By: Anthony Smith
Photos: Scott Sports/ Will Walker
Video: Scott Sports/ Clay Porter
When the Scott11 race team announced the signing of one of the most stylish racers on the World Cup race circuit, Brendan Fairclough, it was clear that they had big plans for their new line of Downhill bikes. The first World Cup saw the unveiling of a newly redesigned Gambler, which was a radical departure from their original design.
Earlier this week in Chatel, France, a select group of journalists gathered for the official launch of Scott Bikes new Gambler. This new downhill race bike was born in Alps on the same trails where we would get an opportunity to ride it for the first time.
On my first few laps in the Chatel bike park I was immediately struck with the weight distribution of the new linkage. With the overall weight of the shock and linkage being low and centered directly inline with the rider, the bike offered up confidence-inspiring cornering characteristics. Under compression, the weight of the shock and linkage gets even lower so the bike begs to be pushed even harder into the turns. It didn’t take long to get comfortable with these trends, and after only a few runs I was riding fast and feeling confident.
This first impression on day one was with the bike in the +10-millimeter bottom-bracket drop with a 63-degree head angle. On day two I switched the geometry to the 0-millimeter bottom-bracket drop with the 62-degree head angle. This further emphasized the cornering characteristics and made the bike right at home on the steep, fast, and rough tracks in Morgins, Switzerland, where we rode on day two.
These tracks in Morgins were the site of the teams’ private prototype testing during the development of the new Gambler. Over the past decade Scott Product Manager, Ben Walker, has been one of the trail builders in Morgins, building tracks designed to push all aspects of a bikes suspension. This is where the weaknesses of the old Gambler were identified and where a new linkage was developed that could overcome these shortcomings.
I wondered if the 0-millimeter bottom-bracket drop might cause me to clip rocks and roots when pedaling hard through rougher sections of the track, but the high pivot on the floating link suspension design gives the bike an inherent amount of anti-squat built into the pedaling platform, and I didn’t experience issues with clipping my pedals as I suspected that I might. Further more, the high pivot location gives the rear wheel a slightly rearward path of travel that performed very well on square edge hits.
Perhaps one of the appealing features of the Gambler 10 that we rode was well thought out component spec. We rode the bikes stock, and I never felt as though there was something that had to be changed. The Gambler 10 could be raced right out of the box without compromise.
Over the course of two days the new Gambler made a very positive first impression. Smart design, and progressive geometry all wrapped into in a race ready package.