Originally launched as a full-suspension cross-country/marathon
racer, Scott’s Spark has developed into a versatile lightweight trail bike. The
all-new 2012 model takes another step in that direction with a slight increase
in rear travel and a shift to radically slack front end geometry.

The Spark’s laid-back and
low layout is very much of the moment, but just because it’s trendy doesn’t
mean it doesn’t have merit. Combined with low weight (29.3lb/13.3kg), the
Scott’s a truly rewarding ride, successfully mixing point-and-shoot hooliganism
with a distinct lightness of touch.

Aside from the nine-speed
rear cassette there are no obvious weak spots on the Spark and certainly
nothing that diminishes the sheer sense of fun that it exudes. Any bike that
can provoke actual giggling in test riders is always going to score highly with

Ride handling: Kicked-out geometry makes for
huge grins; lively but controlled suspension feel

While the Spark started
life as a cross-country race bike, it’s been gradually drifting trailwards over
the years. The 2012 incarnation pretty much completes that transition, with
Scott jumping firmly into the slack-and-low geometry camp.  Out of the box with the shock mount in the
Low position, the Spark runs a 68-degree head angle – distinctly kicked out for
a 120mm bike. Combined with a 70mm stem on the Medium test bike, this delivers
an almost mini-downhill-bike feel.

At speed over rough ground
the Spark is hugely confident, and sorted weight distribution means it’s happy
at jogging pace on tighter trails too. It’s quite different from most bikes in
its class and takes a little getting used to. That adjustable shock mount gives
you the option of easing yourself into it via the still fairly relaxed High
position (68.7-degree head angle and an extra half inch of bottom bracket

Despite a travel bump from
last year’s bike, the feel of the Spark’s back end remains very similar. It’s
never been a super-plush setup, thanks largely to the DT Swiss air shock, so
the added 10mm of travel at the bottom end isn’t an immediately obvious change.
This is a taut and lively system rather than a plush and bottomless one – an
arrangement that plays better with the raked-out geometry than you might

Although the RockShox
Recon fork uses a coil spring, the Spark feels well-balanced front to rear.
There’s also the unique Twin Loc lever that acts on both shock and fork
simultaneously. Generally we’re not big lockout users, but the system is so
quick and easy that you find yourself using it just for the first few pedal
strokes out of corners. It does come with a big handful of extra bar spaghetti,

Frame equipment: Lightweight frame gives
scope for upgrades, adjustable angles add versatility

The 2012 Spark has a
similar layout to the old model, with a swing-link driven shock slung under the
top tube, but this is an all-new frame. There’s now a 44/50mm head tube that
will take a tapered-steerer fork (although this model uses a straight one). The
down tube takes the direct route to the bottom bracket, with a hydroformed
flare to boost weld area up front. There’s plenty going on with the top tube
too, with both the shock mount, swing-link pivot and a small seat tube strut
all hydroformed in.

It doesn’t end there. The
seat tube is quite a piece of work too. From the side the significant curve is
obvious, although it’s sufficiently far down the tube as to not impede saddle
dropping unduly. More unusually, the seat tube is asymmetric, cranking to the
left and taking on a square cross-section at the bottom to give as much contact
with the bottom bracket shell as possible while still leaving room for the
front mech.

In another neat detail,
this a direct-mount unit that shares its mount with the swingarm pivot. Substantial
chainstays now carry a post-mount rear brake inside the rear triangle, with the
rear pivot moved back to clear it. The chainstays do the bulk of the structural
work, allowing the seatstays – which only have to drive the shock – to be
slender, cutting weight and improving tyre clearance.  

Between seatstays and
shock is the 3D forged swing link, which is almost invisible at rest as it hugs
the seat tube. In a final detail, the shock mounts via a reversible ‘chip’ that
can be flipped to adjust the angles and bottom bracket height. This isn’t a
unique feature but it’s one that’s usually the preserve of longer-travel bikes.

Rear shocks are a part
usually downgraded on budget FS bikes but the Spark 60 features the same DT
Swiss M210 unit that you’ll find on the £2,300 Spark
. Elsewhere the Scott has a solid kit list, although the Shimano Deore based
transmission can only muster nine sprockets. Shimano M446 brakes are reliable
stoppers and a 180mm front rotor adds bite.

This article was
originally published in Mountain
Biking UK

You can check out our first ride of the new Scott Spark platform in the video below: