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Scott Foil Premium first ride review

2 Jul 2015
Verdict:

All the aggression of the last Foil, with a hint of extra forgiveness

I’ll admit that I was slightly nervous at the prospect of testing the new Scott Foil Premium, the latest speed machine from the US/Swiss bike company. Only a week before, I’d undergone surgery on my back and was still feeling fairly tender, so the last thing I needed was a jarring ride on a super-stiff frame.

My nerves weren’t allayed any when, during the launch presentation in Salzburg, Austria, the engineers boasted of increased stiffness in the bottom bracket and forks compared to the previous Foil, which was already one of the stiffest bikes on the market. My ears pricked up however at the announcement that this new iteration is considered to be 89% more comfortable than the last Foil thanks to its cunning carbon lay-up and tweaks to the design (see ‘Scott reveals the new Foil’ here).

A gentle roll through the bucolic Austrian countryside would be just the thing to see how well those claims of increased comfort stood up. I mentioned as much to our hosts from Scott Sports, and they assured me that the ride would be on excellent roads, with not too much climbing. I thanked them for taking pity on a poor invalid. That’s when they announced, ‘And then we will be arriving at the Salzburgring motor racing circuit, where we will be holding a time-trial.’ Damn it.

Scott Foil Premium Dura Ace

The Premium is the top tier of five options for the new Foil. It boasts what Scott describes as an HMX frame, which uses the best grade UHM carbon fibres from Toray to keep it as light and stiff as possible. It also comes pimped with Zipp 404 wheels, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and a one-piece aero bar/stem combo from in-house component brand Syncros.

It’s certainly a handsome bike, with clean, smooth lines and a refreshing lack of gimmicks. It manages to be both aggressive and elegant simultaneously, with just enough bright orange highlights to stop it descending into the ‘stealth bomber’ look. All it needs to finish it off is a rider who looks as fast as the bike.

That rider arrived just as we were busy fiddling with saddle heights and cleat placements before heading out on our ride. Heinrich Haussler is current Australian national road race champion and a sprinter for the Swiss IAM Cycling pro team, which rides Scott bikes. He was invited along by Scott to show us hacks just what the new Foil is capable of in the right hands.

Heinrich Haussler Scott Foil

I asked Haussler whether in the short time he has had with the new bike he could determine the differences compared to the old Foil. ‘Oh definitely,’ he responded. ‘You can tell from the moment you press the pedal. Just the way it leaps forward; there’s nothing lost to flex.’ I pressed him on whether he could feel the claimed 89% of extra comfort, and he replied, ‘Yeah sure, but then really I couldn’t give a damn about comfort. It just isn’t important to me as a racer.’

Fair point. Comfort, however, is of great importance to me, and when we set off through the fields and villages of the Salzburg region I was quick to assess the smoothness of the ride. And it didn’t disappoint.

OK, the roads were mainly flawless and it might have been a different story on the potholed wasteland of London’s suburbs, but I felt positively serene aboard the Foil, and when I bounced my backside off the saddle, there was a discernable flex in the seatpost. With the sun shining over a landscape straight out of The Sound Of MusicI couldn’t have been happier if the Von Trapps had popped up to sing ‘Doe a Deer’.

Scott Foil Premium austria

Handling was crisp and precise. There was only one occasion when it was really put to the test on a long, fast descent with a few sweeping bends and a bit of a side wind. The Zipp 404 wheels felt like they were struggling to hold steady in the face of the wind, but the bike felt planted and I was never in any real fear of losing my line, despite my nervousness at the thought of a crash so soon after coming out of hospital.

With all the stiffness in the bottom bracket, acceleration was always going to be instantaneous, but I was most pleased by the fact that no matter how hard I tried to stamp on the pedal and haul on the bars, I couldn’t get the rear brake (which is situated behind the bottom bracket) to rub on the rims. It’s a problem common with frames where the brake is mounted in this position, and it’s testament to the solidity of the Foil frame that there was no rub.

Scott Foil Premium riding

Scott makes claims that the new Foil, when compared to the previous version, will save six watts of drag thanks to its advanced aerodynamics, and shave 27 seconds off a 40km ride at an average of 45kmh (I didn’t like to argue that that last statement is logically impossible, because I knew what they were getting at). Much as I’d like to say I tested this theory by nailing a 40km time-trial in 52 minutes 57 seconds, the truth is that is that I puffed my way round a single circuit of the Salzburgring motorbike racing track in around six minutes. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing how this compares in specific performance numbers to any other bike, but I can safely say the Foil is a fast bike, even if the rider isn’t.

Last man away on our Austrian time-trial was Heinrich Haussler. I have to say he looked pretty quick, but as Scott has yet to reveal the times of each rider’s lap of the race circuit, I am sadly unable to say whether he beat me or not.

Scott Foil Premium, prices tbc, scott-sports.com

For a more long-term assessment of the Scott Foil, look out for review in Cyclist magazine in the coming months

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