Scott Genius

When I heard Scott was giving the Genius mountain bike a redesign, I was expecting a new enduro-focused machine based on the company’s highly successful Spark platform. When I arrived in Aosta, Italy for the launch, however, one of the first things the folks at Scott told us was that this is not an enduro-specific bike. The room erupted in chatter, mostly worrying about how much climbing could be involved on our first ride. Since all of us had packed armour and chin bars for our helmets, we were going to have to re-asses our kits for tackling a backcountry adventure on Scott’s all new multi-purpose trail bike.

The new Scott Genius

The new Genius has seen a complete overhaul from the previous model. Most obvious is the four-bar linkage that replaces the older single-pivot style design. Scott had taken all the company had learned from designing the 2017 Spark and applied it to the longer, 150-mm travel Genius. Notable technologies shared between the bikes include the trunnion shock mount that sets a Fox Nude EVOL shock upside down. A wider bottom bracket, which increases stiffness for efficient power transfer, a more refined carbon-layup process, and of course, Scott’s TwinLock suspension system are also adapted from the Spark.

Something that the Genius does not share with the Spark is the ability to change wheel sizes. The Genius can fit both 27.5” and 29” wheels without significantly altering the geometry of the bike. With a flip of a chip (Allen key required) located on the top of the shock mount, you can change the height of the bottom bracket to accommodate either wheel size. The frame will fit tires as wide as 2.8” on a 30-mm 27.5” rim or a 2.6”-wide tire on the same width of 29” rim.

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The Genius TwinLock remote is quite different compared with the Spark’s. Both offer three settings, including a full lockout mode, full open mode and a “trail” setting. The trail setting reduces the amount of travel by blocking off the bottom air chamber in the Fox Nude EVOL shock, which reduces travel from 150 mm down to 110 mm. This setting effectively reduces the amount of sag and firms up the shock and fork for climbing. Not only that, but it helps to maintain a steeper seat angle, better for pedalling and climbing. There are few bikes that with the flip of a switch can change both the front and rear suspension damping and spring curve as as effectively as the Genius.

I chose to ride the Genius 900/700 Tuned model. Considering what I had heard of the trails in Aosta, I wanted the Fox 36 fork up front instead of the 34 version that comes on the 700 Ultimate, the Tuned’s lighter brother. Other than the flashy orange fork, one real standout component was the new Syncros Hixon iC handlebar/stem. We have seen lots of bar/stem integrated cockpits in road, but it is still new to mountain biking, so I was interested in trying it out. The bar’s rise and sweep are based on Syncros’s current FL1 handlebar with a 50-mm stem. At 760-mm wide, I found the bars were a perfect size, however, I know some prefer wider. Drivetrain duties go to SRAM X01 Eagle 12-speed, while the stopping is provided by SRAM’s Guide RSC brakes. Everything was rolling on DT Swiss M1825 Spline CL wheels (27.5”/29”). A Fox Transfer dropper post with TwinLock integrated lever kept the saddle at the right height.

First ride on the Scott Genius 900/700 Tuned

With the ability to change wheel sizes without any significant effects to geometry, the bike almost has two personalities. I started off on the 27.5” rims with 2.8” Maxxis Rekon tires. The bike felt very playful and planted when rolling through rough sections. The handling was responsive, making it easy to lean into steep switchbacks and swerve through tight sections of trail. I would have like to try out a slightly more aggressive tread, as well as something a little narrower, to really push the limits of traction, but I was pleased with how the smaller set of wheels performed. I also tested the 29” hoops with a 2.6” Maxxis Rekon. The 29” rims did seem to climb more efficiently and, at high speeds, felt a little more stable than the 27.5s. The handling remained sharp; the bike didn’t feel any less playful with the larger wheel. If you like getting loose and throwing the bike sideways, the 27.5s would be a better choice. My preference was the added stability and climbing capabilities of the 29s for our rides.

With 150 mm of travel and a slacker head tube angle at 65.6 degrees and shorter chainstays measuring 436 mm, you expect a capable bike on descents, especially knowing how well the previous Genius went downhill. However, what I was not expecting was how well the bike climbed. This is certainly not anywhere near as nice to climb on compared with an XC bike, but at 2,249 g for the small frame with shock and hardware, it is one of the lightest bikes in its category. When you put the Genius’s suspension in the trail mode, it is surprisingly agile on climbs. In part, this dexterity is thanks to the elimination of suspension sag, keeping you in the middle of the bike’s travel to help accommodate both bumps and depressions in the trail. When you no longer sit in the middle of the bike’s travel, it gives the frame a much steeper seat-tube angle that puts the rider in a better position for pedalling. We ended up doing a lot of climbing in Aosta. When spinning on long, steep fire roads, it was easy to find a comfortable position to tick away and gain elevation. The Genius also did quite well, considering its size, when dealing with more technical ascents. With the reduced 110 mm of travel in the rear on the trail setting and a firmer ride on the fork up front, the bike still offers great reprieve from rocks and roots, allowing you to maintain traction and keep momentum.

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The Aosta Valley is home to some of the best mountain biking in the world. We were lucky enough to have Aosta Valley Freeride as our guides. Their super fit and helpful staff were more than happy to share all the great trails they call their own. Some of the routes included more than 2,000 m of descending with both technically challenging terrain and super fun, flowy sections. This environment was the perfect place to test the Genius’s capabilities. After a short hike-a-bike, we dove into some serious rocky and steep trail. in the open suspension mode, the Genius was using all of the 150 mm of travel on offer. At speed, charging through rock gardens, you would not guess that you were riding a bike that weighs 12.54 kg with the 27.5” wheels, no pedals. The bike felt stable and never bounced off line. When navigating tight rocky switchbacks, I could position the front wheel where I needed without having to worry about the rear suspension bucking me. Even on bigger hits where I was using the majority of the travel, I never had any nasty bottom outs; the bike was able to recover quickly. While pumping and cruising flow sections, the bike felt stable and was responsive and easy to steer in the right direction. I had the most fun in sections like these where the Genius can take to the air over rollers and jumps as well as drop whatever might be in your path. Scott has done a good job of ensuring the Genius can tackle the steep and rough, but still maintain precise and playful handling.

After logging more than 50 km on the Genius, I was impressed with how versatile the bike can be. I don’t think it’s a quiver killer, and I would like to try out some different tire options, but it is certainly a bike that you can use and enjoy on many different trails and situations. It’s lightweight and trail mode make it a relatively capable climber that will get you to the top feeling fresh and ready to enjoy the plush and agile ride down. I could see this bike excelling in long backcountry adventures or any situation requiring a capable descender that won’t drain your batteries on the climb to the fun stuff. Scott will offer the Genius in seven different models including three alloy models, all ranging in price and spec. Put away the tailgate pads and lift passes, the Genius has arrived. (Pricing and availability is still to come.)


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