2017 Scott Genius LT Plus

The Ride

This thing is a marshmallow. More so than any other bike I’ve ridden in recent memory, the Genius LT uses all of its travel all the time, and that really defines how the bike rides.

We’re going to get a little technical here for a second, so bear with me. The vast majority of full suspension bikes these days are, to some degree or another, progressive. That means that, as the suspension compresses, it gets more difficult to compress at the end of the travel. On any bike with an air shock, this is combined with the natural progressiveness of the air spring, and together, that “ramp up” can help keep the beginning of the travel supple for small bumps, but keep the shock from bottoming out hard late in the travel. This is a simplified explanation, and some bikes are more progressive than others, but you get the gist.

Noah Bodman reviews the Scott Genius LT Plus for Blister Gear Review
Noah Bodman on the Scott Genius LT Plus, Moab, UT.

The Genius LT is one of a small handful of bikes that is regressive, meaning that the suspension gets easier to compress deeper into the travel. Now, it still has an air shock, so there’s still that natural progressiveness that you get from an air spring. But compared to most other bikes on the market, the Genius LT doesn’t ramp up much as the suspension is compressed.

On the trail, that means that the Genius LT uses its travel much more easily than most other bikes, and I found that meant that I bottomed out the rear shock a lot. I added a bit of extra pressure to the shock so that I was running around 23% sag, which isn’t all that much for a 160 mm bike. Even at that pressure, I could still easily bottom out the shock just by thumping on it in the parking lot.

That regressive suspension means the shock doesn’t offer much support. Pressing the bike into a banked corner means the bike uses pretty much all of its travel. Pumping over a roll in the trail means the bike uses pretty much all of its travel. A stiff breeze would likely use pretty much all of the bike’s travel. And to be clear, I think 99% of this is the design of the frame — the Fox suspension could almost certainly be tweaked to improve the situation a bit, but at the end of the day, there’s only so much it can do.

But how that suspension and frame design works with the Plus tires mounted up is where things get a bit more interesting, and not necessarily in a good way. I noted in my Spark Plus review that there are some inherent downsides to Plus tires — they have some durability issues, some weight issues, they don’t accelerate particularly quickly, and they sometimes don’t feel very precise. And a big part of the reason why I liked the Spark Plus was because that frame did a really good job of minimizing those downsides wherever possible. In other words, you got all of the upsides of the big tires (a smooth ride and lots of traction), and the frame made the downsides a lot less noticeable.

The Genius LT, however, doubles down on the Plus tire conundrum. The tires don’t accelerate very quickly, and neither does the frame. The tires feel big and imprecise, and so does the frame. When you bolt some big Plus tires to the Genius LT frame, you end up with a big squishy monster truck. Line choice should be completely disregarded, as should most attempts to pump, pop, or otherwise work the bike down the trail. The ride becomes an effort to point the bike vaguely in the right direction and call it good.

And ultimately, I think that makes the bike less fun. The suspension is configured to completely obliterate every little obstacle on the trail, but the big tires already kind of do that, so the whole package just feels a bit excessive. And while the bike does level the trail impressively well, attempts to pop rollers, load the suspension into a corner, or otherwise ride the bike in a semi-active manner are rather futile.

If that all makes it sound like the bike would be pretty fast on rough trails, in actuality, the opposite is true. It wallows in corners, it gets overwhelmed on big hits (and even some medium hits), and it feels pretty lethargic when trying to lay some power into the pedals.

Noah Bodman reviews the Scott Genius LT Plus for Blister Gear Review
Noah Bodman on the Scott Genius LT Plus, Moab, UT.

I’m of the opinion that, to properly utilize Plus tires, the frame needs to complement their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. That means the suspension doesn’t need to fret as much about absorbing every little bump, because the tires already do that nicely. And it means the bike will often do well with slightly quicker handling, because the tires feel big and stable. But the Genius LT takes the opposite approach, and I think it misses the mark because of it.

That said, there is something to be said for riding a couch down rough trails, particularly for trails that aren’t so much technical as they are just bumpy. The Genius LT handles that sort of thing really well. Between the big tires and the “bowl of hot pudding” suspension, bumpy trails are actually pretty comfortable.

And there’s also the fact that the Genius LT does a really good job at climbing the sort of rocky, messy puzzles that there are a lot of in Moab. The Plus tires give loads of traction. The “warm brie on a soggy cracker” suspension also makes sure that traction is maintained whenever needed (at least at a climbing pace). And the Twinlock lever on the handlebar means you can firm up the suspension on a moment’s notice, which is nice because the Genius LT isn’t a particularly efficient pedaler. Plus, those long chainstays keep the front end from getting too wandery. 34 lbs of heft mean I wouldn’t be too excited to log massive amounts of vert on this bike, but for short technical climbs, it’s actually pretty good.

Aside from the “flaccid noodle draped over a dead hamster” suspension and Plus sized tires, the bike is more or less what you’d expect from a slack, heavy, long-travel bike. When the suspension isn’t getting overwhelmed, the bike is quite stable at speed; slack angles, big tires, and a long wheelbase mean that the Genius LT Plus is far from twitchy. And while that also means it’s a bit of a handful in tight spots, that’s somewhat par for the course on long-travel, slack bikes.

