Blister Brand Guide: Scott Mountain Bike Lineup, 2020

Intro

When considering a new mountain bike, there are so many similar-looking bikes on the market being made by so many different companies, it is virtually impossible to (1) know where to begin; (2) quickly figure out which one or two products from a given brand might work well for you; and (3) determine what products from other brands might be the most similar and also worth considering.

So in our new “Blister Brand Guide” series, we provide an overview of the entire product lineup of a brand; highlight how each product stands out from the rest of that brand’s lineup; and help you figure out quickly and easily which bike might work best for you.

In our individual product reviews, we go very deep into the details of particular products. With these Brand Guides, the goal is not Depth, but Breadth. Our Brand Guides and full reviews are designed to complement each other — provide a broad overview of entire company lineups, and then also very detailed reviews of individual products. 

Our mountain bike Brand Guides are presented by CBGTrails. Learn more and start planning your trip today at cbgtrails.com, then download the CBG Trails app for info on the 750+ miles of singletrack and 150+ trails in Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley, Colorado.

See our other MTB Brand Guides

About Scott

Scott Sports has existed since 1958. They started out making ski poles and other ski gear and eventually entered the motocross, cycling, and trail running markets. Their mountain bikes range from budget-friendly beginner options to heavily outfitted Cross-Country, Enduro, and Downhill race bikes. They also have women’s-specific versions of many of their models, recognizable by the “Contessa” moniker, which feature women’s-specific shock tunes and contact points (saddles, grips, etc.). Currently, all of their mountain bikes come with 29″ wheels, though several of their models are designed to work with 27.5″ wheels, too.

Current Warranty (for the original owner)

  • Five years for frames and swingarms if you have proof of at least annual maintenance service
  • Three years for frames and swingarms without proof of annual maintenance service
  • Two years for forks
  • Two years for Gambler, Voltage Fr, and Volt-X
  • Product must be registered online within 10 days of purchasing
  • For more information, visit this website

Suspension design: Virtual 4Link Design and TwinLoc

(For more on different suspension designs, see our Suspension 101 article)

Before we get into their specific models and build options, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on which build level to go with, and why.

First, when looking at complete bikes, suspension and wheels are going to make the biggest difference in how a bike really rides. Spend money on those before other things like higher-end drivetrain parts, cockpit parts (e.g., stem, handlebars, etc.), cranks, etc.

Tires make an enormous difference in performance, but are cheaper and easier to upgrade, especially since they tend to wear down quicker than other components. Upgrading a lower-end front tire to something better — and saving the original for rear-tire use — can be a good way to improve a bike while still making use of the originals, since front tires are generally a lot more important than rear tires when it comes to traction.

Drivetrain parts can be upgraded piecemeal as they wear out, or if you just want to upgrade down the line. Higher-end cassettes are mostly just lighter, while higher-end shifters and derailleurs get lighter, smoother, and sometimes last a bit longer as you go up in price.

We’ll outline here the different models in Scott’s MTB lineup, organized from most cross-country-oriented (XC) to downhill-oriented (DH). In other words, the bikes at the top of the list are optimized to pedal and climb uphill very well, while the bikes at the bottom are optimized to handle very rough, steep, and challenging descents very well.

We’ve included some notable information for each model:

Available build kits & their MSRP

  • Best Budget Build: These are the build kits that we think make the most sense for people trying to spend the least amount without ending up with a build that’s going to immediately break or need to be upgraded.
  • Most Performance for the Price: These are the build kits that we think make the most sense for people seeking the best balance of performance and cost. I.e., if you don’t need to get the cheapest bike, but you also don’t need the absolute lightest bike or all the newest bling, this is the build we think makes sense for you.
  • Suspension travel (e.g., 100 mm of travel, 130 mm of travel, etc.)
  • Wheel size (e.g., 27.5”, 27.5+, 29”)
  • Frame material options (e.g., alloy vs. carbon)
  • A brief description of what the bike was designed for and any notable design details.
  • Some of the bike’s most direct competitors from other brands
  • Which Scott bike it’s most similar to
  • Reasons why you should buy it
  • Reasons why you should not buy it

Scott Mountain Bikes

(Most Cross-Country-Oriented to Most Downhill-Oriented)

Blister Brand Guide: Scott 2020 Mountain Bike Lineup
  • Front: 100 mm
  • Rear: Hardtail
  • 29"
  • Alloy

This hardtail 29er is a solid option for beginners and those on a tight budget. Can fit 27.5” wheels, except the 920 build.

