OFF-ROAD TRIATHLON IS not talked about nearly as much as its more wellknown sibling. However, there are a handful of athletes who call the sport their own, and many who use it as a cross training ground to improve their fitness for a full- or other distance race. Just like you want to gain every advantage on the road with aero shaped tubing, lightweight carbon frames and integrated hydration, the same can be said when choosing a mountain bike for off-road racing.
The Scott Spark RC is one such machine. The Spark saw a complete re-design for 2017 and, with that, comes several features that can help you shave seconds on the trail. One of the most notable changes was to the bike’s geometry. Scott slackened the head tube angle and shortened up the chainstays. Here’s what all that means: the changes put you in a much better position for descending. The new geometry puts you further behind the front wheel allowing you to point the bike downhill where you want to go without feeling like you will go over the handlebars. The shorter chain stays also put you over the rear wheel and in a position that makes it easier to navigate bumpy sections without getting bounced off the bike. The Spark’s suspension system, which offers 100 mm of travel front and rear, does a great job of smoothing out bumps on the trail and allows for added traction when on technical climbs or navigating sections of the trail with lots of roots. The Spark comes equipped with a Fox 32 SC Float Factory air front fork and a matching Fox NUDE Trunnion rear shock which was specially designed for Scott by Fox. Both the front and rear suspension can be locked out simultaneously courtesy of Scott’s Twinlock remote located on the handlebar. This is a great feature for when courses include paved sections or gravel roads, often found near transition areas. With a push of a button the suspension firms up and doesn’t lose any efficiency through pedal bob – making the ride more like what you’re used to on a road bike. When you enter the trail, or things begin to get technical, you simply push the button again and you have 100 mm of plush travel to soak up all the bumps and keep you fresh for the run.
The Spark uses Scott’s HMX Sl carbon for the frame. This carbon is some of the lightest mountain bike carbon and Scott claims that, at 1,749 g, the Spark RC 700 is the lightest dual suspension frame on the market. They achieved these numbers, in part, by removing the front derailleur mount on the bike. Although you can still get a Spark RC with a front derailleur, you won’t be taking advantage of all the carbon wizardry Scott has incorporated into the 1x version. That being said, if you opt for the top-end Spark equipped with Sram’s 1x12 Eagle drivetrain, you are essentially still getting the same gear range as you would with many 2x front chainring setups. In the near future I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more and more bike companies switching to a single ring up front. This also leaves room on your handlebar for a remote lockout or dropper post lever.
Scott’s house brand of components – Syncros Scott – also adds to the performance of the Spark thanks to integrated stems that increase front end stiffness and improve handling. The Spark also comes equipped with Syncros XR 1.0 hubs laced into 28 hole tubeless rims. The XR1 hubs are wider than previous generations, giving the Spark a wider stance and improved handling and traction.
With all its new features and upgrades, the Spark RC is set up to help you pedal through the woods faster than ever, while getting you to the run less beat up and more rested.–