Enduro bikes with 29” wheels are right on trend and, on paper, the SCOTT Contessa Ransom 910 ticks all the right boxes. However, our 160 cm tall test rider, Antonia, tested the bike extensively and had to dig deep to unlock its full potential.
It seems paradoxical: the mountain bike scene is booming, the trails are buzzing with riders (when there isn’t a global pandemic) and over the last few years, the proportion of female riders on enduro bikes has grown exponentially in places like Finale Ligure. All the while, the number of women’s specific bikes is decreasing. Just a few years ago, almost every manufacturer had a women’s specific model in their portfolio but now there are only a few left. One of them is SCOTT, offering the Contessa version of the Ransom 910.
What makes the SCOTT Contessa Ransom 910 a women’s specific enduro bike?
Probably the most striking feature of the Contessa Ransom 910 is its paintwork. Most who see it in person call it dusty pink, though it shimmers in a slightly different colour depending on how the light hits it – very nice! The frame itself is identical to the unisex model and is available in sizes S, M and L as SCOTT don’t see the need for an XL women’s model. The saddle and the grips have been changed on the women’s model and SCOTT also use a different shock tune to the unisex Ransom we reviewed previously. However, everything else is the same. For example, the size S bike also rolls on 29“ wheels and is specced with an 800 mm handlebar. The remaining componentry of the 170 mm travel bike doesn’t differ from the equally expensive, € 5,499 unisex model either. You get a FOX 36 fork with the FIT4 damper, a 12-speed SRAM GX drivetrain and a pair of Shimano XT four-piston brakes. The wheels and cockpit are supplied by Syncros and offer good value and performance.
Scott Contessa Ransom 910
Fork FOX 36 Performance Elite FIT 4 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX NUDE TR EVOL 170 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer 125 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 4-Kolben 203/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 30/10-50
Stem Syncros XM 1.5 40 mm
Handlebar Syncros Hixon 1.5 Rise 780 mm
Wheelset Syncros Revelstoke 2.0 29"
Size S M L
Weight 13.78 kg
|Seat tube||420 mm||440 mm||470 mm|
|Top tube||570 mm||603 mm||633 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||100 mm||115 mm|
|Chainstay||436 mm||436 mm||436 mm|
|BB Drop||15 mm||15 mm||15 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,181 mm||1,214 mm||1,248 mm|
|Reach||412 mm||445 mm||472 mm|
|Stack||610 mm||610 mm||623 mm|
Relationship status: “In love“ – meeting for the first time
It seemed like love at first sight. As an avowed fan of plush, long-travel bikes, our test rider was eagerly looking forward to riding the Contessa Ransom 910. Seeing it for the first time blew her away – the colour looks even better in real life than it does in the photos. It’s got a feminine touch without going overboard – just something special, like us girls ;). The women’s saddle and grips have been carefully chosen and worked well for Toni. We also like that SCOTT have fitted a 125 mm dropper post on the size S, allowing you to get the saddle completely out of the way. However, the position of the dropper post remote takes some getting used to, especially if you’ve got small hands where you almost have to let go of the handlebar to press the lever.
Despite all its travel, the Ransom makes easy work of the climbs. This is made possible by SCOTT’s proprietary TwinLoc system, which allows you to stiffen up the suspension in three stages. We kept it in Traction mode for the climbs. Doing so reduces the travel, which reduces sag at the rear and places you very centrally on the bike. With the TwinLoc system open, the rear suspension bobs noticeably as you pedal, which we don’t recommend for the uphills. The only time we ever locked out the suspension was on asphalt climbs. In Traction mode, the rider is placed centrally on the bike, keeping the front wheel planted and allowing you to winch yourself to the top of the trailhead without issues. This way, conquering long climbs is a pleasure.
The Contessa Ransom is hard to beat on the climbs – thanks to the TwinLoc system, the bike climbs efficiently despite its 170 mm travel.
