The Genius has been Scott’s bread-and-butter trail rig since 2008 and has improved steadily over the past 9 years. The latest iteration is the Genius 700 Tuned Plus, one of the first full-suspension mountain bikes to feature the 27.5+ tire — a three-inch-wide tire that bridges the gap between the fat-bike insanity and your standard 2.2-to-2.5-inch-wide trail tires. The question is, does the added contact patch area (an added 21 percent) live up to the hype?
The easy answer is yes, but that isn’t the whole story. With the 27.5+ wheel size being new, there are only a handful of manufacturers producing the tire at the time of writing. What that means is, if you aren’t a big fan of the tires the bike comes spec’d with — tough. Luckily, thats where the bad news ends and the good begins. With the bigger tire size, I had concerns that the Genius Plus would show signs of fat bike-like auto-steer, with sluggish climbing and uninspired cornering. These reservations quickly vanished when I hit the pedals. Imagine this: a bike that is nearly as nimble as its regular-tire-width brethren, with the added bonus of more grip. While climbing through the rocky XC loop spanning seven miles and gaining 800 feet of elevation, visions of 29’ers and XC bikes floated through my head. After putting it through its paces climbing, Deer Valley’s technical downhill test pieces “Fire Swamp” and “Naildriver” proved that this bike really can do it all. The Genius Plus delivers on its promise of fat bike-like benefits without fat bike drawbacks.
Wheel Size: 27.5+
Suspension Travel: 140mm Front 130mm Rear
Frame Material: Carbon
Weight: 27 pounds as tested
Test Location: Deer Valley, Utah
At first glance, the suspension numbers on this bike won’t get anyone excited. But, when you consider the extra cushion produced by the tire, you effectively have an extra inch of suspension travel in addition to the 5.5 inches that the fork provides. What this creates is a bike that inspires confidence on the descents and is every bit as good on the way up. The bike is assisted in climbing by Scott’s TwinLoc system, a handlebar-mounted switch that allows you to simultaneously switch both the fork and shock from descend to trail to climb. In climb mode, the bike felt too stiff. Oftentimes, it performed much better in the trail setting. In descend mode, the Scott Nude Fox Shock opens two small chambers to provide unabashed access to all 130mm of rear travel. A 67.5-degree head tube angle adds to the bike’s liveliness on descents and the pairing makes for a nimble bike that doesn’t shy away from technical downhill sections.
The Syncros cockpit left little to be desired between the carbon bar, carbon stem and Rockshox Reverb Stealth dropper post. The one achilles heel here could be the seat, but that is me grasping at straws to find faults in this bike. The geometry of the Genius Plus is very comfortable. Despite the bike being tall, due to the tires, at no point do you feel like you are riding a 29’er. You feel as though you are sitting in the bike as opposed to on it, which provides a sense of complete control.
The 27.5+ platform with Boost spacing in the front and rear allows for the bike to be run with standard 29-inch wheels as well. What that means is, with a few swapped parts, you can have a capable trail bike that moonlights as an XC rig. That small consideration from Scott makes this bike the answer to a lot of people’s woes. The combination of tire size, head tube angle, suspension geometry and parts spec make for a bike that crushes all situations. The 27.5+ tire size performs excellently and with more companies producing plus-sized tires in the near future, look for them to become a trend in 2016, and a welcomed one at that.