September 24, 2014 – SCOTT has always done lightweight well. SCOTT has always done power transfer well. SCOTT has always done crisp and confident handling well. SCOTT has not always done compliance well. In fact, it has never really done it well.
The all-new 2014 Solace aims to change that. With the FOIL handling aero duties and the Addict slotting in as an incredible Grand Tour racer, the Solace takes over endurance duties and none to soon. The CR1, reinvented as an endurance bike a few season back, never won us over with ride quality.
The Solace fleshes out SCOTT’s line up, making it as comprehensive as any manufacturers but more importantly, the Solace must prove, once and for all, that SCOTT can engineer a compliant frame that remains true to SCOTT DNA. When your DNA was founded on ultra-light climbing bikes that is no easy task. SCOTT began with the production techniques and materials that helped it redefine how light a frame can be, IMP and HMX. IMP is SCOTT’s Integrated Molding Process, designed to produce more of the frame in a single mold to limit tube-to-tube joints and produce smooth, thin tube walls. HMX is a combination of modulus that utilizes a higher peak modulus than HMF, resulting in stiffer, thinner tube walls. For the Solace, the result is an 890 gram, 54 cm frame. That is impressive for a climbing bike, for an endurance bike it is unheard of. SCOTT lightweight DNA is certainly present.
While IMP and HMX are well known tools in SCOTT’s arsenal, it used them to produce a very different style of frame. To create the responsiveness SCOTT is know for with real compliance, it divided the frame in two – a power zone and a comfort zone. Dividing tube responsibilities so starkly is not a new concept, but it has proven an effective one. The head tube is tapered, leading to an oversized down tube and 86mm wide bottom bracket with beautiful, arcing chain stays that together make up the power zone. This is the zone we already knew SCOTT could build. The comfort zone, the seat stays, seat tube and top tube are where SCOTT had to put in the long hours. The shapes are slim and svelte, designed to provide vertical flex around the seat cluster, and this is where the magic happens. Instead of attaching the stays to the seat tube, as is traditional, SCOTT attached the stays to the top tube. It’s a gorgeous connection and it allows the seat tube and seat post to move backwards under impact. It’s an elegant execution of the same concept both Volagi and Trek are using to allow more vertical flex in the seat cluster. By locating a direct mount rear brake at the bottom bracket, SCOTT didn’t need to make seat stays with a stiff braking platform, which ups the compliance again.
Compliance is only half of the equation when it comes to the endurance category and SCOTT has invested the Solace with its take on endurance geometry. Endurance geometry aims to take pressure off the back, neck, and arms by putting more rider weight in the saddle. The bike’s handling is also slightly relaxed, resulting in more stability, with a less twitchy feel at the bars. SCOTT has taken a racier approach to endurance geometry. The Solace has a head tube 25mm taller than the Foil in most sizes, yet utilizes the same 405mm seat stay length and same 73.3 degree head tube angle. This puts your weight back, but still delivers plenty of responsiveness at the bars.
Endurance bikes largely fall in two categories, there are the bikes designed for the heavy weights, riders that smash cobbles to submission under huge wattage, the Joe Frazier’s. Then there are the bikes designed for the Sugar Ray Leonard’s of the peloton, the bikes that use finesse to dance over the cobbles. The Domane and Roubaix fall in the first category, beautiful under big power, but not as lively as a Madone or Tarmac. The Cervelo RS falls in the second category, incredibly responsive under even minute acceleration, but lacking in big power rigidity. The Solace is firmly in this second category, with an incredibly lively feel under any effort. Because of this it is without question the best climbing endurance platform we have ever tested. The Solace Premium’s weight, 14.6 pounds in a size 58cm, is a big plus here as well, but it’s more about the bike’s feel at the pedals.
Where the Solace manages to surpass bikes like the RS is under big power. It’s not quite Domane stiff, but unless you are lining up at Flanders you don’t have the engine to notice. It jumps under your first pedal stroke then keeps on responding, whether you are attacking on a climb or lighting it up out of a final corner for a dash to the line. This race pedigree is amplified by the geometry. Sure, it puts weight back in the saddle, but it’s still a very nimble platform, able to hit apex’s very late in tight technical corners and quickly swap lines in a hard charging peloton. Some riders used to the longer, more relaxed feel of other endurance bikes will recognize the weight distribution, but may feel it is a bit twitchy until they recalibrate their handling input.
Beginning with such a light platform, and wearing the spare-no-expense designation, ‘Premium’, SCOTT lavished an exceptional build on the bike. There is the Dura Ace Di2, the lightweight, low profile full carbon Syncros RL1.1 clinchers and the Syncros full carbon cockpit, all adding to the bike’s new reputation as the best climber in the land of endurance. Now, it is $9500. If you want to keep some cash in your pocket SCOTT offers the Solace in three other lower cost builds based on HMF carbon based frames, all with SCOTT DNA alive and well, plus the welcome addition of true compliance.
The Solace rider wants an endurance bike that retains a race bike’s lively feel while climbing and nimble handling while descending. You want your weight back, but don’t plan on sitting at the back of the group.
Weight: 14.6 lbs (w/o pedals or cages)
Specifications: Shimano Dura Ace Di2 9070, Syncros RL1.1 wheels, Syncros RR1.1 carbon bar, FL1.0 carbon seat post, FL1.0 carbon stem and RR1.0 saddle. Schwalbe One V-Guard tires.