Consider If:

  • You ride trails that are relatively smooth and not very steep
  • You are new to mountain biking
  • You are looking to ride easy and forgiving trails
  • You are on a budget

Don’t Bother If:

  • The trails you ride are steep, bumpy, loose, and/or fast
  • You want a bike that is forgiving on the descents
  • You are willing to spend a little more for improved performance
  • 970: $449.99
  • 950: $599.99
  • 940: $699.99
  • 920: $899.99 – Best Budget Build & Most Performance for the Price
  • Specialized Chisel
  • Giant Talon 29
  • Kona Kahuna
  • Trek X-Caliber
Blister Brand Guide: Scott 2020 Mountain Bike Lineup
  • Front: 100 mm
  • Rear: Hardtail
  • 29"
  • Alloy or Carbon

This hardtail 29er has build kit options from entry-level riders to World Cup XC racers.

Consider If:

  • You ride trails that are relatively smooth and not very steep
  • You ride or race XC
  • You appreciate a lightweight, efficient climber

Don’t Bother If:

  • The trails you ride are steep, bumpy, loose, and/or fast
  • You like a bike that is forgiving on descents
  • 970: $999.99
  • 960: $1,199.99
  • Contessa 930: $1,599.99 – Best Budget Build
  • 950: $1,699.99 – Best Budget Build
  • 940: $1,599.99
  • Contessa 920: $1,799.99
  • 930: $1,799.99
  • 920: $2,399.99
  • 910: $2,799.99
  • Contessa 910: $2,799.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • RC 900 Pro: $3,999.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • RC 900 World Cup AXS: $6,799.99
  • Specialized Epic HT
  • Trek Procaliber
  • Giant XTC
  • Norco Revolver HT
  • Pivot Les
  • Santa Cruz Highball
  • Canyon Exceed
  • Mondraker Chrono, Chrono Carbon, and Podium Carbon
Blister Brand Guide: Scott 2020 Mountain Bike Lineup
  • Front: 100 mm
  • Rear: 100 mm
  • 29"
  • Carbon

Scott’s full-suspension 29er XC race bike.

More like the Spark than the Scale.

Consider If:

  • You race or ride cross-country style on slightly bumpy, steep, and technical trails
  • You appreciate a full-suspension bike that climbs well
  • You ride or race cross-country-style for long distances on trails that are more bumpy and / or technical

Don’t Bother If:

  • You often ride steep, fast, technical, bumpy trails
  • You like a bike that is more forgiving on descents than it is a good climber
  • 900 Team: $3,999.99 – Best Budget Build
  • 900 Team Issue AXS: $4,999.99
  • 900 Pro: $5,199.99
  • 900 World Cup: $5,999.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • Contessa 900: $5,999.99
  • 900 World Cup AXS: $7,299.99
  • 900 SL AXS: $11,999.99
  • Specialized Epic
  • Santa Cruz Blur
  • Giant Anthem 29
  • Cannondale Scalpel-Si
  • Pivot Mach 4 SL (World Cup Builds)
  • Intense Sniper XC
  • Norco Revolver FS 100
  • Canyon Lux
  • Mondraker F-Podium
Blister Brand Guide: Scott 2020 Mountain Bike Lineup
  • Front: 120 mm
  • Rear: 120 mm
  • 29"
  • Alloy or Carbon

Scott’s short-travel 29er Trail bike. Less racing-oriented than the Spark RC.

More like the Spark RC than the Genius.

Consider If:

  • You like a full-suspension bike that climbs well
  • You appreciate a dropper post
  • You race or ride cross-country style on slightly bumpy, steep, and technical trails

Don’t Bother If:

  • You often ride steep, technical, and bumpy trails
  • You like a bike that is more forgiving on descents than it is a good climber
  • 960: $2,099.99
  • Contessa 930: $2,099.99
  • 950: $2,899.99 – Best Budget Build
  • Contessa 920: $2,899.99 – Best Budget Build
  • 940: $3,399.99
  • 930: $3,499.99
  • 920: $3,999.99
  • Contessa 910: $3,999.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • 910: $4,799.99
  • 900: $5,999.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • 900 Ultimate AXS: $8,999.99
  • Trek Top Fuel
  • Specialized Epic EVO
  • Santa Cruz Blur (TR Builds), Tallboy / Juliana Joplin Version 3
  • Yeti SB100
  • Pivot Mach 4 SL
  • Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29
  • Kona Hei Hei
  • Rocky Mountain Element
  • Intense Sniper Trail
  • Norco Revolver FS 120
  • Cannondale Scalpel Si-SE
  • Mondraker F-Podium DC
Blister Brand Guide: Scott 2020 Mountain Bike Lineup
  • Front: 150 mm
  • Rear: 150 mm
  • 29"
  • Alloy or Carbon

Scott’s best Quiver Killer. Designed to be very versatile, this bike can run either 27.5” or 29” wheels and has high and low geometry settings.