Relationship status: “It’s complicated“ – the first few weeks with the SCOTT Contessa Ransom 910
Unfortunately, the rose-tinted glasses disappeared after the first few rides and things quickly got complicated. Despite the generous amounts of travel and the large wheels, Toni just didn’t feel comfortable on the bike. She felt more like a passenger, as she was all-too used to from many other test bikes.
She didn’t feel at one with the bike when hitting obstacles: the front wheel reacted first and then, after a short delay, the rear. The bike didn’t feel composed and there was a noticeable lack of control of the front wheel through corners, despite a very active riding style. Toni was never able to make full use of the fork’s available travel even though she had everything set up correctly. It was difficult for her to get enough weight over the front wheel. Riders she was usually able to keep up with suddenly left her behind and instead of the hoped-for boost in confidence, she started doubting herself. What was going on here?
She was being overwhelmed! Large wheels combined with lots of travel is simply too much for small riders!
We immediately made a few changes to better adapt the bike to her stature. We cut down the handlebar, removed volume spacers from the fork and made the rear suspension slightly faster. All this improved things slightly, but Toni still couldn’t get on with the bike.
Relationship status: “We’re working on it” – are mixed wheel sizes the solution for small riders?
Toni had previously reviewed the SCOTT Contessa Genius and found that the bike worked best for her with a 29er up front and a 27.5“ wheel on the rear. She wanted to try the same thing with the Ransom. This is made possible by the flip chip at the shock mount. So, we swapped out the rear wheel and put the bike in the high geometry setting. Despite adjusting the flip chip, the seat and head tube angles became slacker. Theoretically, that would make the front wheel more difficult to control, but Toni noticed a significant improvement on the descents.
She felt much more integrated with the bike, the handling felt more agile and she suddenly had more control. However, there was one disadvantage. Her riding position ended up shifted backwards making the climbs feel harder – activating the TwinLoc system and sliding the saddle forward only helped to a limited extent.
Relationship status: “In a relationship“ – small wheels = more fun and control for small riders
Ultimately, we decided to put a 27.5“ wheel on the front too. Sure, that made the bike very low, even though the flip chip was still in the high position, meaning you had to watch your pedals on technical climbs. However, the Contessa Ransom climbed much more easily and efficiently than it did with mixed wheels. On the descents, the difference for our test rider was like night and day. Suddenly, she was the contessa dominating the bike and not the other way around. She felt nicely integrated on the descents and was able to generate enough grip in the corners, as she would have liked from the start. The suspension also felt plusher, because she was able to weight and unweight it deliberately. Now she could feel how much travel she had available, allowing her to let go and let the bike do its thing. Whatever you throw at the Ransom, the bike doesn’t get unsettled.
However, instead of the TwinLoc system and FIT4 damper, we would have preferred the latest GRIP2 damper for the FOX 36 fork. That’s not because of the added adjustability, but because it generally performs more sensitively. Our test rider was happy to accept the worse rollover characteristics of the smaller wheel up front and the rest of the componentry didn’t give her anything to complain about. Shimano’s XT four-piston brakes provide lots of stopping power, perform reliably and are easy to modulate. We were also impressed with how quiet the bike is.
Back in command: changing to 27.5” wheels allowed Toni to take back control and also improved the performance of the suspension.
Conclusion: All’s well that ends well, right?
Unfortunately, the 29″ wheels of the SCOTT Contessa Ransom 910 don’t work for short riders. Even with an active riding style, you quickly become a passenger on the bike. However, it has a lot of potential: convert to 27.5″ wheels, and it still climbs superbly for a bike with so much travel while offering a good mix of composure and agility on the descents. We hope that from next year SCOTT will offer the size S bike with 27.5″ wheels to truly adapt it to the needs of smaller female riders.
- very efficient climber despite the long travel
- very balanced on the descents with 27.5“ wheels
- colour 😍
- 29” wheels are too big for size S
- position of the dropper post remote
You can find out more at scott-sports.com
Words: Antonia Buckenlei Photos: Christoph Bayer