By: Ryan LaBar
Photos: Scott Sports/Ian Hylands
Scott recently had a group of bike journalists come to Sun Valley, Idaho, to cover and ride its redesigned Genius line, which now comes in two wheel sizes: 650b (27-inch) and 29-inch. I got to spend a few days riding each bike on some of Sun Valley's finest singletrack. Here are my first impressions of the bikes:
Both the 27- and 29-inch models climbed well. The linkage system on the Geniuses felt efficient while fully open, but in the shorter-travel, and slightly steeper geometry, Traction mode, the bikes ride like cross-country race machines, and scale ascents, both technical and smooth, with great ease. Between the two bikes on the up hills, the wagon wheeler has a noticeable advantage—it just plain charges up the mountain.
Descending is good on both bikes as well, though its here where the differences between the 29 and 27 are the most evident. The 27-inch Genius is a more 'playful' bike than the 29-inch version when pointed down. It begs to launch, pump, scrub and drift trail features at high speeds. The 29er, on the other hand, tackles down hills with a slightly different attitude—it's a more point-and-shoot affair. The 900 wants to charge straight through technical sections, and handles itself well in fast sweeping corners.
To really tap into the gnar-shredding potential these bikes, I'd swap to a set of wider bars, a shorter stem and a different set of tires—I’d also consider running this bike with the ISCG05 adaptor and a one-by setup with a chainguide.
Suspension feel is nearly identical between the two wheel sizes. It has a fairly progressive curve to it, so the shock only reaches full travel on pretty substantial hits. I'd like it to reach full travel a bit easier, but I'm still dialing in the suspension settings, so it could just be a matter of that. The linkage design, overall, feels solid. The low pivot placement of the swingarm makes pedaling kickback pretty much non-existent, however it also causes a bit of wheel hang-up on square-edged hits, which is just slightly noticeable on the Geniuses, and isn't enough to turn me off to the bikes in any way, shape or form. The TwinLoc suspension-travel control lever is easy and intuitive to operate—the levers have been slightly lengthened for a better mechanical advantage. I find that I ride the bikes almost exclusively in the Full- or Traction-travel modes—I only end up using the Lockout mode on pavement.
Both models make solid trail shredders, and choosing between the two would be tough. For riders whose trails feature big climbs and fast descents with big sweeping corners will likely find the 29er better suits them. Those with more technical trails, or those who just want a more flick-able bike, will be best served on the 27-inch model.