Scott cyclocross bike review: Addict CX 20 versus Speedster CX 10
Scott has a long history of working with aluminium alloy and carbon fibre, so it’s not really surprising that the company uses both materials for its cyclocross bikes. At one end of the spectrum, there is the cost-conscious Speedster CX that has an alloy frame, and at the other, there is the weight-conscious Addict CX that features a carbon fibre chassis.
In this review, Australian tech editor Matt Wikstrom compares the Addict CX 20 with the Speedster CX 10 to determine what buyers can expect from each.
The history of Scott’s involvement in cyclocross can be traced back to the early years of the new millennium. That was when the company’s first cyclocross frameset, the Crossteam, appeared in the 2003 catalogue. Featuring double-butted 7005 T6 alloy tubing, the materials and construction of the Crossteam mirrored many of Scott’s other alloy frames at the time.
The Crossteam was a starting point, and in time, Scott would apply its experience with composites to create its first lightweight cyclocross frameset. Scott had already created its first sub-kilogram road frame (the Team Issue, 2001) then bested it in 2003 with the CR-1 that weighed 895g, so the company clearly had the engineering and manufacturing capabilities.
The path to Scott’s first carbon cyclocross frameset began soon after the company launched the Addict road chassis in 2007. The new road frameset picked up where the CR-1 left off by establishing a new benchmark for a lightweight road frame. Team Highroad would go on to use the new bike with devastating effect while Thomas Frischknecht and his Swisspower Mountain Bike Team helped Scott develop the Addict CX for the 2009 catalogue.
Frischknecht’s last year as a professional racer was 2008, and he spent it aboard the Addict CX. He travelled to the second ever CrossVegas event with Florian Vogel in September to unveil the new chassis, which sported an integrated seatpost and weighed 986g (frame only). Frischknecht might have been 38 years old and on the cusp of retirement, yet he managed a respectable fifth place in the event.
The new bike was met with a great deal of enthusiasm and would go on to serve in Scott’s catalogue 2009-14 alongside the more affordable alloy CX Team. Both bikes shared the same geometry and while the carbon models offered buyers a weight saving of 2kg or more, they were at least twice the price.
Scott shelved its cyclocross bikes for 2015 before unveiling a re-vamped Addict CX along with the new Speedster CX for the 2016 catalogue. Both models picked up where their predecessors left off with one very obvious change: the new bikes featured disc brakes.
Arriving late to the party
When the UCI announced that disc brakes would be permitted in cyclocross events in 2010, there was some controversy and pushback from competitors. However, there was also a distinct lack of equipment, and a few years would pass before manufacturers like SRAM and Shimano had developed hydraulic braking systems to suit disc-equipped cyclocross bikes.
With this in mind, it is perhaps understandable that Scott was hesitant to update its cyclocross bikes with disc brakes, and as a result, the company was an obvious latecomer. It’s also possible that Scott simply chose to devote its resources to resurrecting the Addict road chassis for 2015 and overhauling the Foil for 2016 before attending to its range of cyclocross bikes.
The delay meant that Scott wasn’t affected by SRAM’s road disc recall and it had a reasonably wide range of components to choose from when deciding on builds for the new range. In the end, the company was able to put together four new bikes for the 2016 catalogue, starting with two models for the Addict CX (Addict CX 10 and Addict CX 20) and two for the Speedster CX (Speedster CX 10 and Speedster CX 20), all of which have been carried over for 2017.
Something old, something new
The new Addict CX frameset makes use of the same materials and production processes as its predecessor. Scott managed to increase the stiffness of the frame (a claimed 32% at the head tube and 14% at the bottom bracket) while adding a significant amount of comfort (61.5%) and saving some weight (~60g).
Strictly speaking, these numbers only apply to the Addict CX 10 that is constructed from Scott’s HMX carbon fibre. The HMF version of the frameset that serves the Addict CX 20 sacrifices some stiffness and weight for affordability, however the improvement in comfort is largely preserved.
Such distinctions do not apply to the Speedster CX, since both models in the catalogue feature the same double-butted 6061 alloy frame. Both models also share the same carbon fork with an alloy steerer, making for a sturdy and robust chassis that is far more affordable than the Addict CX.
The Addict and Speedster CX framesets are both equipped with flat-mounts for the disc callipers, however the former keeps pace with modern trends by opting for 12mm thru-axles, front and rear, while the latter sticks with traditional quick-release axles. Scott equips all of its cyclocross bikes with 160mm rotors, however the flat-mount fittings can be flipped to suit 140mm rotors if needed.
