The consensus from our testers was that on a given course, any one of these five bikes could take the win. It goes without saying that with a few tweaks, all of our contenders would perform superbly, going wheel-to-wheel for the line. And we’re not trying to keep all the manufacturers happy; there was a genuine sentiment that these five bikes are all incredibly fast, capable and efficient.
But in the end, as in racing, there can be only one winner. After considering the complete spectrum of each bike’s abilities and attributes, the test team felt unanimously that the Scott Spark RC 900 was the fastest bike overall – one that is not only quick out of the start gate, but that begs you to ride it harder and faster. Alive with personality and spunk, the Spark RC encourages you to give it everything you have, rewarding you with a thrilling ride.
Scott’s TwinLoc lock- out has been refined to offer three ideal suspension settings at a flick of the thumb. While the 68.5° head angle is marvellous for descending, it doesn’t compromise the climbs. Overall, we felt the Spark RC was the fastest bike we would want to ride day in and day out. Just a few seconds behind, taking silver, is Specialized’s new, more capable
Epic – it too climbs like a dream, and descends far better than its predecessor. However, while the Brain 2.0 is undeniably efficient (and smoother), its distinctive clunk is hard to ignore; our testers felt they would love to race it, but would prefer a traditional system for daily riding.
The bronze medal was another close affair, with Cannondale’s Scalpel nudging out the Giant Anthem, thanks to climbing more efficiently. The Pyga Stage put up a valiant fight, climbing well and descending predictably, but its predictably came at the expense of a sense of flair or excitement that might inspire you to push harder.