The Scott Spark can arguably be called the fastest cross-country race bike in the world after winning gold in both the men’s and women’s 2016 Olympic cross-country events with its wicked-fast pilots, Nino
Schurter and Jenny Rissveds. The Spark RC model is the closest thing to their
Olympic winning bikes a rider can purchase. The Spark Ultimate, however, is a
trail-oriented bike with a slacker head tube, dropper seatpost and more travel.
Scott is well known for making crazy-lightweight bikes that strive to cross
the finish line in first place, but with bikes in all categories becoming more
capable, it only made sense for Scott to develop a cross-country race machine
for the rider less keen on beating himself up with stiff suspension and twitchy
handling. The Scott Ultimate is a friendlier cross-country race bike that blurs
the lines between cross-country and trail. This concept of a beefed-up race
machine capable of shredding trails while retaining Olympic gold-medal performance sparked our curiosity and led our test riders to believe that this just
might be the ultimate do-it-all, lightweight bike.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Spark Ultimate is made for a rider who trail rides after work during the
week and heads to the races on the weekends. It’s not as light as Scott’s RC
model (made to do one thing: win races), but it’s a full pound or so lighter than
a traditional trail bike. Riders with cross-country racing in their blood will find
the Spark perfect for hammering out intervals or powering their way through a
workout, while more trail-minded riders will find this bike to be a blast due to
its more aggressive geometry and better trail capabilities.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Spark is constructed from HMX carbon fiber, made exclusively for
Scott, and features 29-inch wheels; however, the same bike can be purchased with 27.5-inch wheels. Scott uses its patented TwinLoc remote that
allows riders to set the suspension in three different settings on the fly.
The Spark is built with a Fox Nude shock that now uses a Trunnion mount,
resulting in a longer stroke while retaining the same overall length of 165 millimeters, the same as last year’s Spark 900. At a quick glance, you will also
notice the shock was flipped upside down, allowing Scott to incorporate the
shock into the frame for increased stiffness and a lower center of gravity. The
Spark’s linkage is constructed of carbon, and the frame features an asymmetric design. Last but not least, the Spark Ultimate features a more trail-oriented
geometry than the RC model, with a 1.3-degree slacker head tube, a 5-milli-
meter longer top tube and 3-millimeter shorter chainstays.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Scott Ultimate is fully tricked out with all the latest and greatest parts
on the market today. First off, the Spark comes equipped with a SRAM Eagle
XX1, 12-speed drivetrain, along with SRAM Level Ultimate brakes. The Spark
also features a RockShox Reverb dropper post, which quickly changes this
cross-country race rocket into a trail-shredding machine. Next, the Spark
has a trail-ready Fox Float 34 Factory fork operated by a remote lockout and
finishes the build with Syncros XR1.0 carbon wheels. Together, these components make up a high-performance bike ready for ripping trails or crossing
finish lines in first place.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setting Sag: We initially set up our Spark with 30-percent sag front and
rear but found we were bottoming out the rear end on bigger hits. We decided to increase the rear end to 20 percent and found it allowed our riders to
get more aggressive on trail rides. Our rebound was centered front and rear
and was later sped up two clicks or so. We then used our TwinLoc remote to
dampen the suspension as needed.
Moving Out: The Spark Ultimate has a slightly longer top tube than its
cross-country brother, allowing Scott to spec the Spark with a 60-millimeter
stem. This short stem combined with 740-millimeter handlebars gives the
Spark a comfortable fit that blurs the lines between cross-country and trail.
Lightweight trail ripper: The Spark
900 Ultimate blurs the lines between
cross-country and trail.