28th October 2010 Words & Pictures: Andy Jones
Snapper Andy Jones puts down his Nikon and gives this entry-level mountain bike a go.
I’m more of a roadie and have rarely ventured into the world of mountain biking and off-road riding. However, an opportunity arose to take a test bike out on a photo shoot on some of the Northumbrian packhorse trails this September. Scott provided its 2011 Aspect 30, which falls midway in its entry-level Aspect range of hardtail mountain bikes. All Aspects have double-butted 6061 alloy tubing with geometry that gives a balance of comfort, lightness and performance.
They are then equipped accordingly to give a range of reasonably priced bikes that are up to taking on the rough stuff at the weekend as well as just being used to commute to work and back in the week.
As I mentioned, I’ve not done much mountain biking, and the Aspect was for me what I’d perhaps look at if I was considering purchasing my first mountain bike. The price is what you would expect to pay to have a bike that is going to give you a good return for your money without breaking the bank.
Scott has specced a mix of components from the entry-level ranges of equipment suppliers Araya, Shimano, Suntour and Tektro. The mix works well and all up gives a stylish package. I particularly liked the metallic white-and-red paint finish of this 2011 model. I cannot say it’s the lightest bike I’ve ever ridden, but in terms of mountain bikes it is in the ballpark at this price point.
With the reasonably light alloy frame at the heart of the bike, there is scope to upgrade components should you wish to shave a few kilograms from the all-up weight quoted by Scott of 13.80kg.
My test ground in Northumberland was ideal. Using a mix of roads and off-road trails meant most things were covered. The Suntour XCR fork dampened the shock well from the often stony, uneven trails and gave confidence to push on. With 110mm of travel, the XCRs could seemingly handle everything. The large twist dial over the right fork leg can be easily flicked to lock out the fork on the move when you find the tarmac once more.
The gearing range with the eight-speed cassette allied to the triple chainring fits the bill adequately, and even though the Shimano components are in the lower range, they gave a smooth, trouble-free performance. I particularly liked the shifters, which offer quick, positive operation with the thumb for changing up and the index finger to change down.
I have to admit that there is a whole different style to riding a mountain bike and getting the most out of the gearing what with coming straight from a road bike set-up. However, once I got my mountain biking legs, I really started to enjoy riding the Scott on the road as well as off it.
Disc brakes were another first for me and the Tektro Draco hydraulic system was powerful and progressive. On the road, the fat Schwalbe Black Jack tyres did feel sluggish if you’re more used to 23c road rubber. However, all was forgiven for the grip and security they instilled off road as they bit and held their own in the soft, peaty ground.
There are, of course, other tyres on the market that would offer a better balance between road and off-road. This would be something to look at, along with getting a lighter wheel package if you wanted to step up and start to take things more seriously.
In conclusion, this Scott is a stylish package on a budget and will handle most situations adequately for those urbanites perhaps venturing out into the wilds for the first time.
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