Still working on working out the kinks out of the handling of this bike. Part of that is that I am not the greatest handler out there, so in fairness to the bike, it means I am also trying to work out the kinks out of myself. I did definitely have very good connection w/ my 2009 Sworks Epic, where I felt very connected w/ the bike and it felt like an extension of myself. The bike was part of me and I never had to think about the bike itself! This has yet to happen w/ the Scott. Though I have written about how it has some great qualities as a hardtail (feels like a softail, forgiving when screwing up, and damn light), it has never felt like I was in charge of it and quite the opposite actually. Again, this might be due to coming from a life time of riding 26er full susps bikes. My struggles w/ the bike are specifically w/ being able to lift the front end high, "J hop" tall objects, and "railing" the bike through corners. This has forced me to slow down on log crossing or very techy terrain. It has also meant that through turns I have needed to brake much more than I really want. When chasing someone's wheel, a gap always forms coming out of the turn and then I need to make that up.
So I have been giving those two areas more thought lately! Especially now that racing season has started (and not going so well!) It is obviously important for me to really not waste my momentum and to not have to work the race course twice as hard because I am constantly riding the damn brakes before and through a turn. Then recently I had a conversation w/ a dedicated single speeder, who commented that I should really be riding a single speed in the off season. On a singles speed you cannot afford to waste any forward momentum when you ride that single gear, so it forces you to learn how to push the bike as much as it can take. I doubt my knee would tolerate a single gear all the time, but it certainly got me thinking; and since I have been chasing a couple of single speeders lately, I decided to pay attention to their riding style. The first thing that I noticed, was that (this particular single speeder), rarely sat down. This is of course in stark contrast to my full susp style, which had my ass planted on the saddle all the damn time. So I decided to try emulate the single speed riding style, and whadda you know...
First thing is that it hurt! Legs were burning burning from pedaling and supporting the weight at the same for extended periods. Even coasting while standing hurt. Yet something else was happening! With the weight shifted towards the front, the bike wasn't looking to go extra wide through the turns and didn't feel vague in the front. The front tire was actually gripping the trail and steering the rest of the bike tightly through. I was riding behind someone who would usually create on a gap on me in the tight turns, yet if I rode standing up, I stayed right on his wheel and felt comfortable and in control through the turns. He even washed out a couple of time, while I was very comfortable in the turns and never touching the brakes. Was it really this simple? Was this the adjustment I needed to make?
The answer is a simple yes. I have continued to ride like this and now will stand up to weight on the front to get through the turns quickly. This works great when out JRA-ing. The main problem though, is it's very difficult to do during a very twisty race course (Weeping Willow, EFTA comes to mind), as it becomes really tiring and difficult to stay standing up throughout the whole race, as your legs cannot relax and take a quick break.
I wonder if the front "vagueness" is a 29er trait or due to the slack angle of the Scott headtube (69.5 %). I have a Lynskey Ridgeline on order that should arrive towards the end of July. The HT is a full degree steeper, so I will be really curious to see how different the handling is going to be, and if this remains an issue for me.
All this being said, I do have to mention that Scott front end has saved my ass more than a couple of times. I have blindly ridden over stuff to discover drops w/ rocks on the other side that I would have eaten a mouthful of dirt if I had been on the my Sworks. The Scott has each time easily cleared the obstacles and kept me out of trouble.
One thing to mention about this bike as well is that the carbon drop outs are misaligned. This has caused some PIA problems w/ the rear wheel consistently rubbing against the non drive side chainstay. I have had two different wheel sets trued by my lbs and each time I put the rear wheel back, there is less than 2 mm of room on the non drive side chainstay, vs 1 cm on the drive side. This means that if I lean through a turn or if I power the bike up, the wheel will rub that chainstay. When going fast enough through a turn, it will should like a table saw cutting through a 2x4. Pretty unsettling to hear that! I have tried various tapes to try to protect the chainstay w/ out success. I now resort to applying a layer of epoxy where it rubs every week to try to prevent the wheel from cutting all the way through.
Scott has recently agreed to warranty the frame. It took quite a while and having to send many pictures and my lbs advocating for me to get this done. Of course they are out of replacement frames, so the warranty is mostly "theoretical" at this time. They aren't quite sure when they'll have a replacement frame available.