Evaluating my new mountain bike

It was a surprise when, after a season riding a Scott Spark 700 Contessa, Steve offered to switch me to to a 2018 Scott Genius 710 Contessa.

(Throughout our 20+ years of marriage, well before he became the “Bike Guy,” I have become used to the idea that I shouldn’t get too attached to any of my bicycles – I often joke that when he stops giving me new bikes I’ll know our marriage is in trouble).

The offer was made for several reasons, including my interest in plus tires, as well as his observations of my changing riding style. Beyond the tires, the new bike would allow me to make another change – moving from a medium to large frame (at almost 5′ 10″ I am “on the cusp” between the two sizes, but have been hesitant to size up until recently).

Kristin’s new Genius Contessa 710

From my first ride – just a few weeks ago – I was thrilled with the bike. I felt like I was riding better, and Steve and I agreed I was able to ride up, over and through some elements that had previously frustrated me.

But do you ever wonder if your new bike was really as good as you believe?

Due to an unfortunate meeting of my bicycle with the front end of a Jeep Grand Cherokee while driving home from a ride – everyone is fine – my new Genius is out of commission. But the weather was too nice to stay inside, so, with permission from my Spark’s new owner (our daughter), I took a ride that allowed me to evaluate if switching to the new bike really made a difference.

Daisy and I riding with the Spark last season.

Let’s talk about what’s the same – both of the bikes use carbon frames, and as Contessa versions have slightly narrower handlebars, and different saddles. Both use the Twinloc Suspension System (“which allows a rider to control a bikes suspension performance and geometry simultaneously”), a dropper post (which I’m still figuring out), and neither received more than cosmetic customizations matching grips, Crank Brother candy pedals, and a StemCap from the Ellen Noble collection.

As for what’s different – the larger frame size wasn’t nearly as dramatic a change as I anticipated, but getting back on the Spark I felt like it was a little small. During the ride I observed that I felt more “forward” on the bike than I did on the Genius, a position I didn’t like that much.

I also noticed that the Spark felt “jouncier” than the Genius, and my back started to experience significant pain after 12 miles. This is likely because the Genius has 30 mm more travel in the front and rear suspension, and the plus tires provided extra “cushion.”

Riding in the gravel under the power lines, I missed the stability of the plus tires, and experienced a small flashback to one of my more memorable falls on gravel in Switzerland.

I’m still proud I actually got a photo from this fall.

As we climbed home, I missed one more thing from the Genius – the SRAM Eagle drivetrain which I had quickly learned to love as it gave me the “extra” gear I needed when climbing, and I believe would have helped minimize some of the fatigue I felt by the end of 17 miles.

The good news – During today’s ride, I was reminded why I enjoyed the Spark last season (and why I believe our daughter will love it) but also why we decided to switch to the Genius.

The bad news – now I have to wait for my new, new Genius to arrive.


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