First Impressions: Scott Genius LT 20

Can one bike really do it all? This bike aims to do just that.

Flick the handlebar-mounted lever and this bike goes from hardtail to 7-inch travel DH bruiser. No, I din't just make that up. There's also an in-between 110 millimeter travel mode for general trail riding.

By Vernon Felton

Plenty of bikes these days are touted quiver killers—you know, the one bike that you can supposedly ride anywhere. But really, let’s back up a moment—absolutely anywhere? That’s a ballsy statement. Super tight singletrack in Vermont requires an entirely different bike than does, say, a downhill section of rocky stair steps in Moab. Likewise, Southern California and North Vancouver are about as diametrically opposed as you can get. So really, when we’re talking about one bike that you could ride—and enjoy—in all of these places, that eligible pool of quiver killers suddenly gets real small.

Having said that, I’m going on record to suggest that Scott’s Genius LT wind up on the short list. Flick the Twinlock handlebar remote and the bike goes from hardtail stiff in the back to 110-millimeter travel trail bike. One more click of the remote and you’ve got 185-millimeters of ultra-plush DH travel.

How many bikes go from hardtail to 7-inch travel bruiser? None that I can think of. Cannondale’s Claymore model, with its two travel settings (110 and 180 millimeters of travel) is the closest cousin that comes to mind and it is, indeed, an impressive bike. The Genius LT, however ups the ante a bit with the total rear lock out.

The front triangle of the Genius LT is made of carbon. The rear end is made of aluminum and sports a 142x12 through axle.

For the record, I was not  exactly thrilled at the prospect of throwing my leg over a Genius LT the first time I encountered one a year and a half ago. Generally speaking, bikes that claim to be a bit of everything tend to do a bit of everything, but do it all poorly. I’d rather have one bike that did one thing really well than a bike that does everything crap.

And then there’s the proprietary shock: a monster twin-tube unit, dubbed “the Equalizer 3”. The catalog copy says it was co-developed by SCOTT and DT Swiss Engineers and while I’m a fan of Swiss watches and chocolate and their 101 dishes consisting of melted cheese and more melted cheese, I still get the heeby-jeebies every time I see a rear shock that looks like Chernobyl and requires crazy-high air pressures (I’m not saying this is logical or reasonable or backed by years of experience with exploding shocks, it’s just a gut-level prejudice).

Then again, my whole job is to not be prejudiced. My preconceptions need to be checked at the door before I test a bike. So I did that and, well, I was impressed. The Genius LT truly is three bikes in one and, amazingly, it does an impressive job every time it undergoes its personality change.

Here’s the proprietary shock. At first glance, the twin tube design is intimidating. Set up, however, is incredibly easy. Rider weight and corresponding air pressures are clearly detailed and the shock has a built-in sag meter. Rear travel in the 185-millimeter mode feels nearly bottomless.

I was reminded of all this today as I suffered my way up a long climb in hardtail mode, traversed a technical mountainside in 110-travel mode, and then sent the bike flying down a rocky fireroad in 185 mode. Each flick of that Twinlock lever reveals an entirely different bike and each one of those bikes was pretty damn good in its own right.

How will the shock fare over the long haul? That’s the million dollar question and it’s a question I want to answer. A warning to Scott USA—this thing ain’t coming home anytime soon. I want to ride this sucker for a good long while. That Equalizer 3 shock is the lynch pin of this design—if it works properly, this bike can really be ridden damn near anywhere. If it breaks, you’re up poop creek until you can score another Equalizer shock. I doubt those things are cheap. I’m dying to give this thing a yearlong pummeling and to see where the chips fall.

Here we go….

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  • http://www.hardenthefup.blogspot.com Dave Pike

    This is going to be interesting. I’m a big fan of the Cannondale concept, though I’m a bit wary of the Fox Dyad Shock. In my own experience, as well as other’s I’ve read from the mtbr forums, the shock is a bit finicky and develops issues (namely with oil and seals) that cause some of the shaft to come out of the body slightly while the bike is unweighted. For some this is an air pressure issue while for others it has to do with oil and/or seals as I mentioned. Either way, First generation technology is always a gamble.

    The désign of the Scott/DT Swiss shock seems to be more consistent, though I’m sure the riding you do will be the determining factor. No matter, the bike looks like a stealth bomber and seems to ride just as good! If it were up to me, every bike would look as good as this one-just hope the long term results prove to compliment this notion.

  • David Seal

    I tried the regular travel version of this bike. It sucked. Instead of doing everything impressively, it did everything ok, except climbing, at which it sucked. It felt nervous and wanted to wander all overr the trail, like a wayward puppy being taken for a walk in a new neighborhood. My old tech ventana, with nothing but a pro pedal switch, in contrast did absolutely everything better than this high tech bike with all its gizmos. Great idea, but at the end of the day, if you lower a jeep, you don’t end up with a Porsche, you end up with a lowered Jeep. And if you jack up the Porsche, you don’t end up with a rock crawler. I really wanted to like this bike, and couldn’t.

  • David Seal

    I tried the regular travel version of this bike. It sucked. Instead of doing everything impressively, it did everything ok, except climbing, at which it sucked. It felt nervous and wanted to wander all overr the trail, like a wayward puppy being taken for a walk in a new neighborhood. My old tech ventana, with nothing but a pro pedal switch, in contrast did absolutely everything better than this high tech bike with all its gizmos. Great idea, but at the end of the day, if you lower a jeep, you don’t end up with a Porsche, you end up with a lowered Jeep. And if you jack up the Porsche, you don’t end up with a rock crawler. I really wanted to like this bike, and couldn’t.

