Bike of the Year
Words & Photos By Drew Rohde
Scott was somewhat cryptic about the details of the new bike when they first reached out to us regarding the new Ransom. Their email simply said, “You’re gonna like it!” A couple months later I met with Scott’s US marketing manager, Garth Spencer in Bend, Oregon and he gave me all the technical info as we sipped our beverages at a local coffee shop. I think he could feel me twitching under the table as he quickly changed topics. “I can talk about this thing ‘til I’m blue in the face, but let’s go outside and see it!” As Garth pulled the bike out of his rental car I knew Scott had a winner.
Whenever a new bike arrives at the Wolf Den for review, we can’t help but try to guess ahead of the arrival whether it will be a hit or miss. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong and a bike surprises us. Every couple years however, a bike comes along that changes the bar of measurement for us. The Scott Ransom is one of the best all mountain bikes we’ve ridden in recent memory, making it our bike of the year.
Available in six flavors, four 29ers and two 27.5 builds, the 900 Tuned is their top of the line model and sports all the bells and whistles. With 170mm of travel, an impressively low weight and modern geometry, the new Scott Ransom is a huge departure from its namesake, first introduced over a decade ago.
The 29-inch wheeled Ransom 700 Tuned has a lot of things that make it our bike of the year, and so we’ll start with the frame and work our way out. Scott’s name has always been synonymous with some of the lightest bikes on the market. While the new Ransom impressively light, they also went all out with the redesigned frame, claiming it’s their strongest carbon frame yet.
The dedicated 1x frame has a beefed up and widened main pivot area and beefy Trunnion mount for the rear shock to unify the “stiffness backbone” as Scott calls it. While the large downtube, BB area and chainstays are vital to the stiffness designed into the frame, Scott engineers used lighter weight construction techniques and tubing shapes to offer bump-eating compliance.
This beautifully beefy section of the frame lets you know this bike is ready for business. The ribbed chainstay protector and chain guide work great at keeping this bike dead silent on the trail.
Frame geometry is right on the money in our opinion. The bike balances all out confidence on the nasty stuff without being cumbersome or sluggish on flatter trails. The Ransom can be set to ride in either a High or Low mode, depending on your local terrain.
In Low, our size large 29er sports a 64.5-degree head tube angle, 75-degree seat tube angle, 353.5mm bottom bracket height and 1,249.2mm wheelbase. The reach is 466.5mm with a 627.6mm stack height and 437.9mm chainstays round out the basic measurements. Flipping the bike into high mode makes conservative changes to geo by half a degree. We experimented with both settings and felt they were both usable depending on the rider and terrain.
Spec on the top of the line 900 Tuned model features a SRAM Eagle drivetrain, Syncros Revelstoke wheels, Syncros saddle and unique Hixon iC Rise Carbon bar/stem combo. In typical Scott fashion, Fox TwinLoc technology makes its way onto the new Ransom, paired up to a new Fox Nude TR Evol shock and Fox 36 Fit 4, 44mm offset fork.
Suspension on the Ransom is steps beyond what we expected and have experienced on earlier generations of Scott bikes. The virtual 4-Link suspension design features a more aggressive curve to keep riders who are pushing the limits in check without sacrificing beginner and intermediate rider comfort.
One area that we feel is a miss: the cockpit. Syncros’ integrated bar/stem combo looks neat, but lacks adjustability. The grips are terrible and in order to swap to regular grips you need to replace the lock ring as it’s integrated into the dropper level/TwinLoc lever.
From the moment we first laid our hands on the new Ransom, we knew it was love. The lines are clean and the paint is beautiful. The integrated features, frame protection and geometry are dialed. A quick pedal around the parking lot with some pumps, manuals and bunny hops confirmed it; we needed to hit the trails ASAP.
If you’ve been to Bend, OR you’ll know that few places necessitate 170mm of travel. While we do our best to build private test trails to truly challenge our test rigs, we still spent a good portion of our time on trails where a 140mm bike is king. Surprisingly the Ransom 900 Tuned is just as fun on flat, pedaly trails like the famous Whoops I Bend as it is at raw, steep shuttle spots like Cline Butte.
