The Scott Solace 30 ridden, reviewed and rated

Scott Solace 30Scott Solace 30

Scott’s Solace is an all-new machine for 2014 with a very obvious smoothness and efficiency focus.

Frame and fork

The Solace is undoubtedly a really good looking frame that Scott’s ‘Bi Zone’ approach clearly divides into ‘Power Zone’ and ‘Comfort Zone’ halves. The former includes a broad top to the fork legs, chunky head-tube and big oversized down-tube that widens to the full width of the press-fit bottom bracket.

Deep chainstays carry the kick through to the rear dropouts. The direct mount rear brake is also mounted under the chainstays, aero-bike style. In this case it’s not to reduce drag but to let Scott use ultra thin, flat spring SDS stays, which extend forward to blend into both seat-tube and top-tube.

The broad, bridge-less stance of the stays also means you won’t struggle to fit fat ride-smoothing rubber into the Solace, although mounting any sort of mudguard is going to be a real test of ingenuity. Gear and rear brake cables are routed internally with changeable inserts for either mechanical or electrical shifting.

Despite the chunky head-tube, the actual fork steerer inside is straight rather than tapered – although the lower end of the forks taper away to alloy dropouts. These are turned back on themselves to increase potential vertical spring without affecting the actual handling geometry – a trick first introduced on the current generation of road bikes by Cannondale.

Unsurprisingly for Scott, frame and fork weight are at the lower end of the spectrum even for this lower grade HMF (rather than HMX) carbon chassis. A broad XXS to XXL size range is also more inclusive than most.

The kit

The Solace 30 is Shimano 105 equipped in terms of obvious gearing, with a ‘hidden’ downgrade in the form of a Tiagra cassette. The wheels strike a brighter note though as, while the Shimano RS11 wheels aren’t light, they are smooth, durable and 11-speed upgradeable. The Schwalbe Durano S tyres are proven group-test winners thanks to their tough but still fast performance. Syncros finishing kit is perfectly adequate if not aspirational, although a relatively unforgiving saddle caused grumbles from some testers.

The ride

Initial fit is exactly what we’d expect from a distance machine – slightly shorter in reach and noticeably more upright than Scott’s Addict race bike. It’s relatively long in terms of numbers for the category. A steep seat angle pushes the natural riding position further forward than those numbers would suggest though and size for size, it’s tall in the head-tube and seat-tube too. This translates into a sit-up-and-beg character that naturally takes in the view rather than tucking down
for velocity.

With a favourable wind though, there’s a real lightness to the way the Scott interacts with the road. The Shimano wheels and Schwalbe tyres spin with a momentum-nursing feel that backs up the fact they were both favourites in the smooth performance stakes when we reviewed them previously.

The ultra thin rear stays suck the sting out of bigger lumps of missing tarmac or bike path surfaces but typically for Scott, smoothness isn’t as marked as the softest bikes available. The tall seat-tube also means less of the skinny seatpost is exposed to flex and act as an additional spring between rider and frame.

Despite the tall, untapered steerer and turned back ‘wrists’ on the forks there’s more buzz through the bars than the other bikes here and we had to nudge the brake hoods up and down before we found a position that was comfortable on longer, rougher rides.

It glides along fine on smoother surfaces and transmits torque through the ‘Power Zone’ well enough to flatter its decent weight at cruising speed and it covers ground well. The ‘Comfort Zone’ features do have a detrimental effect when things get more combative though. Most obviously the tall head-tube end, steep seat angle and skinny steerer-tube give it a precarious feel on twisty descents.

On steeper climbs at lower revs and higher torque there’s flex in the back end of the frame to the point the brakes will rub on the rim if you don’t set them up wider than normal. Again not an issue for cruising, but disheartening if you’re trying to push the pace on steeper terrain.

Ridden in isolation it’s still an efficient and enjoyable mile eater for riders who like a more compact, forward position on the bike.

+ Really good looking with tall, upright position for stress-free cruising
+ Light frame with impact reduction from Comfort Zone stays

– Fresh frame design means only adequate kit for the money
– Geometry and twangy stays undermine power kick and steering

 Scott Solace 30