THE VER­DICT

Bicycling (South Africa) - - SHOOT OUT -

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.

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