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....