With the brand-new SCOTT Spark 900 Tuned AXS, the Swiss brand presents its latest trail rocket, which was designed with weight optimization in mind. SCOTT’s beefed-up XC racer combines 130 mm travel at the front with 120 mm out back and features a fully integrated shock and super-clean look. But can it shred its way back down into the valley just as fast as it blasts up the hill?
After four years, SCOTT finally introduce the brand-new Spark 2022 Cross Country. The Swiss offer their new 29” bike in two versions, the RC and 900 – we tested the latter. While the RC version is aimed mainly at XC racers, the beefier 900 model is designed for trail riding. The two models differ in the amount of suspension travel, handlebar width/ rise, the number of brake pistons and size of rotors. The 900 model also features a more downhill-oriented cockpit, more powerful brakes and tires with a more aggressive tread pattern. With the latest iteration of the Spark, SCOTT integrated the shock into the frame which, together with the neat internal cable routing, ensures a very tidy look. To some of you, the hidden-shock design might look familiar – and here’s why. Fellow Swiss brand Bold Cycles, which was absorbed by SCOTT several years ago, have already released a number of bikes with a similar design. Taking advantage of the fusion with Bold, SCOTT borrowed some of the clever features, developed them further. and finally implemented them on thor own Spark range. Both versions of the new SCOTT Spark rely on a single pivot suspension system which, combined with flexible seat stay, generates 120 mm rear travel. The 900 trail version on the other hand, has 130 mm travel upfront, which is exactly 10 mm more than the RC XC racing model.
The new SCOTT Spark 2022 in detail
The new SCOTT Spark RC offers 120 mm travel front and rear and will be available with three different carbon frames which are built using different quality carbon fibers. The highest grade HMX SL carbon relies on T1000G fibres and a nanotube reinforced epoxy resin which require fewer layers to achieve the same stiffness of a corresponding HMF frame – and it’s the same difference between the HMX and HMF frames.
The Spark 900 is also available in five frame versions. Here you can choose between a HMX-SL, HMX, HMF frame, Hybrid (HMF frame with alloy swingarm) or full alloy frame. All frames feature a flex-pivot rear end. Across the new Spark range, the shock is integrated into the frame, where it’s protected from dust and dirt. Moreover, the low and central position allows for a lower center of gravity. According to SCOTT, the shock is still adequately ventilated and doesn’t overheat. The shock is accessible through a small opening in the down tube.
Controlling the integrated Nude shock via SCOTT’s TwinLoc system
The entire Spark range relies on a Nude shock developed specifically for the bike, which is supplied by FOX, RockShox or X-Fusion depending on the model. Regardless of the brand, all shocks were designed in such a way that they can only be accessed through the opening in the down tube. A SAG indicator on the frame and an additional peephole for the o-ring make setup easier. All Spark models rely on SCOTT’s proprietary Twinloc system, which controls the fork and shock simultaneously, regardless of the suspension brand. The system allows you to adjust the suspension in three stages directly from the handlebars, switching between the Lockout, Traction Control and Descend modes. In Lockout mode the suspension gets completely locked out, the ideal setting for climbs on tarmac and gravel paths. With the lever set to Traction Control, the fork compression becomes much stiffer and the shock so progressive that the rear suspension generates only 80 mm travel. This also changes the dynamic geometry of the Spark, which results in a higher bottom bracket and steeper seat and head angle. In Descend mode, the SCOTT Spark can exploit its full downhill potential. SCOTT also optimised the cockpit ergonomics, moving the dropper remote from the top to the bottom of the handlebars. However, the system still takes some getting used to on the trail.
The clean look of the new SCOTT Spark
Alongside the integrated shock, the Syncros cockpit ensures a super clean look. All cables are neatly routed under the handlebars and disappear into the frame through a special stem developed specifically for the Spark. There’s also a mounting point for accessories such as an on-board computer, light or a GoPro. If you’re not too keen on the one-piece stem, you can run a normal stem/handlebar combo using a conventional Acros headset, which is sold separately by SCOTT. If you decide to run a conventional cockpit, you’ll miss out on the elegant look and on top of that the exposed cable ports will feed dirt and water directly into the frame. All frame bearings feature an additional seal which protects them more effectively against the weather and thus ensures longer service life. The bearings can be tightened using the minitool integrated in the rear wheel thru-axle. The minitool includes a T25, T30 and a 6 mm Allen key, which is enough to carry out all common trailside repairs. If you regularly embark on long rides, the new Spark allows you to carry two water bottles in the front frame triangle (from size M upwards), while riders with a strong penchant for descents can run a wide rear tire up to 2.6 ”.
The geometry of the new SCOTT Spark 900 Tuned AXS 2022
The new Spark 2022 will be available in four frame sizes, S to XL. In addition, SCOTT will release several women-specific Contessa models. Our Spark 900 test bike in size XL with 130 mm front travel has 500 mm reach and 627 mm stack height, which makes for a rather low front and thus ensures a sporty pedalling position. Across all sizes, the extremely high seat tube restricts the freedom of movement, especially when assuming the attack position (540 mm for size XL, 490 mm for size L). SCOTT deliver the Spark with the slacker 65.8° head angle setting but this can be steepened up by 0.6 ° simply by turning the headset. We rode the bike in the slack setting, which is the one we recommend for trail riding.
The geometry of the SCOTT Spark 900 2022
Specs, prices and availability for the new SCOTT Spark 2022
Prices for the different spec variants range between € 2,399 for the Spark 970 with alloy frame and € 12,999 for the Spark RC SL EVO AXS flagship model. There’s also a frameset for € 4,999. All spec variants and the frameset should be available for testing at SCOTT dealerships from mid July and ready for delivery from October 2021.
