The Specialized Epic, Cannondale Scalpel, and SCOTT Spark – we’ve heard all about their exploits at grueling Cape Epic stage races and medal hauls on tough XC World Cup circuits (oh, and did we mention the Olympics?), but are they solely the preserve of the world’s watt-crushing elite, or do they have a place on the trails too? Yes, if you ask SCOTT, who have just transformed the new Spark into a platform capable of everything from Olympic-standard mountain biking to tricky days at the bike park. We’ve put the SCOTT Spark 700 Plus Tuned on test to find out if it really can push boundaries.

If the reason you ride revolves around your watts per kilo and VO2 max, then some may argue that your training sessions on the motorways of the forest might be lacking in fun. We reckon you’d be very smug with a svelte, high performance XC bike (minus a dropper post, we should add). But if you’re looking for less grind and more grin (i.e. everyone else in the pursuit of an uncompromisingly solid climber and descender), keep reading.

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Aggressive XC bikes haven’t had it easy over the past few years. And not only because the race circuits have got harder, but also because of the demands that their prospective jockeys have for them: efficiency and weight are no longer the sole factors to consider when buying an XC bike. Simplicity and the potential for fun are just as crucial to pre-purchasing ponderings. Modern XC bikes are in a sort of blurry middle ground where – however much you try – you’ll struggle to define them purely by travel and weight. The latest iterations are characterized by progressive geometry, stability, and the right (size) tires. But then along comes the SCOTT Spark Plus, which takes all these elements even further.

SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned overview

130 mm front travel, 120 mm at the rear, 2.8″ tires, 11.9 kg, and a slack 66.9° head angle: two years ago you’d have been laughed off the trails if you’d predicted these would apply to a SCOTT Spark – and that we’d be writing about it here. But as levels of acceptance slowly creep up amongst die-hard XCers and enduro riders alike, the new Spark is proof how those once fairly concrete boundaries between bike disciplines and categories are getting hazy around the edges.

So is XC the better enduro?

If your home terrain is more like mellow fields and rolling woodland, then the super-agile, pocket rocket SCOTT Spark 700 Plus Tuned is likely to be a hell of a lot more fun than a burly bruiser. After all, there’s a fair share of stability on loan to this lightweight 11.9 kg weapon – generously donated by the forgiving FOX suspension, excellent 2.8″ MAXXIS Rekon+ tires, and sorted geometry for plummeting downhills. It rides with precision and surefootedness whether you’re climbing, descending, or in the air. The ergonomic TwinLoc lever lets you switch between the available suspension settings and will get any efficiency fanatic frothing at the mouth.

SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned action shot 2

What else is there to say?

The spec reads like a who’s who of the most exclusive and high-performance products out there. The SRAM Eagle drivetrain will see you up the steepest gradients, and SCOTT’s choice of the latest MAXXIS tires should firmly wave goodbye to the brand’s 2015 season of plus-size tire puncturing left, right, and centre. The Rekon+ are stable and robust while still boosting some serious rocket power on the trails. The integrated spacer below the Syncros cockpit and 760 mm bars is a nice touch, and rounds off the bike’s very cohesive style!

SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned Action shot

Specifications Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned

Fork: FOX 34 Float Factory Air / Kashima 130 mm
Rear shock: FOX NUDE Trunnion 120 mm
Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle
Seatpost: FOX Transfer
Stem: Syncros FL1.5
Bars: Syncros FL1.0 Carbon
Wheels: Syncros TR1.5 Plus
Tires: Maxxis Rekon 2.8
Weight: 11.9 kg
Price: 7,800 €

Geometry Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned

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The Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned in Detail

SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned rear shock
The FOX Nude rear shock with the trunnion mount led to a more compact design and gave bike developers more space to play around and optimize the kinematics. There’s 120 mm of travel at the rear.
SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned tires
Quality rubber
The MAXXIS Rekon+ tires in a 2.8″ width not only dish out tons of grip, but also stability and confidence, showing poise across the whole spectrum of terrain that they faced on test.
SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned stem
The special spacers don’t look half bad in the stem’s overall design.
SCOTT Spark Plus 700 Tuned brakes
The SRAM Level Ultimate disc brakes modulated well and delivered a more than adequate performance.


For the pretty hefty sum of € 7,800, you’ll rock up to your once-a-year MTB marathon and a handful of bike park ventures without ruffling your feathers (providing you’ve got the skills dialed, of course). Way ahead of the game, the new SCOTT Spark 700 Plus Tuned isn’t just setting benchmarks when it comes to weight and versatility, it’s also the hands-down favourite amongst our editorial team for 2016. And why’s that? It’s a fun bike to throw around, pick up speed, and carve round corners. By winning the Olympics and the World Champs (albeit without plus-size tires and a bit less travel in the RC model), SCOTT have opened our eyes to the versatility that one single platform can deliver. Should bikes or frames be confined to one discipline? XC or enduro? We’ll be happy with the best of both!


+ Lively, balanced handling
+ Super-fast
+ Incredibly versatile


– Zero

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Words: Robin Schmitt Photos: Noah Haxel, David Vorkauf

About the author

Robin Schmitt

Robin is one of the two founders of 41 Publishing, a visionary and go-getter. While he now enjoys every second on the bike – whenever his busy schedule allows – he used to race against the clock at enduro events and a few Downhill World Cups. Besides that, Robin practises kung fu and Zen meditation, plays the cello or with his dog (which actually belongs to his girlfriend), travels abroad and still reviews numerous bikes himself. Progressive ideas, new projects and major challenges – Robin loves exploring undiscovered potential and getting to the bottom of new trends.