Thursday, June 9, 2011

SCOTT SPARK 2012 29er

There have been first glimpses of the long awaited 2012 Scott Spark 29er, and Wow - is it a stunner. At first glimpse, it seems to be a Specialized Epic rip-off, with an offset seat tube and swept top tube. However, the big changes are at the rear suspension. Whereas the Specialized shock linkages are on the downtube, the Spark does not drift far from its roots on the top tube.

Scott 29er Linkage

Over the past five years, Specialized have experimented with a whole range of linkages, some working better than other. The June 2011 edition of Mountain Bike Action touts the Specialized Epic as the best mountain bike ever. Judging by these pics, I cant see the throne staying long on the Sinyard head.

Specialized Epic 29er Linkage

Based on the differences between the linkage designs, it seems that the 2012 Spark 29er shifts the linkage with the view to stiffening up the rear end even further. This can be seen in the comparison with the 2011 Spark 26er linkage pictured below.

2011 Spark 26er Linkage

Scott's shock linkage has not drifted far from the roots of its past five years. It seems the Scott approach is based on what works, and in my experience, the 5 year old Spark design has excelled from 2006 to 2011. The only reason Scott would move to a modified design is considerable performance benefits.

Compare that to the way in which the Specialized Epic design has changed over the years. Pictured below is the Epic shock link of 2006. Its radically different from the 2011 Epic design and it appears that over the past five years the Epic design of 2011 has moved considerably closer to the design of the Scott than vice versa.

Specialized Epic 2006 Linkage

2006 Scott Spark linkage

Up front, Scott has moved to the Rock Shox DNA system. As indicated in a previous post, the DT Swiss XC100 is a great XC fork, but, struggles with rides beyond two hours. The move to Rock Shox adds a little weight, but turns the Spark into a more versatile Marathon and XC race machine, while still retaining its sublime XC performance.

Far to many manufacturers boast about bike weight. The Specialized Epic boasts that its under 10kgs. Scott prefers to tell you about frame weight - 1890 grams for the 29er. There's no hiding when you talk frame weight. You can have a light bike with a heavy frame, but, it wont be race ready. A really light bike will never be shy about the weight of its frame, and the Spark is probably a good 400 grams lighter than the Epic.

Here is a list of references where you can find news on the new Scott Spark 29er

Q2 Bikers Online
Bike Rumour
Bike Germany

So where to now - is my 2010 vintage 26er Spark going to be pensioned off? Its a bike that served me brilliantly on the Cape Epic, but, I would certainly love to ride the 29er - just for comparative purposes. I remain unconvinced on the benefits of the 29er format as there will always be a weight penalty. But, based on the carpark 29er rides I have had, there may well be advantages, provided one can keep the weight under control. On the other hand, my 26er Scott Spark is such a great bike, I would find it hard to part with it.

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