Expert Review: Scott Spark 970 Mountain BikePublished on 05/12/2023 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the bike, which I purchased with my own money in June of 2022.
All photos courtesy of Garrett Waliky
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the bike, which I purchased with my own money in June of 2022.
Getting into the world of cross country and knowing how many wins the Scott Spark 970 Mountain Bike has under its belt in the XC UCI, I had high hopes, and they were fulfilled. This bike is very agile and capable. Its sleek look, with integrated cables built into the stem to the damper inside the frame, is such an eye-pleaser.
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Scott Spark 970
- Build Kit: NX Eagle
- Wheel Size: 29
- Frame Size: Large
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 190 lbs
- Experience: 15 years of biking
- When I bought it: June 2022
- Number of rides: 60
- Approximate Time Ridden: 80+ hours
- Type of trail conditions ridden: Dry, wet, rough, rooty
- Where I’ve used it: Sandy Ridge, Klootchy Trail System
How it performs
What I was looking for
I needed a bike that could attack lower mountain cross country/down country trails and easily handle steep rooty climbs. Being in the Northwest, the trails will throw anything at me, dry and wet. I wanted something that felt comfortable, like an Enduro bike but was in the lower travel range and was ready to charge.
Why I chose this gear
Spark has a good reputation. If one follows the UCI, they’ll know this bike has put riders at the top of the podium. I have been intrigued by its agile geometry and slick look since I saw the Spark 970. Its clean cable routing is next level. Another bike I considered was the Evil following, which is an additional fun bike in the lower travel category. The bike was great, but at the end of the day, it felt more like an Enduro bike that wanted to hit jumps and partake in the playful side of things. The Scott Spark 970 felt planted to the ground and wanted to be ridden hard and fast.
What I love about it
- Frame/Geometry: The 970 is the alloy model with some great geo. The headtube angle comes in at 65.8 throughout all sizes in the line-up. I can really get my weight over the bars and attack flat sections, climbs, and corners. I feel comfortable on long flat sections as well. The seat angle comes in at 76.4 on the large, so the climbs feel great and comfortable. The reach on the large comes in at 470mm, which is also perfect for my arm's length.
- Suspension: The 970 comes equipped with an X Fusion Nude 5 in the rear. Great rear shock for the price of this bike. It has three built-in modes: lockout, traction control, and descend. Those numbers are 120mm (descend), 80mm (traction control), and lockout. I really like those options too. Those tricky climbs and traction control mode really make climbs way easier. One really cool thing about this bike is the lockout is remote-controlled right on the bar. Up front, the bike has a RockShox Judy Silver suspension. The Judy comes with 130mm in travel. It is solid for a rider looking to get in the game without breaking the bank. I had an extra Fox 34 Grip2 lying around, and this bike's added performance was night and day. All the added adjustments and the plusher feel, I really think helped bring this bike alive after the swap. It also helped with weight savings by being a lighter fork.
- Wheels: This bike comes equipped with Syncros X-30se rims. Very capable and durable rim. I have had many rides through some rough rock gardens, and they can take a solid beating.
- Cockpit: The cockpit is one of the highlights of this bike. The cables routed in the headset are super clean looking and eliminate a lot of noise. The stock bars come in at 760mm wide with a slight rise and 8° of back sweep. I'm used to a little wider bar, but it isn’t bad stock-wise. I have broader shoulders, so I swapped the bars out for a wider option, making a world of difference for me. I also run a wider grip, so that was swapped out too. It’s all personal preference.
- Seatpost/Saddle: The stock seatpost is a Syncros Duncan with 150mm in travel. The stock Syncros isn't the worst seat in the world by any means. It's a very durable seatpost, and I have had zero issues with its performance all season. Riding with a good chamois is always a must.
- Tires: One of my favorite tires out there for a down-country bike is the Wicked Will from Schwalbe. It offers tons of traction and carries speed very well.
- Brakes: In stock form, this bike is equipped with Shimano MT201s, and they have decent power. If one likes the feel of Shimano breaks, they won't be disappointed. They had a great feel throughout the summer and didn't require much maintenance.
- Durability: This bike can take a beating. This bike comes in a few different models and some being carbon. The 970 is alloy, so I had no fear putting this bike through the test. The Schwalbes performed well and held up all summer, as did the drivetrain until it was swapped out.
- Adjustability: The large fit me like a glove. Being 5’11", I typically fall into a large no matter the brand, and I feel at home on this bike. The damper has a ton of adjustments, so no matter the terrain, one can make it feel great.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Drivetrain: I am a massive Sram fan when it comes to drivetrains. The NX drivetrain is a workhorse and is great for an entry-level bike. That being said, it was the first thing I swapped out. I am a massive fan of AXS wireless shifting, so I threw the X01 AXS in there to save weight and get a smoother shifting feel.
- Brakes: I typically ride Sram brakes, but I wanted to give these brakes a go for the season just to compare. I will say I would have liked more power in my brakes. They offer a great feel, and I do like the bite point, but I could see myself switching them out for Sram codes.
- Weight: This bike comes in at 32.1 lbs which isn't terrible but can be lighter with some swaps here and there, mainly the drivetrain and fork. The NX is a solid entry-level, but after swapping out the NX for an X01 drivetrain, it really helped. For riding XC and down-country, I have a little more trust with carbon fiber in this field since the descents aren't as intense, so I wouldn't mind the lighter frame.
Favorite moment with this gear
The Spark provided all kinds of fun trips this summer. My favorite moment on this bike had to be at Phil's trail system in Bend. The bike gripped well in the dusty terrain and climbed like a mountain goat. At the end of the day, I didn't feel too fatigued and could have gone way longer.
Value for the money vs. other options
For the money, this bike is hands down a go-to for me. In stock form, this bike is more than capable of any lower mountain trail thrown at it. Even without the upgrades, I can see myself running this bike in stock form. Some other capable Down Country bikes I would compare it with would be the Evil Following and the La Pierre XRM 8.9. Both are very good bikes, but one won’t see them below $3,000, like the 970.
Hands down, I recommend this bike to anyone looking to get onto a down-country bike without breaking the bank. The Scott Spark 970 is more than capable, and I think anyone would be surprised by how agile this bike is. I found myself right at home on this bike, and for the price, I am impressed. I highly recommend it.