There are at least five bike tests in every issue of RIDE in every issue that you can find on Zinio or iTunes. We put them all through an exhaustive testing process that includes plenty of commentary on the build but at times there is also an opportunity to compare similar products from the past or get the opinion of riders who use the same product to make earn their wage. The opening test of the collection in the current issue, RIDE #63 offered the publisher (and owner of a Scott Addict from 2008) the chance to consider the changes of a bike that carries the same name in 2014, but with the addition of SL to the name. It is super light. Here is the text of that test.
Scott Addict SL (with SRAM Red) – RIDE #63
– By Rob Arnold
There was a quandary about my bike: to cut or not to cut. It’s a Scott Addict as well, but mine is from 2008. That was the heyday of the integrated seatpost movement. Every bike brand was doing it and each had a justification for switching the good old seatpost for an extended frame and a clamping system. ‘It’s lighter,’ some claimed. ‘It’s more comfortable,’ said others. It looks better – that’s what many customers believe, me included. But it can also be a nuisance.
Bikes with an integrated post can be difficult to pack for a flight. And size adjustments aren’t nearly as easy: a real commitment has to be made even if you’ve still got a few millimetres to play with. For my 2008 Addict, the original moment with a hacksaw was filled with angst. Watching a lovely carbon-fibre frame get cut is weird. There’s logic to it, but… well, questions emerge. What if, for example, I later want to sell it? What if I find a bike years later and think, ‘I’ll replace mine…’? What if, on a whim, you’d like to try riding just a few millimetres shorter?
The original cut was done in accordance with my usual measurements. Then the whim struck; and the hacksaw came back out to take off 2mm of post. It was a revelation – a suggestion to drop the saddle a tiny amount worked out brilliantly. Perhaps it’s age, changes in riding circumstance – or a mix of both and a few other elements – but the new, low position was far more comfortable. The adjustment was pretty easy, but not everyone has a reliable mechanic in their office.
It got me thinking. Why is it integrated?
Aesthetics aside, at this diameter, there’s no real point. Okay, an extension of the seat tube of the frame is less likely to slip than when fastened with a clamp. Furthermore, I’ve always thought the feedback with my Scott is ideal: comfortable without any pogo sensation.
And this brings me to a conversation with two fine young gentlemen in Adelaide this January. It was Tour Down Under time and I’d been talking to Michael Matthews, two-time stage winner in his first Grand Tour (the 2013 Vuelta). He saw I’d been riding a Scott – two in fact, mine and what you see on these pages. He races with the Orica-GreenEdge team. He rides a Scott but prefers the Foil. He has a choice. “It’s stiffer. I’m a sprinter.” Succinct and clear. I understood: he wants to go fast, comfort is secondary.
When the Foil was launched John Deering went to a wind tunnel in Brackley, England. He was told about how aero the bike was. Later he rode what is essentially the same bike Matthews, Simon Gerrans and others from the Australian team have been racing for the past two years. “I hope those GreenEdge boys are ordering thick chamois for the team shorts,” he concluded.
The Foil is stiff. Harsh is another description. Deering… ah, isn’t a lightweight yet still he was bashed around by the unforgiving Foil.
By the time Gerrans’ and Matthews’ successes at the Tour de France and Vuelta last year, Scott had amended their seatpost approach. No longer integrated, it was now an ovalised design with a fastening system that’s part of the frame (rather than a clamp). Can you spell ‘Loctite’? Mechanics can and they use it at times… if you get my drift.
Now, with that background out of the way, let me get to the Addict SL. The seatpost earns extra attention as this is what the professionals using the bike talked about most. Matthews says he’ll stay on the Foil in 2014: “For me and my style of riding, it’s all about stiffness. I’ve tried the Addict and what was weird is that the bottom bracket is rock solid. Even when I’m putting out over 1,000 watts, it’s hard to feel any movement. But the seatpost,” he said, shaking his head, “it bounces. It’s not a lot and, in fact, it makes the ride more comfortable but it’s a distraction.
