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Progressive XC Geometry


Furbz
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Over the last few years the term progressive geometry started creeping into XC and marathon bikes.

Head angles have slacken out too as far as 66.5 on the spez epic evo and a seat post angles of 74.5.

 

Overall the geometry of these newer bikes resembles trail bikes of old with the latest 2021 models really pushing the boundaries and venturing into trail bike territory. 

 

Enter Scott with their Spark.

first launched in 2016 with what was then progressive geometry with a HTA of 68.5 and a STA of 73.8.

this design is now nearly 5 years old and when compared to newer progressive geometry bikes seems dated.

yet its consistently performed well at the highest level.

further, the new Shurter 2021 version of the bike sells for a whopping R300k!!

 

and this raises questions for me.

did Scott nail the geometry in the spark, and are they sticking to the recipe they know works? or is it dated?

have other manufacturers maybe pushed the angles a little too far? and will will see these angles retreat in the coming years?

 

being in the market for a new bike is extremely confusing these days.

the lower spec sparks seem great, but i worry that a new frame is just around the corner that may have "more" progressive geometry.

the newer bikes angles are getting really slack, maybe too slack.

and are the "newer" slacker HTA and steeper STA because brands need to be seen as changing something on their latest bikes to make the new bikes more relevant/updated? 

 

share your thoughts and experience below.

it will be interesting to hear others opinions on this matter

Edited by Furbz
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Hey Furbz - good point and good post...

 

Some comments though :

 

The EPIC EVO is not really marketed as the pure bread XC racer - that's the standard EPIC which also has extreme HTA of 67.5°.

 

I have the 2020 geometry with 69.5° which was only 1° off the previous 70.5° model (unless you include the silly WC editions at 71.5°). But now a jump of another 2°... I'm also thinking "gone too far", but the guys riding them love them...

 

I think there's more to it - shorter chain stays, longer reach, lower BB for lower CoG, etc, etc... Maybe innovation, maybe marketing hype to sell new bikes...

 

Scott actually started way back on their 2013 - 2016 range with a "flip chip" pivot that could adjust HTA from 70.5° to 69.5° & lower BB height - so they were playing with this context then already...

 

I assume you're referring to the Scott RC range as this is their XC racer set. Note that their 2021 range is a new frame and now standard with 110mm travel instead of 100mm on the fork... seems they've adjusted the frame to keep the same HTA but with the extra travel... other manufacturers adding more travel forks land up reducing HTA further (like EPIC EVO range)... So this is actually new geometry and new thinking / innovation...

 

Tough to be in the market these days for a new bike... It should be exciting but its actually damn stressful... I know as I've bought new bikes for me and the wife in the past 12 months...

 

End of the day you have to ride them and see how they feel for you...

Edited by JBK
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You cant judge a bike by the HA and SA alone, all the number add add to make a bike that works well or does not.

with a slacker HA typically the reach will also be longer as well as the chain stay  for modern geometry - and its a balancing act in getting the  ratios correct.

the only way to tell if a bike is right for you is to  test drive it

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Courses are getting tougher, and rider conditioning is on a whole different level. Strength, core, and skill are all being actively trained to allow them to race the downhills as well, rather than just use it as recovery.

 

It's been interesting to watch the evolution of XC bikes - the current Epic has the same head angle as the "game changing" Spez Enduro 29 from not long ago (numbers don't tell the whole story of how a bike rides but it is an interesting metric of progression). Another metric: Nino is now racing on a 35mm stanchion fork & 2.4" tyres. Every season is more exciting than the last.

Edited by TomvdP
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Over the last few years the term progressive geometry started creeping into XC and marathon bikes.

Head angles have slacken out too as far as 66.5 on the spez epic evo and a seat post angles of 74.5.

 

Overall the geometry of these newer bikes resembles trail bikes of old with the latest 2021 models really pushing the boundaries and venturing into trail bike territory. 

 

Enter Scott with their Spark.

first launched in 2016 with what was then progressive geometry with a HTA of 68.5 and a STA of 73.8.

this design is now nearly 5 years old and when compared to newer progressive geometry bikes seems dated.

yet its consistently performed well at the highest level.

further, the new Shurter 2021 version of the bike sells for a whopping R300k!!

 

and this raises questions for me.

did Scott nail the geometry in the spark, and are they sticking to the recipe they know works? or is it dated?

have other manufacturers maybe pushed the angles a little too far? and will will see these angles retreat in the coming years?

 

being in the market for a new bike is extremely confusing these days.

the lower spec sparks seem great, but i worry that a new frame is just around the corner that may have "more" progressive geometry.

the newer bikes angles are getting really slack, maybe too slack.

and are the "newer" slacker HTA and steeper STA because brands need to be seen as changing something on their latest bikes to make the new bikes more relevant/updated? 

 

share your thoughts and experience below.

it will be interesting to hear others opinions on this matter

 

Great topic!

I'm in the camp that doesn't focus on HTA and STA too much. For stability a longer front centre is what you want. But how long? At what point is stability a liability to manoeuvrability? What Scott did get right was recognising that there was a lot of extra space to lengthen the FC without affecting manoeuvrability and climbing ability. Adding in a three compression setting rear shock was a master stroke because they recognised the need to not have excessive coupling of the suspension kinematics to the chain tension like VPP bikes have. They also spent a lot of time getting the frame engineered so that there was sufficient flex in the right places whilst being stiff enough to deliver the riders power to the rear wheel. Overall its a well engineered package that ushered in a new direction where everyone is no racing to have the slackest, lowest and longest XCO bike.....

Yes a Niner RKT RDO is a superb bicycle with its old school geometry.

Canyon's LUX is nother example.

There is no doubt that the longer lower slacker bikes offers confidence to the weekend warrior and this is where the sales are.

 

So wheres the sweet spot? 

Specialized Epic with it 67.5 degree HTA

or Titan Cypher with 69 degree HTA (Both 100mm travel)

 

Seems both bikes deliver smiles. A bike with a 70 degree HTA wins XCO races under a roadie.

A bike with a 67.5 HTA wins under a rookie on a rooty twisty course...

 

So personally I think there's merit in the new geometries, but I'm far more interested in how stiff the frame is, how supple the suspension units are and whether the bike fits very well before I think about half a degree difference in HTA

 

 

 

I reckon there is a new spark on the way, and won't be surprised if it gets launched at the Olympics or just before. The current Spark RC is definitely dated.

 

You reckon correctly. Apparently Nino will be using it in Tokyo. Birdie tells me he starts the season on the old bike and gets his new one in May

 

 

 

You cant judge a bike by the HA and SA alone, all the number add add to make a bike that works well or does not.

with a slacker HA typically the reach will also be longer as well as the chain stay  for modern geometry - and its a balancing act in getting the  ratios correct.

 

the only way to tell if a bike is right for you is to  test drive it

 

apart from the geometry the chassis design in terms of layup and tuned stiffness and flex still trumps half a degree here and there. 

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You cant judge a bike by the HA and SA alone, all the number add add to make a bike that works well or does not.

with a slacker HA typically the reach will also be longer as well as the chain stay for modern geometry - and its a balancing act in getting the ratios correct.

 

the only way to tell if a bike is right for you is to test drive it

Agreed. Geometry is definitely something that needs to be looked at holistically, and the proof is in the pudding.

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