Staff rider Drew recently put the new Scott Genius 740 bike through its paces at Cannock Chase.
If you've not yet heard about 650b, it's a wheel size that is also referred to as 'the Inbetweener' in certain circles, due to it being somewhere in-between a traditional 26" wheel and the increasingly popular 29er. This is a fairly new technology within the cycling industry and you could say it's a bit like Marmite - you either love it or hate it. Read on to see what Drew had to say about his first real experience of a 650b...
We've been expecting these all year and I have been eager to give them a try, so, when a shiny Genius 740 dropped on the shop floor, I wasted no time in building it so I could take it for a ride.
The first thing to note about these next generation Geniuses, is that in both 650b and 29� guise, they have opted to go with a more conventional single pivot suspension system and have now dropped the old pull-shock system, which in my opinion worked very well, but understandably scared off a number of potential buyers.
Pleasingly, the 650b wheels don't look out of place, in fact I had to point out to several people that they were actually bigger wheels.
Now, when contemplating where to take the Genius to give it a fair test, there really was only one option: my ever faithful local trail, Cannock Chase.
If there was ever a trail to fit in every kind of terrain, obstacle and incline in such a small area, it's there.
They have lovely tight, twisty sections through the trees, technical drop offs and rock gardens, steep climbs, fire roads and balls out fast sweeping single-track sections.
Immediately out of the car park, the Genius felt good, I instantly felt so confident that I charged straight into the first section of tight single track, only to lose traction on the front wheel and nearly become closely acquainted with a tree - it's worth noting that this was not the bike's fault!
A couple of minutes fettling with the shock set-up and dropping a load of pressure out of the tyres, and I was off again.
- These 650b Nobby Nic tyres come as standard
Fettling done, I continued through the trees and immediately began to feel the old 29er wallow, however it wasn't nearly as pronounced and after a few minutes of riding, I almost forgot about it. The back end still felt lively and playful too.
As the trail opened out a little more, the Genius really came into its own. The way it covered the ground was incredible, and it rolled like a dream. The twinloc system worked amazingly well too.
For the majority of the day at Cannock Chase I left the bike in its middle setting, leaving the suspension firm but still responsive under impact. However, even in fully open mode it never felt saggy or wallowy when pedalling hard out of turns.
I reserved the full lockout for only the smoothest of climbs - there it made the bike almost ridged.
This bike comes stocked with 150mm of front and rear travel, and although normally way too much for the likes of Cannock Chase, it climbed more like a 120/130 model.
The Genius comes with a neat geometry adjuster in the linkage system, allowing you to raise or lower the Bottom Bracket height. For this ride, I left it in its lower XC mode, but for heavier riding, it would be well worth raising it.
Being so good at the XC part of the trail, I did wonder how it would feel on the Black sections. This is where it showed off its true Genius background. Throwing it off the drop-offs felt easy and the 650b wheel rolled down the rock gardens with ease, never feeling sketchy or out of control. It really inspired confidence.
The final test was the far side of the monkey trail, where from experience I knew this bike would excel!
Charging down the wide, open flowing trails, this machine was just relentless, encouraging you to push harder and harder, keeping its speed.
It gripped through the corners effortlessly and even when I pushed it into lovely big carving 2 wheel slides, it never felt like it was going to rip your head off for being too cocky!
As capable as it was on the ground, it was just as good in the air! Having the advantage of the higher entry speed and the gyroscopic effect of the wheels, it was very stable in the air.
Where I've personally found with 29ers, that they don't seem inclined to be flicked about in the air, the 650s still allow you to have a bit of fun when not on terra firma.
All in all, I was thoroughly impressed with the Scott Genius 740. Despite the slightly reduced manoeuvrability in the really tight twisty sections, it paid back in droves.
I feel that somewhere like Coed Llandegla with its fast, open flowing trails, the Genius would be right at home!
This leads to the obvious question: would I give up my beloved 26� Ibis Mojo?... Not a chance!
However, I'm already looking to replace my hardtail for a longer travel 650b model and will not hesitate to take the Genius out for another ride!
Would you like to test the Scott Genius 740 for yourself?
This bike is available to demo at our Whitwell store. Please call 01780 460 705 to check availability before making your trip.
Upon hiring the bike, if you decide you like it and would like to purchase one, we will discount the price of your hire off the bike when you buy.