It has been nearly two years since we first reviewed Scott’s Foil. On that occasion, we only had one day to ride the bike before it had to leave town, but on this occasion, we were able to hold on to the bike for much longer. In this review CTech Editor Matt Wikstrom puts the Scott Foil Team Issue through its paces.
When Scott started developing the Foil in 2009, they were aiming to develop a frameset that was stiff and light, but that, above all, benefitted from improved aerodynamics. The now familiar Kamm tail profile was adopted for use throughout the Foil, since its truncated teardrop tubing adds no extra weight while abiding by UCI regulations.
A couple of independent wind tunnel tests by Bicycling and VeloNews have shown that the design of the Foil is effective. Indeed, Giant used the Foil as a benchmark for the development of its Propel frameset, and while the Propel appears to trump the Foil in Giant’s own testing, not all wind tunnel tests arrive at the same conclusion. At the very least, the Foil compares well to other aerodynamic road bike designs on the market.
The Orica-GreenEDGE team has been using the Foil since its debut in 2012. As such, the bike has been piloted to a variety of memorable victories at the Australian road titles, the Tour Down Under, Milan-San Remo, as well as stage victories in all three Grand Tours. For 2014, Scott continues as the bike sponsor for Orica-GreenEDGE as well as supplying the Swiss IAM ProContinental team.
Before the ride
The design of the Foil frameset has not changed since it was introduced in 2012. Thus, all of the frameset’s specifications, including the geometry, are as noted in my earlier review. This includes a PressFit BB92 bottom bracket, tapered fork steerer (1.125/1.25-inch upper and lower bearings), full carbon frame and fork construction (except for the replaceable rear derailleur hanger, which is alloy), and the use of the company’s highest level (and most expensive) carbon fibre, HMX.
At first sight, the geometry of the Foil appears quite aggressive. However the Foil fork adds extra stack to the front end of the bike (read more about fork designs here), relaxing the fit of the bike to some degree. The frame uses a proprietary seat post made by Ritchey with an easy to use single bolt saddle clamp. We’ve heard of problems with the seatpost slipping and creaking and is indeed very easy to move once the bolt is loosened. However, a little carbon grease simply solves the problem. I didn’t experience this problem though.
The Foil has a bold profile with thick lines. Generous amounts of carbon are used for the head- and seat-tube clusters while the downtube flows directly to the rear dropouts. Internal routing of the cables adds to the clean lines of the frameset, as does the integrated seat-post binding bolt. The Team Issue frameset is finished in gloss black and white with lime green highlights and blue chain stays, a curious mash-up of Orica-GreenEDGE’s team colours.
In 2012, the Team Issue was built with SRAM’s Red groupset and Zipp 404 carbon/alloy hybrid clinchers. For 2014, the Team Issue features a Dura Ace 9000 11-speed groupset and 46mm carbon/alloy hybrid clinchers made by DT Swiss bearing the Syncros name. Scott recently acquired Syncros so it’s not surprising that other parts are also supplied by the brand. In this instance, the carbon stem and handlebars are also provided by Syncros.
For the remainder of the build, Prologo supplies its Zero II saddle with carbon rails while Continental serves up its GP4000s tyres. Australian buyers can expect to pay $8,650 for the Foil Team Issue. The total weight of the L/56 bike provided for review was 6.89kg sans pedals and bottle cages.
For more information, visit the Scott website.
After the ride
I am happy to report that all of my initial impressions of the Foil Team Issue remained intact after spending a couple of weeks on the 2014 model. It is race-sharpened machine that responds to —indeed, demands — aggressive use. This bike is perfectly suited to attacking riders that revel in rolling terrain.
The Foil has a reputation for its exceptional rigidity. The bottom bracket and stays in particular provide one of the firmest platform I’ve ever ridden. The bike really shines on short sharp ascents when every effort out of the saddle is rewarded with an incredibly stable and efficient response.
From the outset, I was at ease riding the Foil, and I found myself forgiving its shortcomings. For example, I never really embraced the bike’s colour scheme: the lime green and blue highlights were a strange combination. And yes, the Foil was harsh on some rough roads but the extra chatter was quickly forgotten as I tackled the next sharp rise.
