The Scott Genius 20 comes in with seriously-high expectations. A carbon-fiber frame, adjustable suspension (Equalizer and Twinloc) and renowned Scott quality… this bike was virtually on a pedestal before hitting dirt. After a few rides, I have come to realize that yes, this bike is very capable and fun, but it does leave room on the podium for challengers.

Scott Genius 20 Features:

  • Full-carbon IMP4 frame
  • Twinloc remote lockout (fork/shock simultaneously)
  • Scott Equalizer 2 shock
  • Fox 32 RL TALAS 150 fork
  • Shimano XT drivetrain
  • Avid Elixir R brakes (185mm rotors f/r)
  • Ritchey Carbon Pro riser bars
  • Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25 tires
  • Selle Italia SLR XP Kevlar saddle
  • DT Swiss XR25 wheelset
  • Weight: 27.6 lbs (as tested)
  • MSRP: $5499

Scott Genius 20 Review

I’ve been hoping to get my hands on one of these bikes for quite some time. Luckily, the crew up in Sun Valley obliged and sent down a test rig for a few months. While this Spring has been slow to come, I’ve still been able to get out in abundance on the stellar low-elevation singletrack I’ve got in my backyard.

Scott built this bike (successfully, I think) as a do-it-all marathon/epic XC/trailbike. Its overall trail manners are predictable and fun, but I do have a few gripes… alas, no bike is perfect. Lets talk about those trail manners though, starting with the uphill.

Ofttimes I’m underwhelmed by all the suspension switches and gadgets on most bikes. The Twinloc system, however does provide a noticeable suspension and geometry change with the flip of a switch. With this single-lever system, gone are the days of fishing for the fork lockout, then reaching back to find the rear lockout or Propedal — all while trying to keep your eyes on the trail in stride. In a parking lot, that’s easy cheesy, but on the trail, it’s much more of a hassle than it’s worth, so once the newness wears off, lockouts, thresholds and such are neglected.

Not so with the Twinloc. I found myself switching back and forth from full-travel to traction mode all the time. The only time I reached down to the fork was to drop the travel from 150 to 130 and back. This is definitely one gadget that really works!

Once settled into a good climbing gear, I feel like this bike can ascend bob-free with one hand tied behind its back while eating a PBJ sandwich. Standing up for short, steep climbs, 95mm traction-mode provided a solid platform and excellent traction without letting loose. Long, smooth climbs, switchbacks and skinny ascents were all cleaned without too much fuss. I typically utilized the TALAS system to drop the fork from 150 to 130 on climbs (honestly, 110 setting is way overkill and has been done away with for 2011). Unfortunately, the knobby tires do rob some of your rolling momentum, but that can be easily remedied. Over the next few weeks I’ll be testing out the Roval Traverse AL wheels with more rolling-friendly tires, so look for an update shortly.

When pointing this bike back downhill, the smiles will continue. The carbon fiber frame does a great job at insulating you from the micro-chatter that will wiggle your fillings out and the rear suspension hugs the terrain like a well-tuned race car. The combination of the Fox 32 TALAS 150 with 15QR and the Scott Equalizer 2 shock (once dialed) is predictable and smooth. You can really lay into the corners and push this bike hard and it just keeps on motoring. Whipping from turn-to-turn was pure joy as I carved my way downhill — fully-engaged in singletrack bliss. Drops are met with a nice bottomless cushion.

All components worked well throughout the test and the full build offers solid performance. The worthy DT Swiss XR25 wheelset rolled smoothly and was the perfect match for this bike — stiff, strong and true (though the paint was easily-scratched). The Fox 32 TALAS 150 is one of my all-time favorite forks and provided supple and smooth travel and stiffness when pushed hard.

On the down, the suspension does show some weaknesses though. The two major items I noticed were 1) suspension lockout or “brake jack” and 2) small bump absorption.

As far as the suspension lockout goes, it shows its face when descending hard in rough terrain. Applying the brakes while the suspension is compressed will most often lock out the rear end, thus sending your rear wheel bouncing instead of sticking to the trail.  It is a bit of an annoyance, but once you know that’s what it is, you can adjust your pedaling and braking to reduce it. As far as the small bump sensitivity, I just couldn’t get the shock completely supple for the full-spectrum of trail obstacles — more fiddling may be required, but I couldn’t quite get it there in my test period.

With the pressure settings, I settled in on 22 and 17 for the upper and lower chambers, respectively. This is actually the setup for a person 10 lbs lighter than me (165 lb vs 175 lb).  At the settings recommended for me, the suspension just felt too harsh, so that’s where I ended up. Setting up the Equalizer 2 is not for the novice rider. My first couple of rides were… lets just say they were bad. But, all it took was some patience and putting up with razzing from riding buddies (pay them no heed) as I tinkered and I was able to set things up well. As far as rebound settings, from the slowest rebound, I backed it out 7 notches on both knobs.

Good Genius 20

  • Once dialed, this is a very capable machine up and down
  • Can comfortably rail this bike and whip it around
  • Laterally-stiff yet chatter-reducing carbon fiber frame (I heart carbon fiber)
  • Suspension really digs into the trail when ascending — even out of the saddle
  • Dependable parts spec
  • DT Swiss wheelset is capable and smooth
  • TwinLoc sounded gimmicky, but it really works
  • Wicked-light for this kind of package

Bad Genius 20

  • Equalizer shock takes time (and Scott pump) to dial in… be patient and keep trying (I settled in at 22/17 mbar)
  • Noticeable suspension lockout descending rough terrain while braking
  • Lots of gadgetry on this bike to tinker with… bike savvy required
  • Saddle is no bueno (translation: major numbness in the man area)
  • Tires are a little underwhelming in dry, loose terrain

Bottom Line: Scott Genius 20

In capable hands, the Genius 20 can be set up properly to assault your local trails with capabilities on par with some of the best trail bikes on the market, but getting that proper setup takes patience and savvy many may not be willing to expend. After getting comfortable with the Genius, I’ve found it to be quite the capable “do-it-all” machine. If price is a deterrent, check out the Genius aluminum models.

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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.


  1. Derron Tanner on

    I was thinking this would be a great purchase for my next trail bike if it didn’t have those “little wheels”.

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