Scott Spark 20 Review
The Scott Spark 20 mountain bike is targeted at cross country and marathon competitions, with its full suspension set-up and well chosen components clearly indicating its intent. However, this does not mean that it is specialised beyond the realms of usefulness in other circumstances. It balances lightness and strength with a frame that can take big hits but also delivers the stiffness you need to climb.
The bike uses a Spark Carbon frame with mountain-specific IMP5 carbon technology to make it hard wearing and tough, while still keeping off the pounds. Because this is not quite the top of the Spark range you get an alloy swingarm, which indicates that the carbon is not as prevalent as it could be. However, the minimal difference in performance should be enough to satisfy most riders.
At the front is a RockShox SID RL3 Air fork, which offers 120mm of travel, while the Scott DT Nude2 shock at the rear is developed in house and provides three lockout modes. This means you can switch between full lockout, traction and climbing settings using the Twinloc remote lever mounted on the handlebar. Being able to adjust the bike on the fly is something that serious riders will definitely value as well as being an aspect that you will rarely see on lesser bikes.
Changing the suspension settings understandably alters the frame geometry and compliance, which means that you can get a trio of experiences for the price of one. You can go from riding on the pavement to mud, grass and gravel without having to make major adjustments by hand, so the bike really feels like an adaptive platform.
The full Shimano XT groupset is present on the Scott Spark 20 mountain bike, so the drive train functions smoothly and even the hydraulic disc brakes get the Shimano seal of approval, with a 180mm rotor at the front complemented by a smaller 160mm rotor at the back end.
DT Swiss XR20 Disc rims and Super Comp spokes are combined with Schwalbe Rocket Ron EVO tyres for a good off-road partnership that will help you to eat up XC courses and single-track stints. The Scott RC 05-60 seat post and Selle Italia SLR XP Team Edition saddle are a suitable match for this set-up, while at the front is the Scott Pilot Pro handlebar with lockon grips for reliability and endurance.
When you take the Scott Spark 20 mountain bike out for a spin you will definitely notice the low-weight set-up that is at the core of its appeal. Adding extra bits and bobs of your own choosing will add to this a little, with two of the most positive consequences being that you can ride faster over short distances and also take on longer courses without becoming fatigued as early as you might on a cheaper, heavier alternative.
You might be concerned that a bike of this kind, with its full-sus set-up and carbon frame, would be liable to feeling that little bit too flexible when out on the trail. However, Scott has managed to keep everything together in a stable manner, with a stiffness that seems surprising at first given its credentials.
While stiffness at the back end results in consistent power transfer, at the front it gives you impressive handling, which means that tight twists and turns will not be a problem for you. Of course, in turn you get the kind of vertical compliance which will help you absorb major impacts without sending shock waves through the frame and up into your body, so you can experience two sides of the same coin simultaneously.
Scott Spark 20 Specifications
- Front Fork: Rockshox SID RLT3 Air, 120mm travel
- Rear Shock: Scott DT Nude2 with 3 modes – Lockout/Traction/All Terrain, rebound adjustable
- Front Derailleur: Shimano XT
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT
- Gears: 30
- Chainring: 42/32/24T
- Cassette: Shimano X tooth 11-36T 10-speed
- Shifters: Shimano XT Rapidfire Plus
- Brakes: Shimano XT M785, 180/160mm
- Wheels: DT Swiss XR20 Disc
- Tyres: Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evo, 26×2.25