One trait that added to my ease on the bike was the steering and handling. The Foil achieves a near perfect balance between quick and stable handling. In practice, this means the bike goes precisely wherever it is pointed without complaint or hesitation. Ride hard and throw the bike around, or ease off and cruise, the Foil doesn’t mind either way.
In my initial review, I was undecided on the value of the aerodynamic design of the Foil. As with all things aerodynamic, the benefits are difficult to discern while riding the bike in the real world and that continues to be the case with the Foil.
The Foil gains a little extra momentum at racing speeds (35-45km/hr) but it is a matter of trust (or faith) that this is all thanks to the Kamm tail tubing of the frame. Whatever the explanation, the Foil is a delight to ride fast.
The Syncros RR1.5 clincher wheelset is a good match for the Foil, both aesthetically and functionally. After all, the Foil is all about going fast. The 46mm rims caught the wind to some degree but they were never challenging to control in crosswinds, presumably thanks to the stable handling of the bike. And if the carbon/alloy hybrid rims weighed down the bike, then it wasn’t discernable in my hands. The weight of this wheelset is approximately 1650g per pair.
Switching to lighter low profile wheels didn’t make a discernable difference to the performance of the bike other than smoothing out the ride a little.
The rest of the build performed as expected. The Dura Ace 9000 mechanical groupset was exceptional, it never a missed shift and braking was always light but never delicate. The handlebars were a little unusual in that the tops were squared off rather than round or flattened and the drops were shorter than many other handlebars. Overall, the Team Issue may cost a lot, but the build does not cut any corners.
Final thoughts and summary
The Foil was the first bike to seriously tempt me when I reviewed it a couple of years ago, and its appeal is as strong as ever. I’ve no hesitation with the bike’s stiffness but I would take care to choose a soft saddle and save the stiff high-profile wheels for racing.
Every bike has a definite personality. The Foil doesn’t immediately announce its agressive intentions, but the bike quickly asserts itself out on the road. Experienced riders and racers will appreciate everything that the Foil has to offer, especially those that are looking for a blend of low weight with exceptional rigidity and the promise of improved aerodynamics.
The Foil is a race bike that will likely hold limited appeal for anyone except hardcore enthusiasts and racers. It is an exceptional performer that is best suited to rolling terrain, though some may find the bike too stiff for their needs. The Foil is designed to both inspire and reward aggressive riding. Size L/56 weighs 6.89kg sans pedals and bottle cages.
- Stiff and efficient chassis
- Extremely responsive
- Perhaps too stiff for beginner/intermediate riders
- Colour scheme may have limited appeal
I purchased this Bike during the post Tour De france sales 2013 (2013 model - very similar) and fortunately got a great price, thats probably what originally swayed me toward this bike as i couldn't have built up anything near similar spec if i was buying parts myself.
After only a short test ride and finding it hard to gauge whether i really liked the bike i took the plunge and decided i'd have to learn to love it.
I've done around 7,000kms on the bike since and to date have not had a single problem, No issues with the seatpost, no issues with the groupset and only minimal adjusments required at time of servicing.
At first it takes a while to get used to the stiffness of the frame, particularly in the rear/bottom end but after a while i've found it hard to change back, you really feel like your getting 100% back for the effort put in espescially on those shorter out of the saddle power climbs
If i had a gripe it would probably be the geometry isn't 100% perfect for me but that can likely be fixed with a new stem/some minor adjustments
I've come to like the wheelset and although they arent a big flashy set i've found they do the job better than my Dura Ace c35s and I havent found myself wanting a different set which is usually a good sign that i like them
The frame can be a bit stiff for longer rides or on rough terrain (the road is terrible in newcastle) so i often find myself riding a different bike if im planning a longer/easier ride but the Scott is always the one i pick if im just looking to go as hard as I can, handles great too
It doesnt really stand out for a bike of this price and with some lower model Foils having similar paint jobs it rarely gets people commenting on it but overall i'm fan and will continue to enjoy the stiffness and speed
The best bike I have ever owned...I will never get rid of it. Comfortable and aggressive, it is a perfect combination.
