By: Ann Felteau
This review originally published: annfelteau.com/reviews/2017-scott-spark-contessa
I purchased this beautiful 2017 Small SCOTT Spark Contessa 700. It’s their high-end female-targeted 27.5″ wheel cross-country race bike. It is amazingly responsive, nimble, rigid and yet just squishy enough. I’m very happy, in fact thrilled! It is the first out-of-the box factory bike I’ve purchased since my 2000 gold Homegrown Schwinn. Remember those shiny golden aluminum hardtail beauties with the bright blue SID Race shock? Oh yeah, we rode all the trails and tech on those puppies!
I’m almost embarrassed to admit how long it took me to upgrade my cross-country bike, but I’m glad I waited. Many of the changes I love are simply due to the evolution of component technology: 27.5″ wheels, 1x (‘one-by’) drivetrain and remote lockout shocks. But the icing on the cake is all SCOTT.
SCOTT engineered a smart geometry and selected a great group to build up this simply incredible bike. The slacker head angle coupled with a shorter stem keeps the bike very stable on steeps and at speed while maintaining the responsiveness needed to manage trails with a ton of cornering.
Let’s talk drivetrain. The Contessa comes standard with the SRAM XO1 Eagle 12-speed. It’s the new 1x rear cassette and derailleur with the magical 50-tooth Eagle granny-gear bail out. I love the evolution of tech and removal of the front derailleur! The shifting is spot on and feels completely frictionless. I’ve had the pleasure of riding it on both fast tight cornering trails and the technical towny trails here in Golden and haven’t yet run out of high or low gears.
The suspension is demonstrating to be my sturdy buddy and confidante. We set both the 100mm front FOX 32 SC Float Performance Elite Air fork and back FOX NUDE Trunnion shock at 25% sag using the handy sag tool provided. The new SCOTT Spark rear suspension geometry provides great traction when climbing without the pogo effect from previous designs. SCOTT replaced the unneeded front derailleur shifters with their TwinLoc Technology that offers 3 lockout modes. Climbing or busting it on fast single track with the suspension partially locked in traction mode automatically turns the rider into a super hero!
The Shimano XTR brakes have already proven many times to be the right setup for this bike. The larger 180mm front rotor offers better stopping power and the adjustable brake levers set up modulation resulting in less force on the hands without locking out the brakes. They offer all the adjustments us small yet strong-handed girlz need!
I haven’t ridden aluminum wheels in over 6 years and was concerned about missing my carbon set. However, DT’s Swiss’ Syncros XR RC CL hubs with the Syncros XR RC rims and Aero Comp spokes are already demonstrating the needed stability when digging in to the corners. You put certain combinations together for a reason… Though I love Schwalbe tires and have been riding them for years, I swapped them out for the Maxxis Ardents, 2.4″ on the front and 2.25″ on the back. No issues, I was simply looking for a specific tread and ride-style that those Maxxis offer.
I’m still on the fence with the Syncros Women’s Pro Lock-On grips. Ergonomically they aren’t working for my hands. It looks like the TwinLoc shock lockout lever is integrated with the grips and requires a special clamp to change it out. When it comes to grips and saddles, ergonomics and personal preference are key and that’s a minor change I still need to make before I start the big rides of the season.
Lastly, let’s talk overall aesthetics. SCOTT’s 2017 Spark Contessa 700 is a GORGEOUS bike! I’m, of course, biased because I’ve always wanted a blue bike and the Contessa has a tough stealth black carbon base with really cool blue accents. Overall, the geometry, lines, components and color make for a beautiful, solid, and nimble bike that’s fit for us mountain-biking hard cores or anyone who wants an epic ride-ready bike.
What girl has two thumbs and loves the 2017 SCOTT Spark Contessa 700? THIS GIRL!