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By Matt Pacocha
Until now, an ongoing patent dispute over Specialized’s FSR design kept Scott USA’s Genius trailbike from the U.S. market, leaving one of the world’s most lucrative markets uncontested by Scott. With a major redesign of the Genius platform it will enter the U.S. with a bike that pushes past conventional constraints of the trail category.
The Scott line is still filling out after it made a grand re-entry to the U.S. market in 2004 with its CR1 road bike. Other heavy hitters have popped into the line as it’s evolved, like the Plasma TT bike, which will also be new for 2009, Ransom lightweight freeride bike, the Scale hardtail and the Addict, which bumped the CR1 from the brand’s top road spot.
But over the last four years the line has suffered in the absence of a marathon or trailbike — something with 130mm of travel or more — a-bread-and-butter category for many of today’s manufacturers. Trailbikes are so well liked because it’s a type of bike that can be ridden hard and produce a lot of fun during the week and is still light and serious enough for racing on the weekends.
The new Genius pushes the limits in two arenas: weight and travel. Most of Scott’s proprietary technology is built to target those attributes. The new frame weights 4.96 pounds and has 150mm (5.9-inches) of travel. The Genius Limited is Scott’s no-hold-bar Genius model and most expensive mountain bike ever at upwards of $11,000. It weighs just 23.4-pounds complete with pedals in a size medium.
Those stats should have you thinking: Wow, that’s light. 150mm seems like a lot of travel for a trail bike, heck it’s only 15mm less than Ransom? How and why did they pull it off?
Scott introduces IMP4 (Integrated Molding Process) with Genius, in which the front triangle of the frame, head tube, top tube, down tube and seat tube, is molded together as one-piece. Technically it’s a monocoque process, but Scott says it has figured out how to manage the layers within the mold, then is able extract the mandrel and bladders used in molding so to have molded carbon that’s as expertly manipulated as it does when molding a single CR1 tube.
The IMP4 process currently has a patent pending and until it’s issued Scott will not say more about the process, only that it produces a super strong full-carbon frame (including dropouts) that is very light. Scott uses its top-line HMX carbon for the full carbon frames of the Limited and 10. It uses its lower modulus HMF blend that’s about 20-percent heavier in the 20’s full carbon frame, while the Genius 30 has an HMF front triangle with alloy stays. The main linkage pivot, which Scott calls the Isolated Axis Pivot, does not rely on an axle, instead Scott molds threaded nuts into the seat tube and bolts through bearings affix the link to the tube. This allows two advantages, lighter weight and the ability to fully drop a 400mm seatpost.
Mechanically the bike has been redesigned for the global market so as not to infringe on the FSR patent. The rear axle pivot has been moved from forward and below the rear axle on the chainstay to above the axle on the seatstay. The Genius relies on a pull-shock as the previous model did, but Equalizer2 shock, which was co-developed with and manufactured by DT, is new. Like the original Equalizer shock and Spark’s Nude TC the new version, only available on the Genius, uses a three-position handlebar mounted TracLoc remote.
The remote has three settings, full-open, the Traction Control, which limits travel to 95mm, and a full lockout. The dual-chambered shock operates by opening or closing the main chamber, since the characteristics of the shock changes depending on what mode is selected. Scott offers a rebound adjuster for both chambers, even though the range of adjustment is limited as adjustments to either chamber influence the other. The shock also offers separately adjustable positive and negative air chambers.
The Traction Control switch is also new and cast from aluminum. Besides travel and shock feel, Scott advertises that each mode influences the bike’s geometry. When the shock is fully locked out, the bike has a 68.5-degree head angle and a bottom bracket height over 13-inches, in the traction mode the head angle loses a half of a degree and the BB height drops to 13-inches even. In the plushest full-open mode the head angle slackens to 67.4-degrees and the BB height hovers around 12.5-inches.
Wow versus the Reality Factor
While all of the new Genius models share the aforementioned technologies, they differ greatly in terms of what their frames are made from and what components are hung, and those attributes greatly influence the price. Scott bookends the line with the 6061 all-alloy Genius 50, which costs $3000 and the Genius Limited with its whopping price tag of upwards of $11,500. The Limited represents Scott’s opinion of the lightest best performing parts selection. Highlights of the group include DT’s uni-directional carbon EXC150 that will be equipped with 15QR, DT’s XRC1250 carbon cross-country wheelset, Ritchey WCS carbon cockpit and SRAM X.0 drivetrain albeit without ceramic bearings.
The Genius 20 with an all-carbon HMF frame costs $6000 with a full XT group, DT rims and a custom Fox 32 15QR Talus RL fork with 150mm of travel, that’s 10mm more than the stock consumer model.
Scott will also offer a Contessa model of the Genius for more than $4000. The Contessa bike features a standard frame with women’s graphics package as well as specific women’s attachment points, including grips, handlebar and saddle. Scott says it hasn’t bought into the trend of modifying geometry to shorten the bike.
Riding the Genius
Given the opportunity to throw a leg over the Genius 20 for a short time in Tossa del Mar, Spain I quickly noticed that despite having a ton of adjustment knobs, locks and dials to keep straight the bike rides quite pleasantly. It has well-mannered pedaling characteristics up and down hills and the TracLoc-Equalizer2 combination really works. I found that the TracLoc allows you to better use Fox’s Talus travel adjustment, which when combined can actually help to get you up some really difficult climbs. Once up the hill, coming down on the Genius is quite fun with 150mm of travel front and rear. Of course, a couple of hours on the bike are by no means conclusive, but they were positive enough to make me want to ride it more.
More To Come
Scott’s release of the Genius comes on the heels of its introduction of the new Plasma at last month’s Giro d’Italia. It also fills in the hole in the brand’s mountain line, during a year when Scott will also add more economic models, including the alloy Genius and a alloy Spark that starts at $2100, allowing people to get onto a Scott for less than ever before.
Finally, Scott will offer an Addict CX RC IMP carbon cyclocross bike, for more on the RC (Race Concept) line and the ’cross bike stay tuned.