Test Lab, review of Scott CX Team
Cyclocross? Now there’s a bit of a novelty for me. Vague memories of really muddy northern Europeans running around with bikes on their shoulders spring to mind, but until now, I’ve never tried it. With the first Australian national series about to kick off, however, I suppose now would be a good time to start. Cyclocross enjoys virtually cult status in parts of the US and it certainly helps hone your handling skills for road riding. So, if you were about to embark on this slightly crazy cycling sport, what are you going to ride? Well, I reckon you could do worse than try the Scott CX Team.
The Scott is a smart looking bike. The frame’s black, red and white colour scheme is complemented by the colour-matched Scott-branded seatpost, bar and stem. The frame itself is double-butted 6061 alloy with a sloping top tube for extra standover height and a carbon fork up front. There is some funky profiling on the frame’s main tubes which is presumably more than just for looks. Wheels are Shimano’s R501-30 Aeros. The groupset is predominantly 10-speed Shimano 105, with an Ultegra rear derailleur and an FSA Gossamer CX crank/BB and headset. Brakes are Tektro CX cantilevers. The seat is a Selle Italia Team Edition, similar in shape to the Flite (a personal favourite).
It’s obvious even to non-cyclists that the Scott is not your average road bike. The knobby Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres and the Tektro cantilevers proclaim the fact that this is a ‘cross bike but Scott haven’t just bolted these onto a road frame. Climb aboard and within a few pedal strokes you’ll notice the difference in handling compared to your roadie. The Scott is super-stable in a straight line, so much so that I stopped to check if the headset was over-tight! The bike really wanted to keep going straight ahead; this is due to the relaxed geometry of the frame/fork. After five minutes I was used to it and never gave it another thought.
On tarmac, with 60 psi in the tyres, the Scott moves along pretty smartly. It does take a little more effort to accelerate out of bends but I was surprised how quick it was. I played catch-up with a group of roadies and kept up for a couple of kilometres before jumping the kerb and heading off across the grass and continuing off-road.
This is where the Scott really comes into its own. Even if you’re not going to race cyclocross, the versatility it offers is not just useful, it’s great fun! It handled grass and dirt sections of my commute far better than a road bike whilst being quicker on the road than my slick-tyred MTB. I deliberately sought out gnarly sections of trail between home and the office, flying over roots and sandy sections that I wouldn’t take my road bike anywhere near.
The Scott ate up everything I threw at it over the weeks that I had it. Off tarmac, I felt compelled to get out of the saddle and ride hard at every opportunity purely because I was having so much fun. It reminded me of riding ‘racing’ bikes all over the place as a kid. These were anything but racing bikes but they had drop bars and five gears and you rode them anywhere regardless of terrain. The point was you had one bike and it did everything because it had to.