Come on, we’ve all been there… lusting after just one single bike that could tick every box, whether it’s fun trail riding with your friends, a gruelling mountain epic, or a day on flow trails. SCOTT, to their credit, claim to have created exactly this, lauding the SCOTT Contessa Spark Plus as able to excel at pedalling efficiency as well as sublime descending.
So, what do I really want from my bike? Where am I actually going to use it most? These are the thoughts whizzing round anyone’s head when thinking about their next bike. For female riders committed to long days in the saddle, but hankering after speed and agility from their prospective trail bike, SCOTT hold up their Contessa Spark Plus as a contender.
It’s built around the same race-tuned cross-country design that was ridden to gold medals at the Rio Olympics by Jenny Rissveds and Nino Schurter, but comes with plus-size tires as well as tweaks to the geometry and the travel in order to make a super-versatile, lightweight trail riding endeavor.
SCOTT Contessa Spark 710 Plus in detail
The Contessa features a carbon frame with an aluminium rear, combining 120 mm rear travel with a FOX 34 fork with 130 mm. The rear shock has been optimised for female riders (who generally tend to be lighter), and it can be locked out from the bar-mounted lever in three steps with SCOTT’s familiar TwinLoc technology. So while it’s a unisex frame, certain tweaks – like the grips, narrower bar, and the saddle choice – have been deployed for women. Clearly these three elements are the most personal, so they won’t please every rider, regardless of gender. The 740 mm bar is a bit on the narrow side, and a wider handlebar would likely result in more confidence – plus, you can always shorten it yourself. The Contessa Spark brakes with a Shimano XT setup, which unfortunately aggrieved us with its vague bite point.
Fork FOX 34 Float Performance Elite 130 mm
Rear shock FOX Nude Trunnion 120 mm
Brakes Shimano XT
Drivetrain Shimano XT 2×11
Seatpost FOX Transfer
Stem Syncros FL1.5
Handlebar Syncros FL1.5 Mini Riser 740 mm
Tires MAXXIS Rekon+
Wheels Syncros TR2.0/XR2.0
Geometry of the SCOTT Contessa Spark 710 Plus
|Seat tube||410 mm||440 mm||490 mm||540 mm|
|Top tube||577 mm||607 mm||637 mm||657 mm|
|Head tube||95 mm||95 mm||105 mm||115 mm|
|Chainstay||438 mm||438 mm||438 mm||438 mm|
|BB Height||329 mm||329 mm||329 mm||329 mm|
|Wheelbase||1128 mm||1158 mm||1189 mm||1210 mm|
|Reach||396 mm||426 mm||453 mm||470 mm|
|Stack||598 mm||598 mm||607 mm||616 mm|
Plus-size tires are all about the rolling
While pedalling hard the Contessa Spark Plus can’t hide its race-bred XC roots; despite its not-so-stealthy weight of 12.9 kg and seemingly burly tires, the bike rolls really well, churning up hills with a good-natured smile. In fact, while the tires are every bit as chunky as the word “plus” hints at, their rolling resistance is no more noticeable than their narrower counterparts. The stock Shimano XT drivetrain has a double chainring up front that you might be thankful for on some climbs, and it’s able to click through the gears reliability (but not mind-blowingly). Adjusting the suspension with the remote lever on the bars elevates the Contessa’s efficiency – but don’t worry, you won’t automatically pin on any race numbers, as the fairly upright riding position is primed for comfort despite its competitive genes.
But there’s more: Race + Trail
Being a great bike doesn’t necessarily mean that a bike needs to be a kick-ass, downhill-optimised rig. Don’t be disheartened, as the SCOTT Contessa Spark Plus rides exactly as you’d expect: it’s levelheaded, reliable, and stable. This bike’s forte is knowing how to be at the trail party and be involved in the action. It doesn’t have the most suspension, but those plus-size tires give a different meaning to comfort. With the MAXXIS Rekon+ tires, you get great grip on hard-packed terrain and a lot of control. (However, it’d be worth mounting a more aggressive front tire to boost grip on the descents.) Cornering is a highlight on the Contessa, and there’s a real sense of agility as you thread through tight trails and over roots. The FOX suspension works effectively, defusing hits within its capabilities, but it’s pretty undeniable that your travel is somewhat limited. Nothing stops you sending it over small jumps, and the Contessa can cut a fine figure in the air. However, you will have to get used to the rattle of the 2x drivetrain and the crowdedness of the bars.
The SCOTT Contessa Spark 710 Plus will find a warm place in the hearts of riders looking for some serious stoke on all-day rides with great stability and a hall pass to ride virtually anywhere. This is for you if you’re putty in the hands of an agile handler and like to pick up the pace. We’d suggest getting a 1x drivetrain and seeking a more potent spec if you like to hunt out drops and jumps.
– Super-efficient on the climbs
– Stable, predictable handling
– Versatile, do-it-all bike
– Crowded bars
– Front tire limits your descending
For more information head to scott-sports.com!
Words: Antonia Buckenlei Photos: Christoph Bayer Translation: Emmie Collinge