SPARK 900 | $5,600

IT’S A SHAME WHAT WE’VE DONE TO THE TERM ‘EPIC.’ LIKE the buffalo that used to roam the western states, this majestic word sustainably coexisted with humans for centuries. But along came mountain bikers, and in just a few short years, we exploited it past the point of cliché and into near-irrelevance.

But there’s really no better way to describe most of my rides on the newly amplified Spark 900. Scott still offers the 100/100, race-only Spark RC, but now the entire lineup of both 27.5- and 29-inch Sparks runs 120/120. Of course, it got the requisite slacker head angle, steeper seat angle, longer reach and shorter chainstays that every XC bike got this year. But this year also brought a few other design tweaks to the Spark. In addition to the rear end’s adoption of flex stays instead of Scott’s distinctive chainstay pivots, the shock is now compressed by a rocker link instead of a swing link. Not only did that allow for an updated leverage curve, but the trunnion-mount rear shock now bolts in at the bottom bracket, stiffening the front triangle. All 120-millimeter- travel Sparks are front- derailleur compatible, but our 1x build featured a clean and quiet chainguide in its place.

The spec on the $5,600 Spark 900 sits in that sweet spot between not compromising and not selling your car to buy it. The SRAM Eagle drivetrain alone earns this model its high marks, and the Shimano XT brakes and Fox Transfer dropper earn it extra credit. Just as impressive is the carbon-fiber, also Fox, also Sram 1X Spark 930 at $4,000 and its aluminum doppelganger at $3,200. And I could go on. In total, there are 10 build options for the Spark—20 if you count each tit-for-tat 27.5-inchwheeled model, but I think the Spark’s potential is best realized with big wheels.

Though it got a little juiced up

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