I’ll admit to being a little skeptical of the Scout when I first got on it. Not because I expected it to be a bad bike, but for a shorter travel bike like the Scout, I tend to prefer 29ers. I find that the smaller wheels often feel kind of twitchy, and with less suspension, the benefits of a bigger wheel are more noticeable. Most recently, my preferences held true with the Devinci Django 27.5 and Django 29 – both were fun bikes, but I preferred the 29er version.
So with that in mind, I was pretty surprised at how much I liked the Scout – it has all of the upsides of a 27.5” bike, and it does a really good job of minimizing the downsides. I can throw it into corners and pop and pump off of the terrain more effectively than I can with a 29er, but it doesn’t feel quite as twitchy at speed as some other 27.5” wheeled bikes in this class.
Of course, it doesn’t have the roll-over-ability of a 29er, but the Scout’s suspension did a great job of closing that gap. The suspension is supple enough that it smooths out small bumps and makes for a comfortable ride, but at the same time, the suspension is fairly progressive, which means that it handles bigger hits competently and it has a nice pop when you want to get in the air. The Scout also benefits from having a fairly stiff frame, which instills a bit of confidence when throwing the bike around.
I think a lot of the bike’s mannerisms come by way of the slacker headtube angle and longer travel fork than other bikes with 120-130 mm rear travel. Those two factors make the bike just a bit more stable, and a bit more competent when the going gets rough. And while that also means the bike gives up a little ground on the climbs, it still does pretty well. It’s not quite as efficient as the Devinci Django, but it still pedals decently and it’s a little lighter. No one will be mistaking it for an XC race bike, but all things considered, the Scout does pretty well when things are pointed uphill.
For anyone that wants a bike that’s a bunch of fun on descents, but isn’t willing to deal with the weight penalty and reduced efficiency that usually accompany a longer travel bike, the Scout should be high on the list. It’s also a bike that should appeal to people that are spending a lot of time on bigger backcountry rides – the suspension is cushy enough to keep from beating you up over the course of a big day, but it’s still efficient enough to handle long climbs.
If you’re looking for some comparisons, you can check out where we ranked the Scout in our 27.5” trail bike roundup. Of the bikes I’ve ridden, the Santa Cruz 5010 is definitely the Scout’s closest competitor. I’d say the 5010 pedals a little bit more efficiently, but the Scout is a better descender due mostly to the longer travel fork and slightly longer wheelbase.
It’s probably fairly evident at this point that I’m a fan of the Scout – it’s one of those bikes that does everything pretty well, and it’s fun in a wide variety of situations. No, it doesn’t have the climbing prowess of an XC bike, nor does it have the descending prowess of an all mountain or enduro rig, but it does a really good job of finding the high ground in the middle. And for that reason, it’s a bike I’d recommend to those that want a bike to do a little bit of everything, which is a pretty large group of people.
To be a little more specific, I’d say the Scout is the most downhill capable of the shorter travel 27.5” wheeled bikes that I’ve ridden. It still has the efficiency on the climbs that comes with a shorter travel package, but it can hang on rowdy descents surprisingly well. And that combination makes for a bike that’s just a damn good time.