(Image: Jonny Gawler)
From the Foil ridden by pro team Orica Green Edge to the Plasma that sits underneath Ironman 70.3 World Champ Sebastien Kienle, Scott have a reputation for top-quality bikes across the board. This range is different. Instead of being solely performance driven, the Solace is also designed for all-day comfort.
The Solace has an intriguing frame. It’s spilt into two ‘zones’: the power zone and the comfort zone. The power zone includes the bottom bracket, down tube, head tube, chainstays and top half of the fork, while the comfort zone is the seat tube, seatstays and the lower legs of the fork. The idea is that the power zone contains a huge amount of stiffness; the comfort zone has more flexibility.
As a result, the rear brake is underneath the chainstays, like you’d normally expect on a tri/TT bike, because the lack of a bridge between stays allows them to be more flexible. And they really are flexible – squeeze them between your fingers and you’ll see them move 2mm or so inwards each side.
The groupset is a full 11-speed Shimano Ultegra 6800, but with a twist. Instead of the standard rear derailleur, this one has the new mid-cage version that allows an 11-32 cassette on the back, and coupled with the compact chainset gives a huge range of options. Finishing kit is all by Syncros, and Schwalbe’s Durano S Fold 25mm tyres house decent Syncros RP2.0 wheels.
Given all the talk of comfort-enhancing wizardry from Scott, we were expecting a comfortable ride – we weren’t disappointed. Our test route has roads that make mountain biking in the Forest of Dean feel like riding on pan-flat motorway, but the Solace did an impressive job taking the bite out of them. Compared to our usual ride – a Cannondale CAAD10 – the Scott was far more forgiving, and we’d happily ride it all day.
That’s not to say that you sacrifice performance; there’s a higher front end than you might be used to on your standard road bike, but don’t think you won’t be able to get up any speed. Climbing is fun, too. The low weight and the huge range of gearing means you can sit and spin up pretty much anything. Plus, if you want to get out of the saddle, you don’t feel like any effort is wasted.
On the way back downhill, the most noticeable thing was the new Ultegra 6800 brakes (or rather, one new Ultegra brake, as the rear is the existing 5710 105 direct-mount model). The 6800 have been modelled on the Dura Ace 9000 editions, and are far closer to their big brother than ever.
The extra power gives you the confidence to leave braking later, which makes the ride feel more racy. But the rear brake is exasperating. Yes, it’s been built under the bike to give the seatstays added flex, but on mucky, wet winter roads it gets clogged up pretty quickly, and the performance is noticeably reduced.
Overall, though, if you want something comfortable and enjoyable to rack up the miles on, you could do a lot worse than the Solace. But would you race on it? Even with a set of aerobars, the geometry prevents it from becoming a real race machine. Whether a training- and sportive-only beast is worth the best part of three grand or not, entirely depends on the depth of your pockets.
You’ll never feel like you’re riding Scott’s Foil, but it’s good fun.
No surprises: Ultegra 6800 is superb, the Synchros kit works perfectly well.
Pretty much what you’d expect for the price. Nothing lacking, but nothing special.
Soaks up the road so you don’t have to.
Contact : www.scott-sports.com