Review: Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup

Built to win World Cups and Olympic medals, the Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup is a race-oriented 100mm cross-country mountain bike. Decked out in full team livery to match cross-country superstar Nino Schurter’s ride it’s sure to turn heads, but just how does it perform for a mere mortal?

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The Spark RC (Racing Concept) is, as the name suggests, the racyist of the Spark family with 100mm travel and no accommodations for a front derailleur. The Spark 900 and 700 are the more trail focussed options with 120mm and 130mm / 120mm respectively. If you're interested in the detail we covered the new Spark platform when it launched.

 

The Build


The Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup sits second from the top of the RC line-up, with the SL version topping out the range. Naturally, it features a solid dose of high-end components keeping the build suitably light at 10.3 kg according to Scott (10.8 kg as tested, including sealant). The frame is constructed from Scott's HMX carbon fibre blend said to be 20% stiffer kilogram for kilogram compared to the HMF carbon fibre used on lower tier models.

 

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In its lively burnt orange, the RockShox SID RLC is hard to miss and offers a firm, stable, predictable front end with reliable damping on the bigger drops. The custom Fox Nude shock is neatly tucked into the frame, requiring less space thanks to the trunnion mount. It offers three modes: lockout, traction control and descend which fully opens it up.

 

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Scott’s TwinLoc remote mounted below the bar controls front and rear suspension with three adjustment modes. Some tweaking was required to ensure the remote was making the most of the suspension, but once set up it provided easy access to the three modes on offer. The only gripe is a somewhat stiff action to actuate into fully locked out position, but once it was there the bike felt like a hardtail and, if I'm honest, it was seldom required.

 

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The drivetrain features a mix of SRAM X01 and XX1 Eagle along with a custom Scott chain guide to ensure less can get between you and the podium… or that elusive PB. The SRAM Level TLM brakes with 160mm rotors provide sufficient stopping power when you need it.

 

Syncros handle all the contact points on the bike with a selection of well finished, high-quality parts. The carbon handlebars are 720mm wide with a 9-degree backsweep neatly clamped to an 80mm stem (on the large model as tested) with an 8-degree drop. A Syncros XR1.5 saddle with Titanium rails is perched on a Syncros FL1.0 Carbon Seatpost. I did struggle with the seatpost slipping on a number of rides and it required what felt like excessive torque on the clamp bolt to keep it in check.

 

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DT Swiss round out the build with their X1825 Spline wheelset wrapped in racy Maxxis Aspen 2.25 tyres. The X1825 rims have a healthy 25mm internal width giving the Aspens a sturdy platform and producing a dependable interface with the ground at lower pressures. You’d be reasonable to expect carbon wheels at this end of the range and price point, it was my first thought looking at the specification list, however on the bike that was quickly forgotten. They strike a great balance between stiffness and weight with the quality and dependability of DT Swiss internals.

 

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Although the Maxxis Aspens are well suited to the bike's purpose, one change I would consider is to slap a burlier tyre up front to give that little bit more grip and resilience through harsh rocks. The bike wills you to go faster and, on more than one occasion, I found myself pushing the front tyre through terrain it wasn't entirely designed for.

 

Specifications


  • FrameSpark RC Carbon / IMP technology / HMX, 1x optimized / BB92 /, Carbon swingarm / SW dropouts for Boost 12x148mm, TBC Trunnion Box Construction
  • ForkRock Shox SID RLC Air, Charger Damper with low Speed adj., 15x110mm Maxle Stealth / Tapered steerer / 2 Modes / Lockout / Reb. Adj., 100mm travel
  • ShockFOX NUDE Trunnion, SCOTT custom w. travel / geo adj., 3 modes: Lockout - Traction Control -Descend
    DPS / Reb. Adj./ Travel 100 - 70 - Lockout / 165X40mm
  • RemoteSCOTT TwinLoc Suspension System / below Bar Remote, 3 modes / integ. Grip clamp
  • WheelsetDT Swiss X1825 Spline CL, F: 15x110mm, R: 12 x 148mm Boost, 25mm Tubless ready rim / 28H / XD, DT RWS w/Removable Lever with Tool
  • TyresMaxxis Aspen / 2.25 / 120TPI Kevlar Bead, TR Tubeless Ready / EXO / 3C maxx Speed
  • ShifterSram X01 Trigger
  • Rear DerailleurSram XX1 / Eagle 12 Speed
  • ChainguideSCOTT Chainguide
  • CranksetSram XX1 Eagle GXP Boost PF Carbon crankarm, QF 168 / 32T
  • Bottom BracketSram GXP PF integrated / shell 41x92mm
  • Cassette Sram X01 / XG1295 / 10-50 T
  • ChainSram PCX01 Eagle
  • SaddleSyncros XR1.5 / Titanium rails
  • SeatpostSyncros FL1.0 Carbon
    10mm offset / 31.6 x 400mm
  • HandlebarSyncros FL1.0 Carbon T-Bar
    T shape flat / 9° / 720mm
  • GripsSyncros Pro lock-on grips
  • StemSyncros XR1.5 -8°, Integrated Spacer & Top Cup, 2014 Alloy / 31.8mm / 1 1/8" / Garmin mount
  • HeadsetSyncros FL1.5 Drop in / Tapered 1.5" - 1 1/8", Ti bearing diameter size 42mm and 52mm
  • BrakesSram Level TLM Disc / tool free reach adj, 180/F and 160/Rmm Centerline CLX Rotor
  • Weight10.3kg claimed, 10.8kg as tested (large frame, including sealant)
  • PriceR 109,000 (indicative market price at time of publication)