And at the risk of stating the obvious, the upsides of the Plus tires are certainly still present. They give loads of grip, and they plunder through small debris without a care in the world. Especially in the sandy washes that are pretty common in Moab, the meaty tires instill a bit of confidence.

Bottom Line

Zorbs. They’re those giant inflatable balls that you can climb inside of and roll down a hill. Aside from that one video from somewhere in Europe (I’m assuming Russia) where the Zorb bounced off course and flew off a cliff, they look pretty fun. But Zorbs are passive fun — you get in, someone pushes you down a hill, and you just kind of sit there while this massive balloon trundles along and absorbs everything in its path, including rocks, bushes, and small children.

And that’s pretty much what the Genius LT Plus feels like. It’s passive fun. It’s a big, heavy Zorb that smoothes out bumps, but it does so at the cost of any feeling of playfulness, and really any feedback at all from the bike. And I’m sure there’s a market for that — the Genius LT makes riding through rough terrain easier. But at the same time, it’s far less rewarding to ride the bike actively. It’s more of a “sit there and let the bike do it’s thing” type of experience.

There are some bikes that like to be ridden actively, and they work best when given a lot of input from the rider. There are other bikes that work better just plowing through chunder, and don’t require the rider to do quite as much. I’m firmly of the belief that bikes at both ends of that spectrum can be pretty fun in the right situation. The Genius LT sits heavily on the latter end of the spectrum, and while that doesn’t make it un-fun, I do think it means that there is a fairly narrow subset of riders who are really going to fall in love with this bike.

6 comments on “2017 Scott Genius LT Plus”

  1. Thanks for this review. This is not a mountain bike I am remotely interested in, but I’ve been in the bike industry a long time (30 years?) and your review is not the only, but one of the very few, that tell the truth. Well done. I’m not saying this just because your review was somewhat negative–in fact, you even found a way to put a positive spin on aspects of this bike, or tried to imagine who might really like this bike, the same way you guys do with skis. I just wanted to point out that having that dose of honesty every so often makes all the other reviews that much more credible. In terms of this bike, maybe it would be good for rental fleets? And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. It might help people get used to gnarlier trails. Anyway…what about some hard tail reviews?

    • Thanks for the comments, Bruno, they are much appreciated. My only quibble — as the founder & editor-in-chief of blister — is your comment about “that dose of honesty every so often.” The aim of every single one of our reviews is to be honest not just every so often, but all of the time. That is hugely important to me, and it’s an expectation I have — and our editors have — for all of our reviews. For us, it’s always about trying to (1) assess the product’s performance accurately, (2) locate the product among other offerings, and (3) figure out who the product is best suited for.

      As for hard tail reviews, we’re working on it. We’d certainly like to do more in that space, so thanks for the nudge.

  2. Hi Jonathan. No, I wasn’t clear enough. I appreciate Blister for exactly the reasons you describe. You guys are honest about everything–skis, bikes, clothes…whatever. When I said, “That dose of honesty every so often,” I meant that dose of honesty that Blister brings consistently, contrasted against the larger world of product reviews, which are often little more than advertising. The reason that I added my comment here, in the bike review section, instead of anywhere else (in any one of your other excellent reviews) is because I simply have more experience with bikes, and could thus appreciate this review more deeply, and because it is very rare to have a bike journalist playing with words and obviously having a great deal of fun, trying to describe some negative characteristic of a bike (while acknowledging that the bike might be good for some folks). Noah’s various descriptions of the suspension made me smile. Many moons ago, when Mountain Bike Action literally shaped the industry with their reviews, I remember how they absolutely excoriated a smaller company for giving their bike a name like “destroyer.” I don’t remember the exact name, but it was aggressive and destructive. The journalist went on for a long and entertaining paragraph about what name might come next: two-wheeled back hoe, Earth rapist, and so on. The name of a mountain bike might seem trivial, but in environmentally sensitive times, then and now, they had a point. However, since I have your attention, I do have one point: as a consistent rear of the bike reviews, it’s awkward and a little tiresome to read the same intro about outer bike. I think spreading the word about outer bike is a good idea, and it sets the stage for where and how you tested bikes, but perhaps you can accomplish the same with a short sentence and link, as you occasionally do when transitioning from a flash review to a full review of skis, something like, “We rode this bike at outer bike. If you haven’t read what we have to say about outer bike, check it our here (link). Or something like that. So, thanks for what you guys do, and for taking the time to respond (by the way, based on listening to one of your Podcasts, I bought some Folsom skis…really excited to try them this season).

  3. Noah, given all that you said regarding the “monster truck, marshmallow nature” of the bike, why on earth did you ride / report on it in the flip-chip “Low” setting, when running the “High” setting might have alleviated some of the issues you found (?)

    Would have at least been quite useful to hear about its performance in the “High” setting – one can probably assume it would be more responsive….

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