You don’t need us to tell you that bikes like the $6300 Scott Scale 29 RC cross-country race hardtail are awesome. You also don’t need us to tell you it is priced way out of your budget. That’s why we jumped at the chance to test Scott’s Scale 29 Pro. At just one step below the RC in the Scott food chain, the 29 Pro is $3600 less—at just $2700. To put it in perspective, you could buy two Scale 29 Pros for the price of one Scale 29 RC and still have enough money left over to buy $900 worth of accessories.
Feel the power: The Scott Scale Pro expects its rider to be as serious as it is. This is not a bike for lazy riders. Staying out of the saddle and picking intelligent lines will soften the blow.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
This bike is made for cross-country racing. Period. Keeping the bike’s purpose this focused allowed Scott to pull out all the stops and design a bike made to do laps on a cross-country course or short track as fast as humanly
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The carbon fiber frame features Scott’s Integrated Molding Process (IMP3) that makes the top tube, head tube and downtube obsolete, because they are no longer three separate tubes but molded into a single piece. The bike’s seat stays, chainstay and dropout are also a single piece. The stays use Scott’s Shock Damping System (SDS) to achieve vertical compliance and lateral stiffness. Between the cranks, you have Scott’s massive press-fit BB30 bottom bracket shell completely molded from carbon fiber.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
This sleek-lined hardtail keeps its cards close to its chest. It is the fact that nothing jumps out at you that makes this bike attractive. The frame doesn’t look constructed; it looks poured. The direct post-mount rear brake tucks inside the stays. The Selle Italia saddle is made exclusively for Scott. The bike comes with Shimano pedals, and Scott wisely spec’ed a 10-cog cassette with a cog spread of 36/32/28/25/22/19/17/15/13/12.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Set your fork sag, rebound, saddle height and tire pressure. Now, you are set to go.
Moving out: The Scott Scale Pro gives its rider the now-familiar 29er cockpit (you sit inside, not on top of, the bike), with the rider position biased well forward from the center. This forward position reminds us of time-trial or triathlon bikes where pure power to the pedals takes precedence over a more relaxed, endurance-focused riding position.
Hammering: The forward position begs the Scale Pro rider to pedal aggressively. You don’t accelerate out of corners; you sprint out of them. And the frame can cash whatever check your legs can write. The Scale Pro doesn’t have the explosive speed of a 26-inch-wheeled bike, but it is no slouch. The low top tube allows you to throw the bike during hard efforts.
Cornering: It wasn’t that long ago that 29ers handled like hook-and-ladder fire trucks. Not anymore. This bike has such a light feel in the front end that you can be tricked into thinking you are riding a 26er. That is, until you ride through that loose, off-camber corner with ease. That type of stick cannot be had with smaller wheels. The hardest thing about riding this bike is constantly reminding yourself to stay off the brakes going into corners. Trust it to stick—it will.
Climbing: Yes, this bike attacks hills. You can get out of the saddle (it won’t break the rear tire loose), but moving to the saddle’s nose and powering away produces better results. The bike has a remote lockout lever for the fork, so why not use it? It may be a total mental advantage, but the firm
setting feels so right for give-it-all sprints while
jamming up steep climbs.
Braking: Twenty-sixer riders will find that all the years they spent perfecting braking modulation is for naught on this bike. You can be a total klutz and still brake like a professional. The large wheels and fat tires make it close to impossible to lock up a wheel.
Descending: We lived with the frame’s rigidity while climbing, sprinting and hammering along the racecourse, but there is no escaping its punishment on the descents. Even with Scott’s SDS stays, large wheels and fat tires, this bike is rigid and delivers a harsh ride. If you are not out of the saddle when you peg a square-edged bump, the jackhammer shot will remind you that you are being lazy.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
We like the Schwalbe Rocket Ron EVO tires, but 2.25 inches wide is overkill for cross-country racing and makes stay clearance very tight—too tight for muddy conditions. The large rims just don’t need this much rubber for cross-country riding, and that is what this bike is all about. Try Schwalbe Racing Ralphs with the understanding that the Scott’s rigid ride will get worse. Normally we wouldn’t recommend an upgrade like Shimano XTR cranks, because we would encourage the rider to buy the model with those cranks as standard equipment. Since it is a major price jump in this case, the XTR crank upgrade makes financial sense and, of course, performance sense.
Strong arm: The rear brake tucks inside the stay, the bottom bracket is housed in Fort Knox, and the cable routing looks like an L.A. freeway overpass.
Racers will readily accept the frame’s harsh ride in exchange for the bike’s impressively low weight, high pedaling/handling performance and great value. It is not a bike that would serve you well outside of the parameters of racing, though, so trail riders looking for a high-performance bike should consider one of the three aluminum-framed Scott Scale 29ers.
You know our advice for would-be cross-country racers: spend ’til it hurts. The Scott Scale Pro is made for cross-country racers on a budget who want the most competitive bike for the least amount of dough.
SCOTT SCALE 29 PRO SPECS:
Country of origin
Bottom bracket height
Top tube length
Head tube angle
Seat tube angle
RockShox Reba 29 RL
DT Swiss 485D (29")
Schwalbe Rocket Ron EVO (2.25")
DT Swiss 370 Disc
Avid Elixir 5
Scott Hot Rod Flat (26.5")
SRAM 10-cog (12-36)
26.6 feet (per crank revolution)
5.1 feet (per crank revolution)