Scott’s purchase of ‘hidden shock’ maestros Bold Cycles has clearly influenced the design of the new Spark. This Tuned version gets the ‘downcountry’ treatment with a 130mm-travel fork and more ‘grrr’ from the spec list. The Spark’s 120mm of rear-wheel travel is provided by a single-pivot swingarm, which connects to the mainframe just behind the chainring. A little flex in the carbon fibre seatstays helps Scott control the suspension kinematics.
Hidden in the bowels of the bike is the bulk of the suspension’s linkage. The shock is concealed at the base of the seat tube, where it’s protected from the elements, but can be accessed via a door in the down tube. This design gives cleaner lines, extra bearing real estate and more room in the front triangle. A nifty shock linkage hidden inside the seat tube helps to portion out the travel.
Basic shock adjustment is done via an easily openable door. It’s a slightly more involved process to get inside the shock, though. An adjustable headset can be used to steepen up the slack 65.8-degree head angle by 0.6 degrees. This is matched to a 76.4-degree effective seat tube angle – but note that the actual seat tube angle is fairly slack, so the higher you extend the seatpost, the slacker the effective angle will become.
With no shock visible, a little decal sag meter arrangement helps you set the sag. The reach on the large size we tested is a healthy 470mm, while the chainstays are a moderate 437.5mm.
Scott Spark 900 Tuned AXS geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||75.7||75.9||76.4||76.7|
|Head angle (degrees)||65.8||65.8||65.8||65.8|
|Top tube (mm)||561||589||613||641|
|Head tube (mm)||90||90||105||115|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||43.5||43.5||43.5||43.5|
|Bottom bracket height (mm)||331.5||331.5||331.5||331.5|
Scott Spark 900 Tuned AXS kit
A proprietary Fox Nude 5T shock is paired with a matching Factory-level 34 fork. Both are controlled by Scott’s TwinLoc on-bar levers, which toggle between ‘Lockout’, ‘Traction Control’ and ‘Descend’ modes.
A top-flight downcountry fork from Fox adorns the front of the bike. With the remote for the Fox Transfer dropper post hung off the bottom, there’s a trio of levers to navigate, which takes a ride or two to get used to. You get a wireless SRAM Eagle AXS drivetrain, while the brakes are Shimano XTR four-pots. In-house brand Syncros provides the all-in-one Fraser iC carbon cockpit and Silverton carbon wheels, which roll on DT Swiss 370 hubs, with a slightly slow pick-up.
Tyrewiz’s instantaneous tyre pressure data is beamed to your electronic device – a nifty addition from Scott and Quark.
Scott Spark 900 Tuned AXS ride impressions
With pure race-bred DNA, the Spark, even in its ‘downcountry’ form, is a fast bike. The way it picks up speed is almost alarming – before you know it, you’re reaching for the punchy brakes to temper your speed. This is partly thanks to Schwalbe’s new Wicked Will tyres, which have a great blend of predictable grip and low rolling resistance. On groomed or hardpack trails, they’re some of the fastest I’ve ridden. It’s also down to the smooth suspension, though.
The Spark is quick to turn from corner to corner. With the rear wheel unimpeded in its ability to track the ground, the Spark has an incredibly plush ride, which keeps the chassis stable and you able to concentrate on the trail ahead. It’s one of those bikes that encourages you to keep pedalling, never choking over stutter bumps or kicking back through the pedals. On flatter tracks, though, it’s not as reactive to pumping through the terrain as some in this category. Here, there’s a slight bias towards your bodyweight compressing the suspension, rather than driving the bike forward. With the head tube at its slackest, the geometry is on-par with the best downcountry mountain bikes. The long front centre aids stability at higher speeds, but it’s still easy to get the bike pirouetting through corners. Concentration is needed, though.
The bike feels super-nimble on the trail. With all that speed, it’s possible to overwhelm the tyres, especially on loose or dusty trails – and when the rear goes, it really goes. When slamming the bike into a berm, there’s a little more flex between bar and rear tyre than I’d ideally like, which occasionally caused me to miss lines. This bit of twang was also noticeable on crux uphill moves – as you power out of a corner, the Spark seems to uncoil and sit up a touch. I reckon this is due to a combination of the lightweight tyre casings, skinny-ish wheels and some flex from the frame. Outside of this situation, the Spark Tuned is one of the best climbers I’ve ridden.
Scott’s Spark 900 Tuned AXS is fast and furious. In Descend, the level of traction generated is incredible – on loose, rocky, steppy climbs I could clear more sections on this bike than pretty much any other. Left in this mode on smoother ascents, the shock moves more than it might on other bikes – a result of that incredible suppleness. However, if you use the TwinLoc lever, the bike surges forward with every pedal stroke.