Published on March 24th, 2009 | by Tredz Blog1
2009 Scott Genius 50 review
Had a golden opportunity yesterday to try out the 2009 range of Scotts, well established Genius’. Better than a spin round a car park that some companies offer, this was the chance to ride around the XC loop at Cwmcarn with non other than Nick Craig, multiple time national XC, Cyclo-cross and Marathon (enduro) champion. He is also an all round nice guy, very knowledgeable and very, very quick.
I chose to take out the Genius 50, the entry level model as I think it the best way to test geometries and suspension system – this is after all what the 2009 Genius is all about. Sure the carbon models are more bling and lighter but they share exactly the same angles and suspension system across the range. Also it was white and I’m a sucker for a white bike.
The old genius’ had a well deserved reputation for being cramped, with a short toptube forcing many riders to use long stems which ruined the handling characteristics. There was nothing you could do about the steep-ish head-angle or high stand-over, an issue if you tried a larger frame to get some room in the top-tube. Scott have taken these complaints on board and completely re-worked the geometry for 2009. The top tube is both longer and lower (610 mm effective top-tube, size large). They have also slackened the head-angle by 1 degree to 68.5 to give better handling on the steep fast stuff but without making it too slack for twisty single-track climbs. All this is a great improvement and makes even more sense given the increased travel for 2009.
For 2009 the rear wheel travel goes to a (relatively) whopping 150mm. Reflecting the industry wide desire for more travel to cope with the faster, rockier trails riders are looking for, and the growth in popularity of enduro/downhill events like the Megavalanche series and Kona Mash ups.
This bike is no armchair ride however, Scotts 3 stage ‘on the fly’ adjustable suspension has the ability to transform the bike from a fully locked fire-road flyer, to a rock hungry all mountain bike at the flick of a switch. The travel is delivered via the new Equalizer 2 shock, Scotts own ‘in house’ shock. The old units had a reputation for being unreliable. I think this was largely unfair and a result of a lot of people not getting to grips with a relatively complex set-up procedure. The new (entirely redesigned) shock is also complex but it delivers a lot of performance at a very low weight and a little time (5 mins!) spent learning how to set it properly will give you almost any ride characteristics you fancy.
The shocks are the same unit across the range; thankfully the Rock Shox Revelation 409 Dual Air forks fitted to the Genius 50 are not! Too thin to cope with their ambitious (for a standard QR axle) 140mm of travel they were fine on climbs but when things got a bit fast and ‘hairy’ they had all the tracking ability of wet spaghetti. I accept that air springs keep the weight down but I don’t think in this case it works with this amount of travel. It was a shame as the back end, once set up correctly worked beautifully.
Asides from the forks, the rest of the spec was fine. Not exactly drool worthy at this price but all good solid performers that will stand the test of time. Gears were a mix of Shimano SLX and XT shifted via Shimanos’ excellent ‘dual release’ levers. Stopping was taken care of the always great Avid Juicys. 3.5s may seem a little stingy at this price but they are undeniably awesome brakes. A mixture of components from Scott, Alex, FSA and Schwalbe keep the weight down to a very respectable 29.4 lbs.
The long and sometimes technical opening climb of the Twrch (Welsh for boar/hog) trail was a great test for the ‘traction control’ setting on the rear shock. It coped admirably, and combined with the respectable weight made the climb something of a breeze. The front end sometimes felt a little high but only as a result of a 140mm fork with no travel adjust. The back end digs in and offers plenty of traction and climbed almost as well in ‘all travel’ as in ‘traction mode’ but using the lever to control the shock quickly becomes instinctive and I found myself changing it in conjunction with the gears when approaching steeper, technical sections.
On flat and rolling terrain the low weight and stiff back-end had me flying along in the big ring for sections that would normally find me in much lower gears; it was good to see that the relaxing of the geometry hasn’t lost the racy characteristics that Scotts are famous for, rather it has made the bike a far more capable all-round beast. With this kind of performance combined with the available travel could make this a serious contender as a big trail, Alpine machine; a few changes of spec could make this a great ‘Megavalanche’ bike.
On the subject of spec changes I cant go without mentioning the tyres this bike came equipped with; the Schwalbe ‘Nobby nics’ were THE worst tyres I have ridden in a long, long time. They were OK’ish on the climb but as soon as things got fast and/or hairy they were like riding on ball bearings. Traction under braking and cornering was almost non-existant, lowering the pressure made things worse as the
extremely thin sidewalls folded at the slightest hint of pressure and on more than one occasion had me checking for a puncture. This, combined with the oh so bendy forks made fast, swooping corners a challenge to say the least, a real shame as the rear of the bike working like a dream but getting lost in a fog of poor traction and cornering.
As mentioned, the components aren’t exactly drool-worthy but you do get a LOT of frame and suspension technology for your cash and it’s this that makes a bike. Unfortunately the forks and tyres let this bike down, big time. My advice would be to spend the extra cash and get the Genius 40; ok, it’s not white, but you get the far superior Fox forks and the whole component package improved by a LOT more than the extra £400 would ever get you ‘aftermarket’. As for the tyres; well give em’ a go, you may get on with them, if you do, you’re a better, more tolerant man than me.
This IS a great frame and with the right parts makes a cracking bike that will do 90% of what 90% of riders want. Scott have really listened to what riders want and the result is a hugely improved Genius that has begun to live up to its name.
Posted by Chris