August 13, 2013

Scott Genius 730 Detailed Review

Hardtail race bikes are super fun but you can only do so much on them. A few years ago I transitioned to being an XC/road geek, but there was a time before that when I enjoyed jumping off of things and getting a little rowdy on my bike. Last year I realized how much I missed that and I was determined to get my hands on a bike that would let me have that kind of fun again. When Scott revamped the Genius platform and added a 650b option, I was sold! 

I’m tall, at 6’ 4” and I love my 29er hardtail for XC, but I’ve ridden 29er trail bikes from Specialized, Trek, Giant and others and I didn’t like any of them. For aggressive trail riding and moderate jumps and drops, 29er trail bikes just don’t ride well. It isn’t really a fault of the manufacturers, though. 2.35” tires can make those 29” wheels feel a whole lot larger than they already are, and for me, even at my height, that’s too big. I have owned 26” freeride bikes and I just didn’t like the instability of the small wheel. I have no problem going back and forth between my Genius 650b and Scale 900, whereas I did have a problem going back and forth between my 29er and 26er. 

Onto the bike itself. The 730 is the highest aluminum model and about mid-range overall. My stock XL weighed just under 32lbs with Shimano DX pedals. Not a lightweight, but not terrible either. Smaller sizes are under 30lbs. The SLX/XT parts are solid. Absolutely no problems with anything. Shimano has seriously stepped up their game. Cable routing isn’t internal, but it is routed cleanly. 

I am very partial to Fox suspension and I’m happy with the Talus that comes on the Genius, but I wish it had a larger range of rebound adjustment. Unlike the Fox forks on my other bikes, I can’t get this one to rebound fast enough. I’m 180lbs and run a pretty standard pressure. This is an "Evolution" fork, essentially Fox's new budget line. The fork, otherwise, is damped well and ramps up perfectly to prevent harsh bottoming out. Next year Scott will be using Fox almost exclusively, which I think is fantastic. From my experience with Rockshox, they honestly don’t seem to have a quality control department and you’ll spend more time getting your suspension warrantied than riding.

As for the DT Swiss rear shock, a common complaint is that their shocks don’t have a platform. This is where it gets tricky. A full suspension bike is not a hardtail. There is a lot more going on with a FS bike and you can’t simply look at geometry numbers to understand how it rides. My take on all this is that platform shocks really don’t pedal all that much better than non-platform shocks. I’ve used both a DT and a Fox RP23 on the same bike (for comparison). I’ve used SPV, DHX air and coil and RP3 shocks on other bikes. The main difference I have observed is the small bump compliance you get with non-platform shocks. This bike, combined with the super grippy tires stays glued to the ground. You can corner super hard on this bike, and get low without any slip of the rear wheel. I have yet to bottom the shock or fork, but I've come close (a good thing!). Both the fork and shock work flawlessly with the Twinlock remote. You have a fully open setting, a reduced travel / platform mode for the rear (fork open) and a locked out rear/platform front option. I thought I was a “set and forget it” rider, but the system is honestly so simple and works so well that I use it all the time and it makes pavement stretches and hillclimbs much easier. 

As for the rest of the bike, it has a very solid part spec overall. The wheels are stiff and the front/rear thu-axles are sweet!!! The tires are suuuuper tacky and are real 2.35” (not 2.2’s labeled as 2.35). I changed the stem, however since I could feel some flex up front. You may also want to get a stiffer handlebar depending on what you plan on doing. 

The bike, overall rides well. Aside from the rear suspension, the bike has an XC feel to it. It encourages an upright riding position, even in the “slack mode.” Switching between steep and slack is super easy and only takes a minute. The wheelbase feels about right, perhaps just a tiny bit on the long side, but that translates to stability. The frame isn’t the stiffest, but I need to remind myself that this isn’t a freeride bike. Also keep in mind that I’m 180lbs. I’ve been told that the carbon version is stiffer, so keep that in mind. And, keep your eyes open for the 2014 revamped Genius LT in a 650b flavor. This has been a great bike for technical XC with 4 and 5 foot drops thrown in (with transitions). If that sounds like the kind of stuff you like to do, this bike will be perfect for you. Take the bike for a test ride. Everyone is different but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the Genius 700 lineup!

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