The Scott Solace 30 hitting the shops at £1,999 is new for 2014 and aims to offer excellent all-round ride qualities
With the Addict and Foil at the top end of Scott’s carbon race bike tree, and the CR1 very capably manning the fort in the sportive battle-zone, it might not be obvious where the Solace sits in the line-up. In reality, it’s very simple: it’s a sportive bike deluxe, which takes the comfort of day-long machines but dresses it up with a host of top-end design delights.
Although this is far from being a true aero bike, it does have some sneaky little aero-influenced details, hallmarks of a drag-killing frame. There is through-frame cable routing, and the rear brake caliper is hidden behind the bottom bracket.
This second design element isn’t only about being aero; with no bridge needed to fit the rear brake, Scott’s engineers could manipulate the pencil-thin seatstays to really perfect comfort out back. I was rather worried that, under my heft, the stays would split apart and collapse like a circus clown’s car — but so far, so good.
It’s odd to say, but Shimano 105 is clearly the lesser option here. It would be hard to deny that, against Red 22, 105 seems a tad agricultural — it just doesn’t run or change quite as smoothly. That said, you’re making quite a saving, so in terms of gear-change value for money, 105 wins.
It’s also nice to see an almost full groupset specified — only the unusual rear brake deviates from 105. While a standard double chainset can be chosen, our test sample came with a compact, which was handy because, allied with an 11-25t cassette, it’s more highly geared than the Cannondale.
Shimano RS11s might be budget hoops, but they’re far better than the average quality at this price point. They’re not super-light but they roll well, stay true, and only very performance-driven riders would find cause to complain. Paired with Schwalbe Durano 25c tyres, they offered a modicum of cushioning, too.
The first thing that struck me with the Scott was how much more easily I could push a bigger gear while climbing than when riding the Cannondale. I can only put that down to the effect of positioning. While you’re sitting back — relatively speaking — on the Scott, climbing seems a little less forced than on the Cannondale, which is more aggressive head-down in nature.
See Scott’s site for more about their bikes: scott-sports.com
On the flipside, when you begin to enjoy a bit of out-and-out speed, the Solace is a little less urgent than the Cannondale. But it picks up the pace very well, cruises at speed nicely, and weaves through corners smoothly. It’s noticeably more comfortable than the Cannondale, too, coping well with rough surfaces and taking the sting out of bigger hits.