The Scott Contessa Genius claims to be a no compromise bike for the woman who wants to enjoy the climbs as well as the descents. We take a first look at the Contessa Genius 710 to see whether it can handle itself and how it stacks up on the trails.
After the release of the 2018 Scott Genius, an all mountain trail bike with aspirations to rule the climbs as well as the descents, we had the opportunity to check out the Contessa Genius, the women specific version. What makes the Contessa a women’s bike comes in the style, the touch points and the consideration of the genuine price points that women are buying at. With no difference in the geometry from the ‘unisex’ version of the same bike, Scott have decided that women don’t need steeper angles to make them more confident, they need the same stability and comfort as men, they just need a fine tune of the details and colour that says “I’m feminine” not “I’m a pretty girlie”.
Scott Contessa Genius Range 2018
We tested the top of the range € 5,199 Scott Contessa Genius 710 with FOX 34 Float Performance Elite Air forks and FOX Nude Evol Trunnion shock. Shimano XT brakes and SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain. The range also includes the Contessa Alloy framed Contessa Genius 720 and 730 (€ 3,999 and € 2,599 respectively). The more affordable alloy Scott Contessa Genius 720 features FOX 34 Float Performance Air, FOX Nude Evol trunnion, Shimano SLX brakes and SRAM GX Eagle Drivetrain. The cheapest bike in the range, the Scott Contessa Genius 730 features RockShox Recon RL Solo Air, X-Fusion Nude Trunnion, Shimano M396 Brakes and Shimano FC MT500 Drivetrain.
So what’s the deal with the 2018 Scott Contessa Genius range?
A review of the Contessa Genius is a review of the unisex Genius, but a Genius that has been refined to flatter the female rider. Normal adaptations apply – narrower handlebars (740 mm), Narrower grips (but not absurdly so), shorter cranks (170 mm on the small and medium sizes), shorter stem on the smaller models (40 mm vs. 50 mm), a women’s saddle a 30T chainring and a lighter tune on the shock. Changes that mean the bike is tuned to the rider without patronising. The design highlights of the Contessa are shared with the unisex model and although not for every rider the benefits it boasts will be a goody bag of delights for others.
The Contessa Genius comes as standard with 27.5″ Syncros TR 2.0 CL wheels but, when big mountains beckon or this weeks trend in wheel size changes, the Contessa allows for the easy insertion of 29″ wheels. Nothing new I hear you say, the ability to change wheel size isn’t a shocker these days but the Contessa allows for the simple change without increasing the height of the bottom bracket height. Switch a flip-chip by the shock and swap in your wheels. Fork and rear triangle have the clearance built in ready to rock and roll. With the ability to adapt within minutes from a 29er to a 27.5″ tyre the Contessa Genius can rightfully boast versatility in its quiver of attributes. Scott have ditched the ‘plus’ from their model names, the Contessa Genius can take 27.5” tyres in 2.5, 2.6 and 2.8” or 29” tyres in 2.4-2.6” widths. The Contessa Genius 710 model comes equipped with 2.8” Maxxis Rekon tyres.
Scott’s TwinLoc suspension system
The trump card of the Contessa is the suspension system. Scott have had a TwinLoc remote on the cockpit to allow for suspension lockout for a while now but, this year’s models raise the game significantly. Fans of minimal adjustment may scorn the three position lever as a gimmick and ‘something else to go wrong’ but those who feel they need a different bike for the climbs than they do for the descents may find it the answer.
The TwinLoc lever changes the fork and rear shock simultaneously, allowing for three stages. 1/. Open, allowing the full 150 mm of travel, 2/. Traction, 110 mm of travel and 3/. Lock out. Scott-sports patented TwinLoc system also means that the very geometry of the bike alters through the suspension stages. In ‘Traction’ mode, the bike sits higher and a steep seat angle is maintained making the bike more agile. The FOX Nude Evol Shock becomes firmer and has dynamically less travel affecting the dynamic sag and the spring curve of the bike. No longer just a lock-out switch.
How does the Scott Contessa Genius 710 ride?
Scott Sports have worked hard with their team to decide what they believe women want and to deliver that. As we said, not every bike is for everybody but the Scott Contessa Genius gives a pretty good go at being a lot of things to a lot of people. On our test ride, we punished the Contessa over rocks and alpine descents, through bike park and up technical climbs and it stayed true and never lacking throughout. Changing suspension settings is operated with minimal thought, with no need to compress in order to change position. Almost too easy at times, as if the lever is placed on the same side of the bars as the dropper post lever it can be activated accidentally. Remembering that you have the option of such functionality may take a little time but once it’s become practised we expect you’ll miss it when it’s gone.
The Scott Contessa Genius 710 takes a lot in its stride due, in no small part, to the long reach and slack (65.6°) head angle, the progressive geometry of the Scott Genius hasn’t been watered down for female consumption. When compared with similar bikes in its class the Contessa Genius is at the forefront of what is considered standard for reach resulting in an aggressive and confidence inspiring ride. With room to move within the bike and the long wheelbase keeping the front wheel weighted, the Contessa Genius inspires with its confidence. The back end stays planted throughout and the 150 mm FOX 34 float performance elites offer the support you would expect. Traction remained high over multiple terrain supplying reassuring stability with both 27.5” and 29” options.
The Contessa range has no direct componentry comparison to the standard Genius range, the high end 710 model fitting in below the top unisex model, but the componentry offering of the Contessa Genius is aimed to be right for what most women want. Only the 710 model comes in carbon, the 720 and 730 models in custom butted alloy. No XL model is available in the Contessa Genius and time will tell if the componentry choices fit with the target audience.
Let’s not pretend that colour isn’t important – for men just as much as women. The Scott Sports designers have gone distinctive but not overly female, not discounting the possibility of smaller men buying into the Contessa range.
Capable, confidence inspiring, lightweight and versatile, the Scott Sports Contessa 710 provides everything that women want and everything that men have always expected from a bike. Riders seeking an all-mountain bike that’ll adapt to their needs will love the wheel and suspension changes while others who feel they’ve been getting on just fine without it may find it unnecessary and a potential mechanical quagmire.
Words: Catherine Smith Photos: Gaudenz Danuser