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Two years ago, Scott Sports and Bold Cycles, both based in Biel, Switzerland, announced that they’d formed a partnership. Now, why would a massive brand like Scott want to partner with tiny Bold Cycles? Magic, that’s why.
One of the most common questions you get asked at trade shows is, “So, what’s the coolest thing you’ve seen so far?” Most of the time the answer goes something like, “I don’t know, but that booth over there has a barista serving free coffee drinks.”
But at Sea Otter 2018, I was locked and loaded with a definitive answer: “Definitely that Bold Cycles bike. Have you seen that thing?”
Bold didn’t even have a booth that year. The only representation the company had at the event was founder, Vincenz Droux, wheeling what looked like a bike bike from the future back and forth through the aisles, trying to make connections in the U.S.
I’d seen pictures of Bold’s first bike online a couple years prior, but this was the first example I’d seen in person. It looked impossible. A full-suspension frame with a totally hidden shock. Even most of the linkage was housed inside the sleek carbon frame. It was magic. I didn’t know how it worked, but I needed to have it. Apparently, so did Scott.
When the partnership was announced in mid-2019, the obvious question was whether we’d see Bold’s internal suspension system on a Scott in the future, and based on the language coming from both companies at the time, it didn’t seem like it. Pinkbike went so far as to say, “don’t expect this announcement to mean we will see a hidden shock Scott any time soon,” after reportedly speaking with Scott about the deal.
But, were we really supposed to believe that Bold being “Strategically supported by Scott with regards to sourcing, logistics, global distribution and marketing.” would be the extent of the relationship? I don’t think so. Not when there’s sorcery to be had.
So, when I saw the first images for today’s announcement of Scott’s all-new 2022 Spark, was I surprised to see the shock do a disappearing act? No, not really. Stunned? OMG, yes!
Just look at this thing. It’s incredibly clean and elegant like a stealthy XC race rig should be, but has the confident, capable stance of a trail bike. And that makes sense, since, the Spark is both a World Cup XC whip (Spark RC), and a trail bike (Spark 900).
Possibly even bigger news than the complete redesign and platform change, is that, as of today at least, even the fastest, lightest Spark RC has 120 millimeters of suspension front and rear. That’s right, there is no 100mm version of the new Spark, at least not today. XC superstar Nino Schurter has already been known to race on 120mm Sparks, but if there indeed will not be a shorter-travel production version of the bike, I think Scott deserves a massive high-five for moving the XC needle forward.
This is the point in the conversation that Scott would probably like me to point out the TwinLoc remote lockout and Nude shock, which effectively changes the bike’s rear wheel travel from 120mm down to 80mm with the push of the handlebar-mounted lever, and simultaneously adjusts the fork and shock between open, pedal, and locked. So, you can sort of limit the bike’s travel, but still, it’s a 120 bike. Thumbs up to that.
Actually, the only real difference between the Spark RC and Spark 900 are different shock specs and fork travels. The 900 is equipped with a more trail oriented Nude rear shock and sports an extra 10mm of travel up front. We haven’t thrown a leg over the bike yet, but based on the Spark 900’s geometry numbers and the fact that it’s sporting the same flex-stay setup as the RC, we’re guessing that it’ll be on the faster, snappier side of the trail bike spectrum. But, the Spark has another magic trick that makes it more versatile than it seems at first glance.
With a 120mm fork, the RC builds can have a razor sharp 67.2-degree head angle, but thanks to a .6-degree angle-adjust headset, the 130mm 900 builds can get down to a trail-worthy 65.8 degrees while only minimally affecting the seat angle and bottom bracket height. At the slackest, the seat angle falls between 75.7 and 76.7, depending on size. Though some would argue that to be slacker than optimal on paper, we’d have to ride the bike to report on how it actually feels.
Even with a sub-66-degree head angle, the Spark’s relatively short reach—470mm for size large—seems like it’ll play well with the XC-inspired, short-travel trail category the 900 is positioned in. Dare I say that it’s the best-looking entry into this now-packed category of capable rippers. I can’t wait until I can get a leg over one to find out if it rides as good as it looks.
And let’s hope it does, because Scott is going deep with the Spark, offering 9 RC spec levels, 8 different 900 levels, 4 Spark Contessa options, and have even made the frame in aluminum for the more affordable builds. Even down to the entry-level, the Spark will come with Scott’s fancy new proprietary cable integration system, which includes handlebar, stem, and headset. The system allows for super clean and stealthy cable routing through the bars, stem, and headset, and eliminates the need for cable ports on the sides of the headtube area. With it, Scott goes from one of the most cluttered cockpits to one of the cleanest. It looks like a mechanic’s worst nightmare, and severely limits the rider’s choice of cockpit components, but boy howdy, it sure looks good. Between this system and the hidden shock, the new Spark is up there with the sleekest full suspension bikes ever introduced.
For all the details, head over to Scott Sports