Black and white daydreaming. This is the impression that stuck in my mind after taking the Scott Scale 960 for some mountain rides. Believe it or not, this statement comes from a person reluctant when it came to 29ers. But I think this is exactly the purpose of bikes like the present one: to show us what big wheel mountain bikes are capable of and how maneuverability can be so easily transformed into something you can get enough of.
A very abstemious look is the perfect camouflage for this natural-born sportsman, which is the Scale 960. Discreet and lacking top-end specifications, the model will fall short of impressing anyone who already owns a creme de la creme mountain bike, at first glance anyway. But nothing can be more untrue than first impressions in this case, and the reasons why it’s so easy to fall for Scott’s Scale 960 can be found in the following.
Frame/On the trail
I didn’t take too much time for me to realise that my list of favourite bikes will be enrichened with a new contender. While testing the frame’s stiffness, I noticed the finishing touches, which are more than I could ask for and very carefully crafted welds, while the quality of the paint and little details such as the fluted dropouts are nothing but impressive. The weightscale test was easy as pie for Scott’s prodigy, the 1.68 kilograms of the frame further stating that the manufacturer didn’t spare any effort in providing quality. As for the stiffness, it didn’t hit an outstanding value, the 84.6 Nm/degree placing it somewhere in the medium-performance range, yet my curiosity of real-life handling wasn’t quenched.
Two days laters, I took the bike for its maiden voyage. Or maybe mine, on a bike that totally relates to the rider. The hands feel at home on the wide handelbar that has a carefully picked backsweep, and the entire body benefits from the perfectly-fitted length of the top tube. Basicly, I have found all the reasons why a bike that suits you completely should be the one you will eventually buy. But the Scale 960 has more assets that the plain fit. The 700mm of the Syncros FL2.5 Tbar provide an excellent control and if it’s matched with a relatively short stem, like in this case, where the length was of 80mm and 6 degree rise, then you might very well have discovered the perfect receipe. Also, you must know that Scott managed to hit the spot with the rider’s position, this model being somewhat of a bridge between sporty and race riding.
The 69.5 degrees of the head tube angle do not make you think the bike is too maneuverable, but at least the keep stability at a more than decent level.
I think there is no better example of a mid-level specified mountain bike that delivers such a good performance that you do not need to consider upgrading like the Scale 960 is. Eventhough components are a mix of entry- and mid-level, they work in perfect harmony.
The hydraulic BR M446 disk brakes are part of the entry-level category, comprising an 180mm front rotor and an 160mm rear one, but braking is more than pleasing. Then you have the Rock Shox XC 32 fork which is also in this category, but doesn’t show any sign of weakness, the SoloAir cartridge making sure that most bumps aren’t a match for the fork.
A Shimano SLX rear derailleur, a Shimano XT front derailleur and a Hollowtech M552 crankset form the 30 gear drivetrain. The crankset differs from the Hollowtech II, not having hollow arms, but rather carved on the inner part. All parts of the drivetrain work smoothly together, a 2-Way Release Shimano Deore shifter making sure they do whatever you tell them to. The only setback of the system is the chain, which gets noisy when slapping, so a Shadow Plus derailleur would have been very helpful here.
Don’t expect very much from the wheelset either. When in high stress, the rear one tends to get flexible. The rims are provided by Scott’s own component brand, Syncros, more accurately, the XC-49 Disc model being mounted on this bike, while Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron tires, belonging to the Active Line category, completing the whole affair. Grip and rolling speed were rather good, the only problems occuring when the conditions got wet, extra attention being necessary to be payed.
Also, the saddle is a plus, being very comfortable even without wearing a pair of specific cycling shorts or bibs. The stock bike comes with a pair of Wellgo platform pedals that weigh in at 247 grams, but for a more compelling experience I recommend a pair of clipless ones.
Scott Scale 960 makes a hasty way up to the top of our 2013 likes. It is well-balanced from the specifications point of view, has a great frame, and it does really good on forest and mountain trails. It also offers a good choice for those seeking to skip the step between a low-cost mountain bike and a serious one. All in all, the bike tips the scale at 12.88 kilograms, not exactly a premium-value, but which can be improved with some upgrades. Pricing is set at around 1.220 euros, placing it in a medium category, although you will might want to reconsider this positioning after a couple of riding sessions…
Total weight: 12.88 kg (pedals included, weighing 247 grams)
Frame weight: 1.682 grams
Wheelset weight*: 4.922 grams
Fork weight: 2.124 grams
Handlebar width: 700 mm
Crankset weight (+Bottom Bracket): 956 grams
Head tube stiffness: 84.6 Nm/degree
*Weight includes tires, sprockets, disk and quick release