Tested: 2013 Scott Genius 720
By Ryan Palmer
Originally published in the May 2013 Issue of Bike.
If there was ever a perfect time to use the Swiss Army-knife metaphor for a bike, it's with the Scott Genius 720. This 650b-wheeled beast is the quintessential do-it-all trail machine. The heart of this bike is the TwinLoc system, which simultaneously controls both the Fox 34 fork and Genius Nude2 shock. With the flip of the handlebar-mounted switch, the rider can choose between three distinct suspension settings: locked, trail and descend.
This isn't just another compression-damping switch. The Nude2 shock is two shocks in one, so when you click that switch from 'trail' to 'descend' it's like you're stopping at the top of the climb and bolting a different shock onto your bike. The Nude2 is equipped with two air chambers. In 'lock' and 'trail' modes, a single air chamber is used, with less volume, travel and reduced sag. This affects the geometry by allowing it to sit more upright, steepening the headtube angle and allowing the bike to be an agile climber. When 'descend' mode is engaged, the second chamber opens, increasing air volume and sag, which slackens the bike's geometry.
For 2013, Scott offered the Genius in two wheel-size options: The 150-millimeter-travel 700 line sports 27.5-inch wheels, while the 130-millimeter-travel 900 line rolls on 29ers. At $4,500, the Genius 720 is the most affordable carbon-framed model in the line (there are less expensive aluminum versions), and it comes with a mix of Shimano XT and SLX parts, weighing in at a respectable 30 pounds. A notable mention is the SLX brakes.
Enough technical jibber-jabber—let's talk about how the thing rides. We found it a fine-handling piece of machinery. The geometries—in each respective mode—feel dialed. The bike is tremendously efficient on climbs. 'Trail' mode offers plenty of pedaling platform and there's more available traction than when the bike is locked out. The Genius is nimble through tight stuff and rolling terrain as well. The attitude of the bike in the 'trail' setting is perfect for pedaling up and over obstacles, navigating corners and maneuvering through chunky debris.
Trail bikes should climb and descend equally well, and this is where the Genius leaves a little something to be desired. We found that when in the fully-open 'descend' setting, the shock squatted too much in corners, blowing through at least the first half of its travel. Even at less than 20-percent sag, this remained an issue. While we love the versatility the shock gives the bike, it climbs a bit better than it descends. The 2013 Genius 720 is incredibly versatile, but not quite a perfectly balanced trail bike.
Update: For 2014, Scott Genius Nude shocks are made by Fox, and alleviate many of the issues we had with the DT Swiss-made Nude2 shock found on this model. Look forward to our upcoming review of the 2014 Genius LT 700 Tuned in the fifth annual Bible of Bike Tests, hitting stands in January.