The key to the Ransom’s versatility lies in the TwinLoc and Ramp Adjust shock. If you’ve ever seen a Scott bike you’ve probably noticed the cluttered cockpit– something reviewers like us often criticize. Riders can flick the handlebar switch into the first, Traction Control, position and turn this 170mm bike into a 120mm climbing beast. Push it just a bit further and the rear end locks out completely and also locks out the fork for optimal pedaling efficiency. In both climb settings, BB height, head angle and seat tube angle change to raise the rider up into a more efficient position. We’ve never been huge fans of TwinLoc but found that it didn’t really bother us on the new Ransom. In fact we used it quite a bit.
What really impressed us however is the Ramp Adjust shock. By working with Fox to create a shock that has on the fly volume adjustment, Scott has revolutionized the way riders control their bike’s performance on the trail. If you look closely at the shock you’ll see a lever near the rebound adjuster. By flipping this lever you can open or close the secondary air chamber, effectively changing the air volume inside the shock.
If you’re a jumper and live to ride flow trails with lots of compressions, berms and drops, close the chamber and you’ll have a more progressive shock that will ramp up quite nicely. If you like a plush rear end for keeping your tire glued to the ground while riding over wet roots, loose rocks or other nasty terrain, simply open the chamber for a more linear feel. I suspect the change in performance will be noticeable to a majority of experienced riders. It’s a very neat feature and we haven’t found a downside to it yet.
If you’ve been reading our site for a while, you may remember our first ride report of this bike. I actually got myself into some hot water with Scott Sports HQ as I tried to sneak it into Whistler Bike Park before the embargo and got busted… To paraphrase, I have ridden too many bikes to remember on the trails in Whistler, and after my short test period at home, I knew the best place to confirm my feelings of the Ransom would be in the park.
Whether it was loose rocks in SoCal, high desert shredding in Bend or a beat-down Whistler Bike Park trail full of braking holes, the Ransom impressed. What struck me most was how stiff the frame is on tight, bermed trails like Ninja Cougar or Del Boca Vista. However it was surprisingly supple and smooth over the washboards. If I opened up the shock to spend time lapping trails in the woods, it was planted and sensitive and allowed me to charge hard. When I got back to Bend, OR and wanted to hit some of the flatter jump trails in town, I could close the shock and feel a lot more pop off the lip and support upon landing. It didn’t make the shock too harsh for DH stuff, but it was certainly noticeable.
At roughly 29.2 pounds, the bike feels and rides light! As a rider who likes to play and pop off objects all around the trail, the stiffness of the chassis and low weight made the bike a ton of fun. It’s hard to find a bike that balances light-footed playfulness with flat out DH confidence like the Ransom does. As bikes seem to get more polarizing for regions or riding styles, Scott has done an incredible job of designing a bike that is truly versatile.
The Wolf’s Last Word
We’re pretty thrilled to announce our first ever bike of the year! If you’ve read some of our reviews you may have gathered we’re a pretty picky bunch and aren’t afraid to point out negatives, even on the most popular bikes out there. So, we took this nomination very seriously as we value our reader’s hard earned dollars as much as our own, and $7,500 is no small purchase.
There are a lot of awesome rides out there but for our style of riding, which is DH-biased fun on chunky trails with as much natural obstacle gapping as possible, it’s hard to think of another bike we’d rather have. It’s not perfect and it may not be for everyone, but it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for a long-legged 29er that is capable of all day epics but is ready to get down like Rick James on payday, the Ransom 900 Tuned is a hell of a bike.
Weight: 29.23 lbs
We love the paint on the Ransom. The fade, colors and little bit of metallic flake give it a beautiful look, however the paint/clear is a little thin for our liking as it scratched very easily. We’d gladly sacrifice some weight for a more durable clear coat.
Frame: IMP Tech Carbon; 170mm
Fork: Fox 36 Factory Float Fit 4, 44mm offset; 170mm
Shock: Fox Nude TR Evol Trunnion w/ Ramp Control, TwinLoc; 170-120mm
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Handlebar: Syncros Hixon iC Rise Carbon, 8-degree; 780mm
Headset: Syncros FL1.5 Press Fit
Saddle: Syncros Tofino
Seatpost: Fox Transfer; 150mm
Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle; 12s
Stem: Syncros Hixon Integrated
Hubs: DT Swiss RWS
Rims: Syncros Revelstoke 1.5
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF; 29×2.6
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB PF; 41x92mm
Cassette: SRAM XG-1295; 10-50t
Cranks: SRAM X01 Dub Eagle Boost; 175mm, 32t
Derailleur: SRAM X01; 12s
Ramp Adjust Shock
Rear Suspension Performance
Paint Scratches Easily
Plastic Tabs on Accessory/H20 Holder Broke
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