With 27.5 bikes all the rage for 2014, the Scott Spark 700 SL is definitely one of the best renditions of the platform. I’ve ridden the 29er version previously, but for 2014, Scott says ciao to 26ers on their entire lineup of performance bikes. One lap was all it took.

2014 Scott Spark 700 SL Features:

  • HMX NET carbon fiber for the lightweight, stiff performance
  • 120mm travel front-and-rear
  • Fox 32 Float and Fox Nude shocks with TwinLoc
  • SRAM XX1 drivetrain
  • Syncros carbon cockpit
  • Syncros XR1.0 carbon wheels
  • Weight: 21.12 lbs (stated)
  • MSRP: $9199.99

2014 Scott Spark 700 SL - Quick Review

A Few Miles of Joy on the Spark 700 SL

Since my ride time was limited to an 8 mile lap, I’m not going to go into much more detail than first impressions. For starters, the 700 SL is the top-of-the-line Spark 27.5 model. It comes equipped with the finest components available on the planet. I can’t think of anything more anyone could ever want in a 120mm XC race machine that’s capable enough to be a daily driver.

Giving the 700 SL a thorough inspection, I was in awe of the sheer beauty of this stealth black machine. Donned in Syncros carbon from the cockpit to the wheels and topped off with the superb SRAM XX1 drivetrain, there’s little wonder if the 21.12 lb stated weight is a reality or not. This bike is light. Much of that weight reduction is due to the HMX NET carbon fiber frame.

SRAM XX1 - 2014 Scott Spark 700 SL

The most impressive feature of 27.5 bikes and this one especially is the quickness throughout tricky, off-camber switchback ascents. I know, kind of a mouthful, but we’ve all been there and stalled there. These off-camber switchbacks require skill and a dialed-in bike to navigate with consistency. The trail I rode featured at least 10 switchbacks of the off-camber variety and the Spark simply whipped around them like it was on rails. The track I laid down on one ascent is much faster — a full 2 minutes faster than the one I laid down a week later aboard the Pivot Mach 429 Carbon.

All this climbing was done on second-lap legs since I had ridden the 2014 Scott Solace road bike on a 10 mile, 1000 ft. climb affair just previous to my time on the 700 SL. Just imagine what I could have done with fresh legs?

Scott TwinLoc on 2014 Spark 700 SL

Scott Spark 700 SL Features Fox Nude Shock

The only aspect of the 700 SL that I didn’t settle into was the handling. It had a bit vague of a feel to it at moderate speeds. Most of the time it was consistent and smooth, but for some reason on narrow singletrack, at medium speeds, the front wheel kind of wandered left-and-right on the trail — just enough to notice. When actively cornering, everything felt natural and always hooked up nicely. Maybe a stem length change could do the trick?

The SRAM XX1 drivetrain performed flawlessly. As my drivetrain of choice, I love the simplicity and silent shifting performance it provides. It was a little odd, however, to have the XX1 drivetrain pared with XTR brakes. They are nice brakes, but alloy levers just don’t cut it on a bike like this.

The Good

  • 120mm front/rear is an awesome sweet spot for 27.5’s
  • This full-carbon beauty is lights-out fast
  • Can fit a full-size water bottle in there
  • 21 lbs with tubed tires!
  • TwinLoc remote is useful on long climbs
  • Fox shocks front and rear offer smooth, reliable performance
  • Lateral stiffness is phenomenal
  • Hooks up well and feels comfortable in all terrain
  • Loves to climb — especially those off-camber uphill switchbacks

The Bad

  • Vague steering on straight singletrack at moderate speed
  • Suspension design exhibits brake jack

The Bottom Line

If I were to ditch my 29er ways, this would certainly be the type of bike to do it. It hooks up well, has a ton of traction and rolls over stuff. In this ultralight package, there’s little to quibble about.

More Info: Visit Scott-Sports.com


About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground. Follow Jason Mitchell on Google+.


  1. Hi,

    Could you elaborate on how it felt compared to the Pivot 429C? The Pivot 429C seems to get a lot of positive attention and I am surprised that the Scott was 2 minutes faster than this.

    • To be fair, the Mach 429C I rode was set up as a hard-core trailbike. It had very meaty tires and wasn’t built out as high-zoot as the 700 SL — plus it was easily 6 lbs heavier. The 700 SL was also running XX1 and the 429C was XT 2×10. So, some of the time loss was pushing meaty tires and a less-optimized drivetrain.

