2015 Scott Genius 900 Tuned Long Term Review – Jack of all Trades

Scott Genius 900

Scott claims the the Genius is a “Do-It-All, super-lightweight carbon trail bike”. It does impress, while it isn’t the best bike on the market for any one type of riding, it’s capable enough to confidently tackle just about any trail a bike trip could throw your way while still being race-worthy for XC, Marathons, and Enduro. It is an excellent bike and I am not looking forward to the day when I part ways with the Genius.

About the Scott Genius 900 Tuned:  Scott’s goal for the Genius is to build an all mountain bike that is light enough to cover a lot of distance without taxing the rider more than necessary, the current generation of the Genius was released in 2013 and was the first iteration available with 29” wheels.

From the Scott-Sports website:  From inception, it was developed for the trail rider who desires a bike that possesses proficient uphill performance while remaining capable on demanding technical trails and descents.

Scott relies heavily on their “Twinloc” technology, which is a handlebar mounted remote that toggles both the rear shock and fork through three modes together.

Open Mode:  This mode is fully open for both the rear shock and the fork.
Traction Control: For 2015, this mode leaves the fork fully active, but increases the threshold damping on the rear shock and reduces the air volume for reduced travel. Effectively holding the rear of the bike higher, which results in better geometry for climbing.
Climb Mode: Most Scotts with this mode fully lock the shock and the fork. The exception is the Tuned models, which have a Fox Boost Valve rear shock. On these models the rear shock has increased platform damping over the Traction Control mode, but travel remains the same, the fork still locks out, however.

The 900 Tuned model tested is the top spec that Scott offers, and for the most part, it is extremely well thought out. That high end spec and full carbon frame bring the MSRP up to $9,000.

Test conditions:  The Genius test bike has been ridden over 2,000 miles all over the Western U.S. over the last 10 months. Most riding has been done in arid climates and loose conditions. All areas can be defined as mountainous, and have involved a significant amount of climbing. The majority of miles were accumulated in the Wasatch front of northern Utah. It has been raced in XC races, Endurance Races, and Enduro races. The bike was purchased from Biker’s Edge in Kaysville, UT. Other bikes ridden that are similar include the Kona Process 111 and Ibis Ripley.

Bike Details:
• Bike Model: Scott Genius 900 Tuned
• MSRP: $9000 usd
• Bike Size: Large
• Bike Year: 2015
• Wheel Size: 29”
• Suspension Travel: 130mm rear/ 130mm front.
• Bike Weight: 24.2 lb. w/out pedals.

This is how the bike looks as the complete bike from Scott with Fox 32 and Syncros carbon wheels:

Scott Genius 900 Scott Genius 900 Scott Genius 900 Scott Genius 900

Geometry:
I’m 5’11” with a 34” inseam, and the Large Genius 900 fit like a glove with the stock 80mm stem. It was comfortable for all day rides, and put the rider in an over the pedals position with a steep effective seat tube angle. There is a chip at the rear shock eyelet that allows the geometry to be switched from “Low” to “High”. “High” is the more XC oriented setting, but I found it to be far to steep in one ride I tried it. For the rest of the test it was left in the “Low” position, and at times I was wishing for a “Lower” position. Swapping the 720mm handlebar to a 740mm, and replacing the Fox 32 with a RockShox Pike RCT3 of equal travel (but 7mm higher axle to crown), brought the handling and geometry more to my liking. It was more confidence inspiring, while still maintaining the nimbleness that is so rare in longer travel 29ers.

The Genius was long and slack for a 29er when released in 2013, but bike geometry has evolved quickly over the last two years and the Genius is now considered to have steep geometry compared to newer bikes in this travel range. It never felt to be out of it’s element, and it was confidence inspiring, but I must admit though that there were times that I found myself wishing for the playfulness and intuitive handling of the Kona Process reviewed in March.

Frame Shock and Fork features overview:  The Genius 900 Tuned frame is very well thought out, and it has a remarkably low frame weight of 2,300 grams (5.1 lb) with shock. Durability was not an issue for the duration of the test, and it has required nearly no pivot maintenance. Cable routing is well executed with provision for the stock Reverb Stealth internal routing.

