Bike Test: The Scott Genius LT

Long-travel trailbikes have become a popular weapon of choice for riders looking to blur the lines between cross-country, all-mountain and downhill. Scott’s most recent venture into this segment is the 2011 Genius LT, sporting 7.3 inches of travel. While this amount of travel is typically reserved for heavier and more aggressive black-diamond bikes, the Genius maintains Scott’s heritage of building lightweight rocket ships.

The Genius’ carbon front triangle is molded using their proprietary Integrated Molding Process. This allows the entire piece to be molded in a single step and enables the engineers to reduce weight while maintaining strength in critical areas. Scott claims this results in a frame that is robust enough for the demands of heavy-duty all-mountain riding while maintaining a low overall weight. The rocker is machined from a single piece of aluminum and is mated to a welded aluminum rear triangle. The frame uses a tapered head tube, post-mount brake tabs and a 142×12-millimeter axle that is adaptable to 135×10 millimeters by using Scott’s interchangeable dropout system dubbed the IDS-SL.
The Genius is spec’ed with many proprietary components, including the Equalizer pull shock and the custom RockShox Lyric RLR Plus fork. It also features the Twinloc remote travel adjustment, which allows the rider to quickly switch between the full 7.3-inch-travel setting, a firmer 4.3-inch traction mode and a fully locked-out mode. The handlebar-mounted Twinloc suspension lever switches the bike between the three travel settings on the fly.
Moving out: The geometry feels quick and responsive on singletrack. The 67-degree head angle pairs well with the rest of the geometry and results in a bike that tracks the trail without feeling twitchy or sluggish. The front triangle is stiff without being harsh and works well with the aluminum rear end.
Cornering: Despite the relatively high bottom bracket, the bike handles reasonably well in both geometry settings. In the low position, the bike handles corners with confidence and is predictable even when the trail is not. In the high position, with a steeper head angle and higher bottom bracket, the bike loses the confidence-inspiring feel on both steep and high-speed sections. Our recommendation is to try the bike in the low setting first?it may never need to be changed.
Climbing: The Genius is a very capable climber. The lockout and traction positions allow the bike to feel much more efficient than one would expect, but not everyone will like the complexity of using it. The crew found that it could be a distraction to constantly think about what mode to be in.When in lockout or traction mode, the bike floats up steep climbs with ease and pedals with the efficiency of a dedicated cross-country bike; ignore the Twinloc, however, and the bike loses its zippy nature.
Descending: The Genius shines on descents with a lively and maneuverable feel. It’s right at home on fast, flowy singletrack,as well as technical and steep trails. The geometry is well suited for aggressive black-diamond runs, particularly when using the lower and slacker setting. The bike’s 7.3-inch travel mode never delivers the downhill-capable feel you expect from such long-travel designs. While the Genius LT would be capable of an occasional day of bike-park abuse, it’s clear that it was not the intended purpose for the design.
Ergonomics: The Genius has a relatively high bottom bracket, long seat tube and high standover height. This can make the bike difficult to size for some riders. The Twinloc lever is well designed and easy to use. It can be flipped quickly to adapt to changing trail conditions. The Twinloc uses two cables, in addition to the shifter cables and brake hoses. Add a remote seatpost option and you’ll have seven controls coming off the bar. Yeah, this bike takes a bit of time to get used to.

Setup on the Equalizer 3 shock is critical for the suspension to perform well. We found that even small changes in air pressure can result in big changes in performance. There are step-by-step setup instructions from Scott and a built-in sag meter on the shock to ease the process. The recommended pressures are spot-on and provide optimal sag. The shock uses relatively high pressures (up to 406 psi) and must be set up using Scott’s high-pressure shock pump. Be sure to pack it on your first few rides, as it may be necessary to make small adjustments to get the bike dialed. The height-adjustable Crankbrothers Joplin 4 post is a welcome spec. However, we experienced a loss of pressure on the first ride that caused the post to fail and spring back to its fully extended position. While adjustment was still functional, it became much more difficult to use. Finally, we snapped the chain. We are chalking it up to a Friday afternoon production glitch, because our experience with the SRAM chain thus far has been trouble-free.

The Genius is a high-performance bike with technology that allows the rider the fun of a long-travel bike and the efficiency of a cross-country racer. While the performance is exemplary, it comes at the expense of simplicity. While some riders will curse the complexity, the Genius LT is a versatile bike that riders across many categories will love to ride.

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