Bicycling (South Africa) - - SHOOT OUT - 2018 Price: R85 000 Sup­plier:

Olympic gold, a Cape Epic tri­umph, and back-to- back World Cup XCO Se­ries vic­to­ries… these re­mark­able tri­umphs share two com­mon at­tributes: Nino Schurter, and his Scott Spark RC dual sus­pen­sion. While there’s no deny­ing that Schurter is the world’s best (and ar­guably the great­est ever), Bi­cy­cling was ea­ger to gauge whether the Spark RC’s elite- level per­for­mances would trans­late into the ideal pack­age for am­a­teur rac­ers.

The first thing that strikes you when throw­ing a leg over the Spark RC is its ac­cel­er­a­tion, and abil­ity to change di­rec­tion at a mo­ment’s no­tice. It feels as if the bike is alive be­neath you – its ex­citable per­son­al­ity re­minded us of the end­less en­ergy dogs have when chas­ing af­ter a ball all af­ter­noon. Lethar­gic it’s not.

With stiff­ness in spades (thanks largely to its re- en­gi­neered bot­tom- bracket area, and 1x-spe­cific rear end), the RC ex­plodes out of turns, with the front wheel beg­ging you to ‘pop it’ in hon­our of Schurter’s trade­mark flicks.

The 68.5° head an­gle puts the front axle far in front of you, which at first you think will rob you of agility and climb­ing speed; but there’s no com­pro­mise to speak of, with the ge­om­e­try com­ing into its own on the de­scents, where the Spark sim­ply thrives.

Our testers were big fans of Scott’s patented TwinLoc tech­nol­ogy, which al­lowed us to switch ef­fort­lessly be­tween Lock­out, Trac­tion Con­trol and Descend modes. In­te­grated into the grip, the lever is neatly tucked un­der­neath the han­dle­bar. With­out doubt, TwinLoc is a dif­fer­en­tia­tor.

Ped­alling per­for­mance was su­perb, with the Fox NUDE rear shock of­fer­ing no­tice­ably ef­fi­cient mid-stroke sta­bil­ity. On loose ter­rain, Trac­tion Con­trol mode was ap­pre­ci­ated as it pro­vided the per­fect bal­ance be­tween ‘lock- out’ for ef­fi­ciency and ‘sup­ple­ness’ for grip.

Itch­ing for speed, the Spark RC is a true racer’s weapon; the harder you push, the bet­ter it re­sponds.

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