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Review: Scott Genius is a highly adaptable trail bike for big mountain days

review rider on new scott genius mountain bike
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If there’s a best way to show off a bike’s pedigree, it’s to ride it where it was conceived. On its home turf in the Alps, Scott led us through a couple days of big rides with big climbs and big descents. It was the right choice to show off the new Genius’ capabilities, and fortunately its performance there easily translates to the kinds of rides we all do…assuming you live in the mountains.

Whether it’s the forest service roads in Pisgah, or the fire roads and rainforest singletrack of the Pacific Northwest, there are lots of places where hour-long climbs have led me to long, flowing, technical descents.

Having one bike that performs well in both situations makes the ups more bearable without sacrificing Fun Factor on the way down. And that’s the, um, genius of the new Genius.

2023 Scott Genius trail mountain bike

The geometry-changing dual-travel design isn’t new for Scott. They’ve been doing it for years, and you can read all about the new Fox Nude shock and design in my launch coverage for the 2023 Scott Genius. (I also interviewed them about the bike for the Bikerumor Podcast)

scott genius dual travel shock remote lever being pushed in
The system’s performance is awesome, but it does mean a plethora of levers and cables on the left, one of them being for the dropper post, and potential interference with your thumb.

The short version is this: Leave it open and it has 150mm rear travel. Push a lever halfway and it shortens it to ~100mm travel, firms things up, and keeps you sitting higher in the travel, effectively steepening the seat and head angles into a better position for climbing.

Push the lever all the way in and it firms up more, almost to lockout. This is the mode for sprinting or paved sections, and also the mode I pretty much never used. But the other two are brilliant.

2023 scott genius 900 ultimate mountain bike

The Genius comes in two versions, both with the same travel, but different remote lever/shock functions. The standard version gets a remote that works both the rear shock/travel setting and controls the fork’s compression damping.

The “ST” Super Trail versions, which I tested and which I’d recommend (shown in carbon/yellow here), only use the remote for the rear shock and position the adjustable headset cup to make the fork 1º slacker. This gives you more control over separate high/low speed compression settings on the fork.

review rider on new scott genius mountain bike

The new Genius’ geometry is dialed for aggressive riding on all manner of real-world trails. It rode more nimbly than their older designs, and has a much more cohesive look and feel. It was a much-needed update in every regard.

review of scott genius mountain bike

Put it in the middle “Climb” mode and it’s efficient enough for bobble-free standing, sprinting, and grinding. We had long, steep climbs on loose, rocky, ancient mountain roads, paths, and trails, and it always felt appropriately efficient while still soaking up enough bumps.

Which is good, because it’s designed to climb things like this:

mountain bikers in aosta italy riding up steep trail

And this:

mountain bikers in aosta italy riding up steep trail

Which is similar to many climbs throughout the Alps, but also Utah and North Carolina, among others.

rider dropping off rocks on scott genius mountain bike

Once I earned my turns, the wide-open “Descend” mode loosens things up and relaxes the fork and saddle to appropriately slack angles for drops and technical descents.

rider dropping off rocks on new scott genius mountain bike
Scott’s excellent trail mountain bike helmet matched the bike perfectly…and even my Gore jacket kinda worked out well, too!

The frame is plenty stiff, and the Hixon integrated bar/stem is a great cockpit piece that’s both light and tight. Combined with Syncros’ carbon-rimmed wheels, the Genius 900 ST Tuned model I rode inspired a lot of confidence, even when dropping into blind corners and rocky sections with a slidy film of mountain moon dust over top to keep it interesting.

review rider on new scott genius mountain bike

High-speed flowing trails were fun, too, with stable tracking to complement the low-speed technical handling.

rider sprinting on scott genius mountain bike

At first glance, the Genius’ dual-travel, multi-lever system can seem confusing. And, even though it’s gorgeous, hiding the shock can be a little scary because it’s different. That shouldn’t distract from the big benefit: this bike adapts its travel to suit the pursuit. And it works really well.

The weight is kept low on the bike, with tons of standover clearance, so it handles well. Setup is easy thanks to an external sag indicator and pop-off frame cover under the BB that includes recommended starter settings for the shock, including air pressure. All the dials and controls are easily accessed.

Even the combined lever assembly is easily mastered in a few rides. It’s taken me longer to get used to the SRAM Eagle AXS paddle than it did Scott’s TwinLoc remotes.

If you’re seeking a do-it-all trail bike that’s ready for anything, the new Scott Genius is a unique option that’s worth a look.


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1 year ago

That’s gonna be the next bike, now have scale 940 carbon 2022 and it awesome hardtail

Jason DW
Jason DW
1 year ago

I’m sure it’s a mighty fine bike. As far as I concerned there is no benefit, only cons to have the shock hidden. Maybe if you want more water bottles perhaps in its pro. I don’t like all the integration. I do all my own work and this looks like a hassle and half doing work on the bike.

1 year ago

Hiding the shock is fine. Bold showed this.
Having several levers is something you can adapt to. I had one of the early Ransoms and got used to it quickly enough.
But. Cable routing through the headset is a no for any home mechanic and is absolutely not necessary for a MTB. I would not buy this bike because of this. I hope not every bike producer jumps on that unnecessary train.

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