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Fast, stiff and definitely more comfortable than the old Foil

The Eurobike Demo Day is a highlight of the show. Crowded together out the back of the huge Messe hall that accommodates the world’s biggest bike show are dozens of bike brands, each with a demo fleet of the newest models. And they let us ride them. Yes, just choose the bike you want to ride, hand over some sort of identification, and you walk away with a bike for 30 minutes or so to ride around a designated test route. I’m slightly glossing over the long queues and currywurst stalls you have to battle through.

I made a beeline for the new Scott Foil. Launched in the run up to the Tour de France, but spotted in the wild before then, the new Foil ushers in quite a few updates over the original bike, which was launched way back in 2011. The Foil came out at a time when aero road bikes were still in their infancy. Now, the market is awash with aero road bikes, and this year in particular has seen a lot of new and updated aero road bikes join the fray.

The Foil was well received when it launched. It has earned a good reputation as a fast race bike over the years, and stood the test of time well. When I reviewed it, I was impressed. I really liked. For racing, it was without rival. Fast and direct. The downside? The overwhelmingly harsh ride. Take it along a bumpy road, and you really feel every crack and hole. After a long stint in the saddle, you could easily feel battered.

With the updated Foil, Scott claims to have made it a whopping 89% more compliant. That’s a huge claim, a hard to verify claim without some testing apparatus. However, what was clear from my, admittedly brief ride, is that the new Foil is significantly smoother than the older Foil.

The roads in this part of Germany are pretty smooth in general, but I managed to find some bumpier surfaces and here, as the tyres bounced up and down over the ripples in the tarmac, it is evident that Scott has engineered more compliance into the frame. It simply does a better job of isolating you from the rough road surface.

Unquestionably helping in the battle to smooth the unwanted shocks are the addition of the 25mm tyres the Foil can now accommodate - it’ll take up to 28mm if you want to go even wider (IAM Cycling was running 26mm tyres at the Tour de France). The Continental Grand Prix 4000 S tyres are smooth and fast, and combine with the updated Foil to make the ride experience less harsh than it used to be.

It’ll need a proper in depth test on familiar roads to really discover the extent of the ride comfort improvements, but first impressions are good. How it fares on my local Cotswolds roads is another matter though.

As well as a more comfortable ride, Scott has tweaked every other aspect of the frame that contributes to the overall performance. The frameset has been put on a diet with 70g coming off, a claimed 945g for a size medium. There’s 13% more stiffness in the bottom bracket and a similar amount in the head tube. And it’s more slippery through the air, with a 6 watt claimed drag reduction. That’s worth about 27 seconds over 40km at 45ph, according to a test by the well respected German TOUR magazine.

The previous Foil was a very responsive bike. Throwing the new one around the road, sprinting up the road and slinging it through fast turns and around some roundabouts, weaving around electric fat bike trikes, it’s clear the new Foil has the same recognisable directness that made the old bike such a good race weapon.

The handling is fast, just how you want it be in a bike designed for racing and extracting as much speed from your input as possible, with small steering corrections leading to instantaneous changes of direction. Is it any sharper and more direct as a result of the stiffer frame? That’s a tricky question to answer with any validation without some comparison testing against the old bike.

The bike I rode was fitted with a full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain and Zipp 404 Firecrest carbon clincher wheels. They’re fast wheels. They would flatter any bike they’re fitted to. The Scott Foil really makes the most of them, they’re an excellent partner for the frameset. Enough praise has been lavished on the Di2 drivetrain over the years, the addition of the sprint shifters on the drops is a nice touch, and allows for quicker gear changes when sprinting out of the saddle.

Also fitted to this bike was the new Syncros Carbon Combo one-piece handlebar and stem. Integrated handlebars have been getting more popular in recent years, as bike designers seek to reduce the frontal surface area of the bike. Speaking to some bike designers and aerodynamic experts, it’s clear the handlebar can contribute quite a bit of drag. We’re also seeing the handlebars being used to package away the cables and wires to keep the air flowing smoothly over this part of the bike.

Smoothing airflow around the stem is a wedge shaped section which together with the aero shaped steerer spacers, creates a very seamless section above the frame. Cables from the brake levers/gear shifters are routed inside the handlebar, and the Di2 junction box on this bike is smoothed away underneath the stem. The cables pop out from the bottom of the stem and disappear into the frame via a new multi-port on the down tube. 

The handlebars are very stiff. Put loads of force through the drops when sprinting out of the saddle, and it’s impossible to detect any unwanted flex or twist. The aero top section is quite comfortable, but I doubt the broad shape would be still comfortable during a long ride, unless you’ve got huge hands.

Scott makes the handlebar and stem in nine different width and length options, so you can get your position right, but will require some time with your local Scott dealer to get it sorted. The height of the stem is adjustable too - there are aero spacers that sit between the frame and stem, simply cut the steerer tube to the desired length and remove any unnecessary spacers.  Scott makes a Garmin out-front mount which clips onto the bottom of the handlebar.

