DSC06938We had the Scott Scale 900 RC HMX introduced On Test here and Out of the Box here.  I have seen a fair amount of dirt go under the wheels of this build-up and after all this time, I think I put together a winning combo of bike and components.

Lets look at each main section at a time and see what worked well (or did not) and why.  Then we will talk about how it worked as a whole and whether or not I reached my goal as called out in the first posts.  That goal was to select parts that would compliment the nature of the Scale and result in a light weight, capable, fast and ‘comfortable’ hard tail for long, fast rides or shorter faster rides, as the case may be.

DSC06953Magura – I chose a Magura TS8R fork set at 100mm for the front suspension duties and Magura supplied a set of MT8s, their single piston, top end XC brake.  As I had predicted, the less than super-supple fork was a boon on the Scale as it perfectly complimented the intent and overall vibe of the bike.  With the fork open, there is little dive or ‘cycling’ during out of the saddle climbing and we have no ‘trail mode’ here on this fork, just open and locked out.  I was able to run it open pretty much all the time and never flip it closed unless I was doing a long paved climb or something.  It is a stiff, light, and decently absorbent fork and felt best when I was hard charging down the trail.  It is not all that comfy when just cruising along as smaller bumps tend to pass through only slightly buffered, but overall, it worked really, really well for this application. The faster I went/harder I pushed the better it felt.  Great race fork.

DSC06952The brakes were just OK, actually.  I am a big fan of the dual piston versions of the MT Next series brakes (like the MT7s) and while these MT8s were very light and quite reliable, they were hardly overwhelming me with stopping power.  I had enough, but not much more than enough.  Still, for the intended use of the bike it worked.


The drivetrain was not really anything new, but SRAM XX perfectly compliments this bike and kept the weight down.  It also gave me, in a world gone mad with 1x everything, a wide range of gears that was all I ever needed anywhere I rode it.  Proven, although costly, stuff.  I can’t imagine needing deeper than a 26/36 low gear on a bike like this.


DSC06955Tires and wheels – The choice of American Classic Wide Lightnings just continued to impress me as I have yet to find a moderate trail bike or XC application where these wheels do not excel.  Most carbon wheels are not this light, especially at this rim width.  I ran the Continental X King 2.2 front and the Race King 2.2 rear.  Although the X King front is not my first choice as a loose conditions tire, overall they were fast and solid the entire test.  The combo of the wide rims and tubeless compatibility of the tires allowed for very low tire pressures, although I did not go under 20psi all that often and never under 15psi as rim strikes were just too common then.  Even at these low pressures, the ProTection just shrugged off all hits.


Contact Points –  The stock seatpost was a pleasant surprise in that it had a decent amount of deflection, even at that odd 34.9mm diameter.  Good thing too, as there are precious few options.  The saddle was not quite as good for me as the first version of the Ergon SM3 I used was bothering me at a couple of odd contact points right below my sit bones.  I talked to Ergon and we went with a newer version of the SM3 and at a wider width.  circledThat was a marked improvement although the jury is still out on whether or not it will work for me long term.  The saddle seems to be very sensitive to tilt and unless I run it nose down, I get too much irritation right where the circle is in the pic to the right.

I wanted to take a hammer to the saddle or maybe a rotary file and relieve that section, as otherwise, I really found it to be a great place to work from…well padded but not overly so, and with enough support to not have pressure issues on the soft tissue areas.  However, even as I type this I realize that nothing is as personal as saddle preference and what I think does not really count for all that much.  The grips were very nice and going back to a ‘normal’ grip felt like hanging on to a broom handle till I got used to it again.



At some point I was feeling the cockpit was too aggressive…too stretched out for me although it complimented the character of the bike.  Out of the saddle efforts were awesome as I was over the bars, low, and forward.  But that weight was too much in the wrong place on faster, twistier trails.  I could do two things…narrow the bar to something more like 710mm or swap the stem.  Narrowing the bars would bring my hands in closer and let me sit back a bit more, but I chose to swap the stem to a 100mm from the original 110mm version.  That and a slight rise in the bar height…maybe another 10mm…was a transformation well worth the time as it allowed the bike to really shine on fast trails and such.  It is amazing how important rider position is on the bike and 10mm, while not seeming like a lot, can be.

So what did we end up with?  A PR killer.  A ripper-off of legs belonging to the guy next to you.  If you could pedal harder, the Scott Scale 900 RC HMX would go faster.  Uphill it was a stunner.  On the flats or rollers it was just a big ring machine.  But then we should expect that from a 21lb bike that has this level of carbon construction and carefully chosen parts.  And the thing is, I could have made it lighter with faster tires, like S Works Renegades, etc.


Hey… on the Scott Scale 900 RC HMX I am only twice as slow as Neil Shirley on this climb!!!!

On singletrack it was very easy to get along with, even at higher speeds, as the slacker than normal for a race bike geometry kept things mellow.  Speed limits were just a factor of my limits and the fact it is a hardtail with only a 100mm fork up front.

DSC06950What comfort, eh?  Indeed…was it really that comfy?  Well, sort of but not really.  First off, know this fact – the tires of any bike are your first line of defense for any bumps in the trail and outside of any real suspension travel on the bike, will do the most to take the sting out of the trail.  After that, maybe the seatpost/saddle combo, bars, etc, but much less than one might think.  The frame is an important part too, but nothing compared to the tires.  And I say that because of the huge bennies that the low psi allowed for regarding comfort on the Scott Scale 900 RC HMX.  If I ran the tires at a more ‘normal’ 25-30 psi, it was pretty stiff legged.  Not brutal but it kicked pretty good on anything but smooth trails.  Down around the low 20s and it was almost buttery…not great steel or ti buttery, but really good (and at a weight and pedaling performance that most, if any, metal frames cannot match). But run at a pressure approaching 20psi or slightly below and little chatter just disappeared, the saddle and seatpost doing their part too.

Pushed hard over rougher trails, and if I just held my line and pedaled, the Scott Scale 900 RC HMX never flinched, never bucked me off, never overwhelmed me.  There is enough give in the frame to give you some grace under pressure and I could feel it give in these conditions rather than bounce me off my line.  That never translated into anything even approaching softness under pedaling though.  God forbid.  The BB and chainstays never flinched no matter how hard I tried.

What is standing out to me right now, as I reflect on the Scott Scale 900 RC HMX, is not one of an all day XC hardtail for swift crossing of the countryside, although it could be that, but really a very fast race bike for persons badly wanting to win something, but not die in the process.  The podium calls but you also would like some give in the ride and in the handling so you can survive the ordeal.  It is that bike.  Does that mean it is not the bike I set out to build?  Yes, but more thoughts on that in the next post where I get Ed the Tall to give me his impressions, I reflect on carbon hardtails as a whole, consider Chuck Norris, and more as we wrap up this review.

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Note: All the components shown here were sent for test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.