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Product review: Scott Scale 29 RC

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Scott includes fat and grippy 2.25" rubber on the Scale 29 RC, choosing to go the path of function rather than all-out gram shaving.

Scott includes fat and grippy 2.25" rubber on the Scale 29 RC, choosing to go the path of function rather than all-out gram shaving.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Scott's Scale 29 RC is a blazingly fast and light 29er but also remarkably composed in general trail riding situations.

Scott's Scale 29 RC is a blazingly fast and light 29er but also remarkably composed in general trail riding situations.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Derailleur cables are fed into the frame at the tapered head tube.

Derailleur cables are fed into the frame at the tapered head tube.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Scott claims that molding the top tube, down tube, and head tube in one piece yields a more efficient use of material and lighter overall frame weights.

Scott claims that molding the top tube, down tube, and head tube in one piece yields a more efficient use of material and lighter overall frame weights.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The rear brake mounts to dedicated 160mm posts inside the rear triangle.

The rear brake mounts to dedicated 160mm posts inside the rear triangle.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rear shifting was smooth and precise for the most part, though we did manage to bend the largest cog during testing.

Rear shifting was smooth and precise for the most part, though we did manage to bend the largest cog during testing.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The DT Swiss wheels come with tubes pre-installed but Scott ships the bike with valve stems and tubeless-ready tires should you decide the convert the compatible rims.

The DT Swiss wheels come with tubes pre-installed but Scott ships the bike with valve stems and tubeless-ready tires should you decide the convert the compatible rims.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The derailleur cables pop out down at the bottom bracket shell and running the lines is surprisingly simple. We're not so sure about the down tube-routed rear brake line, though.

The derailleur cables pop out down at the bottom bracket shell and running the lines is surprisingly simple. We're not so sure about the down tube-routed rear brake line, though.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Selle Italia SLR Team Edition saddle is light and well shaped but its stiff hull can be a bit much on multi-hour rides.

The Selle Italia SLR Team Edition saddle is light and well shaped but its stiff hull can be a bit much on multi-hour rides.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Scott's Shock Damping System supposedly only offers less than 5mm of vertical wheel movement but it's enough to smooth out chatter and take the edge off of larger bumps until your legs can catch up.

Scott's Shock Damping System supposedly only offers less than 5mm of vertical wheel movement but it's enough to smooth out chatter and take the edge off of larger bumps until your legs can catch up.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The kinked seat tube allows for slightly shorter chain stays but it also a slacker-than-typical seat tube angle.

The kinked seat tube allows for slightly shorter chain stays but it also a slacker-than-typical seat tube angle.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Additional handling precision comes courtesy of the 10mm thru-bolt DT Swiss RWS skewer.

Additional handling precision comes courtesy of the 10mm thru-bolt DT Swiss RWS skewer.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Scott takes the "big chain stays, small seat stays" approach of road frames and effectively translates it to off-road use.

Scott takes the "big chain stays, small seat stays" approach of road frames and effectively translates it to off-road use.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Scott Scale 29 RC hardtail frame is lighter than many road frames.

The Scott Scale 29 RC hardtail frame is lighter than many road frames.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thru-axle dropouts aren't common on cross-country bikes - especially hardtails - but that's a trend we hope will change moving forward.

Thru-axle dropouts aren't common on cross-country bikes - especially hardtails - but that's a trend we hope will change moving forward.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The tapered head tube, stiff carbon structure, and 15mm thru-axle dropouts make for a precise-handling front end.

The tapered head tube, stiff carbon structure, and 15mm thru-axle dropouts make for a precise-handling front end.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The 660mm-wide bar is a refreshing change from ultra-narrow bars still used by many other hardtails.

The 660mm-wide bar is a refreshing change from ultra-narrow bars still used by many other hardtails.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Press-fit bearing cups allow for a wider bottom bracket shell and more real estate for the down tube, seat tube, and chain stays.

Press-fit bearing cups allow for a wider bottom bracket shell and more real estate for the down tube, seat tube, and chain stays.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The chain stays are big and fat for good power transmission but they don't hamper the ride quality.

The chain stays are big and fat for good power transmission but they don't hamper the ride quality.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Various kinks and indentations are built into the chain stay shape to lend more clearance for the tire and chainrings.