Other changes to the new Foil include the adoption of Shimano’s Direct Mount brake calipers. While the front brake is still mounted to the fork, the rear brake moves from the seatstays to under the chainstays, a popular sight on aero road bikes. Shimano’s Direct Mount brakes really do work well, far superior to some of the alternative Direct Mount brakes I’ve ridden in the past.

The seatclamp is still internal, but the access bolt has moved from the side of the top tube to the top, located just in front of the aero seatpost. A carbon fibre plate covers, and protects, the bolt. The cables and electronic wires are still internally routed, but Scott has cleaned up the routing. Now, all the cables enter through a single port in the top tube, which is compatible with all the current groupsets on the market. Scott reckons this revised internal cable routing solution is more aerodynamic and lighter.

To summarise, the new Scott Foil is a smart evolution of the original with a noticeable improvement in ride comfort, an area where the old bike really suffered. While the lighter and stiffer claims are harder to verify with such a short ride, they are nice things to have and the Foil displays the sort of sharp handling and agility you want in a race bike. We look forward to spending more time with the Foil on familiar roads.

Foil 2016 range - Bikes should be available by December 2015.

Foil Premium - £8,999.00
Foil Team Issue - £5,999.00
Foil 10 - £3,499.00
Foil 20 - £2,699.00
Foil 30 - £2,299.00

More info at www.scott-sports.com/global/en/

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

6 comments

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derek n clive [268 posts] 2 years ago
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Three paragraphs in and there it is...the cut-and-paste 'harsh ride' of the original Foil that gets dragged out in so many reviews. Sorry Dave but that's rubbish. I've been riding a Foil 10 HMX for a couple of years now. I reckon I've done at least a dozen century plus rides on it including the inaugural Ride London four days after having it built up with Zipp 303 FC tubs, SR/Record and other exotic bits which, in its small size frame has taken it to a fraction under 6kg. The riding round here varies from blackboard smooth wind farm access roads to tarmac hammered by the elements - sadly it's mostly the latter. In the many miles that I've ridden this bike I have NEVER felt that it was a harsh ride or come away 'battered' after extensive periods in the saddle. I put that down to a great frame design which I've had fitted to me properly and with a sensible tyre pressure (FYI I run 23mm Veloflex Carbons). Think about it - while some guys in Green Edge or IAM might swap out a Foil for an Addict on a few stages there are many who will ride their Foil right through a GC. If it was such a harsh unforgiving ride why would they put up with it for 21 days of pain? They even ride Foils in Paris Roubaix! Nope - as a long term rider on a Foil I can guarantee you it is NOT a harsh ride. It is a bloody fantastic frame/bike.

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derek n clive [268 posts] 2 years ago
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To an extent, yes. But with the Foil it seems to be too many journos banging out the same old 'harsh' spiel. You ask a real world Foil rider if they think their bike gives a harsh ride...I can bet you you'll hear the opposite.

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fukawitribe [2039 posts] 2 years ago
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iamelectron wrote:

To an extent, yes. But with the Foil it seems to be too many journos banging out the same old 'harsh' spiel. You ask a real world Foil rider if they think their bike gives a harsh ride...I can bet you you'll hear the opposite.

So let me get this straight - the reviewer, who has probably tested a few more bikes than you or I, reckons that - in the grand scheme of things - the old Foil was harsh. 'too many journos' - who presumably also have a bit of experience also report on it being stiff or harsh. Quite a few owners also report on the ride being stiff or jarring on less than ideal surfaces but most seem to love them anyway, at least from what i've seen.

So 'many' of the people who do this for a living and a not insignificant number of owners talk about it being harsh, stiff or rigid in the grand scheme of things - but it's categorically not. Fair précis ? Seem like things may not be so black and white as you make out maybe ?

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cavey386 [1 post] 2 years ago
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For what it's worth I have owned a 2012 Scott Foil 15 for the last two seaseons. I have a pair of Fulcrum Racing speed XLR tubs to race on and a pair of Fulcrum Racing Zero nites for everyday. Have ridden 3 back to back centuries on it as well of rides up to 150 miles, and whilst it's definitely tolerable I coukdnt hand on heart say it was comfortable!
It's perfect for crit races though so am willing to forgive  1

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Lumen [31 posts] 2 years ago
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2016 Foil geometry chart:

http://www.feedthehabit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2016ScottFoilGeom...

Source: http://www.feedthehabit.com/road-biking/the-reborn-2016-scott-foil-aero-...

Nice that they've kept short (405mm) chainstays with 28mm tyre capability.

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Martyn_K [226 posts] 2 years ago
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I ride the 2014 Foil HMX Team Issue and can testify that the ride has lots more feedback than some other bikes i own/ have ridden. However, i like that feedback. I know a couple of people that ride the Foil 10 HMF and complain that the ride is harsh. It is all personal taste.

Journo's are better to indicate the ride is on the harsh side than under egg the cake and say the ride is like wafting along on clouds.

Plenty of life left in my Foil so i don't think i'll be dropping £6k on the new Team Issue anytime soon!