2017 Scott Spark first look

Revised suspension linkage design, lighter frame, and plus option

27.5 29er News
The Spark 900 Premium comes stock with a Shimano XTR drivetrain, Fox 34 fork, Fox Transfer dropper post, and Syncros XR1.5 alloy wheels. It's a highly capable bike.

The Spark 900 Premium comes stock with a Shimano XTR drivetrain, Fox 34 fork, Fox Transfer dropper post, and Syncros XR1.5 alloy wheels. It’s a highly capable bike.

Perhaps the best test of a bike is to see how it performs when pushed past its point of intended use. At this past week’s Scott Bikes global press launch in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, that moment of boundary crossing came near the end of the second day, when myself and few fellow journalists dropped into an expert-rated bike park trail that’s a mix of high-banked flow, lippy tabletops, and occasional rooty-rocky chunder.

Underneath me was the revamped 2017 Scott Spark 900 Premium, a 2x Shimano XTR-equipped 120mm 29er with Fox Transfer dropper post that’s designed to bridge the gap between racing and railing. I won’t pretend it was the perfect bike for the occasion. I’m sure I could have gone faster on a slacked out all-mountain rig with 30mm more travel. But in this moment of challenging circumstance, the new Spark handled the situation with composed confidence, maintaining traction and control in the rough stuff, soaking up several short landings without complaint, and whipping in and out of turns with tight precision.

The bike's 67.2-degree headtube angle is a departure from race bikes of old, netting a more playful and stable ride.

The bike’s 67.2-degree headtube angle is a departure from race bikes of old, netting a more playful and stable ride.

Check back to Mtbr in the coming days for full details on the new Scott Scale, plus beta on three new helmets, and new lightweight components.

The big difference is that since the chairlift wasn’t running that day, we had to conquer a near 1000-foot fire road climb to get to the entrance of the trail. And here the Spark was right at home, too. Thanks to a ~26-pound complete bike weight and new suspension layout that’s more sensitive at the top of the stroke but more supportive past the sag point, the Spark zipped uphill with the ruthless efficiency you’d expect from a bike that’s been Scott’s dedicated full suspension XC racer since 2007.

The new Spark’s change in suspension linkage set-up if the big news this year. Following a 24-month development process, Scott ditched the top-tube mounted shock design on the previous Spark for one that’s mounted vertically, pivoting on what’s called a trunnion mount near the bottom bracket. Gone is the slender swing link, replaced with a seat tube-mounted rocker that on the higher end bikes is made of carbon fiber.

The Trunnion mounted shock is actually offset slightly to the left, which allows for better frame tube shapes because they are straighter.

The Trunnion mounted shock is actually offset slightly to the left, which allows for better frame tube shapes because they are straighter.

The driver behind the wholesale change was to better separate the frame’s stiffness zone (lower half) from the comfort zone (upper half). Now instead of beefing up the top tube area to accommodate the shock linkage, the extra girth is relocated near the bottom bracket, an area that already requires stiffness to maximize power output. At the same time the kinked top tube has a sleeker, and purportedly more compliant shape. It all adds up to a more efficient structure. Or at least that’s the idea.

“Feedback on the old Spark was that it had a lack of support at the top of the travel,” conceded Joe Higgins, Scott’s chief of mountain bike engineering. “We tried to fix that within the confines of the old set-up but it just didn’t work.”

The seat tube mounted rocker link is full composite on some of the new higher end Scott Spark models.

The seat tube mounted rocker link is full composite on some of the new higher end Scott Spark models.

Instead with the new single-pivot rocker link design, Higgins says Scott was able to increase the leverage ratio early in the stroke, making it easier to compress the shock, which in turn means more small bump sensitivity. But thanks to a more consistent overall leverage ratio, the bike has more support from the sag point onwards, so you get good mid-stoke support and better bottom out resistance.

Continue to page 2 for more on the new Scott Spark »

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About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympics, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the Mtbr staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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  • GuyOnMTB says:

    I really enjoy reading these detailed articles, but I feel like there has allways been something missing from these ride reviews, on just about every site I can think of…

    And that is, having some GoPro’s focused on the suspension kinematics while being rode through the rough!!

    Just a thought!

    • Saris Mercanti says:

      That’s an awesome suggestion. I’ve tried that in the past and it’s a little hard to get the camera mounted, but something we should definitely try.

  • gost222 says:

    How is it possible that the 2017 frame is lighter than 2016 and the complete bike is 0,5 kg heavier (spark rc900 ultimate 2017 vs 900 premium 2016)?

  • Patrick McGahey says:

    Wow Scott has really delivered a winner with their new 2017 Spark, however their claim to have produced the lightest dual sus frame is untrue. Cannondale have been leaders for many years and their 2012 – 2013 Scalpel frame with shock and hardware comes in at 5.8 kg, with a total bike weight of 9.2kg (20lbs) with 27.5 setup

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