The juxtaposition of new and traditional fittings continues elsewhere when comparing the two bikes. Thus, the Addict CX makes use of a BB86 bottom bracket and a tapered fork steerer (1.125-1.25inch) while the Speedster has a BSA-threaded shell and a straight gauge 1.125inch steerer. The once modern oversized 31.6mm seatpost diameter specified for the Speedster CX now looks outdated compared to the traditional 27.2mm diameter seatpost found on the Addict CX.
Both bikes provide internal routing for the gear cables via the down tube, however the rear derailleur cable exits the Speedster CX at the bottom bracket while it continues within the chainstay for the Addict CX. The Addict CX also provides internal routing for the brake hoses and a dropper post while the Speedster CX does not. As a result, the Speedster CX doesn’t look quite as tidy as the Addict CX but the gear cables and brake hoses will be much easier to service because of it.
The seat tube of the Addict CX it fitted with a standard braze-on mount for the front derailleur along with a small chain-watcher that can be unbolted and replaced with a chain guide to suit a 1x transmission. In contrast, the Speedster CX offers neither and a band-on front derailleur must be used instead.
I find it interesting that while Scott updated many aspects of each bike, the geometry remains largely unchanged. Compared to the original Addict CX and CX Team, the head and seat tube angles, chainstay length and bottom bracket drop are all the same, so the only alterations affect the stack and reach of each frame size.
Importantly, just like the original Addict CX and CX Team before them, the Addict CX and Speedster CX frames have identical geometry for the five frame sizes on offer, as shown in the table below:
All frame sizes have the 422mm chainstays and a bottom bracket drop of 68mm. The generous chainstay length coupled with a reasonably high bottom bracket is typical for a cyclocross bike, as are the reasonably slack head tube angles.
According to Scott, the Addict CX can accommodate tyres up to 40mm wide, which is generous given that anything wider than 33mm is not legal for a cyclocross race. By comparison, tyre clearance for the Speedster CX isn’t nearly as generous, especially at the fork legs and behind the bottom bracket, so buyers will have to be content with a maximum of 35c tyres.
Cost versus weight
Scott’s range of cyclocross bikes may be limited to four models in total, but each one targets a very different pricepoint. The Speedster CX bikes (AUD$1,900-2,400/US$1,150-1,700/£999-1,399) will appeal to those buyers worried about over-spending on a new bike that is likely to get hammered by mud and sand while the Addict CX bikes (AUD$4,000-NA/US$3,200-6,000/£2,899-4,899) target performance-oriented riders that are happy to pay a premium to save some weight.
The Speedster CX 10 and Addict CX 20 hover around the middle of the range, and since they share many of the same components, provide a good illustration of what kind of impact each chassis has on the weight and price of each bike.
First, a look at the parts on each bike. The Speedster CX 10 features a Shimano mechanical 11-speed groupset with a mix of 105 (levers, front derailleur, flat mount disc callipers) and Ultegra (rear derailleur) components combined with a RS500 crankset (36/46T), 105 cassette (11-32T), KMC chain and RT56 rotors. Scott’s stablemate, Syncros, provides the rest of the components except for the tyres, which are 35c Kenda Kwick.
The Addict CX 20 shares the same hydraulic levers, crankset, brake callipers, front derailleur, and cassette. The rear derailleur is downgraded to 105 though, while the RT70 rotors represent a small upgrade. Many of the Syncros parts are identical too, except for an upgrade to an all-carbon seatpost and a lighter wheelset with 35c Continental CycloXKing tyres.
The asking price for the Speedster CX 10 is AUD$2,400/US$1,700/£1,399 versus AUD$4,000/US$3,200/£2,899 for the Addict CX 20. That makes for a premium of ~$1,500 for an all carbon frameset, which is pretty reasonable in today’s market.
For those buyers happy to pay extra for the Addict CX 20, they will enjoy a pretty significant weight saving. The size M Speedster CX 10 sent for review weighed 10.76kg without pedals or cages while the Addict CX 20 in the same size weighed 8.90kg. Interestingly, the Addict CX 10, which sells for almost twice the price (AUD$NA/US$6,000/£4,899) of the Addict CX 20, is just ~1kg lighter.
Getting the bikes dirty
I took turns riding each bike over the same terrain to get a good feel for how each one performed, both in absolute terms, and in comparison to one another. It was the middle of summer, so I didn’t get to test the performance of the bikes in mud, but there was plenty of dry sand to make up for it.
Overall, the bikes took to unpaved terrain with ease. The slow steering was well suited to loose conditions with lots of understeer helping to keep the bikes upright. With that said, I didn’t have any trouble tackling technical singletrack at slow speeds, and I could let both bikes drift and slide through corners with plenty of confidence.
