Scott Ransom Tuned - Review

 

The Scott Ransom was always a darn cool bike. Back in the 2000’s, the long travel ransom was a bit of a dark horse. The not quite a downhill bike, not quite a trail bike sat in a bit of an odd place. It was a little too heavy to keep up on a cross country ride, but not quite balls-to-the-wall enough to keep up with a downhill race bike.  

But- it could still do both. And in the world of mid 2000’s trail bikes, this was an oddity. Ask anyone who has piloted a 5” travel, 26” wheeled trail bike down a black graded trail, and chances are they wouldn’t do it again.  

The ransom though, was happy as larry. Sure it was a hefty weight on a cross country ride, and a little hairy on really technical downhill trails but it was one bike that could do it all, in a world of bikes that really could not. Sound familiar? In 2019 surrounded by hugely capable Enduro bikes, this all sounds a little more close to home…

The OG Scott Ransom 

For that reason the Ransom always held a special place in our hearts, and when it was killed off it was indeed a sad day.  

Fast forward to 2019, and Scott revived the Ransom. They claim it has all of the versatility of the old Ransom, while now being a flat out, race winning enduro race bike. On paper with this top of the range 2020 model, it seems that might be the case. 

 

What kit do you get?

 Lets get one thing out of the way here- The price. £6999. Let that sink in for a moment. 

That is a lot of money. 

A lot. 

 No really, A lot of money. The specification does reflect this though. The Tuned gets a full carbon frame. Front triangle, seatstays and chainstays are all made from Scott’s highest end HMX Carbon. No skimping on an alloy rear end here, this thing means business.  

Full factory level Fox suspension throughout, a 36 up front set to 170mm of travel takes care of the business out front, with Scott and Fox’s collaboration Nude TR shock out back and a Fox Transfer seat post doing the uppy-downy stuff with the size Large here having the huge 175mm drop variant. 

 SRAM take care of the gears, with a full X01 drivetrain. Again, no skimping with GX bits scattered through. The whole lot is the top grade X01. Shimano Deore XT 4pot brakes for stopping and some very posh looking Syncros wheels doing their spinny things to keep the bike rolling. 

 Tyres are handled by Maxxis, with Minion DHR’s in 2.6” front and rear. EXO casing front, EXO+ Rear. 

 Finally we have perhaps the most polarising thing about this bike other than the price, the Syncros Hixon handlebar. This is pretty special, the one piece carbon fibre handlebar and stem combo is bound to catch eyes wherever you take this bike. 

 

The Ride 

 I've gotten a few rides in on this now, with a variation of terrain from local cross country routes, through trail center flow trails and some technical, rough and jumpy riding too. 

 The first thing that will become apparent when you turn the pedals is the weight, or lack of. This bike, a 170mm travel 29” wheeled monster weighs 30lbs dead. Couple this with the smooth rolling 29” wheels and the bike just wants to roll as soon as you turn the pedals. It feels far more effortless than any large enduro bike should. 

 One of the first outings was to the ever popular Swinley Bike hub. Swinley is an attractive place to bed in and test a new bike, it has everything from sweeping flow trails to the old-school favorite downhill tracks, such as Babymaker. 

 The normal blue and red graded trails at swinley are not really Enduro bike territory though, so it tends to be a slog. The ransom however, seemed to chew through the miles far, far easier than any enduro bike rightfully should. You point this bike uphill, stamp on the pedals and off it shoots, to the point where I was overtaking experienced looking cyclists on short travel XC bikes on the climbs. One of the features that really enables this though is the the Twinlock system. This clever feature, used on many Scott full suspension bikes- enables full control of the fork and shock at the same time from a handlebar mounted remote. There are three modes- A full lock, a middle setting (Traction mode) and fully open. I have to admit I found the full lock a little useless. Unless you are riding on completely smooth roads, or fire roads (which are a slog anyway) the Traction mode seemed to be a much better option, keeping the rear wheel in contact with the ground and allowing a small amount of suspension movement for comfort and grip. Even technical, rooty climbs were easier than expected. The steep seat tube angle on the Ransom, coupled with the traction mode on the Twinlock meant the bike was easy in comparison to most Enduro bikes to push up the steep sections. 

 Now, it has to be said that you don’t buy a bike like the Ransom for the climbing ability though. It is when you point this bike downhill that things get really interesting. The ransom picks up speed rapidly when pointed downwards. On technical sections the bike carries its speed incredibly well and the Scott/Fox Nude shock does an impressive job of keeping the rear of the bike planted and stable. The fork too, does a good job despite having the FiT4 damper that is normally overlooked for the newer GRiP2 unit found on many bikes. It tracks well, and handles the big hits with the high level of control we’ve come to expect from Fox’s Factory level forks. Chassis flex is minimal, although slightly noticeable especially with the large 29” wheels providing leverage. The new XT 4 piston brakes do an admirable job of slowing the bike down, and do not seem to suffer with the inconsistent bite point issues of previous generations. I would still like to see a working pad contact adjuster but other than that they are impressive stoppers. 

 SRAM’s 12 speed Eagle drivetrains have become the benchmark in shifting technology in recent years, and the X01 kit is no different. Its smooth, Shifts well under any conditions and has enough gear range to keep the big wheels turning both pointed uphill and down. The carbon cranks are a standout here feeling noticeably stiffer than the GX level alloy cranks found on many bikes this year. 

 The wheels performed flawlessly, a wide 30mm rim gives the tyres plenty of support and allows for confident cornering, really encouraging you to lean the bike at ridiculous angles. The 2.6” tyres have seemingly never ending grip, especially in the tacky, slightly soft conditions we had during most of the rides on the bike so far. 

 I would like to see the rubber on this bike changed though. The rear tyre is the new EXO+ casing, however the level of grip this bike has encourages such fast cornering that there was a few occasions that the back tyre was rolling quite substantially during hard cornering. A bike of this size and travel might benefit from a change to Maxxis’ Double Down casing tyre on the rear, and the EXO+ moving to the front tyre. 

 Getting the Scott round a corner was a learning process though. My riding style can be described as relaxed when on normal rides, and relaxed is a word that the orange Scott does not know. If you are lazy cornering this bike, it will punish you. The long wheelbase coupled with the slack headtube will make the bike drift wide, and getting it moving and on track again can be a hassle mid corner. If you get it right, this bike goes like a ballistic missile, but you have to work for it. Put in the effort and it will reward you with speed by the shedload. But you need a good amount of body english to muscle it in the right direction. 

 Jumping is predictable and controlled, the bike is stable in the air and very easy to move around due to its low weight and standover height. It’s not a small bike though, so if you are into jibs and tricks this is probably not the machine for you. 

 There is not much to note on the other components as it all performed flawlessly over the rides that it has been on. Even stuck in a field with mud jamming the wheels solid, everything still functioned smooth as silk once loosened off. 

 Overall this is a serious bit of kit, but it is for a serious rider. If you are looking for a comfortable, capable bike to ride around the woods with your mates, there are definitely better options- look at the shorter travel Genius for that, or the Trek Fuel EX. But if you are after a serious enduro race bike, there are not many options that could keep up with the flaming orange swiss army knife that is the Ransom either pointing uphill, or downhill. 

However, Junior pumptracks? Avoid... 

 

 This is a race bike. And it will make you a faster rider- you just have to work for it a little, Or a lot... Did I mention the price?

 

 


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