  • jube

    when i heard oif this bike i was excited. i didn’t think that it would do everything excepotionally well, but if you had the terrain to ride it it might be fun.

    but that’s where the problem lies. i don’t live anywhere that i would need to go from hardtail to 185mm of travel. i wish i did, but i don’t. and i think the majority of riders are in the same boat. if i want to ride DH i go to the lift serviced park. when i ride xc my 100mm xc bike handles everything.

    sometimes people don’t think about where they ride and just buy the coolest gear and bikes. i can’t tell you how many times i was at my local rolling xc trails and saw some gear queer roll up on a 6 inch travel bike wearing full pads.

  • Vernon Felton

    The all-in-one bikes, like the Genius LT, can be a love or hate thing (and I think I made it pretty clear where I generally sit on that issue), but I’d recommend giving this thing a whirl before tossing it on the heap of “bikes that suck”. Over the past 14 years, I’ve been fortunate to ride a whole lot of bikes in my job as a magazine editor—this one definitely can not be said to “suck”.

    Most of the time, I ride the Genius LT in it’s 110-millimeter setting with the fork set at its full travel, and have been impressed: sure, it’s not as nimble as a dedicated trail bike (like, say a Fuel EX), but it’s no slouch either. It more than holds its own on drops and technical downhills. Will the fancy shock hold up? That’s what I’m curious to see.

    If you didn’t dig the original formula Genius or any of the previous all-in-one Scotts, don’t hold that against this particular version: this is a huge leap forward from their previous offerings.

    As to the comment that the Genius LT might be too much bike in the long (185) setting for some riders, I’m sure you’re right. There’s a reason why short travel 29ers and 120-millimter 26ers make up the bulk of what riders buy today: there are plenty of parts of the country that don’t require anything north of 140-millimeters of travel and decent riding skills. That said, I don’t live in that kind of place. For where I live (in Bellingham, WA, which isn’t too far removed from the North Shore), with its steep ups and very technical downs, the Genius LT is an interesting option. Does it merit the price tag? Is it as robust as some of the better dedicated all mountain bikes (the Enduro, Yeti SB66, Rocky Slayer, Trek Slash and Santa Cruz Nomad all come to mind)? Those are the questions floating around my mind at the moment.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the bike. I’ll be posting updates over the course of the season.

  • dave

    >> can’t tell you how many times i was at my local rolling xc trails and saw some gear queer roll up on a 6 inch travel bike wearing full pads. <<

    Wow, serious hate. What you consider "rolling XC" is extreme terrain for someone with less skill. I am not that skilled a rider (former roadie that got into MTB later in life) and am at the age where I don't heal from injuries like I used to. My long travel bike and pads let me enjoy my cycling.

    Nobody is going to do serious racing on a bike like this. Its a toy for middle-aged guys with money.

  • Will K

    I’ve got “regular” version of the Genius and I love it. I think it’s one of the best riding bikes that I’ve been on and it can handle a variety of terrain…and do it well. In my opinion it’s perfect for the western NC mountains where I ride. It climbs well, even with the suspension in the middle setting – “traction control”. When you get to the top open that thing up and you can bomb it down the mountain with confidence. The middle traction control setting is perfect for the majority of the singletrack I ride and I really only open it up fully on the long downhills. I don’t think it wanders at all – in fact I think it tracks very true in virtually all circumstances. I did have a noise in the rear shock after a full season but sent it in to DT Swiss and they put new seals on it under warranty and it’s been fine ever since. Other than that I’ve had no issues with the bike itself and love the versatility it gives me. 2 full years of riding the Genius and I couldn’t be much happier…it’s held up well against everything I’ve thrown it’s way!

  • Dave Smith

    I have the a three year old Scott Genius MC 50. I love it, I am not an extreme rider but love the flexibility that the multiple settings offer. It has held up well.

  • SHARCRASH

    I’m eager to hear a long term critic… Let us know!

  • LiquidSpin

    @Dave Pike:

    Your review is pretty lame. I don’t think the bike is the problem it’s you the rider that is.

    This bike and a whole other batch of bikes in the same price range/category do not suck. Some are better then others but saying they are so horrible is like saying “Man, I can’t stand the way Jimi Hendrix plays he sucks.” sure you may say he sucks but we all know he could play.

    I think for the most part you are not an experienced rider, you hate “Scott” bikes in general and you wish you had a nice all mountain bike yourself.

  • Bubba

    I purchased 2 Scott genius 40s one for myself and one for my wife. I love the bike I think it is a great bike and does what it claims perfectly. I am the VP of a big MTB club in Idaho and we have the terrain that requires a bike like the genius or genius LT. We have rode the bikes in Fruita,Moab,Sun valley,Victor,Jackson and our home area of Ririe Idaho. We have super techy single track,Steep climbs and Crazy decents. This bike is amazing!! After the first season we sent our shocks in for service. Dt swiss had them re-sealed and back to us within a week. Fox took 4 weeks to send us our forks back. Oh ya they covered the cost under there 2 year warranty. We ride all the time and we ride hard. This bike is perfect for the do it all bike and I strongley reccomend it. I cant wait to purchase the new genius with the Killer bee wheel size. Way to go Scott keep the technology comming and thanks for building a great bike. Dont hate a bike just because you dont understand it. Ride it and trust me you will beleave the hype..

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