We test the Scott CR1 Elite road bike

Scott CR1 Elite

Scott CR1 Elite (2012)
£2,299
scott-sports.com

Scott’s ultra-light yet upright-riding CR1 has been around for a while, giving less finish-line-focused riders an efficient and effortless cruiser and climber. The ride position, level of steering precision and power delivery doesn’t naturally want to hurry. Claims of high comfort are also relative to Scott’s other performance frames rather than the big bike picture.

FRAME AND FORK

Ironically for a company that claims seemingly ridiculously low weights for its bikes, Scott is one of the few manufacturers that never massages its figures. That’s because it attaches a fanatical level of attention to massaging its tubeset composition on both hydroformed alloy and IMP carbon bikes. As a result, while most sportive-style framesets are around the 1.1kg-1.3kg mark, the Scott is in sub-kilo race bike territory even with all its fixtures and fittings attached.

The non-tapered fork is completely carbon from steerer to tips and is very light at just 360g. There’s plenty going on with the tubing apart from shaved weight, though. A super-broad press-fit bottom bracket transfers your torque to the Tarmac and both seat- and chainstays have flattened SDS centre sections designed to dissipate shocks. The most significant aspect of the CR1, though, is that its top tube is deliberately shorter than average, which makes the riding position taller than on a pure performance bike. Seven different sizes means fit can be finely tuned.

THE KIT

SRAM’s Rival groupset might be a tier down from the Force equipment found on some bikes at this price but it’s still a strong performer. Scott has specced a smoother, quieter-running Shimano chain and cassette combo rather than going for the full SRAM collar-and-cuffs package. There’s a chain catcher clamped onto the frame to stop the chain jamming between chainset and bottom bracket.

The very visible machining of excess metal from the inter-spoke sections of the rims on Mavic’s Ksyrium Elite wheels  makes them a really light and responsive choice. The Continental tyres are more training than racing targeted though, so treating yourself to a set of race-day tyres such as the excellent Continental Grand Prix family would be money well spent. We’ve no complaints about the rest of the finishing trim, though. The Scott stem is stiff, the bars are well shaped and the Selle Italia saddle didn’t cause us any grief from its perch above the Ritchey carbon seatpost.

THE RIDE

While the very low weight of the CR1 is the most obvious aspect if you’re picking it up on the shop floor, it’s the position that dominates its potential performance and ultimate suitability for you as a rider. The Scott is definitely more of a cruiser than a head-down hammering machine. Unsurprisingly that didn’t find favour with our more combative test team members. While you can get a reasonably aggressive position on the Scott by crouching low in the drops, it’s certainly not stretched for speed.

However, if you prefer to ride head-up on the hoods to rest your back and wrists, or regroup your arms for the run after smashing the swim, then you’ll love it. Yes you’re going to be a bigger target for headwinds, but the opened chest position means more air going into your lungs and noticeably increases the time before you start aching against the aerobic limit. Obviously the slower you go, the less effect the loss of aerodynamic efficiency will affect you overall too, so if it’s more about the old cliche of ‘first finishing than finishing first’ then it’s less of a concern.

While it’s certainly not a muscle bike when it comes to absolute power delivery, the press-fit cranks and taut, lively wheels put a decent spring in its step if things do get competitive. The compact position means you’ll definitely do more damage to your mates’ egos if you can stay spinning. Cornering and descending is best taken smoothly rather than at silly speeds. There are no vices in the Scott’s grip on the road or any obvious handling anomalies, but it’s definitely not as pin-sharp as its wheel placement would suggest, particularly up front.

Don’t read too much into Scott’s SDS comfort claims either, as it’s tuned relative to their extremely stiff Addict race bike rather than what we’d consider a cross-brand benchmark. At higher speeds there’s definite smoothness but if you do happen to accidentally clatter over a pothole or serious asphalt acne, the staccato chatter of the CR1 is on a par with most brand’s stiff race bikes, not their sportive machines. This is a light bike that’s ideal for sporty riders.

Pros
+ Very light for a cruiser-style upright frame
+ SRAM and Mavic component pick keeps overall weight low

Cons
– Short and upright position trends towards cruising rather than combat
– Shock absorption levels more akin to a race bike than a comfort bike