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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’s 2014 Foil Team Issue through its paces.
Update: Scott overhauled the Foil for 2016 with sweeping changes to the design of the frameset. Take a look at our review of the 2016 Foil Premium to learn more about the latest version of this bike.
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.