No other rider has been so achingly dominant across the World Cup XC scene as Switzerland’s Nino Schurter on board his SCOTT Spark RC. However, as it’s no secret that such a thoroughbred race bike isn’t really primed for being thrown around your home trails for a bit of fun, SCOTT duly launched the Spark Plus, a much more trail-orientated bike with more travel, plus-size tires, and ultimately the potential for more grins. It all sounds pretty good, right?

SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned | € 7,599 | 11.71 kg

What do all SCOTT bikes have in common? First off, they’re super-lightweight. The new Spark Plus certainly meets this criterion, seeing the bike’s developers invest a ton of energy into keeping it nimble on its toes. The Spark Plus 700 Tuned tips the scales at 11.90 kg, which earns it the title of lightest bike on test. Built around a high-quality frame, the spec is also trimmed in the pursuit of performance gains, with a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain and the lightweight Level Ultimate brakes. The FOX Factory suspension consists of 130 mm at the front in the Open mode and 120 mm at the rear, both benefiting from the TwinLoc technology for lockout when necessary.

Once the wheels are spinning, the Spark Plus leaps into action, leaving just a plume of dust in its wake. Its cross-country genes lend it serious speed and quick-footedness, even with 2.8″ MAXXIS Rekon tires. Despite just 120 mm of travel, the rear is superbly active and allows for a really progressive suspension setup. On technical climbs this translates into masses of traction, plus feedback and pop on the downs. The Spark Plus has some serious clout, egging you on to drift every corner and power out. Incredibly responsive, the bike is attentive to every input from the rider – providing you’ve got the right tire pressure. The Spark Plus is a real weapon on flow trails, but keeps its cool on burly sections thanks to the grippy tires. At high speeds it’s hard not to be hindered by its short travel, which ultimately sees it overshadowed by the longer-travel competition. The SRAM Level brakes also lack a consistent punch on long, hard downhills.

Helmet Specialized Ambush | Glasses 100% Speedcraft | Jersey Race Face Podium | Shorts 100% Celium | Backpack USWE AIRBORNE 15 Carbon

SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned in Detail

Fork: FOX 34 Float Factory
Shock: FOX Nude Trunnion
Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle
Seatpost: FOX Transfer
Stem: Syncros FL 1.5
Handlebar: Syncros FL 1.0 Carbon Mini Riser
Tires: MAXXIS Rekon+ 2,8″
Wheels: Syncros TR1.5 Plus 27.5+

Turned on its head
To keep the bike’s centre of gravity as low as possible, SCOTT also decided to flip the trunnion-mount FOX rear shock on its head.
Griptastic
The wide 2.8″ MAXXIS Rekon tires won us over with a ton of grip and super-defined handling for their plus-size nature.
Hey, good lookin’!
Bringing way more than just a stylish colourway to the trails, the SCOTT Spark Plus also has some sick-looking spacers. Should you ever need a replacement, however, then you’ll have to hunt down a special part.
Detached
SCOTT decided against an additional bearing at the rear and went for seat stays with flex instead.

Conclusion

With a genetic heritage like this one, the SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned channels that same Olympic-standard speed and precise handling package. If you’re looking for an efficient do-it-all bike to crush some dreams on the trails, then this is worth a pop. It gets a little perturbed at high speeds and on real gnar, but it can fortunately rely on a decent amount of grip from those well-chosen plus-size tires.

Strenghts

  • Serious speed demon
  • Brilliant handling
  • Top spec

Weaknesses

  • Brake fade
  • Twitchy at high speeds

For more information head to scott-sports.com!

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: A Bike for All Situations – 9 of the most exciting trail bikes of 2017

All bikes in test: FOCUS JAM C Factory | Giant Trance Advanced 0 | Lapierre Zesty AM 927 Ultimate | ROSE ROOT MILLER 3 | Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 | Trek Fuel EX 9.9 29 | Yeti SB5 TURQ X01 Eagle | YT JEFFSY 29 CF Pro

PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away an exclusive Trek Slash 2018 in top spec! Click here to take part now!

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer

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