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Turn up to watch any MTB race and you’re guaranteed to see more than your fair share of Scott bikes. But what impresses is how much fast fun the Scale 960 can be

Price: £949

FRAME AND FORKS

Scott’s crazy light carbon frames might grab the headlines, but its alloy frames are also extremely light compared to others. The thin wall, multi thickness tubing gives an impressively cultured and forgiving ride too. Add in contemporary features like internal cable routing for clean lines and a post mount rear brake for easy adjustment and it’s a very upgradeable frameset. There’s a full range of sizes up to XXL and rather than allocating wheel size dependent on frame size, the Scale 760 uses 27.5-inch wheels but an otherwise identical spec if you want slightly snappier acceleration and handling but a firmer ride quality.

Whichever wheel size you go for you’re getting an acceptable selection of kit for the money, where an XT rear mech is the highlight on the otherwise Deore stop and go equipment. The Syncros cockpit and seating kit is all well shaped gear, and the Maxxis Ikon tyres on the Syncros rims are arguably the best fast tyres around, with much better grip than you’d expect as long as things don’t get too wet and sloppy. The Rock Shox TK 30 fork gets a remote control lever on the bars so you can lock it out for sprinting or smooth climbs. The quick release (rather than through axle) 30mm diameter legs are slightly flexier than the 32mm diameter leg forks of the Trek and Focus when you’re braking and steering hard though.

THE RIDE

The Scale feels more controlled in steering terms because Scott was one of the first bike companies to reverse the tradition of race bikes being nervously fast handling machines. Instead it realised that letting riders relax more on descents reduced overall fatigue and also gave them the confidence to open gaps on the way down rather than just hanging on for grim death and then attacking again on the climbs.

Obviously a more confident, relaxing bike is more fun when you want to push your limits or just extract maximum playtime on any trail and that’s certainly the case with the Scale. By using a comparatively relaxed 69-degree head angle and a 720mm wide bar for increased steering leverage it feels more secure and easily controlled whether you’re straightlining a rough or loose section at speed or surfing a slide through a slippery corner. The noticeably forgiving feel of the frame means it loses less speed when jolted off-line or hooked up on bigger obstacles on rough terrain – this helps to increase traction and sustain pedalling rhythm better.

Combined with the confident handling up front, this put the Scott firmly on the offensive not the defensive as soon as the trails got technical and taxing. There is a slight trade-off in terms of absolute sprint stiffness on smooth trails but the remote fork lever gives you a psychological edge when attacking out of the saddle. The significantly lighter weight and supple tyres are also an advantage on longer climbs – particularly rougher ones.

VERDICT: While the fork is a bit flexy, and the kit isn’t the best value here, all our test team agreed that the Scott 960’s mix of lightweight efficiency, smooth rolling speed, confident handling and addictively playful enthusiasm makes it the pick of the pack.

Rating: 8/10

Reviewed in February 2016 issue