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.

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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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2013 Check List



 

I got all the items on my 2013 checklist marked off. Did you?

 

 

 

 

Go for some amazing mountain trail runs in the Colorado Rockies…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accept the fact that I have enormous hands…check.

 

 

 

 

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Get support from a company that I love and truly believe in…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complete my collection of Ouachita Challenge wrist bands…check

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completely fill the freezer at home with all the fish from our family fishing trips…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race with lucky #13 and get my ass handed to me…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get mistaken for a fat cross dressing clown…on multiple occasions…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do free remodeling for fellow Boulderites after the 500 year flood caused feces to spray out of their toilet like a fountain…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put on a kids triathlon clinic with Boulder Tri Club and spend just as much time laughing as mentoring…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crash so hard, I get the wind knocked out of me and even the Caveman goes “Damn!”…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be a goofball as often as possible…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finish on the podium again at my favorite XTERRA in the USA (Richmond, VA)…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go for an 8 hour float trip in Montana and repeatedly tell the story about the big one that got away…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get artsy with an iPhone…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train with the best…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be an Arkansas Princess…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate my birthday in Mexico for the 3rd year in a row…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run, run, run in some amazing shoes…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do a Lemond style start to my first 12 hour mountain bike race…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laugh at all the hilarious ways that Macey can sleep…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drive through FEET of flood water in a 500 year flood…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do an off-road super sprint triathlon and be right in the mix of it…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train with more of the best…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn my lesson about proper recovery by riding 60 miles on Saturday on the mtb and then racing the same 60 miles on mtb the next day, only to build up a 4 minute lead and then lose it all during Sunday’s race…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy fresh made milk shakes at a small town diner after a solid day of training in Montana…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make some $$$$ at a race…check!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throw down on my favorite XTERRA course in the USA (in Richmond, VA)…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat an entire 3-layer red velvet birthday cake…by myself…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go on a hut trip with the fam…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally have a good race at XTERRA Indian Peaks (2nd place overall)…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See my favorite artist for the 3rd time live in concert…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit some new places that you didn’t even know about before the trip…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smile and have as much fun as possible while suffering like a dog…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go fishing with my dad and Lil and not tip over in the canoe because Lil won’t hold still…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run the Dirty 30 with my amazing girlfriend Jennifer…check.

 

 

 

 

 

Race a trithlon-switched-to-duathlon-because-of-flood-waters and be right in the front with the best…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a beer at a local dive bar and hope that we don’t get shot for being “city folk”…check.

 

 

 

 

 

Race so hard, I drool on myself while flying through Blood Rock and the other sweet trails in Birmingham, AL…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laugh at the hilarious names that they named the caves after going on a 3 hour caving adventure…check.

 

 

 

 

 

Be reminded of the brotherly love I share with my little bro Travis…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Play announcer at a race…check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End my race season early (but not my career), by getting hit by a truck while riding my bike…check. (I would have rather not checked that one off the list).

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Early Ending to 2013 Season



I wanted to thank everyone for their support and kind words. Just in case you didn’t know, I was in a cycling accident involving a truck that has caused me to end my 2013 race season early. I am healing up and am very much looking forward to getting back to training and racing next year.


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Caving Adventure



One of the best parts about driving to races is that you can stop and see amazing sites along the way. The Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota is one of those stunning places that you often wonder “How have I not heard of this before?!?”. The cave has over 140 miles of discovered passageways and they estimate that that is only 5% of the total cave. Seriously only 5%! That means there are thousands upon thousand of miles of unexplored caverns down there!

Jennifer and I went on the Wild Caving tour on Monday. You actually get to go crawling around the cave, shimmy through small holes, climb up some sketchy slopes, and get nice and dirty. Unfortunately we couldn’t bring camera’s (it would have been destroyed if we had), but I found some pictures online to give you a feeling of the fun that we got to have underground the other day.

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Newest Sponsor



I’m incredibly excited to be representing and working with a new sponsor for 2013 – Inov-8. Their slogan of “Natural Running” is one of mine too, so it’s a perfect fit. With various weight, heel-to-toe drop, and tread options it’s so easy to find the right shoe for the right occasion. And their numbering and marking system make it easy to figure out what is what.

Here is the shoe that I’m currently doing most of my running in. It’s called the TrailRoc 245.

Inov-8 TrailRoc 245

To check out more of their footwear options CLICK HERE


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