On firmer ground, there was still a lot of grip, even in dusty conditions, and while different tyres were fitted to each bike, I didn’t find that one brand performed any better than the other. While both bikes are supplied with standard clinchers and inner tubes, the wheelsets are tubeless compatible, so buyers of either bike won’t have any difficulty in switching to tubeless tyres.
Both bikes were very well mannered at high speeds, providing a measure of confidence for fast descents, however they would always run wide. On my early rides, I compensated with extra braking, but as I got to know the bikes, I changed the way I cornered. As long as I had the room to take a wide line through the corner, the bikes were stable enough that I could hold my speed.
This stability proved to be a great asset on wide-open tracks, even when the conditions were rough or loose. I could trust the bikes to remain unperturbed and scrub my speed as required. For those tracks with tight, blind corners, more muscle was required, and under those circumstances, I would have preferred the steering to be a little quicker.
Taking the bikes on longer adventures over rutted and pockmarked limestone tracks highlighted that there was a limit to how much comfort the tyres could provide. I’ll discuss this in more detail below, but for now I’ll simply say that the Addict CX and Speedster CX weren’t especially gifted gravel bikes once the terrain started to get truly gnarly.
The extra weight of the Speedster CX 10 is noticeable
I have found that once a bike exceeds 9kg, it really suffers with the extra weight, and that was definitely the case for the Speedster CX 10. The bike was slow to accelerate and lacked a certain amount of agility. Every time I slowed for a sharp bend, a concerted effort was required to get the bike up to speed again.
Tackling steep pitches with the Speedster CX 10 was also difficult, and while it was rigid enough to resist my efforts, I found it was wiser to find an easier gear than try to muscle my way over the climb.
The extra weight of the Speedster was also an obvious liability whenever I was forced to pick up the bike. I quickly learnt that it was better to push the bike rather than try to carry it. Similarly, I found myself grunting with effort when bunny-hopping obstacles.
I always felt stronger and more agile on the Addict CX 20. The bike was simply more willing and able, and as a consequence, I always felt quicker. Once I started timing my progress over a variety of short courses (1-8km in length), it was clear that I was quicker, though the difference wasn’t nearly as great as I was expecting: 2-4.5 seconds/km, depending on the terrain.
Over the course of a race, that kind of difference will add up, though. Of course, the major deciding factor will always be the rider’s fitness at the time, but for those with a strong competitive streak, spending the money on an Addict CX should provide a (small) dividend.
There was one other obvious difference between the two bikes: the Addict CX 20 was more comfortable than the Speedster CX 10. While this won’t surprise many given the strong reputation that composites have for absorbing and/or damping vibration, I’m not convinced the difference was simply a matter of the materials employed.
Rather, the Addict CX had the benefit of a seat tube that had been engineered to flex under load. Such compliance is not a feature of the Speedster CX, and while it can be argued that aluminium alloy can’t provide this kind of flex, there are plenty of carbon fibre frames that don’t offer the same kind of compliance too.
In fact, there is no evidence to support the notion that the ride quality of a bike depends upon the construction materials used for the frame. What’s more important is how the material is used along with how the frameset is engineered.
I’ve explored the difference in ride quality for a carbon fibre versus aluminium alloy road frame previously, and on that occasion, the alloy bike wasn’t quite as comfortable, however a set of larger tyres could alleviate the difference. I expect the same will apply to the Speedster CX, but as mentioned above, the frameset doesn’t offer much clearance for wider tyres. Nevertheless, for those buyers looking for a compliant CX bike, the Addict CX will be a better choice than the Speedster CX.
Re-purposing a CX bike for gravel grinding?
The distinction between cyclocross and gravel riding is a blurry one at best. Scott markets a range of Addict and Speedster Gravel models alongside its CX siblings, however it doesn’t take much scrutiny to discover that there isn’t a lot to separate the two. Indeed, the Addict Gravel and Speedster Gravel bikes use exactly the same framesets as the CX bikes, and for any given model, many of the components are the same.
Thus, the Addict Gravel 20 is largely identical to the Addict CX 20 except for the size of the chainrings (50/34T versus 46/36T) and the type of tyres (35c Schwalbe G-One versus 35c Continental CycloXKing). Similarly, the Speedster Gravel 10 opts for larger chainrings (50/34T versus 46/36T) and a change of tyres (35c Schwalbe G-One versus 35c Kenda Kwick).
Cynical consumers won’t be impressed that Scott chooses to market the gravel models as having “Gravel Race geometry” whilst the CX models feature “CX geometry” or “CX Race geometry”. Clearly there is an element of pragmatism at play here — Scott’s catalogue can only go so far to meet the needs of all cyclists — but it adds some weight to the point: what distinguishes cyclocross from gravel riding may be no more than semantics.