      Additionally, the DW-Link is very active, which on short climbs can be a detriment. On long, drawn-out climbs over many miles things even out, but on short bursts a stiffer suspension design will win out.

      The 429C is way fun and as it was built, it was really fun, but a little sluggish. The 700 SL does have the benefits of faster spin-up with the 27.5’s and about 6 lbs less weight.

    • Hard to say really. I’ve not tested the DW/VPP back-to-back in quite some time. I will say that the DW tends to hold to the ground like Velcro and the Tallboy is one of my all-time favorite 29ers. Both are great options, but there is something special about the quality of travel provided by the DW.

  2. Thanks for the review!

    How does the new Fox Nude behave? Does it actually have a lockout? Or does it still move a little when riding on the road for example? The only good feature of the old DT Nude was the complete lockout. Curious how the Fox behaves.

    • The performance of the Fox Nude was fantastic on my ride. I used the lockout, but didn’t test it to see how “locked” it really was. It’s my understanding that all “lockouts” have a blowoff threshold. It may be high, but it’s there.

      Switching to climb mode delivered a solid platform for ascending, but I didn’t test it on road climbs.

    • Good question. I didn’t ride the old DT Swiss-equipped model, but the word on the street was that it didn’t ever deliver a plush enough of a ride for North American riders. The switch to Fox was something that the US-based Scott folks pushed for a long time.

      Beyond that, I don’t have any specific comparisons between the performance of the two.

    • Spark 700 SL: $9199 – HMX Carbon
      Spark 700 Premium: $7999 – HMX Carbon
      Spark 700 RC: $7849 – HMX Carbon
      Spark 710: $4849 – HMF Carbon
      Spark 720: $4199 – HMF Carbon
      Spark 730: $3799 – HMF Carbon

  3. A good review… but stating that non-carbon brake levers have no place on a bike this nice really calls your experience into question.

    XTR brakes are the industry standard. Carbon levers save a minimal (as in single-digit grams) amount of weight, and don’t exactly hold up well in crashes… and levers are a particularly vulnerable part in a crash.

    All that aside, anyone who has been around bikes for the past 2-3 years would know there really isn’t a great carbon-lever brake on the market. Avid? Local shops here ship 2-3 sets back EACH WEEK due to QA issues. Formula? Exotic, but zero support here in the US, and mediocre power. Hayes? Please.

    There’s a reason why the start line of any Cat 1 or Pro race has multiple bikes with full SRAM drivetrains and XTR brakes.

    • Thanks for your comments, Tommy and thanks for stopping by! While I haven’t crashed and destroyed any Avid carbon levers, I’ve used both top-shelf Avid and XTR levers extensively. I personally prefer the feel of Avid levers as well as the feel of their carbon levers.

      The most recent Avid stuff has been quiet and reliable. And, most of the chatter about warranty replacement, etc. seems to fall with the Elixir lineup, not the top-shelf Avid stuff (which has also undergone some serious improvements in the past two years). When you speak of out-of-control warranty issues, is this something from several years ago or are you talking about this happening right now with the 2013+ model brakesets? I’m curious to compare what you say against my LBS.

      While perhaps you have a point with XTR brakes being standard-fare for racers (and they are predictably solid), I have not been as impressed with their braking performance and lever feel. I tested them for a full 8 months on the Niner Jet 9 RDO. Yes, they worked well, but I felt they were underpowered compared to the latest XO Trail brakes.

      No, I don’t speak from Cat 1 racing experience, but I have ridden tons of bikes and as I stated, the latest XO brakes have been solid.

      • Just got the straight scoop from the manager of my LBS who carries Cannondale, Specialized and Scott. He estimated that about 15-20% of the OEM Avid brakes were defective — almost exclusively with the Elixir models and rarely with others. He did say that he sees almost no issues with Shimano brakes, so you’re right there.

        Again, personal preference on the lever feel for me. I prefer the feel of carbon levers and love the dampening they provide. I notice the slight reduction in in finger fatigue with carbon blades — yeah, call me crazy but I do notice the difference. And, I’ve not had any issues with XO Trail brakes. I will say that Shimano’s use of mineral oil is a much better option for fluid though as DOT fluid is so corrosive.

    • Tommy… just read the latest long-term review of the X0 Trail brakes at BikeRumor.com and they are sharing my sentiments on the latest crop of X0 Trail brakes:


      Grab their bikes and give them a whirl.

      So… it seems to go much more to lever feel and personal preference. XTR brakes are nice and I do like the mineral oil as opposed to DOT fluid, but the X0 Trail brakes are nothing to scoff at (anymore).

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