First Ride: Brilliant Or Crazy?
Brilliant Or Crazy?
The SCW1 is a new design from Structure Cycleworks that grabs the attention of every single person on the trail. The SCW1 is engineered around 27.5-inch wheels, while the frame and fork are completely made of carbon. This full-suspension (153mm front travel and 154mm rear) enduro bike is set up with an eye-catching suspension technology. Structure names this latest innovation as Without Telescoping Fork (WTF) linkage suspension system.
The WTF front-suspension platform is based around solving performance issues seen on telescopic suspension forks. Essentially, the front end of the bike will have less dive than a telescoping fork. Here are the five main benefits the WTF suspension system is said to offer a rider:
Stability: The head angle slackens throughout the travel, causing less brake dive, a nearly constant front-center distance, and increased trail.
Sensitivity: The linkage rotates on 30mm cartridge bearings and isolates the shock from bending loads. This allows the system to move with minimal friction over bumps while remaining in control as the tires contact the trail.
Integrated chassis: By mounting the hollow-carbon control arms low to the strong core of the frame, the weight/strength of the SCW1 is enhanced.
Size-specific kinematics: Structure Cycleworks actually adjusts the location of the shocks and pivots to keep all motion properties consistent between frame sizes.
Practicality: As Structure Cycleworks claims, “Anyone who can service a rear shock can service the SCW1.” There are not any special tools needed during service and adjustments despite the first thoughts you may have on the bike.
The frame and fork of the SCW1 are engineered to cooperate with one another. Yes, that means the proprietary
design comes as a complete frameset that cannot run an aftermarket front fork. Although eye-popping, the SCW1 does have some normal bike specs. It features a threaded bottom bracket shell, Boost hub spacing, compatibility with ISCG-05 chainguides, space for a 2.6-inch tire in the rear, and trouble-free sleeved internal cable routing. All sounds familiar on paper, but how does it ride?
Structure Cycleworks is making some big statements with this design. We do not feel that modern mountain bikes and telescoping forks are terrible by any means. With that said, the MBA test crew was left wondering how it would hold up on a familiar trail loop. To find out, we had the opportunity to connect with Dave Smith, Structure’s California rep, for a hot lap in Angeles National Forest.
After setting up the bike for our riders’ weight, we set off into the mountains to see what the SCW1 had to offer. Yes, the bike was actually a little heavy (around 34 pounds at best guess with no scale on site), so we were skeptical when approaching the first ascent.
Most of our climbs are sandy, rutted out and can be quite the challenge for the suspension to maneuver over while providing grip. Although the overall bike weight is heavier than we’d like, the amount of traction gained with the suspension system on slow, technical climbs was impressive. We kept the bike completely open in the front and the rear during the entire ride.
Yes, there is a switch on the shocks to stiffen up the front and rear shock, but we did not find it necessary for our ride. Unlike most enduro bikes with 150mm or more of travel, the SCW1 did not make us feel like our power was being sucked away when hammering after the pedals. Of course, we would not prefer this bike if brutal cross-country uphills were on the ride route, yet it proved good at climbing, considering its travel length.
Ready to test the downhill handling, we dropped into a high-speed double-track section that comes through some very bumpy washboard-like terrain. This is where the bike really shined! We felt that the linkage suspension system was really compliant over fast bumps while the bike held speed and kept stable.
From there we dived into the steep sections that feature tight switchbacks, technical rock gardens and even some decent drops into creek crossings. Just like the rear suspension, the WTF front suspension uses pivots to control movement that does not compress and dive into its travel when riding steep terrain or when pumping the brakes. In the corners, the 27.5-inch wheels proved to maneuver well, but we feel like the weight on the back end of the bike was a bit difficult to flick into a preferred position on the trail.
Overall, we felt the anti-dive trait of the front end, while increasing wheelbase and slackening the head tube angle worked very well at tackling the downhill terrain we put the SCW1 through. Yes, we can all agree it’s strange, but looks aside, we enjoyed the functionality. Even though we only got a quick day out on the Structure SCW1, the crew is eager to have more time with the latest suspension innovation to hit mountain biking.
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.