What’s the difference between a trail/enduro bike and a XC racing machine? We took a closer look at Nino Schurter’s current race bike, the SCOTT Spark RC 900 World Cup. And while we were there, we had a chat with his trusted team mechanic Yanick Gyger, who filled us in on the details.

Nino’s new wheels are a true eye-catcher. With the rim, hub-shell and spokes all moulded into one piece, the Syncros Silverton SL wheelset was designed to be extremely stiff and combine top trail performance with the lightest weight possible.

Looking beyond our own horizons is always a good idea. While testing bikes for our latest group test on the hills around Massa Marittima, we stumbled across the SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing team, which happened to be training on the same trails. Due to the travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team was forced to move their training camp from South Africa to the Tuscan hills. For us, this was the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at Nino’s current race bike, the SCOTT Spark RC 900 World Cup in the “European Champion” finish.

When it comes to XC bikes, weight plays a crucial role – on the race track, every gram counts! We talked to Yanick Gyger, chief mechanic of the SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing Team, who told us everything about Nino’s bike and shared a few interesting details with us. Most EWS riders run tire inserts to prevent punctures and protect their rims from impacts. However, tire inserts are relatively heavy and thus not ideal for XC bikes, which are all about low weight and climbing efficiency. A light wheelset with a super-light tire accelerates more eagerly but is also more prone to punctures compared to a more robust tire with thicker sidewalls.

The tires are the Achilles heel of a bike and a pinch flat can quickly shatter your dreams.– Yanick

The stiff carbon cockpit was developed by Ruben Torenbeek, who has since founded his own bike brand – RAAW, anyone? The Nino edition has an extreme -30° negative rise, which ensures good aerodynamics and very compact riding position. The virtual stem length is 95 mm.
The handlebars are 680 mm wide and the stem has a massive -30° (negative) rise. Comparatively, EWS pro rider Sam Hill runs 750 mm wide bars with 20 mm rise on his race bike.
The “Nino Schurter” lettering and Euro flag motiv on the top tube of the ‘European Champion’ edition remind Nino of his latest achievement. His bike computer is a Garmin Edge 130.
No dropper post! Yannik explains: Nino is one of the best riders in the world. His impeccable riding technique allows him to race without a dropper post and thus save extra weight. He only uses a dropper in muddy conditions and on his training bike.
In typical SCOTT fashion, Nino’s bike features a TwinLoc system, which allows him to adjust the suspension travel (both on the fork and shock) and activate the climb switch on technical sections. At about 40 g for the pair, Syncros’ foam grips are extremely light.
Of course, team sponsor SRAM supplies the wireless AXS drivetrain. Nino runs 175 mm cranks…
… which he combines with a 38 chainring in almost every race, except for short track races, where he uses a special 40-t chainring.
Like with most SCOTT bikes, the shock of the Spark is upside down. The Rockshocx Deluxe Nude RLC 3 shock was developed by the American suspension giant in collaboration with SCOTT and offers 120 mm of travel. While Nino usually runs a pressure of 142 psi (9.8 bar) in his shock, this varies by +/- 4 psi depending on the conditions. Nino weighs 67 kg and is 173 cm tall.

120 mm rear travel combined with 110 mm upfront is an unusual setup. Yanick explained the choice as follows:

“The Spark RC was originally developed to offer 100 mm of rear travel (40 mm stroke), which is what you still get with the current production bike. Since XC World Cup courses have become more challenging over the years, we had to increase the travel. However, we didn’t want to change the bottom bracket or head angle too much. After running several configurations with different rocker links, we managed to find the ideal riding position and achieve 120 mm of travel (45 mm stroke) without affecting the original pedalling position.

Yanick continues: Although SRAM also offer a 10-52 cassette with a massive 520% gear range, the 10-50 Eagle X01 cassette is more than enough for Nino and the gear jumps of the 52 cassette are too big for his explosive power.
The Syncros Silverton SL wheelset looks incredibly elegant. Nino relies on a tubeless setup but doesn’t use tire inserts, mainly for weight reasons.
Nino sets up his 110 mm RockShox SID Ultimate RD3 fork with 78 psi (5.4 bar) and one token.
The rear 160 mm brake rotor looks tiny next to the 50 t SRAM Eagle cassette.
Pretty wide for a XC guy! According to Yannick, Nino runs 2.4” MAXXIS Aspen tires in 90% of all races. The tire was developed by Nino himself in collaboration with the American tire manufacturer. The rims have an inner width of 30 mm. For mud battles, the Swiss rocket prefers narrow 26 mm rims paired with either 2.2 ” or 2.25″ tires. His racing tires have 170 TPI (threads per inch) and are still a prototype. For training rides, he uses a more robust and heavier version with 120 TPI. When it comes to TPI (number of nylon threads contained in one inch of the tire casing) the rule of thumb is: low numbers stand for a robust and heavy casing. The higher the TPI number, the better the tire adapts to the surface of the trail – and the lower the weight. Nino inflates his tires to 1.2 bar at the front and 1.25 bar at the rear.
Ninos rocks his HT M1 pedals with fancy oil slick finish.
This picture lies! Taking off the half-full water bottle and the Garmin, Nino’s bike actually weighs 10.14 kg with pedals. As far as the production bike goes, SCOTT declare a weight of approx. 10.6 kg.
Yanick Gyger is the chief mechanic of the SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing Team and as such responsible for Nino Schurter’s work horse. In case you’re wondering what the vines in the background are all about and how they relate to mountain biking, they belong to Thomas Frischknecht, current manager of the SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing Team.
In this vineyard in Massa Vecchia, Thomas names 18 rows of vines after his 18 World Cup victories. Thomas is the team manager of the SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing team and calls Massa Vecchia his second home.

We wish Nino a good 2021 season and perhaps he can soon replace his European champion paintwork with an Olympic-gold finish!

For more information on the SCOTT Spark head to scott-sports.com

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Words & Photos: Manne Schmitt

About the author

Manne Schmitt

As the proud father of Robin and Max-Philip, Manne has been there from the start and is the wise elder of the editorial team. He won his first cycling race in elementary school at a school sports day. After less successful attempts at football, he found his passion for cycling via endurance racing in 1989! The world of racing still consumes him and no one in the team knows the EWS pros better than Manne. As a former head analyst of a state agency, he knows how to do proper research and finds exclusive news that no one else has. He supports his sons in day-to-day business dealings as the authorised signatory for 41 Publishing – viva la familia!