Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain is bar none best in class, and the Zipp 404 carbon clinchers hit the sweet spot between weight, aero efficiency and stiffness (click to enlarge).
The Elevator Pitch
Lighter, stiffer, faster, more comfortable: Together these traits represent the holy trinity of the cycling world. It seems every new bike is claimed to possess some combination thereof. The 2016 Scott Foil is no exception.
You'll find full details about this new aero road bike's initial launch here. But in a nutshell, Scott says after three years of development the 2016 Foil has the same lightweight frame as its predecessor (fully painted size 54cm carbon frame weighs 945 grams, with the fork adding 335 grams) - and it's stiffer, more aero and more comfortable. Add it all up and Scott says the bike can save a rider an average of 6 watts, or roughly 27 seconds over 40km when averaging a brisk 45kph.
This is achieved in part with a new integrated cockpit, where a one-piece bar-stem combo helps cheat the wind. The Swiss bike maker also moved the rear brake from the seat stays to under the chainstays, and cleaned up cable routing, which is fully internal save for some exposure in front of the headtube.
But it's the comfort claims that really pop the eyes. Scott says it's achieved a whopping 89-percent rise in vertical compliance compared to the old Foil. Speaking from personal experience, that's a really good thing, because the old Foil (first launched in 2010) was a lot of things, but comfortable was not one of them.
Put the old and new frame side-by-side and the changes are pronounced. Instead of connecting to the seat tube just below the toptube, the seatstays of the new Foil join the seat tube about three inches lower. They're also much smaller, measuring roughly two-thirds the diameter of their predecessors. This is all done in the name of compliance, one of the primary design drivers of this new bike.
The seat tube has also undergone a metamorphosis, bulking up slightly for better power transfer, and moving closer to the rear wheel, which is designed to better control airflow front to back. The downtube shape remains relatively unchanged, but the fork is more cleanly integrated into the headtube junction in yet another effort to clean up air flow. The seatpost also got a makeover, utilizing a slight aero shape (not a full blade) which is held in place by an integrated clamp.
Front end geometry carries over from the old Foil, but Scott says it moved the headset bearings down and lengthened the headtube to make it narrower and more aero. In the past the squat headtube was essentially just the intersection of two tubes; now it's a tube itself.
And as already mentioned, the rear brake has been tucked away under the chainstays and bar and stem have been melded together, again in the name of cheating the wind.
Finally, stiffness was addressed by reshaping the PF86 bottom bracket area in a way that's claimed to have netted a 13 percent gain. Tire clearance was also been bumped up to 28mm and the new Foil comes with an integrated chain catcher.
The Scott Foil Team comes with a mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain, integrated bar-stem, and Zipp 60 carbon/alloy hybrid clinchers (click to enlarge).
In the U.S. the new bike will come in three builds. The Foil Premium includes the top-end HMX carbon frame with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain, Zipp 404 carbon clincher wheels, and the Syncros RR1.0 handlebar/stem combo ($12,000). The Foil Team has the same high end carbon frame, a mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain, the integrated bar-stem, Zipp 60 carbon/alloy hybrid clinchers, and costs $8,000. Finally, the Foil 10 is built around the second-tier HMF carbon frame and doesn't have the integrated bar-stem combo. Other spec includes a Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain and Syncros RR2.0 wheels. MSRP is $4800. You can also buy the high-end HMX Foil frame/fork for $4000, or HMF carbon frame/fork for $2600.
Continue to page 2 to read about what we liked and didn't like about the new Scott Foil »
At speed is where this bike shines. There's no hint of flex and it carves like a sharp knife (click to enlarge).
What We Liked
In late July, we got to spend one long afternoon tooling around on the top-end Foil Premium during Scott's annual media gathering powwow in Park City, Utah. Terrain ran the gamut, from tough climbing, to swoopy fast descents, to bumpy roads, to flat, smooth tarmac.
As advertised this bike is significantly more comfortable than its predecessor. I don't know about 89-percent more comfortable. But thanks primarily to the new seatstay design, it does a far better job of soaking up chop. Cruising along on what I'd call normal paved roads was a pleasantly smooth experience. And this was not done at the expense of stiffness. The BB is rock solid, efficiently channeling power to the rear wheel.