The spec of our test bike: SCOTT Spark 900 Tuned AXS 2022
As the name suggests, our Spark 900 Tuned AXS test bike comes equipped with a wireless 12-speed SRAM X01 AXS drivetrain, which is controlled by a SRAM GX AXS rocker paddle. While this is slightly heavier than its X01 counterpart, it performs gear shifts just as smoothly. Unfortunately, the TwinLoc system doesn’t allow you to run an AXS dropper post. Our test bike comes with a FOX Transfer Factory dropper, which offers 150 mm travel in size XL. Thanks to the long seat tube, the seatpost can be fully inserted into the frame. On the bigger frame sizes L and XL, a dropper with more travel would offer more freedom of movement but then again, the long seat tube is an issue. Braking is taken care of by Shimano’s top-end four piston XTR stoppers paired with 180 mm IceTech rotors front and rear. If you want to go bigger, the FOX 34 fork allows for rotors up to 230 mm. Unfortunately, the stylish rear-end construction only allows for a 180 mm brake rotor.
On top of that, the standard 130 mm FOX 34 Factory fork has to make do with the more basic FIT4 damper, because the superior GRIP2 version isn’t compatible with the TwinLoc system – what a pity. The latter is also connected to the FOX Nude 5T Factory shock. SCOTT combine a light Syncros Silverton 1.0 carbon wheelset with SCHWALBE’s newly developed and lightweight 2.4” Wicked Will tires. With the top-spec Spark 900 Tuned AXS you’ll get an integrated SRAM TyreWiz pressure sensor as standard, which allows for quick and easy pressure readings. However, we recommend swapping the puncture-prone Super Race casing for a more robust tire with a more aggressive thread pattern, particularly if you’re an aggressive or heavy rider. According to SCOTT, the bike weighs in at a very reasonable 11.2 kg in size M.
SCOTT Spark 900 Tuned AXS 2022
Fork FOX 34 Float Factory FIT4 130 mm
Rear Shock FOX NUDE 5T Factory 120 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer 125–150 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 4-Piston 180/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle AXS 1x12
Handlebar Syncros Fraser iC SL DC Carbon 760 mm
Wheelset Syncros Silverton 1.0 29"
Tires Schwalbe Wicked Will SuperRace SpeedSoft/SpeedGrip 2,4/2,4"
Size S M L XL
Weight 11,2 kg (Size M)
The flagship Spark RC SL EVO AXS 2022 model
Fiery XC racers will be having a blast onboard the € 12,999 Spark RC SL EVO AXS. The RC model features a shorter 120 mm fork, narrower 740 mm carbon handlebars with lower rise and 2-piston XTR brakes paired with a small 160 mm rotor at the rear and 180 mm upfront. Weight weenies will fall in love with the super-light Syncros Silverton SL2 wheelset, where the rim, hub-shell and spokes are all moulded into one piece.
The SCOTT Spark on the trail – First riding impressions
We had the chance to test the new Spark 900 Tuned AXS at SCOTT’s official press camp. The test track in Leogang was made up of sections of the rather wet XC World and other local trails. As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, the elegant SCOTT Spark 900 Tuned AXS reveals its XC roots. Even the trail version exhibits a strong racing-DNA, which becomes particularly evident uphill. While on flat trails, the riding position puts a fair amount of pressure on the hands, as soon as you tackle a climb the Spark is incredibly comfortable and efficient, allowing you to blast up the mountain at full pelt – not least because of the low system weight. Even with TwinLoc in Descend mode, the suspension is very stable and generates only a gentle bob as you power up the hill. If you’re hunting for KOMs, the lockout is your best friend. When changing from a gravel path onto an uphill trail, the Traction Control mode provides enough traction over small obstacles and at the same time remains drive-neutral, thus allowing you to negotiate steep and technical climbs with ease. On very steep climbs, however, the front wheel tends to lift off the ground. The Traction Control mode changes the dynamic geometry of the Spark only to a limited extent which means that you still have to actively shift your weight forward to keep the front wheel tracking. If you do so, however, you’ll be able to negotiate narrow and steep switchbacks without any problems.
Downhill, the riding position is active and sporty, with the torso stretched relatively far over the handlebars. Once you get used to this position, the Spark shines with precise handling, even on steep descents. Unfortunately, the long seat tube restricts the freedom of movement and causes the saddle to get in your way, regardless of whether you’re riding in a straight line or carving through corners. Despite the longer fork, the suspension feels pleasantly balanced and filters impacts without bottoming out harshly. With its low system weight, direct suspension and long seat tube, the new Spark 900 Tuned AXS is more a beefed-up XC racer than it’s a short-travel trail rocket.
With its fully integrated shock and super clean look, the SCOTT Spark 900 Tuned AXS 2022 is a real eye-catcher and thanks to the TwinLoc system and super low system weight it flies up the hill like a bambi on speed. Downhill, the bike requires an active and sporty riding style but rewards your efforts with precise handling. Nevertheless, if you’re after uncompromised trail performance for rowdy singletrack sessions, you should consider some upgrades to the spec and take into account the very long seat tube, which restricts the freedom of movement on the trail.
- very low system weight and fast acceleration
- great integration and elegant look
- cool features such as the SRAM TireWiz and minitool integrated in the thru-axle
- long seat tube restricts the freedom of movement
- spec not suitable for harder trail riding
- puncture-prone XC tire on a trail bike doesn’t provide enough puncture protection
More informations: www.scott-sports.com
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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Peter Walker, Daniel Geiger