2011 Scott 949 Scale 29er – Full Carbon Upgrade Yields Lightest 29er Claims, Plus Ride Review

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Scott introduced the Scale 29er at Interbike 2009 as an aluminum framed ’10 model. Now, they’ve gone and fired a shot across the bow of Cannondale’s Flash 29 with the all-new, all-carbon 949 Scale 29er.

At a claimed maximum frame weight with hardware, decals and clearcoat of just 949g, it’s claiming to be the lightest production 29er hardtail mountain bike frame anywhere. We didn’t have the opportunity to weigh the complete bike, but given that the aluminum model weighed in at just 27lb 7oz with a mid-range build spec, this one should be pretty darn light…and it felt that way on the trail, too (in a very good way). Scott says there’s up to a 20g variation between frames, but stresses that the max is 949g.

From a design and build standpoint, there are a lot of similarities to the Scale 899 26″ hardtail, so check that post for more details on the frame build, including some updated images comparing the internal structure of the tubes and carbon fiber layup.

Check out more specs and details behind the jump…

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Starting at the front, Scott built the front triangle using it’s IMP (Integrated Mold Process), in this case creating the top-, head- and downtubes as a single piece, hence the IMP3 callouts on the frame. They’ve shaped the flow between the head tube and the downtubes to create a stiff structure that carries over the width of the headtube into very distinct panels and shapes flowing into the tubes. In their presentation, they had comparitive FEA analysis charts showing the reduction high stress sections between tube-to-tube construction and the IMP. The same process is used in the 899, and there are cutaway photos in that post.

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The headtube is tapered with a nice hourglass shape to it.

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The top tube gets slightly thinner as it makes its way back to the seatpost. Several of us were commenting that this thing would make a sick cyclocross bike, too, if you through some drop bars and rigid fork on it.

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Despite what you see on that sticker, the Scale 949 29er will use BB92PF (BB92 Press Fit) rather than BB30 because it offers a wider base to attache the seat- and downtube to. The bikes we rode and photographed were very early, preproduction models built up specifically for Scott Week press camp. On that note, the spec you see here isn’t necessarily how it’ll look when they start shipping in October. Full specs and pricing are at the bottom of this post. (In fact, Scott’s people didn’t even get to ride them that weekend, there were only enough for the journalists present)

Taking full advantage of the BB92 shell, the seat tube flares out and boxes off its corners to give it the biggest contact patch possible, and the downtube maintains a fat oval shape all the way down.

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The frame gets a roughed up finish where the bottom bracket mounts to keep it from slipping.

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Like the 899, the rear stays and dropouts are made as one piece in a tubular design, and the brake caliper is nested inside the rear triangle on direct mounts. The stays and dropouts are full carbon, and there’s a cutaway on the 899 post if you’re interested. On the 29er, the brake mounts are designed around a 160mm rear rotor, but you can use spacers to run a larger rotor if you want. It’s a direct fit for Shimano brakes, and with Avid/SRAM brakes, you’ll use the little spacers that come with the brakes that allow for fine angle tuning.

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The seatstays use Scott’s SDS (Shock Damping System) to provide vertical flex of between 4mm and 5mm at the rear axle. What you can’t really see from this side is the bent seat tube. Like the aluminum models, the 949 gets a bent seat tube to help tuck the rear wheel. Chainstay length is a short 438mm (17.24″), which is only 18mm longer than the 899 26″ version. Both bikes share the same 330mm (12.2″) bottom bracket height, which helps keep the center of gravity on the 29er pretty low. One drawback to this design is the limited availability in smaller sizes. Scott will only offer a M, L and XL frame for 2011.

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Based on the comments on our sneak peek of this bike, maximum tire width seems to be a concern. The bikes we rode had Schwalbe Rocket Ron 29×2.25 tires on there, and as you can see in these pics (above and below), there might be enough  room to stuff a 2.4 in there, but clearance would be tight and if you read my ride review below, you may not be so concerned about that after all.

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2011 SCOTT 949 SCALE 29er RIDE REVIEW

The following comments are based on a four hour ride entailing about 1,500 feet of climbing and more descending (we finished lower than where we started).

There’s no two bones about it, this is a race bike. Of course, in my opinion any hardtail 29er these days should be a race bike…there are a lot of good suspension offerings for general XC to all-mountain stuff…but that’s one man’s opinion. That this bike is all about winning is pure fact.

First, the climbing. Scott Week’s press dealio involved riding through Sun Valley, ID, and on this bike we climbed up to about 7,600 feet, virtually all on twisty, rolly, sometimes quite steep singletrack. While I enjoy the challenge of climbing, I’m by no means the strongest ascender, but this bike made me feel like Lance at Sestriere in ’99. Sure, I was hurting, but  just felt like I could give a bit more if I had to.

Power felt like it translated directly into forward motion, and the SDS stays did an admirable job of keeping small bumps and rocks from sending sharp pains up my backside. Same deal on the flat sections, although I did notice a slight “pogo” effect when pedaling hard on climbs and flats, but I attribute this mostly to the low air pressure I was running, probably somewhere just under 30psi (with tubes), which can cause a bit of a bounce. If you’ve ever had a slow leak, you know what I’m talking about as the tire gets down toward flat.

On the descents, which were wicked fast with rollers, small jumps and plenty of rocks, the Scale 949 handled amazingly well. We were easily hitting 17mph…probably a lot faster…and carving through mellow curves, railing around switchbacks and letting the brakes go on the straight aways. Even at really high speeds (at least for me), the bike was stable and predictable. The Rockshox Reba fork’s 100mm of travel (honestly, it looked like only 80mm) was plenty and felt really, really good. Thinking back, I can’t remember a single instance where I wished for more or better travel. The DT Swixx XR 29 wheels were solid throughout.

By and large, I’m a sitter. Standing, for me, is inefficient and tiresome, but there are times when accelerating out of the saddle are necessary, and during those times, the 949 was plenty stiff where it needed to be. It was also relatively easy to balance weight under, whether sitting or standing.

There’s only so much you can say about a bike after a four hour ride. But considering most test rides when purchasing something are shorter than that, and on lesser terrain, I’d put this bike on my short list (if I were a racer, that is).

PRICING AND SPECS:

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Click to enlarge. Pricing is:

  • Scott Scale 29er RC: $6,299 (HMX Net carbon)
  • Scott Scale 29er Pro: $2,399 (HMF Net carbon)
  • Scott Scale 29er Elite: $1,599 (aluminum)
  • Scott Scale 29er Team: $1,299 (aluminum)
  • Scott Scale 29er Comp: $949 (aluminum)

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