The bike is equipped with a Fox Nude Factory rear shock with Kashima Coat and a Boost Valve. The Boost Valve is unique to the Tuned models and it’s worth mentioning that it does NOT provide a true lockout in climb mode. I much preferred this shock over the shock used on the rest of the Genius line; the damping in “Climb” mode is firm enough to prevent all suspension bobbing, yet it does blow off effectively on all impacts. The middle position simply becomes a mode with a reduced level of damping platform vs. the climb mode. The open mode did everything one could ask for with 130mm of travel, it offered adequate damping to keep the chassis under control, it would get out of the way on bigger and more sudden hits. The performance of this shock and the rear suspension as a whole was impressive in all settings, and it’s unfortunate that Scott sells the rest of the Genius and Spark lineups short with a shock that does not perform as well as those on the tuned models. A Rockshox Monarch RT3 DebonAir was tested on the bike, but it could not match the performance of the Boost Valve equipped shock.

The Fox 32 130mm fork was a merely adequate performer. It seems Fox has addressed some of the criticism of the past few model years and prevented diving under braking, but it was still surprisingly harsh on small, sudden impacts. It also fully locked out in climb mode, which did not mesh well with the Boost Valve equipped rear shock and tended to hold the front of the bike high on climbs. The F32 was changed to a Pike mid review when the Fox required service. The Pike was a very positive change for the bike, it offers more support while pedaling and cornering, while it effectively gets out of the way on sudden impacts. The stiffer chassis of the Pike is noticeable and it brings a level of precision to the handling that the F32 could not match. There was a slight weight penalty, with the Fox 1786 grams and the Pike at 1923 grams. (Both including axle)

Component spec is smart, although at this price point, it’s hard to go wrong.
The XX1 drivetrain: Performed flawlessly when new, but there is one caveat; the chainrings need to be replaced between 400 and 600 miles, the wear excessively and generate a grinding noise once the teeth start to develop a “hooked” profile.
Scott installs a 30t chainring, which provides a very useful range for mountainous regions.
XTR M987 “Race” brakes: A very smart spec, these brakes shave about a 100 grams off the “Trail” brakes, and perform in a more linear, progressive manner. They aren’t as grabby on initial application, and are only slightly less powerful. The bike is equipped with 180mm finned IceTech rotors front and rear. Brake heat was not an issue even on extended 20% grade descents.
RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost with 125mm of drop: Scott specced a model with the remote under the bar where the front shifter would normally reside. It performed well throughout the test.
Syncros TR 1.0 Carbon wheels: A good wheelset that had no durability issues and a lively ride feel. Quality DT Swiss hubs were included. Although a ping out of the rear could be heard when severely side loaded while riding. They were replaced with a set of ENVE M60s that I prefer, they feel a bit more solid, with an internal width 2mm riders at 23mm. Weight for the Syncros wheeset was 1540g with tubeless tape and valves.
Syncros Cockpit: The 80mm stem gets the job done, it’s solid and not too heavy at 130g. The 720mm handlebar was too narrow for my tastes. I swapped fit out for a 740mm wide bar.

Scott Genius 900

The Ride:
Good:
Versatility: This bike really can do it all, and does it all well. It only feels out of it’s element on certain pavement-smooth XC courses, and downhill bike level terrain. In any other conditions, it is capable enough to let the rider keep up with riders on bikes that have a much narrower intent.
Marathon Racing: The Genius is nearly custom built for marathon racing. With a rigid post and mid-weight race tires, it tips the scales at under 23 lb, with pedals. As light as just about any XC specific full suspension bike. The added travel saves energy deep into the race and it’s like cheating on the descents. The Genius is a Marathon Racer’s secret weapon, especially if the terrain gets rugged.
Rear suspension performance: After a few years of lackluster suspension performance out of the Nude shocks, Scott finally got it right on this one. It’s a shame this Boost Valved shock isn’t shared with all bikes that utilize the TwinLoc feature.
Weight: Nothing in this class can compete on weight.

Bad:  Fork Performance: The F32 wasn’t a complete disaster, but slightly too much flex, and harshness on high-speed impacts gave it an XC feel that undermined the capabilities of the rest of the bike.
Pedaling responsiveness: I hesitate to include this, because the bike pedals and climbs very well, while being quite efficient. But it never had quite the zing that a 23 pound bike with suspension travel reduced to 90 mm (climb mode) should have.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10

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