That is, until one tries to conquer rocky trails with a cyclocross bike like I did when testing the Addict CX and Speedster CX. Riding this kind of terrain on either bike was difficult, and more importantly, quite wearing. Even the Addict CX 20 with its extra compliance was eventually overwhelmed by long stretches of rutted and pockmarked limestone trails. Having tackled the same terrain on a bike fitted with significantly larger tyres, it was clear to me that the relatively narrow cyclocross tyres were limiting the capabilities of each bike.
Admittedly, this was an extreme set of circumstances, and for a pair of bikes marketed for cyclocross, largely irrelevant. Nevertheless, it has to be noted that there is a limit to the size of tyres that can be fitted to the Addict CX and Speedster CX (as well as the Addict Gravel and Speedster Gravel), and that may frustrate some buyers.
Some have argued that a low bottom bracket and slack steering have come to define gravel bikes. While a quick survey of some of the gravel bikes on the market seems to prove this point, the handling of the Addict CX and Speedster CX was already slow and stable enough to contend with any of the gravelly conditions I encountered.
I think a more important distinction lies with the fittings of the frame. The Addict CX is only equipped with a pair of water bottle cage bosses. By contrast, the Speedster CX also offers fittings for fenders, front and rear, however there are no mounts for racks on either frame. While it’s possible to attach bags to the frame, bars and under the saddle, Scott’s CX bikes are arguably better suited to day-tripping rather than overnight adventures.
For a detailed view of Scott’s Addict Gravel 10, take a look at James Huang’s recent review.
Spending some time on the road
I didn’t have any trouble adapting each bike for road use since a change of tyres was all that was needed. The extra weight of the Speedster CX 10 was just as cumbersome on the road, and while the Addict CX 20 was more capable, it was a little too heavy to rival a true road bike (at least in terms of keeping pace with a competitive bunch or picking off KOMs). For buyers that prefer self-paced rides, either bike should serve them well, where the slow steering, long wheelbase and stable handling are well suited to all-day riding.
Some might expect that the gearing of the bikes (especially the 46/36T crankset) would be a poor match for the road, but I didn’t find myself missing the higher gears. The combination of a mid-cage rear derailleur and 11-32T cassette on each bike provided a good range of ratios for both paved and unpaved roads, so I don’t expect there will be many riders that will need a different set of chainrings to ride these bikes on the road.
A few notes on the components
Overall, Scott has assembled a pretty good package of parts for each bike that performed without incident or complaint throughout the review period. As mentioned above, the wheels on both bikes are tubeless-compatible, which is a thoughtful touch, as are the mid-cage rear derailleurs. The handlebars are quite appealing however the entire length of the tops is a thick 31.8mm in diameter, which may trouble riders with small hands.
Shimano’s bulky 105 hydraulic brake levers/mechanical shifters are effective, even flawless, however the ergonomics are an acquired taste, downshifting is disappointingly vague, and the maximum upshift is limited to two cogs. This kind of performance is forgivable for the Speedster CX 10, but for the Addict CX 20, it seems a pretty big compromise for a bike with an asking price of AUD$4,000/US$3,200/£2,899.
Scott’s bikes have never been bargain-priced, but they generally look fantastic and the thoughtful touches go at least some of the way to justifying the extra expense associated with the brand. Nevertheless, savvy shoppers will already know that it’s possible to buy an alloy or carbon cyclocross bike from other brands with equivalent components for less.
Summary and final thoughts
Looking back on how each bike performed over the course of the review period, I can’t help but be impressed by how versatile they were. Yes, it was possible to find the limitations for each bike in more than one setting, however it’s impossible to dismiss how adaptable they were. With two or three sets of tyres on hand, owners will have the freedom to ride on bike paths or the road during the week and then go for an adventure on some gravel or compete in a muddy cyclocross race on the weekend.
In terms of pure performance, the Addict CX 20 outclassed the Speedster CX 10, but on the basis of bang for your buck, the Speedster is a better buy. With that said, neither bike offers buyers extraordinary value, and while Scott has done an admirable job with the presentation of each, there are cheaper bikes on the market (or bikes that offer a better spec for the same price).
Thus, bargain-shoppers will be quick to dismiss these bikes and some racers may find it hard to justify the extra expense when they’d rather spend the money on a wheel upgrade or maintaining the bike over the course of the season. Be that as it may, for those that are looking to replace an aging bike or two, they will find some comfort in the notion that Scott’s CX bikes will happily serve double- or triple-duty as road and/or gravel bikes.
Addict CX 20 Gallery
Speedster CX 10 Gallery