Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - MS

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.–

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