levers and move back and forth between modes was nearly non-existent.   Because they nailed the spring strengths and lever lengths, it was more like hitting a button on a video game controller than switching shock positions. Since these actuations aren’t part of the drive train, you can shift between settings all you want without peddling (funny how the “shifting” action became synonymous with peddling in my brain). If you come up to a little rise and have to stand, just pop the top lever and you’re transferring all your power straight to the ground. No wasted energy needlessly bobbing the suspension up and down.

 

Adjustable BB/GeometryAnother cool feature of note on this bike, that only Scott bikes have, is an adjustable BB/geometry setting. In the Low position, your bottom bracket is 7mm lower and head tube angle relaxes back half a degree. That gives a more “relaxed” ride. I was pleasantly surprised several times throughout my ride in the Low position that the BB was still plenty high to clear those surprise rock outcroppings around a blind turn. The bike still handled sharply in this “laid back” position. With a T-25 torque you can swap the position to High (took me about 3 minutes on the trail) and the BB comes up and the fork gets a sharper angle. It really went into “race mode” when I did this. Felt really fast and snappy but not quite as stable on the steep descents and super rocky stuff. I’ll definitely keep it in Low while out having fun on the technical trails, and save High for racing.

 

The next big step to make sure I’m getting the most out of this bike is the fit I have schedule at Retul. After getting that done and logging several more rides, I’m sure I’ll be able to share with you more goods and bads about this bike.

 

 


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One response to “Honest First Thoughts on the Spark 900 SL”

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