If you have been glued to RedBull Tv like many other mountain bikers, you will have noticed that cross country’s most exciting male racer is playing with a couple of new bikes. That’s right, although Nino Schurter helped pioneer the Scott Scale 700 and Spark 700 – it looks like he’s shifting to 29″ wheels again.
And while lady luck didn’t shine on Schurter at the World Cup in La Bresse, things were a little different at the recent Swiss Cup.
Schurter raced a new 29er full-suspension bike. Although we haven’t seen a name for it, let’s just assume it is a new Spark. They were updated in 2012, so we’re right on a 5 year cycle which many brands stick to.
Looking over the bike, a few things stand out.
Firstly, the down tube is massive, and swells in size down near the bottom bracket shell. That area is massive, and the seat tube also flares down to meet the shell. No doubt it will be a pressfit shell. That whole area is also taking the shock mount, with and upside down shock which might keep a little more weight lower in the frame. The shock looks to be a 165 eye-to-eye shock, but picking that from this shot is guess work. It’s is almost certainly 100mm, but if it were 90 or 110mm it wouldn’t be too surprising.
The pivot sits just above the big chainring. There might be a mount for a front derailleur there – but the mud makes it hard to say. On the one hand SRAM Eagle might have the range required – but it would be surprising to see a Swiss MTB brand selling bikes that could only take a single chain ring.
The frame looks long, but if it is longer it won’t be by much as Nino’s stem looks similar to on his Spark 700 RC. The Sparks were already pretty slack so making them slacker would also be surprising.
Compared to the down tube, the top tube looks very slender, and has been dropped towards the seat tube for extra standover clearance. The main triangle is open enough for a full 800mL water bottle – but this is certainly not a two bidon bike like those from Cannondale, Specialized and Swift.
The seat tube looks to be 31.6mm, and at the front the head tube is undoubtedly a standard tapered job. Still, we can be sure that Schurter would like it to be lower, given the negative rise stem and the fact that the shot below shows he’s running the stem on the top cap..
If you look down the seat tube, it’s certainly not straight, but the pivot doesn’t completely pierce it, so there’s a chance the frame will be routed for dropper posts as you’d expect. Although the chances of Schurter using one are slim.
The rocker link that activates the shock really tapers down to the top shock mount, with flat surfaces. Given the aggression with which XCO is race, there should be little to catch a leg on, although the design will certainly be for efficiency as much as anything else.
As we saw with the Cannondale Scalpel Si – there’s no visible shock lock out. With the end hidden in the frame, it is highly likely it’s routed internally. The shots below and above shows what looks to be a standard TwinLoc lever – but time will tell on this.
And the back of the bike? Will this raises many questions. Is it Boost 148×12 spacing? Almost certainly. But it looks like the cranks and chain ring fitted may not be Boost, as that ring barely casts a shadow on the chain stay swing arm it is running so close. That could also be due to Schurter running quite a large ring.
The drop out is neat – and has no pivot, which is new for Scott. While they used their ‘Shock Damping Stays’ in their road bikes for ages, they haven’t relied on frame flex instead of a pivot for a full-suspension Spark before.
This shot doesn’t show a whole lot, but there is a seat stay bridge to aid with lateral stiffness, and along with the top shot you’ll notice Nino doesn’t appear to be on his DT tubulars? These look like DT Swiss XMC Spline 1200 carbon clinchers, and that certainly looks like a Maxxis ‘TR’ Tubeless Ready logo on the rear tyre.
This frame is probably lighter than the current 29er Spark, and certainly stiffer. The Spark 900 series does have a long set of chain stays on them and hopefully this new frame is a bit shorter.
So, has a 29er been deemed the faster bike for Rio? Is this a push from Scot HQ to get some excitement going for a new Spark? We’re not sure. But no doubt there will be more news to come, and probably an official launch with full details before the XCO World Championships.