Various kinks and indentations are built into the chain stay shape to lend more clearance for the tire and chainrings.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tire clearance is quite good out back, especially given the 29" diameter and generous 2.25" stock tire width.

Tire clearance is quite good out back, especially given the 29" diameter and generous 2.25" stock tire width.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Fox remote lockout lever (made by Shimano) neatly tucks in between the grip and SRAM XX controls.

The Fox remote lockout lever (made by Shimano) neatly tucks in between the grip and SRAM XX controls.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Given the bike's racing pretenses, Scott has fitted the Scale 29 RC hardtail with Truvativ's larger 42/26T chainring option.

Given the bike's racing pretenses, Scott has fitted the Scale 29 RC hardtail with Truvativ's larger 42/26T chainring option.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The remote lockout plunger head can be rotated as needed to get the smoothest cable routing. We ultimately decided to forego the stock behind-the-crown routing for a more direct path.

The remote lockout plunger head can be rotated as needed to get the smoothest cable routing. We ultimately decided to forego the stock behind-the-crown routing for a more direct path.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The chain stays and seat stays end up as one continuous hollow structure, resulting in less redundant material and less weight.

The chain stays and seat stays end up as one continuous hollow structure, resulting in less redundant material and less weight.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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We've experienced some inconsistencies with Fox's FIT-equipped forks over the past couple of seasons but thankfully, the 32 F29 FIT RLC on our Scott Scale 29 RC test bike was utterly flawless.

We've experienced some inconsistencies with Fox's FIT-equipped forks over the past couple of seasons but thankfully, the 32 F29 FIT RLC on our Scott Scale 29 RC test bike was utterly flawless.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A 185mm front rotor is featured as stock equipment.

A 185mm front rotor is featured as stock equipment.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Front shifting on the SRAM XX group is suberb, largely owing to the ultra-thick and stiff chainrings and clever X-Glide tooth shaping patterns.

Front shifting on the SRAM XX group is suberb, largely owing to the ultra-thick and stiff chainrings and clever X-Glide tooth shaping patterns.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Shorter riders may have issue getting the front end low enough. We were able to eke out another 25mm of drop by swapping out the headset cone and going with a -17

Shorter riders may have issue getting the front end low enough. We were able to eke out another 25mm of drop by swapping out the headset cone and going with a -17
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)

Scott claims just 4.6mm of vertical movement is built into the back end of its fantastic Scale 29 RC carbon 29er hardtail but in practice it behaves like more.

Coupled with the inherent vibration damping characteristics of good carbon fibre construction, that tiny bit of movement yields the smooth and sublime ride quality you'd expect on gentler terrain but it also mellows things out overall by rounding off the violent spikes that come with bigger trail features to which your arms and legs just can't react quickly enough.

Add in the associated traction benefits and the overall 'monstertruckability' of 29" wheels shod with relatively fat tyres – that we ran reliably at just 24/25psi front/rear on notoriously unforgiving Rocky Mountain terrain thanks, again, in part to that bit of movement in the stays – and the result is one of the most glued-to-the-ground feelings we've experienced in any hardtail. Not to mention a ridiculous amount of speed. This sucker is seriously swift.

It's not just a race bike, though. Over the last six weeks our test rides took the Scale 29 RC across all of our usual stomping grounds and given the off-season timeframe of our testing, unfortunately included no real racing so we treated it as we would any other trail bike and this carbon wündermachine surprised us there, too.

We had perhaps our most enjoyable descent ever down the tricky front side of Hall Ranch, complete with a few little drop-offs and lots of tricky granite fields that conspire to swallow standard 26" wheels; we happily clawed our way up the annoyingly loose 'connector trail' leading from town up to Betasso Preserve.

We confidently launched off the roots coming down the Enchanted Forest section of Chimney Gulch and we rocketed through the incessantly rock-strewn Wild Turkey slight downhill section of Heil Ranch, happily flicking our way over/through/around everything in our path and pedaling like mad, all while barely touching the brakes throughout.

We'd even gotten into the habit of launching the Scale 29 RC off of whatever (moderately sized!) hits we find on the trail, relishing in the remarkably composed behavior upon landing.

