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Scott Solace 15 Disc review

Scott Solace 15 Disc review
21 May 2015
Verdict:

With a strong pedigree in endurance bikes, Scott has a lot to live up to with the new Solace frame.

Price: 
£2,599

There are some bikes that have acquired a puzzling cult status – the type of bike that some die-hard fans loved so much that they bought several. One example is the aluminum Cannondale CAAD series, and another is Scott’s carbon CR1. It started as Scott’s top-end lightweight racer, but its impressive comfort saw it drift into the realms of the endurance sportive market. In 2013 Scott declared, to the dismay of CR1 followers, that the bike was to be replaced by the Solace. So this bike has some big boots to fill.

While the Solace has been on sale for a full season, the Solace 15 Disc is entirely new, the first of the series to use disc brakes, in line with current thinking on endurance road bikes. While the advantage is a greater potential for braking and control, that has to be set against the potential disadvantages in terms of weight and the effect that reinforcing the frame may have on comfort. Given the CR1’s history as one of the racier of the sportive scene, I was keen to see how the Solace handled the pressure.

Scott Solace 15 Disc seat stay

On paper, this bike has a lot on offer for the all-day rider. The Solace was conceived with comfort in mind, while maintaining the stiffness needed for sustaining speed and accelerations. 

the fork is comfortable enough to ride for 100 miles, but it is slightly more rigid than some riders would like

Scott engineer Benoit Grelier says, ‘The Solace was created to be more comfortable than the CR1 while being as stiff as our aero model, the Foil.’ This, according to Grelier, has been achieved with a two-part construction. The stiffer lower half of the bike is called the ‘Power Zone’ and includes the bottom bracket and chainstays, while the softer ‘Comfort Zone’ incorporates the forgiving upper half around the seatpost, seatstays and top tube.

A glance at the bike provides some visual evidence of the approach. The seatstays are spaghetti-thin, and the skinny 27.2mm Syncros seatpost visibly flexes under load. The oversized bottom bracket and chunky chainstays, by contrast, appear abundant in both stiffness and size. The goal – as with most bikes these days – is a frame that is both racy and stiff while still maintaining a palatable ride quality. 

The Ride

Scott Solace 15 Disc ride

At first I was worried that the Solace 15 would fail on the first point. I felt that adding disc brakes to an already comfort-oriented bike threatened to take the priority of the bike further from the racy end of the spectrum. But the bike felt far more responsive than I’d expected.

The Solace reacted to sprint inputs with enthusiasm, and was rewarding on long, head-down efforts too, without ever compromising its smoothness on the road. Having ridden the original rim-brake version on its launch, though, there are a few compromises that come with the inclusion of discs.

The first is weight. At 8.45kg, this is a chunky bike for the price point. That’s surprising, as the frame is impressively light. ‘Weight is not a priority with the Solace, but we hit 930g for the frame and 350g for the fork, making it one of the lightest disc framesets for the category,’ says Grelier. With that in mind, similar to the Focus Cayo Disc we reviewed in issue 33, the increased weight can be directly attributed to the disc rotors and heavier, high spoke count, rebadged DT Swiss wheels. The sacrifice is highlighted most starkly when one considers the lower priced Solace 20 (Ultegra equipped, with rim brakes), which comes in at 7.66kg, substantially more svelte than this disc iteration. For several reasons, though, that weight penalty isn’t too noticeable from the saddle.

Scott Solace 15 Disc Shimano Ultegra Groupset

Thanks to the stiffness of the back end, when picking up speed there was only a slight lag that I could attribute to the wheels. It wouldn’t be noticeable on a casual club ride, but may take its toll over a lengthy solo ride or racy sportive when compared to the rim-brake alternative. Thanks to the rangy cassette, light frame and stiff rear end, the bike was generally not punishing on steep climbs, and I actually recorded some of my best times in the Surrey Hills. 

The second compromise is comfort. While the rear of the bike preserves all the smoothness of the rim-brake Solace, the front end is noticeably harsher. ‘For the fork we compromised the comfort a bit to make sure that there is no vibration and torsion due to the disc brakes,’ Grelier explains. ‘But it is still one of the most comfortable forks in our line-up: less than the Solace Rim fork, but in the same range as our Addict fork, which is recognised as being compliant enough for long rides.’ 

Scott Solace 15 Disc Disc Brake

There’s no doubt the fork is comfortable enough to ride for 100 miles, but it is slightly more rigid than some riders would like. For my part, it offered a good level of feedback from the road, which meant I was confident of the traction offered by the tyres. Equally, if extra harshness ensures that the fork doesn’t have the sort of unpredictable braking shudder that we’ve seen from some bikes, then it’s certainly worth it. That smoothness, predictability and power in braking offered several fantastic benefits with the Solace, though.

Descending was an absolute dream. I was able to easily get up to 80kmh on the bike, not just as a result of confidence inspired by the discs, but also the compliance of the frame and sureness of the wide 28mm tyres. In fact, when returning to other bikes I found myself having to consciously reduce my speed into corners much earlier because they lacked the same smoothness and control.

Vs Cannondale Synapse Disc

Scott Solace 15 Disc Shimano Ultegra Groupset

In terms of componentry, there are a few trade-offs when compared to the competition at this level in the market. The Solace is slightly more expensive than the likes of the Cannondale Synapse Disc or Focus Cayo Disc, and there have been some deviations in components. The chainset, for instance, is a step down to Shimano’s entry level rather than the Ultegra that adorns the rest of the bike. But the penalty is largely aesthetic, and I would struggle to notice a difference in stiffness – although this could be a fertile area for cutting weight.

Scott appears to be one brand that has an ability to achieve a consistent feel across its bikes. The Solace doesn’t feel very different to the Addict from the saddle, and there’s a sense of identity centred around the bikes’ tactile and racy ride quality. 

While I think there’s still some way to go to get disc-equipped bikes to the same overall standard as their rim-brake alternatives, with a few upgrades the Solace could well offer all the advantages of disc brakes while still offering the speed and vigour that a competitive rider could want.

Spec

Scott Solace 15 Disc
Frame  Scott Solace 15 Disc
Groupset Shimano Ultegra 6800
Brakes Shimano RS685 Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Chainset Shimano FC- RS500 Chainset
Cassette Shimano 105 Cassette
Bars Syncros FL1.0 bar
Stem Syncros RR2.0 stem
Seatpost Syncros FL1.0 seatpost
Wheels Syncros RP2.0 Disc
Tyres Schwable Durano
Saddle Syncros FL1.0 saddle
Contact scott-sports.com

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