Disclaimer: Here at SKI Mag, we don’t profess to be mountain bike experts. We are, however, pretty savvy about gear that induces an adrenaline surge and mountain-related stoke. So, we’ll do our best to get the mountain bike lingo dialed in this review, but please forgive the occasional ski tech slip of the tongue.
Why is SKI Mag reviewing a mountain bike? Simple. One: Mountain biking is rad. It’s a way to fill the months between ski season with an activity that is almost as fun as skiing. Two: It’s phenomenal cross-training for skiing. Mountain biking exercises the same muscle groups you use in skiing, teaches you to become acutely aware of your balance, builds the endurance you’ll need to lap the back bowls and tree lines in the coming winter, and trains you to read and ride a line as you do on the ski hill.
Read more: Best Ski Areas for Mountain Biking
So it’s no coincidence that many skiers are mountain bikers by summer, and the staff at SKI Mag is no exception. In the off-season, you’ll find us on the trails around Boulder, at the Colorado resorts ripping the same lines we ski in the winter, and, when it’s nice and cool, in the Fruita and Moab deserts.
It was on an early season ride on Horsethief Bench in Fruita that I definitively decided that I had outgrown my Giant Talon hardtail. I just needed more travel and rear suspension in my life. And so, the overwhelming hunt for a new trail bike began. My wish list included the following: carbon frame, 1x drivetrain, 27.5-inch wheels, dropper post, and a minimum of 130 mm travel.
Thanks to our good friends over at Scott, a brand that recognizes the important cross-over of skiing and mountain biking, my wishes (and more) were granted. This is the story of how I went from zero to hero—or rather, hardtail to Genius—in one ride on the 2018 Scott Genius 920.
This bike—how do you say in mountain bike speak—"shreds.” The Genius 920, part of Scott’s dedicated line of trail bikes, has the power and components to flatten mountains. Like any trail bike worth its salt, the Genius 920 is a blend of uphill mobility and downhill shready-ness. A carbon frame and 1x12 Eagle drivetrain make the Genius 920 light and nimble on climbs, while 29-inch wheels and FOX suspension with 150 mm of travel equip the bike to tackle any technical terrain you throw at it on the downhills. But the Genius 920 is more than just your average trail bike.
What sets this bike apart is that it’s engineered for versatility from the bottom bracket up. Scott’s popular TwinLoc remote suspension system allows riders to switch to three different suspension dampings—climb, traction and descend—in the front and rear shock with the push of a lever conveniently located on the handlebar. Open the rear shock completely, and you get 150 mm of travel; switch to traction mode, and you’re climbing efficiently without sacrificing small-bump compliance; lock the system, and you limit rear travel for longer road climbs. It’s pretty nifty to be able to make suspension damping calls on the fly, without having to awkwardly fiddle with a switch between your legs. Same goes for the Fox Transfer dropper post: the quick adjustment of seat height on the go is a game-changer.
Let’s talk about wheel size real quick. Riders these days typically fall into one of two categories: staunch supporters of the 27.5-inch wheel size, and those who hype the 29-inch. I fell into the first (notice the use of past tense). When the Genius 920 showed up with 29-inch wheels, I’ll admit I was disappointed. I loved the 27.5-inch size, believing it allowed me to be quicker, more stable and precise in turns and through technical sections.
But after putting the 29-inch wheels to the test on a local loop that includes hairpins on the climb and descent, I was pleasantly surprised by how nimble the bike handled in those turns, and absolutely blown away by how smoothly and effortlessly the wheels rolled over obstacles. In short: I loved the 29-inch wheels on the Genius 920 (the burly Schwalbe 2.6-inch Nobby Nic tires were also confidence-inspiring), but if you’re determined to stay in the 27.5-inch camp, you do you—the new 2018 Genius features a Flip Chip mounted to the rear shock that can be used to adjust the geometry of the bike to support 27.5-inch wheels. See, versatility from the bottom bracket up.
To date, I’ve put the Genius 920 through the ringer on the rutted-out trails around Boulder, the loose sand of Buffalo Creek, downhill trails of Vail Mountain, and the mixed-bag of tricks you get on the rowdy trails around Crested Butte. I’ve loved how the bike performs on everything and anything. Since I can’t do the bike justice in mountain bike speak, let me put it in ski terms. The Genius 920 is like a perfectly engineered all-mountain ski: burly enough to confidently tackle demanding terrain, stable and reliable when the going gets tough, yet still playful and forgiving when you just want to let loose.
2018 Scott Genius at a glance:
FRAME: Genius Carbon/ HMF Mainframe with Alloy SL 6011 Swingarm
FORK: Fox 34 Float Performance Air
REAR SHOCK: Fox Nude EVOL Trunnion, TwinLoc Suspension System with 3 Lockout Modes, Travel between 150-100 mm
REMOTE SYSTEMS: Scott TwinLoc, Fox Transfer Dropper
HEADSET: Syncros FL2.0 Press Fit E2
REAR DERAILLEUR: SRAM X01/ Eagle 12 Speed
SHIFTERS: SRAM GX Eagle Trigger
BRAKES: Shimano MT520 4 Piston Disc
CRANKSET: SRAM GX Eagle DUB Boost 32T
CHAIN: SRAM CN NX Eagle
CASSETTE: SRAM GX / XG1275/ 10-15 T
APPROX. WEIGHT: 29.76 lbs
Summer might be coming to a close, but mountain biking season's not over until it snows! Check out our picks for the best ski areas for mountain biking to get into ski shape.