The opportunity to ride and eventually buy a Scott Foil came up after I drove my Scott Addict Team into the garage on the roof of the car. Ouch. The top tube of the Addict was destroyed and I was suddenly in the market for a replacement.
I’d ridden the Addict Team (integrated seat post version) for a full season and for the most part, really liked the bike. It was very light, at around 800g for the frame, very stiff, and fit me well. The down side to the bike was that it could be a bit harsh on longer rides – translating every bump up through your saddle and bars. After 4 hours, this was very evident, and if I could change anything about the bike, that would be it.
I’d done some homework on the Foil prior to making the trip up to Drummond Cycles for a test ride. I’d read reviews, specs, forums – you name it. There were a couple of things that resonated through all of what I found: the Foil was a great riding bike, possessing a lot of the characteristics of the Addict and, more concerning to me, the Foil was VERY stiff and uncomfortable to ride.
So to keep things consistent, I brought my wheels with me to put on the Foil for the test ride and Dick helped me set it up to match my position from my Addict.
With the bike feeling familiar, we headed out into the balmy 28 degree weather on the not-so-smooth Enfield roads… Perfect conditions for testing just how comfortable the bike would be over the long haul.
Almost immediately, you feel the stiffness of the bike: both torsional stiffness of the front end and the lateral stiffness of the bottom bracket. It’s very stiff – stiffer than the Addict, which up until that point was at the top of the list for me. As a result, the Foil doesn’t feel snappy or quick, like a bike that gives a little and then snaps back. Instead it feels rock solid, robust and stable.
The compliance of the ride is by no means a steel touring bike, but it didn’t possess the same sharp ride that I’d been accustomed to over the past year. For me, the configuration of an adjustable seat post vs. an integrated post was a large factor in the comparison.
The Foil rides like a race bike – very positive feel, precise, but not to the point where you feel like you’re fighting it. For me, it was more comfortable than what I’d been riding, yet still processed the qualities I appreciate the most in a race bike.
What’s most interesting to me about the Foil is that it was designed as an aero bike, yet it doesn’t ride like one. The narrow tubes with tall profiles of the most popular aero bikes today, lead all to often to a harsh ride with poor lateral stiffness. This is simply not a factor with the Foil. If you didn’t realize that the Foil was designed in the wind tunnel, you probably wouldn’t think aerodynamics were a design factor given its superb ride characteristics, or the shapes of the tubes.
Evidently, Scott worked with aerodynamicist, Simon Smart, who also helped perfect the Plasma, to design the Foil. They approached the aerodynamics a bit differently than the standard ‘wing’ air foil shape. Instead, Scott focused on low speed aerodynamics, using speeds more common to cycling, not aircraft. Smart tapped into his time developing struts for Formula 1 cars to design the truncated air foil shape, which retains much of the stiffness and ride quality of a round tube, yet creates a sort of virtual air foil by directing the air around the leading edge of the tube the same way that a true air foil shape does. The result is, supposedly, an aerodynamic frame that competes with the most aerodynamic road bikes on the market while retaining excellent ride quality, stiffness and low weight of some of the best ’round’ tube road bikes on the market. Sort of the best of both worlds…
So the million dollar question has to be, how fast is it? Well, it’s hard to say for sure. I don’t I have a wind tunnel, nor does that kind of data matter much once you’re out on the road. What I can say is that it does feel fast. The feeling, although more subtle, is not dissimilar to a good set of aero wheels. When you put a set of HED Stingers on your bike, for example, it’ll be faster, it will be easier to maintain speed and it will continue to accelerate on downhills. The Foil has a similar affect. The faster you go, the greater the benefit.
If you’re in the market for a new race bike, I can highly recommend the Foil. It’s hard to say if it’s the bike for you, though since so much of it is personal preference. The best advice I could give would be to stop in at Drummond Cycles and take one for a test ride. Regardless, of whether it’s your next bike or not, I’m convinced you’ll walk away from the experience thoroughly impressed.
Brad Sheehan is a cat 1 rider with 10 years of racing experience. He is also Founder/Creative Director at SGD, a design firm specializing in sports-related branding and design. Most recently racing for the MetLife Cycling team, a program which he also managed and directed for seven years, as well as having many high profile clients within the cycling industry, Brad brings a broad perspective and a breadth of knowledge to the bike.
Since the birth of his son a year ago, Brad has taken a step back from the racing scene, but still gets out on the the bike regularly, often times towing his son along in the bike trailer. He can also be found on local group rides and training races in and around the Concord area.