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Scott Spark Plus 700 Tuned

Scott Spark Plus 700 Tuned

Size Tested: Medium

Geometry: (Here)

Build Overview:

Drivetrain: Sram XX1 Eagle

Brakes: Sram Level Ultimate

Fork: Fox Float 34 Factory

Rear Shock: Fox NUDE Trunion Mount

Wheels: 27.5+

Travel: 120 mm rear / 130 mm front

Blister’s Measured Weight: 26.8 lbs (12.16 kg) without pedals

Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs.

Test Location: Moab, UT

MSRP: $7,999

Noah Bodman reviews the Scott Spark Plus 700 Tuned for Blister Gear ReviewNoah Bodman reviews the Scott Spark Plus 700 Tuned for Blister Gear Review

Scott Spark Plus 700 Tuned

Note

We swung through Outerbike in Moab a few weeks ago to hang out, ride some bikes, and partake in the good times that happen when bike people gather together in the desert.

If you don’t already know about Outerbike, you should; it’s a great opportunity to demo new bikes on some great trails. There are three Outerbike events throughout the year — Moab in the spring; Crested Butte in the summer; and Moab again in the fall. Each event lasts 3-4 days, and you can get more information at outerbike.com.

So we had three days to ride some of this year’s new bikes on a smattering of Moab’s best trails. And while it was a great opportunity to learn a good bit about a number of new bikes (including the one reviewed here), we only rode these bikes for a few hours each, so keep in mind that this isn’t our normal full-scale review.

Intro

The Spark has been in Scott’s lineup for a while now, and situated at the cross country end of things. But the Spark got a full redesign this year, and while a racy XC version still exists, the Spark also comes in a more trail-oriented version with plus tires bolted onto it: the Spark Plus.

I rode the ridiculously high-zoot “700 Tuned” $8k version of the bike, but the bike also comes in a bunch of different build iterations, many of which are considerably less shocking to the wallet.

Noah Bodman reviews the Scott Spark Plus 700 Tuned for Blister Gear Review

Noah Bodman on the Scott Spark Plus 700 Tuned.

I’ll admit that going into this, my viewpoint on plus bikes in general (including this bike in particular) was probably best described as, “open mindedly pessimistic.” I’d ridden some plus bikes in the past and just wasn’t that impressed. Yes, traction was great, but they felt big, and dumb, and imprecise. For me, the upsides had never quite outweighed the downsides for all-around trail riding.

But now here I am, about to tell you how the Spark Plus was my favorite bike that I rode at Outerbike.

The Build

The 700 Tuned version of the Spark Plus gets a fairly no-holds-barred build kit; a 12-speed Sram XX1 Eagle drivetrain, Sram Level Ultimate brakes, carbon bars, carbon seat, carbon cranks, etc. And, of course, there’s the suspension — top of the line Fox Factory, front and rear, and a Kashima coated Fox Transfer dropper post to match. Aside from personal preference items, pretty much the only place on the build kit that I can find room for an upgrade would be the wheelset. It has aluminum rims (gasp!) rather than carbon. On the upside, that keeps this to an $8,000 build instead of a $9,500 one.

It should go without saying on a bike like this that all of the build choices are fantastic, and they all worked ridiculously well on my test ride.

There is, however, one thing that I’d change. The Spark Plus, along with a number of other bikes in Scott’s lineup, comes with a Fox Nude rear shock and a Twinlock lever. Basically what that means is that there’s a handlebar mounted lever that controls both the fork and rear shock, and has three positions: Position 1 is fully open front and rear (essentially “descend” mode). Position 2 reduces the travel in the rear shock to 85mm, and puts the fork in “trail” mode. Position 3 is a lockout, front and rear.

I’m not a fan of this system, particularly on this bike. First, the handlebar remote makes for a cluttered mess on the bar and a rats nest of cables on the front of the bike, and I kept hitting the suspension lockout when I was trying to hit the dropper lever. Second, this is a relatively short-travel bike with intelligent suspension kinematics — it pedals reasonably efficiently even in the fully open setting. On the chunky trails of Moab, I never once felt the need to firm up the suspension for the riding I was doing, but even if I was doing a long fireroad climb where trail mode (or a lockout) would make sense, I’d rather just reach down and flip a switch on the shock.

This whole system seems like a good example of unnecessary complexity. That said, the shock sizing is standard, so at least if you want to replace it (or when it eventually needs replacing), you’ll have options.

NEXT: Fit and Geometry, The Ride, Etc.

7 Comments

  1. Dino April 30, 2017 Reply

    You are the first person I have ever heard that did not love the twin loc feature.

    • bob May 30, 2017 Reply

      i would agree that the twin loc is not a must on such a bike unless you’re racing.
      i think its better suited to “real trail bikes” and enduro bikes ie 140 to 160mm of travel.
      I also like the original fox system better (3pos – which works on recent shock/forks with the fit4 damper too) since you

      don’t hit it by mistake and well, has 3 pos (pretty-much-locked-out for certain climbs and … road, quite firm (good for big descents) and open (for everything else).

  2. A.Ron Burgundy May 1, 2017 Reply

    What trail did you ride this on? I tried the same bike at Captain Ahab on the last day of Outerbike and I found the BB to be un-enjoyably low. I shaved more than a few grams off the ends of those Eagle crank arms.

    Otherwise, I liked the bike. I think it’d be a better fit for me personally with 29″ wheels though.

    • Noah Bodman Author
      Noah Bodman May 8, 2017 Reply

      I rode the Spark Plus on the Brand trails and didn’t run into any clearance issues, but I tend to get along pretty well with lower bottom brackets. I also wouldn’t call the Spark Plus overly low – it has about the same BB height (or higher) as some other bikes in this travel class like a Specialized Camber 650 and Trek Fuel Ex. Notably, it’s also a bit higher than the Scott Spark with 29″ wheels.

  3. Ralph May 4, 2017 Reply

    Well, according to Ibis (see the new Ripley LS promo info), doesn’t Maxxis, Schwalbe and others have some new sizes this year to alleviate the durability and sidewall needing to be thicker for better cornering issues of the older 2.8 / 3.0 plus tires? Did you mention what tires you were running – I think the new sizes are 2.6 (Knobby Nics) and 2.5 Maxxis, to name a couple – wouldn’t these seem to be the perfect match for this bike (?)

    • Noah Bodman Author
      Noah Bodman May 5, 2017 Reply

      Hi Ralph,

      I was running the stock 2.8″ Maxxis Rekons on the Spark Plus – they have Maxxis’ Exo reinforced sidewalls, but they have a 120tpi casing, which is a bit less durable than the 60tpi casing found on lots of narrower tires.

      A few companies are putting out 2.6″ tires and Maxxis is doing their Wide Trail series of tires, but none of those are really considered “Plus” tires. So you could put them on the Spark Plus, but they’d be a bit narrower and definitely lower volume than the stock 2.8’s, and the bike would sit a bit lower.

      The long and short of it is, there are a bunch of options on the market, but at the end of the day, none of the tire companies have found a magical combination of light + burly. If you want the tire to hold up well, it’ll be heavy. And since big wide tires are already kinda heavy, making them durable means they’re extra heavy.

  4. Ralph May 8, 2017 Reply

    Noah, you gotta see or read the info on the 2.5/2.6 tires – they really do think they have found the magic combination of “light + burly” – see Ibis Owner Chris’s interview on the new Ripley LS coming with Schwalbe 2.6 29’er tires (also to be available in 27.5) – its at least worth checking out….your info may be a little dated.

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