Scott Scale 899/949 review
Posted by: Shannon Boffeli
|September 27, 2010 8:26 PM
By Evan Plews
Scott Scale 899/949--when less is more!
After XC Nationals, I made a trip to Sun Valley to visit my pals at Scott USA. Our objective was to snap some photos and get some ride time on their new 29" bike the Scale 949. While the bike will ultimately be called Scale 29 Scott's marketing gurus aptly re-named both bikes after their MAXIMUM frame weight (in grams) for the new product roll-out! I have a history with the Scale model group, first racing on them in 2006. Later, I upgraded to the HMX fiber version of the Scale 10 in 2008. While I won and made podium in numerous events riding the old Scale, it wasn't without some minor complaints. The ride was super-light, comfortable and fast, but the geometry was always a little compromised.
Scott addressed this and even added some new improvments to these latest incarnations. First the bikes used to be "between" 80mm and 100mm suspension optimized. With an 80mm fork the top tube and BB height were the correct dimensions, but the head and seat tube angles were too steep. Put on a 100mm fork and the cockpit became to cramped and the bike felt too tall. For 2011, Scott lengthened the top tube and optimized the BB height for 100mm of front suspension making both bikes handle correctly. While there are minor differences in angles and chainstay specs to accomodate the different wheel sizes, the bikes handle quite similarly.
Both Scales now have integrated post brake mounts on the chainstay and CR1 inspired SDS seatstays. SDS is a system of engineered compliance which is said to offer about 5mm of vertical flex in the rear triangle for improved comfort and traction. Tapered headtubes adorn both frames as part of the upgrade to IMP manufacturing handed down from the Addict and Spark. They also have integrated press-fit BB cups although the 949 gets the BB92 standard while the 899 has adopted the BB30 design. Last but not least, the 899 has an all new integrated carbon seatpost clamp to shave even more weight.
I put in a few hours on the beautiful Sun Valley trails with the 949 before racing the Galena Grinder Marathon just up the road. This is an old-school course with miles if rough steepness both up and down. While I wasn't on my best day at the race, and I didn't have the bike totally dialed, second place was on the table until I missed a turn! The bike was awesome and between the big 29" wheels and SDS it is the smoothest riding hardtail I've ever been on. The geometry is also the best combo of any 29" bike I've ridden to date and the IMP front triangle, tapered headtube and integrated BB made it ridiculously reponsive while on the gas!
A couple weeks later, I got my first chance to race the 899 at the Park City Point 2 Point 78-mile enduro. Disaster struck again when I was locked out of my room and missed the start, but the 899 put in an amazing performance none the less. The handling was totally dialed in comparison to the old Scales and the bike rode like it was on rails through the seemingly endless miles of singletrack. I passed over 300 riders on my way to 7th place and don't remember passing very many other 26" hardtails. Probably for good reason since the P2P was one of the most punishing races I have done. Long, high, and rough. However, the 899 chewed up the relentless climbs and smoothed out the rocky, chattering descents. The integrated seatpost clamp never slipped and the bike was quiet and stealthy with its nude black carbon finish and 18lb weight.
After all these serious miles on Scott's new hardtail offerings, I am convinced more than ever of two things: the hardtail is NOT dead and neither are 26" wheels! While both courses really demanded suspension, both of these bikes are capable of keeping close on the descents and blowing the squishers away on the climbs. The 29" Scale is better at smoothing out the rough stuff while the 26" Scale excels on tight twisties and punchy accelerations. The best part is that Scott has created two distinctly different bikes the work so well that neither is a regrettable choice!