My model is the 2013 Foil 15 with Di2 Ultegra. I got mine in Sept 2012 from Matt at AvantiPlus The Valley in Brisbane. I’ve since added a set of Cosmic Corbone SLS and a Prologo AST Scratch Pro saddle but otherwise still standard. One of the reason’s I chose the Foil 15 was the gun metal grey or as I like to say, stealth colour. It certainly eliminated the Team Issue colour scheme for me.
I’ve done around 6,000kms on this bike now. Not to waste any words - the Foil is stiff, just as you’ve described. I have to say it is not a bike for a long fondo. It is however a great bike for the two hour ride that has some short sharp pinches and sprints along the way. I don’t race (yet) but I can imagine it would be great for Crit racing.
The Foil is super responsive at putting power to the ground. Standing up or when sitting there isn’t any flex as you push and pull hard on the pedals. I’ve never had any problems with the bike. At a recent service the shop installed the firm-wire update that allows the multiple sprocket changes by pushing and holding the lever.
I’m fortunate enough to also have a CR1 Premium Di2 Ultegra so when I am going for a long ride I reach for it. But for the shorter ride where I know I want to give it some stick, I reach for the Foil. I know my efforts will be rewarded. I love my Foil, so much so I’d like to upgrade to the 2014 Foil Premium.
I'd have to agree with most of the comments about this bike. It is fast. It can be harsh on rough roads. It is a great all round bike and all the bits a top shelf. I really like the geometry of this bike as you don't have to be super flexible to given the set up does not feel super aggressive but you could make it so subject to your preferred set up.
If anything I guess I'd probably say that some of the perceived negatives regarding the harsh ride can be somewhat reduced buy changing wheels or the saddle. I recently rode a mates S-Works Venge which buy all accounts is a stiff bike. Within about 30 seconds I had buyers remorse and wanted one. It felt so much smoother on the road. It had Zipp404FC and a Romin saddle whereas my Foil was TEAM ISSUE 2013 fit out. After some self doubt (almost tears) about getting a Foil I just trialed some different wheels and a different saddle (Romin) and it's amazing how different the bike felt. The saddle change alone changed the comfort level by miles. From what I understand the ZIPP404FC's might be super aero but aren't a stiff wheel so this could also come into play. Might be worth investigating if you have some buyers remorse or suffer on the longer rides.
I love my Foil Team Issue and will keep riding it for a couple of years ... well, at least whilst my lower back vertebrae let me. Yes, its stiff, no doubt about it. Not as stiff as a full alloy frame, but up there. But when I say stiff I'm thinking about secondary roads and a few hours in the saddle, not racing your mates. For club races and short training, its the go. Its sharp, its light, and has great momentum. Sizing for me - I'm 190 cm and use an XL - feels better than my other custom Italian bike. And for comfort I've changed the saddle with a Fizik and wheels to Fulcrum Zero (but the stockies aren't bad)- this has helped with the stiffness and I've had another Foil rider comment the same when he tried it.
This is my first aero bike, although I'm not sure if it is any faster, it made me faster for 2 reasons:
At high speeds it does feel more steady, it seems to want faster speeds thus encouraging to going harder.
The second reason is that the bike is very stiff, extremely stiff, being more of a steady state rider, I'm not expecting to see any frame flexing at 320 watt but it is in the descent that I feel MUCH more confident, I have been pr'ing every descent with this bike (possibly the aero advantage helps) but I know that the fact that the bike stays very planted really helps descending fast.
A other thing to consider which isn't considered enough is the tire size the bike can accept. My 54cm can clear 28c's (on wide 23 rims) with room to spare, so its neat to be able to take a stiff bike and ride some dirt road/gravel with it!
Not maximum serviceability because it isn't clear what BB this frame has: It's a BB86, if you have a BB30 powermeter (like I do) you'r in luck ONLY if the spindle is long enough (for quarqs they are) you will need a rotor 4130 bearing which is a bb30 bearing 1mm smaller(works great, clocked in 1000's mile, I dont know what the people are doing when they claim to have bearing issues after a week)
Great bike, would recommend (I can't see any downfall, its a fast bike that can accept big tires and that doesn't look like a rocket ship)
See a review of an earlier Scott Foil model here
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