The straight truth is this is some of the most fun we've had on any mountain bike in ages, and the fact that it's been on a hardtail is more testament to the remarkable engineering. Hey, Scott, come over here and try to take it back – we dare you.

Point-and-shoot handling

Scott hasn't tempered any of the usual hardtail attributes, either, and in fact the Scale 29 RC chassis merely ups the ante. It's wonderfully rigid everywhere it should be and yet still very entertaining in the right environment and the hands of a skilled rider.

Without the filter of true suspension to water things down, reflexes retain immediacy, which come especially handy at higher speeds when you need those fast reaction times – after all, you're still on a hardtail and can't just mindlessly plough through things.

Tube sections are enormous in the front triangle and aided by the tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" head tube/press-fit 89.5mm-wide bottom bracket combo, both of which afford more real estate for the adjoining tubes and the concurrent extra lateral and torsional stiffness that come with it.

The seat tube flares radically outwards just below the front derailleur mount and the top tube is wide and relatively thin. The down tube, of course, is positively gargantuan and major kudos to Scott's product manager for selecting a 15mm thru-axle fork. Bravo.

The asymmetrical chain stays are fat as well, but the seat stays are shockingly slender and flattened, much like the road-going CR1 that shares the pseudo-flex stay design philosophy. Hey, guess what – we've now ridden both machines extensively and the idea works in both arena so it's not just sleight of hand and marketing hype.

Not surprisingly, pedaling response is superb. Push down, rocket forward – no questions asked.

Despite what the relatively slack (especially for a 29er) 69.5° head tube angle might suggest, handling is remarkably nimble and surprisingly natural feeling with no evidence of wheel flop or languishing in switchbacks. Credit here likely goes to the extra-rigid front end that loses little in translation from input to output, the short 438mm chain stays, just-right 60mm bottom bracket drop, the generously wide bar, and a flickable 90mm-long stem.

Not that this even needs to be mentioned explicitly, but the Scale 29 RC is also really light. Actual weight for the complete bike as pictured (but without pedals) is just 9.70kg (21.38lb) while the medium-sized all-carbon frame (there is no aluminum in the bottom bracket, head tube, or even the internal housing stops) is just 990g including the rear derailleur hanger, bottom bracket cable guide, and chunky quick-release (!) seatpost collar – well within Scott's 949g claim.

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Scott Scale 29 RC

Price: US$6,299.99
Weight: 9.70kg (21.38lb) (complete bike, w/o pedals), 990g (frame only, w/ seatpost collar, rear derailleur hanger, and bottom bracket cable guide)
Available sizes: M (tested), L, XL
Pros: Remarkably effective SDS rear end, brilliant handling, extremely light and stiff frame, excellent parts pick
Cons: Rear brake failed during testing, hard saddle, not everyone will be able to afford one, no small size
More information: www.scott-sports.com

Cyclingnews verdict: 4.5 stars

Specifications:

Frame: Scott Scale 29, HMX NET/IMP3 carbon fibre
Fork: Fox Racing Shox 32 F29 FIT RL Remote 15QR
Headset: Ritchey WCS Carbon Press Fit, 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" tapered
Stem: Ritchey WCS 4-Axis 44 Wet White
Handlebars: Ritchey WCS Carbon Flat, 660mm
Tape/grips: Scott lock-on
Front brake: Avid XX w/ 185mm rotor
Rear brake: Avid XX w/ 160mm rotor
Brake levers: Avid XX
Front derailleur: SRAM XX
Rear derailleur: SRAM XX
Shift levers: SRAM XX
Cassette: SRAM XX, 11-36T
Chain: SRAM PC-1091
Crankset: Truvativ XX GXP, 175mm, 42/26T
Bottom bracket: Truvativ GXP press-fit
Pedals: n/a
Wheelset: DT Swiss XR-29 w/ 15mm thru-axle front, 10mm thru-bolt RWS rear
Front tyre: Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evo, 29x2.25" tubeless ready
Rear tyre: Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evo, 29x2.25" tubeless ready
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Team Edition
Seat post: Ritchey WCS Carbon, custom SDS carbon lay-up