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On switchback: Riding the SCOTT Spark 710

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The line between categories has become increasingly blurred: cross-country, trail, all-mountain, enduro. From predetermined travel ranges to different wheel sizes, it is hard to tell where one category ends and another one begins. This true of Spark line from SCOTT—and it is a blessing. The Spark 700 line from SCOTT is built around a 27.5 platform and features adjustable geometry that straddles the line between cross-country and trail bikes. In a world more about riding than definitions, the SCOTT Spark 710 is a bike you should put on your wish list.

The Spark 710 uses a carbon front triangle joined to an alloy rear to save weight and help keep the price within reach. The front triangle is constructed using SCOTT’s IMP process that allows for lighter weight by removing 11 percent of the material from the head tube junction while still increasing strength by utilizing high-modulus fibers in critical areas. The Spark 710 also uses SCOTT’s Naked External Tubeset, which eliminates the cosmetic carbon layer to save more weight. The top tube slopes downward, with the upper shock mount placed two-thirds of the way down its length. The top tube is also home to the shock’s swing link pivot. Connecting the top and down tube is the seat tube that is heavily ovalized at the bottom bracket and curves forward to allow for extra rear wheel clearance.

The rear triangle is constructed from aluminum, with an oversized machined yoke contacting the main pivot to the vertically oversized chain stays. The yoke also serves as the attachment point for the front derailleur. The rear pivots sit just above the IDS-SL dropout system that is compatible with 142×12 mm, 135×12 mm and 135×5 mm QR rear axle standards. The seat stays mirror the chain stays with a vertically ovalized profile. They are attached to each other just above the rear wheel by a machined alloy bridge before continuing to the shock swing link.

The front and rear of the SCOTT Spark 710 is linked via a SCOTT exclusive FOX Nude CTD shock. It features positive air volume micro-adjust with replaceable volume reducers custom tuned for each size and different travel modes have separate damper settings. In the shock’s development, SCOTT studied the pedaling motions of riders and measured their influence on the suspension in order to better tune the shock and isolate the suspension action. The FOX Nude CTD works exclusively with SCOTT’s TwinLoc system that allows the rider to swap between settings from a handlebar-mounted lever. Up front, SCOTT uses a FOX 32 Float 27.5 120 FIT Dual Remote CTD fork with remote Climb, Trail and Descend settings.

The Ride
The SCOTT Spark 710 is an extremely capable trail machine that slants toward cross-country efficiency. Under power, the bike has a quick and snappy feeling, while the addition of the TwinLoc suspension system adds versatility and speed. The TwinLoc allows the rider to simultaneously switch the front and rear suspension between the Climb, Trail and Descend modes.

The SCOTT Spark 710 is outfitted with a complete Shimano XT group. The rest of the bike was equipped with a Syncros FL1.5 Tbar handlebar, Syncros FL1.5 stem and seat post. The rider’s compartment is completed with a Syncros XR1.5 saddle. The Spark 710 rolls on Syncros XR2.0 wheels wrapped with Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires and weighs 24.7 pounds without pedals.

The Spark 710 employs an adjustable geometry by way of a shock-mount chip in the linkage. By changing the shock-mount chip, the bottom bracket height is changed by 7 mm, which also affects the head tube angle by 0.5-degrees. Doing this also changes the effective top tube from 24.6 inches in the low setting, to 24.5 in the high setting. Our size large Spark 710 uses a 68.3-degree head tube angle in the low setting and 68.8 in the high. With the 120-mm travel fork, we spent most of our testing time with the slacker head tube for a bit of added stability. The 73-degree seat tube puts the rider in a familiar position over the pedals.

When the trail turns upward, the Spark 710 has several factors in its favor—the first being its light weight. The bike’s next advantage comes from its 27.5 wheels, which spin-up quickly and maintain their speed well. The final factor is the FOX Nude CTD suspension system with SCOTT’s TwinLoc system. By flicking between Climb for all-out ultimate efficiency, and Trail for extra traction, the rider is able to maintain a quick pace and save energy, regardless of trail conditions. Climb in the Trail setting and the bike remains locked to the dirt and makes short work of rocks and roots.

With the suspension set in the Descend setting, the Spark 710 is plush, with a feel that at extends past its 120-mm specs. Small and medium sized obstacles are handled without complaint as TwinLoc allows the rider to easily switch to the most efficient setting. This is a huge advantage and allows one to keep the speed high. Depending on the trail, we found ourselves using the TwinLoc more than the rear shifter. When fully open, the ramp-up is smooth and well controlled. Through corners, the Spark 710 is fast, with a more aggressive, cross-country-style position. The front tracks well, and the rear of the machine rarely runs off course.

The Rider
The SCOTT Spark 710 rider is looking for a true all-mountain machine that can climb with efficiency and keep pace with longer-travel machines on downhill runs. The TwinLoc is a slick system that adds speed to the Spark 710 in all conditions.

The Builds
The Spark line from SCOTT has 18 models that spans 29-inch and 27.5-inch wheel options. With the 27.5 platform, the Spark 710 sits toward the top of the line, with just three other models it above it. The line is bookended by the SCOTT Spark 700 SL, with full carbon frame and SRAM XX1 components, and the Spark 760 with an alloy frame and Shimano SLX components.

Bottom Line
Price: $5,200
Wheels: Syncros XR2.0
Other: Syncros FL1.5 Tbar handlebar, Syncros FL1.5 stem, Syncros FL1.5 seat post, Syncros XR1.5 saddle and Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires
Weight: 24.7 lbs. (without pedals)
More: scott-sports.com