First Ride: Scott Scale 27.5-inch hardtails

We put the new Scott Scale 27.5 frames to a first-ride test in the hills above Monterrey

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MONTEREY, Calif. (VN) — For most of the 2012 UCI World Cup season, Scott-Swisspower’s top racer, Nino Schurter, competed on a bike that Scott did not actually offer: a hardtail with 27.5-inch wheels. Yesterday, Scott launched the Scale 710 and 740 models, which, like Schurter’s bike, sport 27.5-inch hoops.

The Scale 700 series adds versatility to Scott’s Scale 600 26-inch and 900 29-inch series. The carbon-framed Scale 710 ($4,300) and the aluminum Scale 740 ($2,400) are available now. Scott is considering the frames limited-edition models at this time and will decide if it will continue to offer the Scale 700 line for 2014, and in what capacity.

First impressions of carbon vs. aluminum

For our first lap around the sheep trails — yes sheep, not goat, as I’ve only ever seen sheep out to pasture here — we took out the Scale 740. At $2,400, with a build of Shimano SLX and XT, the aluminum model is a steal for a beginner or someone looking to add an aluminum race-day-only bike to the quiver. The bike accelerated quickly and held its own on descents, steering in and out of turns confidently. Part of this step up in acceleration is due to smaller wheels; the shorter rear triangle also made a big difference from the handful of 29er hardtails I have ridden.

I should disclose that I am, oddly, fond of aluminum bikes. The only bike I purchased last year was a custom aluminum Stoemper ’cross bike. My affinity for the harshness of aluminum perhaps not ordinary, but it does exist.

After finishing my short loop outside of the Laguna Seca campgrounds, I switched from the 740 to the carbon-framed 710. The 710 sports a full XT drivetrain, upgraded Syncros wheels, and a 142×12 convertible rear dropout.

Scott Sports staff told me, repeatedly, that I should test the carbon bike after the aluminum because of the difference in compliance that I would feel, the 710 being more so. To that end, I was hesitant to listen or trust them, and left the Laguna Seca infield doubt in my mind.

To my surprise, the carbon frame offered a noticeably smoother ride, particularly on the first descent, which was riddled with washed-out brake bumps. In the short time I spent on each bike, neither struck me as stiffer than the other, though the 710 was noticeably lighter.

The Scale builds

Even though the Scale 710 and Scale 740 employ two different frame materials, they share many design aspects and components. Both frames use Fox Float 27.5 forks, though the 710 gets the Factory version and the 740 is paired with the Evolution; neither gets the top-end Kashima coated version.

The 740 carries a Shimano SLX component group, with an upgraded XT crankset and rear derailleur. The carbon 710 gets the full XT treatment along with a few lighter weight components from Syncros, which was recently purchased by Scott. Both frames use a PressFit BB92 bottom bracket, which, like the BB86, allows the rider to use Shimano, SRAM GXP, or other standard-width BB options without using shims often required by BB30 frames.

Both the aluminum and carbon bikes will come equipped with Scott’s LRD remote suspension system. The bar-mounted Ride Loc remote allows the rider to quickly adjust the fork between Fox’s climb, trail, and descend settings.

One of the highlights of the carbon 710 frame is its ability to accommodate 142×12, 135×12, and 135×10 QR rear axles. Scott is calling this its new convertible rear system the IDS-SL (interchangeable dropout system-super light).

Scott claims that the 710 is a couple pounds lighter than its aluminum sibling, at about 22 pounds complete, while the 740 tips the scales at about 24 pounds.

Value for the beginner to expert racer

Both bikes are a good time on the trail. The aluminum frame is not very forgiving, but its price point is extremely competitive. The 740 would made a capable machine for a beginning racer or someone looking to add a hardtail to the quiver for race day.

As for the 710, it’s nice to see a company launch a race bike at an affordable price point. With the 142×12 rear hub becoming standard on nearly every full-suspension bike, we like the idea of having it as an option on our hardtails as well; it makes life much easier.

A wheel upgrade would take either of these bikes from fast to World Cup-worthy, as Nino Schurter showed us last year. The budget conscious racer would do well to match the 740 with a quality lightweight wheel upgrade. In fact, I earned a Strava KOM on the 740 during our test ride; if it’s fast enough to help me, the Scale 740 can work miracles.

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