More like the Ransom than the Spark.

Consider If:

  • You want a bike that is capable and forgiving on the descents
  • You occasionally race Enduro, like to shuttle to the top of descents, and / or ride lift-served terrain
  • You want the benefits of fast-rolling 29” wheels
  • You enjoy pushing your limits on fast, steep, chunky, and technical terrain
  • You are okay climbing to the top of your favorite descent

Don’t Bother If:

  • You ride mostly smooth and flat trails
  • You are looking for a XC-style bike that climbs very well
  • You want a more freeride-style long-travel bike, rather than an Enduro racer
  • Contessa 920: $2,499.99 – Best Budget Build
  • 950: $2,999.99 – Best Budget Build
  • 940: $3,599.99
  • Contessa 910: $3,599.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • 930: $3,999.99
  • 920: $4,499.90
  • 910: $4,999.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • 900: $7,999.99
  • 900 Ultimate AXS: $11,499.99
  • Ibis Ripmo
  • Specialized Stumpjumper 29
  • Pivot Switchblade 29
  • Santa Cruz Hightower LT
  • Trek Slash
  • Canyon Strive
Blister Brand Guide: Scott 2020 Mountain Bike Lineup
  • Front: 170 mm
  • Rear: 170 mm
  • 29"
  • Alloy or Carbon

Scott’s long-travel Enduro bike. This bike can run either 27.5” or 29” wheels and has high and low geometry settings.

More like the Genius than the Gambler.

Consider If:

  • You want a bike that is capable and forgiving on the descents
  • You race enduro and / or like to shuttle to the top of descents and / or ride lift-served terrain
  • You want the benefits of fast-rolling 29” wheels
  • You enjoy pushing your limits on fast, steep, chunky, and technical terrain

Don’t Bother If:

  • You ride mostly smooth and flat trails
  • You are looking for an cross-country-style bike that climbs very well
  • You want a more freeride style long-travel bike, rather than an Enduro racer
  • 930: $2,999.99 – Best Budget Build
  • 920: $3,799.99
  • 910: $5,499.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • Contessa 910: $5,499.99
  • 900 Tuned: $7,599.99
  • Santa Cruz Megatower
  • Pivot Firebird 29
  • Yeti SB150
  • Giant Reign SX 29
  • Specialized Enduro (2020)
  • Commencal Meta AM 29
  • Rocky Mountain Slayer 29
  • Intense Carbine
  • Nukeproof Mega 290
  • YT Capra 29
  • Norco Range 29”
  • Devinci Spartan 29
  • Evil the Wreckoning LB
  • Canyon Strive
  • Mondraker Superfoxy Carbon
Blister Brand Guide: Scott 2020 Mountain Bike Lineup
  • Front: 200 mm
  • Rear: 200 mm
  • 29"
  • Alloy or Carbon

Scott’s dedicated DH bike. This bike features extreme adjustability: it can run either 27.5” or 29” wheels; it has a 4-way geometry adjustment flip-chip; it has adjustable chainstay length; and comes with spare angled headset cups. It also has an integrated bash guard and chain guide.

Consider If:

  • You race or ride downhill
  • You want the advantages of fast-rolling 29” wheels
  • You often ride lift-served bike parks or like to shuttle to the top of descents
  • The trails you ride are fast, steep, technical, rocky, rooty, and / or have large jumps
  • You want to be able to fine-tune your bike using many adjustments

Don’t Bother If:

  • You plan on climbing to the top of descents
  • The trails you ride aren’t very fast, steep, technical, and bumpy
  • 930: $3,699.99 – Best Budget Build
  • 920: $4,399.99
  • 910: $5,999.99 – Most Performance for the Price
  • 900 Tuned: $7,999.99
  • Trek Session 29
  • Santa Cruz V10 29”
  • YT Tues 29
  • Pivot Phoenix 29 
  • Devinci Wilson 29
  • Specialized Demo 29
  • Kona Operator
  • Commencal Supreme DH 29
  • Intense M29
  • Nukeproof Dissent 290
  • Norco Aurum HSP 29”

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