Scott Voltage FR710 – First Impressions

Words Kaz Yamamura
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Feb 25, 2015

2015: Year of the 650B freeride bike. We saw longer travel bikes get the tweener treatment in 2014, but that was mostly under pros and in proto stage. While 650B downhill bikes have gone public in the last year, freeride bikes (or what’s left of the category) such as the Trek Session Park remain 26 inch specific. Of the brands we are familiar with in North America, along with the Banshee Darkside, the 2015 Scott Voltage is of the first 650B freeride bikes. But, much like the Darkside, there IS still a 26″ option for this bike.

The Voltage comes equipped with the necessary components to make it six-fitty-bee: fork, wheels and tires. With 650B wheels, you have one option with the wheelbase/chainstay length, however, with 26″ wheels, there are two options available for you.

The Voltage arrives with many changes for 2015: The shock now mounts to the top tube, there are more braces and an interrupted seat tube, limiting the seat post length. The adjustability is still prominent, though not as dramatic as swinging travel from 130mm to 180mm as it did previously. The latest Voltage has an adjustable head angle, from 62 deg to 66 deg in increments of 1 deg, and two modes of travel: 170mm and 190mm. A new brace on the seat stays and on the linkage provide additional stiffness. In short, the Voltage has become more of a DH/FR bike and less of a big slopestyle bike.

Right now I have the bike in the short 170mm settings. Gnarlier trails may call for more travel. Also note the welded brace holding the linkage together.

The spec and geometry suggest the Voltage is a gravity sled, so if you wanted to slap a dropper on the Voltage and turn it into a Fromme fireroad Strava killing machine, I suggest you think again. In Jon Harris’ words, “it pedals like a 2004 freeride bike.” It should be noted that the Voltage we have for testing is the large size, perfect for Garrett. I usually ride something smaller but I feel great on the large Voltage. I’m a backend heavy stance kind of guy, so the longer top tube lets me have a little better weight distribution.

With 26″ wheels there is the choice of 410mm and 425mm chainstays, but with 27.5″ wheels only the 425mm stays are available.

I took the Voltage to my local dirt jumps at Invergarry and it felt great on the medium-large dirt jumps (I didn’t dare touch the wood ramps). The bike had very good pop to it, and cornering was breezy and fun. The Magic Marys helped keep me planted in the berm even when I was Matt Hunter sideways (okay maybe not so much). Bombing down gnarlier, downhill oriented trails is where I felt the bike’s downhill side come to action-in short, the bike excels on jumps and at speed. I have yet to ride this in the park yet, but a few park days are on the schedule before the end of the test term.

Notice anything different from the older generation Voltage? The 2015 Voltage only has 2 travel settings: 170mm and 190mm. The upper shock mount location stays the same for both settings.

Short and long settings. All you have to do to switch the travel is to change the lower mount. Internal derailleur cable routing in the seat stays keep the hoses from getting eaten up.

Colour matching 180mm Fox 36 Factory Float up front keep things plush.

While the DHX RC4 coil in the back make your landings buttery smooth.

The Voltage’s head angle can be adjusted with the switch of the headset cups (included). 1 set of cups gives you +/-1 deg, and another +/-2 deg. The stock cups are set to 64deg, which means the Votlage can get slacker than the Gambler or steeper than a Nomad.

The silver cups are 64 deg, while the black ones give you +/-1, and the red +/-2.

Shimano XT brakes aren’t something you see often on a gravity bike…but they work. The rotors are 203mm front and rear, and a Sram X7 shifter mated to an X9 derailleur takes care of the shifting.

Wide range 11-36 cassette out back keeps the wheels turning.

Note the integrated chainstay guard-no need to sacrifice an old tube and electrical tape.

E-Thirteen chain guide to keep the chain on the 36T ring.

Scott’s acquisition of Syncros has made way for a nice spec package-including stem, bars, wheels, and hubs. 35mm 780mm bars attach to the 50mm stem.

I’m personally not a fan of these grips, but grips are cheap – one of the first things most people change on any new bike.

Ah, pointy seats. Great for pumping thighs, not so much for pinching seats.

SRAM Descendant cranks keep the wheels spinning.

Syncros wheels attach to Schwalbe Magic Marys front and rear-2.5″ and 2.3″ respectively.

Holy treadsicles! Those are quite beefy. Schwalbe Magic Mary front and rear.

The first thing Garrett asked when I told him that he would be testing this bike as well was: “What’s the tread compound on the tires?” Lucky for us, the Voltage comes with the softer Trail Star compound.

Just like the older Voltages, the 2015 model is a single-pivot design-but as Morgan pointed out at the press launch, this bike loves to jump and turn.

You too can have fun on tweener wheels. Photo by Matt Lee.

The high-end Voltage FR710 comes in at $4250USD, and the lowest model at $2250-perfect for kids looking for a capable downhill/park bike.


The once mildly crowded freeride category is looking pretty lonely these days. Is there still a place in your heart for park and play bikes?

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Comments

shimstack
0
shimstack  - March 3, 2015, 11:07 a.m.

How does this thing pedal? I get that it's heavy and squishy, but does the high-ish pivot give enough efficiency that one could fit a dropper post and 10-42 cassette for a beefy earn-your-turns machine? Is the actual seat tube angle steep enough that you wouldn't have to tame the floppy front end from behind the rear axle on the climbs? This looks like it could be a do-all bike if "all" consists of lots of park laps and enchilada-type shuttles.

Reply

matt
0
Matt  - March 3, 2015, 7:28 p.m.

I just copied this straight out of the article: “it pedals like a 2004 freeride bike.”

See also: "if you wanted to slap a dropper on the Voltage and turn it into a Fromme fireroad Strava killing machine, I suggest you think again."

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