Video: Rupert Walker and Liam Mullany
Scott has completely revamped its popular Spark line for 2017, making the bikes even lighter than they already were, while also updating their geometry and modifying the suspension platforms of its full-squish models. The primary point of this overhaul was to make the bikes more dynamic and playful than their XC-focused predecessors. And nowhere is this point more obvious than with the new Spark Plus–a trail-oriented beast with radically relaxed geometry and plus-size wheels and tires.
Testers agreed that the Spark’s redesigned suspension is a dramatic improvement over the previous iteration, which featured a dearth of sensitivity and support in the early part of the shock stroke. Though Scott opted to stick with a single-pivot platform, it forsook the old top-link design in favor of a rocker link with a pivot-less swingarm to achieve more small-bump sensitivity and support, especially in the initial part of a modern air shock’s stroke.
The Fox Nude shock is positioned neatly between the two bolts of the new trunnion mount, which gives a stiffer foundation, a lower center of gravity and a more compact frame design. The 120 millimeters of rear-wheel travel, along with the slack, 66.9-degree head angle, gives the new Spark a decidedly more trail-oriented disposition and inspired confidence in technical sections among all but one of our testers.
Testers agreed that the Spark is a capable climber, and the plus-size wheels with impressive 2.8-inch Maxxis Rekon tires allowed for superb traction on the greasy limestone slabs of our test track. But some testers felt the 73.2-degree seat angle was a tad slack and commented that steepening it by a degree or so could improve the bike’s seated climbing performance.
Overall, the Spark’s more relaxed geometry, together with the 130-millimeter Fox 34 Float Performance fork and the extra impact absorption provided by the bigger tires, makes the Spark Plus a capable bike that begs to be ridden hard on technical ups and downs. And the smart array of workhorse parts on this Spark 720 Plus model represents excellent value for the $3,700 price tag.
Q&A with Scott coming soon…