The Gambler certainly has plenty to offer in terms of adjustability with the Syncros angled headsets providing a range of between 61 and 65 degrees on the head angle. It also has a chainstay which can be shifted between 425mm and 440mm in the lower setting (425-435mm on the high setting) and the bottom bracket can also be swapped out between high or low, or as Scott point out “a low and slack carver of a bike or a pedal smashing flat track weapon.” If Scott’s take on geometry is anything to go by the majority of production downhill bikes lean mostly to the latter.
Suspension wise the Gambler is said to have been optimised for use with the Fox RC4 damper with the ‘floating link’ central to its operation. The linkage has allowed engineers to decrease the shock hardware rotation increasing the bike’s durability but can also reduce bearing loads particularly at the beginning of the shock stroke and leading to improved small bump sensitivity and traction. Up front the Fox 40 produces stellar performance as we have found on many other bikes.
“the numbers involved here are way ahead of many bikes”
It’s refreshing to get to ride Shimano Saint during an era dominated by Sram on the majority of production downhill weapons. This includes Saint braking, drivertrain and shifting. The rest of the bike is nicely put together with Syncros bar, stem, headset, seat and seatpost whilst DT’s FR570’s are shod with Vert Star front and Trail Star rear Magic Mary from Schwalbe.
Early outings on the Gambler were particularly disappointing out of the box. This included a horrendous knocking from the rear end and linkage system that appeared to be housing a damper that had as much support as an Airbus 380 landing on a rhubarb trifle. The slightly high front end added to the imbalance.
Lowering the bottom bracket and shortening the chainstay quietened the noisy rear although did not fully silence it. The lower geometry was the preferred position and to be fair to Scott the numbers involved here are way ahead of many bikes. Certainly much better than those on the three previous downhill bike tests on these pages. The size large wasn’t far off for six foot riders either. The biggest change came about by filling the Fox RC ….whatever its called damper up with spacers. Without them the damper is scrap and even with them the rebound needs to be run pretty open to get some life out of the bike. The “glorious harmony” that Scott talk about is nothing more than talk. Having said that we’ve ridden many of the new so-called flagship dampers from Fox and been massively unimpressed. There must be some bikes that the shock works well on though.
Once all sorted the Gambler is almost ready for action but the rear still is touch hasty in its use of the available travel. Up front the Fox 40 is majestic and hunts down trouble like a Saturday night in a Merthyr kebab shop. The bike has a very good feel to its chassis and riding it was a relief after coming off some badly designed and over- stiff carbon bikes. The Gambler is surefooted in its nature aided by the low bottom bracket and with the damper full of spacers the bike has a more life to it which then aids its ability to be moved around on the trail although its still a touch sloppy. It certainly doesn’t seem to hold back Brendan Fairclough in this respect although its said Scott are working on a new linkage in his bike.
Even with its faults its still massively enjoyable riding the Gambler. As a workhorse it’s a good bet for many riders and has stood up well to many riders giving it some stick. The rear Fox RC… whatever its called is now huffing and puffing and needs an oil change but the Fox 40 up front has simply not missed a beat. At around five grand in the shops it’s a reasonably good deal, sizing isn’t far off, the reliability has been good and the weight puts it alongside several carbon downhill offerings. If they can soundproof the bike and sort the damper/linkage out the Gambler could easily be back in the mix because the geometry is faultless.