 

On the trail


For the first few outings on the bike, the fork and shock were set up as per manufacturer recommendations. I found the SID in particular to be a touch too firm at pressures recommended for my weight and it took some experimenting at lower pressures to find the sweet spot. This is likely to be a personal preference based on riding style and terrain.

 

Out of the gates, you can feel that the Spark is an efficient bike with punchy acceleration. The seated position is comfortable and although the front end does appear to be far out ahead of you, it doesn't feel stretched, thanks in part to the reasonably short stem and back sweep on the bars.

 

In traction control mode, the bike carries impressive speed over bumpy terrain as the suspension allows you to comfortably put the power down while seated. At slower speeds on flat technical single track, the bike did feel stuttery at times but once more familiar with the Spark's capability, some bolder and quicker line choices were well rewarded.

 

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The Charger damper in the Rock Shox SID RLC provides reliable and consistent performance up front.

 

Climbing


It is almost a given that a light-weight high-end cross-country bike should climb well, especially one with its particular palmarès, but looking at the Spark’s slacker head angle there were some murmurings about what the tradeoffs might be. These were sharply abated as the Spark exceeded all expectations on the climbs. Climbing seated or out of the saddle, the bike felt composed and confidently negotiated obstacles with surprisingly nimble handling.

 

Fully locked out it is basically a hardtail and feels light enough that you may just forget it is not. The rigidity was useful on a few tar “transitions” and smoother dirt road climbs, but the middle setting offered the best balance of stiffness and compliance providing traction and comfort while retaining efficiency.

 

It is a bike that appears to thrive on speed and effortlessly encourages its rider to push that little bit harder. And, yes, in case you ask, Strava has the evidence of a good few Strava PBs on my local trails.

 

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The Maxxis Aspens gave good grip and rolled well running at 20-25 PSI (~1.5 bar)

 

Descending


Designed with the demands of modern cross-country circuits the Spark is due to be a confident descender, however often with high-performance vehicles of any sort, much of outcome depends on the skill of the driver. The Spark though dishes out confidence without prejudice and it has the capability to match.

 

The slacker head angle and short rear end deliver a combination of stability and agility on the descents. Although the long top tube pitches you forward, the wheel being further out front gives the feeling of being within the bike rather than precariously on top of it, while the rear end tucks in beneath you to provide impressively snappy and responsive handling.

 

With the TwinLoc fully open, the suspension does its job well allowing the bike to retain composure even while active and left you feeling in touch and in command rather than along for the ride. Although set quite firm for much of the test period, the suspension provides good small bump smoothing and solid mid-travel support. I did find that small pressure adjustments on the Fox Nude led to quite significant changes, becoming overly active at ever so slightly lower pressures. Overall though the tuned geometry and suspension pair well to provide an overwhelming sense of control and comfort in the descents.

 

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3 Comments

MphatiPyga, Apr 24 2018 08:56

Intriguing that it combines Rockshox and Fox, don’t recall seeing that combo before unless on a self built (custom) bike

Admin, Apr 24 2018 09:03

Intriguing that it combines Rockshox and Fox, don’t recall seeing that combo before unless on a self built (custom) bike

 

This particular model is a replica of the team bike and in addition to the paint job, follows their component sponsors (SRAM & Rockshox). The majority the other Sparks in the range are Fox front and rear.

Heel Drop, Apr 25 2018 04:01

I have to say between specialized sworks epic and the scott rc team I prefer the Specialized - its just on another level