Well, maybe this is more than a sneak peek, since I just spent four days and more than 12,000 feet of climbing on the latest Spark Carbon. (See related Sun Valley Bike Festival posts.) To begin with, pay attention to the sub-head above: With just under five inches of travel and a feathery carbon build, the 26-inch Spark is both trail bike and race machine, depending upon the day and how you spec it out. In that regard it’s reminiscent of the Yeti ASR-5 Carbon and Trek Fuel EX 9.9 Carbon: One lightweight bike that does the work of a small quiver.
Refreshingly, although the bike is entirely new, Scott wasn’t concerned about making a light bike lighter—only a great bike better. The frame and rear shock come in at 1790 grams with the remote controlled Twinlock (lever-operated suspension tuning) in place. That’s about the same weight as the old Spark, but what’s new is the performance. Gone is the old four-part linkage, replaced by a slick unit crafted from carbon. That, plus bigger bearings, tighter tolerances, a more sophisticated carbon build, and a tapered headtube, add up to a bike that’s a whopping 60 percent stiffer laterally than the prior version.
The suspension has also been upgraded thanks to an exclusive RockShox SID with “DNA3,” a three-position motion control fork up front, and a DT Nude2 (also with three positions) on the frame. Paired with the standard Twinlock lever, you can now shift from full lockout, to “traction” mode (85mm of travel), to the fully open 120mm without taking your hands off the bars.
On the trails around Sun Valley, I kept the test Spark in traction mode for 90 percent of each climb, only opening it up for the roughest sections. But I ran it wide open for the descents. The full lockout mode (it will still move if you hit something hard) is nice on paved roads or when you want to stand and stretch your legs, but the traction setting is the most efficient by far. We’ll be calling one in (with a drop seat post and tubeless tires) for our fall tests. In the meantime, check out the slideshow for photos.