From Dirt Issue 105 – November 2010
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Victor Lucas.
It’s almost impossible not to see where Scott are coming from with their Voltage line of bikes, “An affordable good times machine” pretty much sums it up. And yes, why risk your money on the heavier hitting Scott Gambler when the wide–ranging multi–adjust Voltage gives you such a capacity for…STUFF.
The Scott boasts adjustable geometry and travel settings from 130mm to 180mm with interchangeable drop–outs. We tried the bike in a variety of settings and didn’t really find a vast change in the geometry given the range, but our favoured set up was with the 215mm eye to eye Fox air shock. The bike came up a fraction over 45 inches on the wheelbase, with a head angle of 63.5 degrees and bottom bracket fractionally above 13.5”. We were happy with the air shock geo’ as the longer coil shock seemed to jack the bike up a bit too much on the BB.
Park riding and slopestyle events are said to be the Voltage’s strengths. Scott’s pro riders mostly run shorter (around 130mm) travel forks with the Voltage in competition and make use of the three–position chainstay lengths, 415mm to 435mm. Many riders will benefit from this adjustability, and throughout its range makes a perfect bike for ragging about the woods, jumping and buggering off to an overseas destination now and again, engaging the bike into the respective travel for whatever the terrain.
Some people will question the 36lb weight and consider buying a similar weight downhill bike. That misses the point of the Voltage big style. Plus you ain’t going to get much downhill bike for this price. And it’s debatable whether it actually needs to be lighter, I think a lot of riders would prefer their bikes to be less breakable in the current climate of skinny downhill bikes. We’ve had no problem with the Voltage’s weight, it holds its ground well, giving constant stability from its chassis and we are eager to get our hands on a 190–230mm travel Gambler.
With the uplift closed I was forced to throw on the backpack and head into the woods for a spot of sessioning and spannering to get an idea of this multi adjustable bike.
Almost immediately the Voltage felt utterly rebellious across the ground even in short travel setting, certainly the quickest bike I had ever ridden through certain sections characterized by root and flat arcing turns. Was it the clear head? The angles and travel felt perfect for the conditions and terrain paying out about 135mm travel on the rear. Not much, but an express nevertheless.
But the Scott has the advantage that you can get more padding – a whopping 180mm of it if you bolt on the coil shock. I quickly swapped out the shuttle and settings for longer travel and sectioned again. The result? More comfort, not necessarily more speed. It felt as if the bike needed to be a shade longer for this amount of travel. The problem with lengthening would be that the bike would then lose its sharp, tight nature and become just another shorter travel downhill bike. We also needed to run more air in the shock and it felt too short up front for such travel. The Voltage doesn’t hold itself as well in longer setting and certainly for sessioning jumps and hitting berms the shorter setting rules.
All in all the bike might well have been designed to run a shorter fork with the shorter 135mm setting, but such was the progressive nature of the rear travel it just soaked up the terrain that the 160mm Fox 36 had allowed at first point of contact. As it stands in this spec we’d put it at the top of the list in terms of ‘type’, and it’s a special one.
Possibly the best Scott I have ever ridden, certainly the most formidable short travel bike currently available. It epitomizes hanging–out riding today. It has certainly survived the test of time here in the office. Its nature is impeccable – not too skinny or short travel to push too hard and not too lazy as is the problem with a downhill bike on less than fast or tortuous terrain. It does its job brilliantly well, is good on the money and is looking pretty good on the component spec too. Actually pretty faultless. Bar and stem the correct length and width, brakes, cranks, chain device, gearing, tyres all good, good, good. I can’t see any bike getting near to it in its class.
But. Now this is a big one. For 2011 the bike rises to 180mm up front. Yes it’s still adjustable, but I cant help think that it’s going to be too near to a downhill type machine and this bike scores because it’s the bike that no–one really makes. In fact we only found out late in the day that this actual bike does not exist off the shelf in that the air shock does not come as standard. Maybe by default Scott have created the ultimate UK good times bike?
With Specialized not bringing in the SX Trail in 2011 and Commencal’s Supreme a bit too close to a downhill bike, the Scott is the only bike that fills a gap in the market. But even if it was up against those bikes it would still come out top. Yes you have to know exactly what you are after with the settings but that to is part of its appeal.
|Frame||Voltage FR Alloy 6061|
|Rear Shock||Fox DHX RC4 coil|
|Fork||Fox 36 Van R coil|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM X9 9 Speed Med cage|
|Chainset||Truvativ Holzfeller DH 1.1 170mm|
|Chain rings||36 teeth|
|Bottom Bracket||Truvativ HowitzerXR|
|Cassette||SRAM PG–970 DH|
|Pedals||Wellgo B087 SCT Flats|
|Front Brake||Avid Elixir R Disc|
|Rear Brake||Avid Elixir R Disc|
|Brake Levers||Avid Elixir R Disc|
|Handlebars||Scott Pilot FR 1 Pro|
|Stem||Truvativ Hussefelt OS|
|Rims||DT Swiss FR600 32Hole|
|Front Hub||Scott Pro 20mm|
|Rear Hub||Sun Jumping Flea 12mm thru axle|
|Spokes||DT Swiss Champion|
|Tyre||Schwalbe Big Betty DH front, Gooey Gluey DH rear, 26 x2.4|
|Seat post||Scott DJ zero offset / 31.6mm|