8-28-07 // Previewed: Scott Releases The Gambler

After more than two years in the making, Scott last week unveiled its new do-all downhill/freeride bike: The Gambler.

The heart of the new frame lies in its versatility: it can be set up in several variations, from shorter wheelbase freeride to long and slacked-out downhill. The end product is versatile enough, in fact, that it takes the place of two bikes. Gone from next year's Scott catalog are the Nitrous freeride bike and High Octane downhill bike.

The frame is a multi-pivot design that, in essence, remains a single pivot that has been optimized to reduce dreaded brake jack.

To pick which Gambler works best for you, first start by choosing frame size: Long or Short, a top-tube-length difference of 3.5 centimeters. (effective top-tube lengths wind up at 590- and 565-millimeters, respectively.)

Next, pick your head tube angle: 66 degrees for freeride or 64 degrees for DH. The head tube angle adjusts by loosening three pinch bolts and rotating the head tube sleeve 180 degrees. Both 1.5- and 1.125-inch sleeves come with each bike.

Now choose from three rear suspension set-ups: 190-, 210- or 230-millimeters.

With your frame size, head tube angle and shock and fork preference dialed in, next choose from standard or "plus-10" dropouts, which extend chain stays from 430-to 440-millimeters for greater stability in all-out DH riding.

As you can see, the options multiply quickly, but easily. Scott made sure to drive that point home over three days of test riding. Changing dropouts, rear shock position or head tube angle takes just minutes, and has a dramatic effect on the ride.

Although Scott has been back in the U.S. market for three years now, its R&D headquarters are still based in Europe. Lucky for us, because we got a chance to test out the new bike in Scott's backyard in Chatel, France, which sits along the border of Switzerland smack-dab in the middle of the alps.

But the new Gambler isn't just some janky hundred-and-one-tool Swiss Army knife knockoff—it's bona-fide German engineering and is rife with thoughtful details.

We got a chance to sit down with the bike's lead engineer, Benoit Grelier, who explained the many fine points of the Gambler's design. For one, if you're concerned about your head tube being held on by three pinch bolts, don't be. The forged head tube is more than up to the task, and an innovative heat tube/down tube junction makes it even stronger. The head tube forging extends down both the top tube and down tube, where it interlocks and provides a 5 millimeter overlap with the top and down tubes, yielding increased strength and allowing for easy welding lines on the production end. Furthermore, having no weld lines at the critical head tube/down tube junction means less chance of failing.