Tested- Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup
Nino’s legs are not included
Balanced and fast: The Spark RC 900 has a progressive geometry, rivaling most modern trailbikes, and delivering a ride that is fast and efficient but balanced and stable as well.
Nino Schurter is one of the most recognizable names in mountain biking with his multiple Olympic podiums and perfect 2017 season on the World Cup circuit. With his growing resume of wins and dominance in cross-country, he is already one of the greatest racers in mountain bike history. While most of his success is attributed to his dedication and hard work, his Scott Spark RC 900 has helped him accomplish many of his goals. For 2018, Scott produced a replica of the bike that Nino has been racing to give aspiring racers a shot at their own personal glory. We put the Spark RC 900 to the test on our home turf, hoping we could maybe, just once, ride like Nino.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Scott Spark is currently available in various build and travel options covering cross-country racing and trail riding. The 900 was made purely for cross-country racing with 100 millimeters of front and rear travel and a very progressive geometry. This machine comes with everything a dedicated XC racer would want, including narrower tires and a remote lockout for on-the-fly adjustments.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Spark 900 spares no expense in terms of keeping the overall weight down and pedaling efficiency high. Our test bike has 100 millimeters of front and rear travel with 29-inch wheels, plus a full-carbon frame and rear triangle. Scott uses its higher-end HMX carbon layup that is lightweight but delivers a stiff ride. The frame has fully internal cable routing and a BB92 bottom bracket shell.
Fast and smooth: We tested the RockShox SID recently and were impressed with the tuneability and overall ride quality. During our testing, the SID performed flawlessly with smooth travel and plenty of stability.
Scott revamped its suspension design with a single-pivot platform and an inverted trunnion-mounted shock with composite rocker. The Fox Nude shock has a remote lockout and a special rebound adjustment that offers 15 clicks of rebound damping with a custom dial that is easy to use on the fly. Scott uses its TwinLoc remote, which controls the fork and shock’s three-position dampers from the handlebars.
The Spark is one of the most progressive XC bikes on the trail with a slack 68.5-degree head angle that rivals most modern trailbikes’ and is a full degree slacker than most current XC race bikes’. The wheelbase is tight, and the seat tube angle comes in at 73.8 degrees for an aggressive climbing position.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Our test bike came stock with a full SRAM Eagle build kit that provided smooth and consistent shifting during our testing. The Level TLM brakes added to the aggressive XC race feel and were powerful on long descents. Scott includes a custom, minimalist chainguide that gave our test riders peace of mind when charging hard on more technical descents.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: The fit and geometry are very progressive with an impressively slack 68.5-degree head angle. Our test bike had a zero-offset seatpost that helped center our weight over the pedals in combination with the seat tube angle. The stock 70-millimeter stem and 740-millimeter-wide handlebars felt comfortable for longer days in the saddle and all-around trail riding.
Suspension setup: We have tested the new RockShox SID fork and were able to find our preferred settings quickly. With 20-percent sag and two bottomless tokens, the SID didn’t require much adjustment during our testing.
It’s Nude: Scott developed their own shock technology in conjunction with Fox called Nude. Scott inverted the shock and added a trunnion mount to beef up the bottom bracket area for a more responsive ride.
The rear shock took a few rides to dial in, with slight changes in air pressure dramatically affecting the ride quality. We started at 25-percent sag but ended up at 20 percent for a little more support at the top of the travel. Riders looking for more small-bump compliance will be more comfortable setting the sag at 25 percent.
Climbing: The TwinLoc allowed us to control the suspension settings on the fly, especially on rolling terrain or steep climbs. With the suspension in the firmest setting, the Spark became a rigid hardtail that responded to our every pedal stroke. The frame and rear triangle were stiff, making sure all of our power went into keeping the machine moving forward. The progressive geometry gave us a good position to negotiate more technical, steep climbs.
Control from the bars: The TwinLoc remote is the heart of Scott’s suspension design with the ability to control the fork and shock from the handlebars. TwinLoc uses a clamp integrated into the grip and a clean finish.
Descending: Nino is regarded as the most skilled cross-country racer when it comes to descending, and the Spark was designed with this in mind. The Spark doesn’t casually roll down trails; it rips confidently. With our heads down and fingers off the brakes, the Spark was stable and balanced, feeling more like a long-travel trail machine than a twitchy XC race bike. The slack head angle didn’t make the front end feel sluggish or slow when responding to commands from our test riders.
Built to climb: Cross-country race courses are incredibly demanding and require a bike that descends as well as it climbs. The Spark motors up steep pitches of trail quickly, always hunting for personal records.
TRICKS, TIPS OR UPGRADES?
Remote lockouts can give racers a huge advantage on rolling terrain. Scott’s TwinLoc is comfortably situated on the left side of the handlebar and offers three positions. The first clicks are easy to engage, but the third requires a long throw that doesn’t have a very ergonomic feel. Scott could probably use two-position dampers on the suspension and not lose any performance while making the TwinLoc more effective.
The build kit and component choice make for an impressively lightweight package for the price. With a few key upgrades, though, the Spark could easily lose a couple of pounds, making it a dream bike for aspiring weight weenies.
Less is still more: Similar to Nino’s bike, the RC 900 comes with a SRAM Eagle drivetrain with a 32-tooth front chainring. After a couple of rides, we swapped out to a larger 34-tooth to get a little more top-end speed.
Cross-country race bikes are usually purpose-built and a serious commitment. The Spark is certainly oriented towards XC racing, but the geometry and playfulness of the bike make it far more versatile than we were expecting. Dedicated XC racers will get all the performance they need out of the Spark but will have to keep training hard if they want to ride like Nino.