Review – Scott Genius 920

The Genius was launched back in 2004 when Scott saw the need to add a well-rounded trailbike to its lineup. Over the last 14 years the Genius has undergone many changes, but its ultimate goal of being a highly versatile trailbike remains the same. For 2018 the Genius received a complete makeover following updates Scott made to the Spark before heading to the 2016 Rio Olympics. By the way, that bike won two gold medals that year. The all-new Genius went through similar suspension updates and was pushed into the modern era with a long, slack and low geometry. Scott promises the 2018 Genius is built for any trail, any time. A bold claim, we know, but if there’s a company that knows a thing or two about setting goals, it would be Scott. We decided to invite the 2018 Scott Genius into our test fleet this month to see firsthand just how versatile this all-new bike could be.

WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

The Genius is a trailbike made for everyone from amateur riders to top-level pros, such as Nino Schurter or Brendan Fairclough. It’s a bike designed to conquer climbs and fly down descents. It could suit the needs of an enduro racer, or it could be a tool for exploring backcountry trails. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Scott offers the Genius with multiple build packages, along with the choice of 27.5+ or 29er wheels. New for 2018 is a Flip Chip mounted to the rear shock that can be used to make geometry tweaks or allow either frame to swap between wheel sizes, further enhancing the Genius’ versatility. The Genius is ideally designed for tires ranging in size from 2.5–2.8 inches for 27.5-inch wheels and 2.4–2.6 inches for 29er wheels.

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?

Scott updated the Genius’ suspension with a Virtual 4 Link design and integrated a trunnion-mounted shock in an upsidedown orientation. The shock and the fork are operated remotely using Scott’s TwinLoc system. This handlebar-mounted remote provides three suspension settings—Descend, Traction and Lockout. In Descend mode, the Genius is free to use its 150 millimeters of travel to soak up the trails. The Traction setting adds responsiveness by adjusting shock damping and limiting travel to 110 millimeters. This gives the Genius a better pedaling platform and corrected geometry geared towards climbing or pumping flow trails. The Lockout setting, on the other hand, does just as its name suggests. The Genius features a carbon frame with internal cable routing, Boost hub spacing, a Press-Fit BB and a reworked geometry. In its 29-inch-wheel trim, the Genius sports a 65-degree head angle and a 13.6-inch bottom bracket height.

WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?

The Genius 920 packs value into its $4500 price tag with quality components from top to bottom. Our test bike featured a SRAM Eagle drivetrain that provided us with an array of gears for steep climbs or fast descents. Scott, along with Fox, updated the Nude shock with an EVOL can and trunnion mounts, further improving the Genius’ performance. Up front, Scott spec’d a Fox 34 Performance Series fork with a TwinLoc remote mounted for on-the-fly adjustments. The Genius then received a Syncros cockpit, a Fox Transfer dropper post and a Scott chainguide.

HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Setting sag: We started the setup process by switching the TwinLoc remote to the wide-open Descend mode so that we could set our sag with minimal suspension interference. We then pumped up our shock to give us 30-percent sag and adjusted the fork to give us 20-percent sag. After a few rides we opted for a little more sag in the rear, which gave us a plush ride in the Descend mode while keeping our Traction mode efficient during climbs.

Moving out: The Genius has a comfortable fit that is on par with many other trail/all-mountain bikes we’ve tested. Its top tube is roomy, allowing Scott to spec’ a short, 50-millimeter stem, and the handlebars felt appropriately sized at 760 millimeters. Unfortunately, riders who like wider bars will be forced to purchase new ones, but many of our testers felt comfortable with the stock bar width. The 150-millimeter Fox dropper post is a nice touch, allowing riders to get extra rowdy out on the trails, and the TwinLoc remote gave riders the ability to quickly tune their suspension to the terrain ahead of them.

Climbing: Scott designed the Genius to charge climbs as hard as it charges descents. Once a rider pushes the TwinLoc remote just one click, it damps both the fork and shock while also slightly limiting rear travel to correct changes in geometry due to sag. Traction mode, as Scott calls it, gave our test riders a firm and efficient platform for climbing without sacrificing small-bump compliance. The lockout setting was rarely used by our testers, but it’s a great setting for long road climbs. We attempted a few climbs with the Genius in the open setting, and while we didn’t feel penalized for doing so, we appreciated Traction mode. Cornering: Although the Genius can handle both 27.5-plusinch and 29er wheels, we only tested this rig with 29-inch wheels. That said, our 29-inch wheels had 2.6-inch-wide tires wrapped around them. The combination of the Genius’ sporty geometry and wide tires provided the ultimate confidence when ripping through turns.

Descending: The Genius shines when the trails point down. This trail machine uses its 150 millimeters of travel well, and its 29-inch wheels with large air volume and 2.6-inch-wide tires roll over anything in their path. The Genius dances around the trail with ease thanks to its short chainstays and slack front end. The TwinLoc remote also came into play on smooth and flowy trails by giving riders a firmer platform to pump rollers for natural speed.

TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?

Scott offers some cool upgrades for the Genius that riders will love. The first upgrade we would recommend is a Syncros fender. Although we didn’t have much need for a fender on our dry Southern California trails, we did like the aggressive look it gave our bike. Next we added a Syncros Matchbox bottle cage that featured a side-loader bottle mount, a bracket to hold a mini pump and a storage drawer for a built-in multi-tool.

BUYING ADVICE

The Genius has always been a bike designed to go wherever the trail takes it. Versatility is its strongest attribute. The new updates to the Genius’ geometry and suspension give riders an aggressive machine willing to take on gnarly descents while also providing a plush and controlled ride on the way back down. Whether you’re a racer, trail rider or just a weekend warrior, the Genius comes ready to handle it all. 

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