However, don't expect this bike to ride like the Scott Solace or other similar "endurance" road bikes. There's simply no way around the fact that aero-shaped tubes like the ones the Foil incorporates don't soak up bumps as well as traditional round shapes. This was especially evident on the descent of Guardsman Pass, a legitimately rough paved road that left us wishing for a pair of padded gloves. But the Foil wasn't built for Roubaix riding, so it's hard to knock off too many test points.
The integrated bar-stem helps cheat the wind, but has some edges that aren't especially comfortable to hold on to (click to enlarge).
Going uphill was a pleasant surprise. Aero road bikes aren't typically deft climbers, but the Foil Premium's low weight and efficient ride helped us capably grind our way up one of the Park City area's toughest climbs. Going down (after we got past the rough section) the Foil Premium also performed admirably, carving in and out of corners with precision and accuracy. No wheel wander here.
Component functionality on this bike is just what you'd expect for 12 large. Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain is bar none best in class, and as a bonus the bike comes stock with sprint shifters buttons on the inside of the drops. (The battery lives inside the seat tube.) Zipp 404 carbon clinchers hit the sweet spot between weight, aero efficiency and stiffness. There was no detectable brake rub, even when out of the saddle reefing on the one-piece bar-stem combo. We're also big fans of the mid-compact gearing choice (52-36 chainrings, 11-28 cassette), which means you can sit and spin up most climbs, but still wind up plenty of power for a rapid sprint.
Cable routing is also another plus. Scott didn't go to the extreme measures Trek and Specialized chased with their new aero road bikes, but still managed to create a reasonably clean routing path that wont require a mechanical engineering degree when setting up at home. Everything starts inside the Syncros RR1.0 bar-stem combo, which helps reduce drag and houses the Shimano Di2 junction box and has an attachment for a Garmin mount. But instead of traveling inside the headset or fork, cables reappear before heading to the traditionally placed front brake or disappearing into a wide port on the top of the downtube. By keeping everything together, Scott avoided having to drill a second housing hole into the frame, which saves weight and enhances overall structural integrity.
The bar-stem comes in nine different options, with stem lengths from 90mm-140mm and bar widths from 38cm-44cm. There are also two Garmin mount lengths.
The brakes are Shimano direct mount, which both opens up a little extra tire clearance (up to 28s) and increases stopping power. But this is somewhat counter-balanced by the rear brake placement, which lessens its effectiveness and makes servicing more complex.
What We Didn't Like
This likely wont be an issue for bike's bought off a shop floor, but you MUST make sure whoever builds up your bike uses carbon paste to keep the seat post in place. On my test ride with two other cycling journalists, all three of us experienced significant and repeated slippage. Fortunately a return to the demo area and some added paste rectified the problem. Also know that moving the saddle up and down is a bit of a pain, requiring the removal of an aero cap before loosening the actual bolt, which is at a tricky angle.
We also had some trouble with the shape of the bars, which due to their aero shape have some abrupt edges that just aren't very comfortable. This could be helped by adding some more bar tape, but that would compromise some of the aero gains.
On the upside, there is plenty of real estate on the tops if you like resting your forearms TT-bar style. And if you'd prefer to use a traditional bar, Scott offers a proprietary stem that works with the bike's unique frame design.
Braking performance is another point of contention. We've simply never been overly impressed with the performance of chainstay mounted rear brakes. Yes they work, but it's not the same feel as with the former Foil, which utilized a traditionally placed rear brake.
Finally, know that you can't place spacers above the Foil-specific stem, so make sure to measure twice and cut once. The good news is that the bike comes with a full compliment of spacers (3x2mm, 1x5mm, 2x10mm, 1x20mm ) which help dial in fit. The headset is also designed in such a way that stress and deformation on the steerer are limited when you tighten the headset bolts, which Scott called an effort to make it idiot proof.
Would I buy this bike? The short answer is, no. But that's primarily driven by personal need and budget. I don't run a hedge fund, race crits or sprint for town limit signs, so the stiffness and aero gains simply have less interest to me. (I'd say the same about the new Specialized Venge ViAS and new Trek Madone.) I prefer wispy, comfortable climbing bikes. The Scott Addict is one of my favorites.
But if you're in the market for an aero road bike, the new Scott Foil is certainly worth a long look. While not overly cushy, it's far more comfortable than its predecessor, and according to Scott, more aero and stiffer, too. And for a lot of riders that's all that matters.
More info at www.scott-sports.com