“When I’ve got my head down and am trying to find the right wheel, dodge lead-out men and deal with all that’s going on in a sprint, there’s no room for distractions.” Fair enough.
As he concluded his appraisal, Simon Clarke idled over to his team-mate. What about you? I asked, you’re on the Addict – like it? “Love it!”
He says it’s too bouncy, I say, motioning to the sprinter. “Yeah… look at him,” laughed Clarke. “He’s a ball of muscle. I’m a little bloke. I want to go up hills. I don’t want to carry any extra weight. Have you picked up the SL?” It’s Super Light.
I got to test it because, the idea went, it would be good to compare the 2014 Addict SL with the 2008 equivalent. The two measure up similarly: same top tube length (550mm), same wheelbase (982mm). The rear end is the same. This bike’s seat tube is 3mm longer and the head tube is 21mm shorter. There’s a slight discrepancy on angles (72.5° for this head tube, and 73.0° for mine; seat tube – 73.6 vs 73.3).
In reality, this translates to very little difference – it seemed as though I was getting on a matte black version of my high gloss frame. It handles much the same and even with a groupset supplier switch (SRAM 22 vs Dura-Ace Di2 on mine), I was diving into corners like I knew the bike.
Still, as the T-shirt says, ‘Same but different’. This is 500g lighter than mine. And yes, you can notice the change, especially given more than 100g of that weight is cut from the wheelset.
In truth, the Addict from 2008 looks nothing like the 2014 version. There’s now a seatpost, a clamp, a different shape for both frame and fork, and the cables are all internal (unlike mine). But the riding characteristics remain. For me, there are no distractions but I’m not fending off speed merchants in a bunch sprint like Matthews does. The post has some give. I notice it but “bounce” would be stretching the truth.
Clarke felt the same way. And he even saw a benefit from the tiny degree of carbon flex: “It’s easier to ride,” he said of Addict over Foil. “The weight is good but just having a bit of movement means I’m not as bashed up after a long day.”
It was great to hear two from the same team have such differing opinions. Bikes for purposes, that’s what the market now delivers – and it’s as good for professionals as it is for punters.
At the Tour Down Under in 2013 mechanics talked about cable routing, tyre width, and aero benefits. One in particular wanted to know what light products we had been testing, “We need to shave off every gram we can,” he said. It seems he said the same thing to his team’s bike supplier and the company listened – and responded with a product that befits the SL in the title.
Another 200 missing grams comes from the frame. Take off another 47g for fork and headset fittings and that’s where the weight has gone.
The effect is a bike that rides lighter because it is lighter. That’s not always the case. Cumbersome wheels can spoil the party but the Syncros RL1.0 don’t even come close to that definition. They deserve another mention: they’re light, look great and everyone at our round table loved how they handled. The carbon rims are a relatively low profile and the braking surface matched the pads perfectly: no pulse under load, no noises… no distractions. Big smile.
Continental GP4000s tyres: hmm, been there done that – rode them for many years but I like the diversity that’s out there. These Germans last and I’ve been lucky with punctures yet there are compounds that seem to stick better in corners.
All that brings us to the summary of parts and how it comes together as a package. We’ve said it before but shall say it again: SRAM 22 – lovely! It’s light, the hoods are great, the cranks lure my eyes down when I’m pedalling because they’re pretty from every angle. The brakes stop you and there’s nothing to complain about. The angle of the rear brake cable’s exit from the top tube (and height of the seat tube) meant my thigh touched but this was remedied easily with electrical tape. No others – in our group or at GreenEdge – said they noticed. It’s me and my Christmas legs.
When I got my Addict, the plan was to stop writing bike tests. I’d found something that was all I wanted and more. It has served me well for many days but the temptation to ride new, light bikes is hard to resist. I’m glad I skipped over the Foil tests because there’s no need for that sort of stiffness for the riding I do. Nor is there any need for something as light as this but when the chance comes, why not jump on and taste the difference? The evolution continues. The Scott of 2008 was good, the one for 2014 better. What’s next?
– By Rob Arnold