Review: Austrian bike-manufacturer KTM upgraded its portfolio once more for 2015. The KTM Scarp 27 Elite which has just been introduced last year got a minor upgrade as well: New paint und updated components. During our test, we were more than pleased with the light, uncompromising racemachine made of carbon fiber and aluminum. We had to look hard for any weaknesses.
Weight (checked): 12,2kg
Frame Material: Carbon/Alu
Fork/Frame Travel: 100/105mm
|Top tube horizontal||570mm||588mm||605mm|
|Seat tube angle||74.7||74.7||74.7|
|Head tube angle||69.7||69.7||69.7|
|Fork||RockShox Reba RL 27 Solo Air 15mm|
|Shock||RockShox Monarch RL|
|Wheelset||Mavic Crossride 27.5|
|Tires||Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evo|
|Brakes||Shimano SLX M675|
|Discs||Shimano RT66 180/180|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano XT M786 Shadow Plus|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano SLX M676-D 2-fach|
|Shifters||Shimano SLX M670|
|Cranks||Shimano SLX 671 40-30-22|
|Cassette||Shimano HG50-10 11-36|
|Stem||Ritchey Comp 4-axis 6° 100mm|
|Handlebar||Ritchey Comp 2X flat 710mm|
|Seatpost||Ritchey Comp 2b 400/30.9|
|Saddle||Selle Italia SL Flow|
Frame and Geometry
The Scarp 27 Elite is the least expensive carbon model of the Scarp line. Compared to the other, more expensive Scarp carbon models, the Elite’s rear triangle is made of aluminum instead of carbon. It’s a smart move by the Austrians, as the use of aluminum drops costs significantly while raising the weight only marginally. By the looks of the Scarp you couldn’t tell the difference between the materials anyway – this is mainly due to the matte paint job featurung KTM’s signature colours black and orange. The look and feel of the frame are excellent throughout. It is very well made and seems to be a product of great workmanship. A nice little detail is the integrated guard on the bottom of the down tube, protecting the carbon fibers from rocks or similar threats. Something that the racers and marathonisti will surely appreciate is the possibility to mount two bottle cages on the Scarp. One traditionally on the inside of the frame and the other one on the bottom of the down tube. The overall look of the Scarp might best be described as “unique” – especially when it comes to the massive steerer tube area. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it surely makes the bike stand out.
The Scarp’s rear suspension is realised by a linkage driven single pivot system – a long established and race-proven suspesion system that works very well on the KTM bike. The rider can use up to 105mm of rear travel which is enough for most Cross Country or marathon tracks. Thanks to the 142x12mm rear axle, the rear triangle is pretty stiff. Something that might cause mixed feelings is the 180mm postmount brake mount. While you don’t need an adapter if your disc size of choice is 180mm, it also means that you can’t use a 160mm, which could be a letdown for lighter riders. When it comes to the geometry, there really is no room for discussion: The Scarp 27 Elite is a racebike, pure and simple. With a steep head angle of almost 70° and 75° at the seat tube, it’s a piece of cake to handle even the steepest climbs.
When it comes to the drivetrain, KTM trusts Japanese technology from Shimano. The Scarp 27 Elite is fitted with the complete 670 SLX groupset, except for the rear derailleur which is an XT Shadow Plus model. The brakes are Shimano SLX as well and fit to the rest of the bike nicely.
The suspension of the Austrian racemachine comes from RockShox, a Reba Fork with 100mm travel at the front and a Monarch RL Shock at the back make your drive easier and more comfortable. The suspension offers a lockout – there is a remote lock for the fork on the bars and a small switch on the Monarch Shock which is easily reachable even while riding.
For the wheels, KTM trusts French Know-How from Mavic and equips the Scarp 27 Elite with the popular Crossride wheelset. They offer great stiffness and durable hubs, but with only 19mm inner width for the rims and over 1900g they feel just a little bit out-of-date. Rocket Ron Evo tires from Schwalbe help you to keep your grip on the ground at all times – they manage to combine grip and a low rolling friction. The seat post, stem and handlebars are from Ritchey, the Ritchey comp line to be precise. The rather cheap parts offer great value for the money but they don’t really fit the more expensive parts that the KTM Scarp 27 Elite is equipped with in other areas. However, riders have very individual preferences when it comes to stem length or seat post setback and equip their bikes with their own parts of choice. Something that surprised us during our test was the pretty long stem with 100mm. It helps to keep the front wheel down on steep climbs, but it also makes riding down hill a lot more difficult. After switching to a stem with 80mm, we found the handling of the bike to improve greatly.
On the Trail
With the first pedal stroke you know: The KTM Scarp 27 Elite likes it fast. The steep seat angle delivers the power from your legs directly onto the trail and the 12,5kg of our testbike seem to fly through the forest. With a lighter wheelset, the Scarp might even feel a bit quicker, a bit more lively – but the crossrides do their job well, too. We deliberately don’t use the lockouts on the suspension to test the feel of the bike and the linkage. The rear suspension stays amazingly neutral – the shock gives you just enough travel without slowing you down noticably. No suprprises on the drivetrain: The SLX groupset offers very smooth shifting and the shadow plus derailleur keeps your chain tension high so your ride is nice and quiet. The brakes were a bit noisy in the beginning but after a bit of riding, they were just perfect – powerful, yet offering great modulation.
Steep climbs pose absolutely no problem for the KTM – both, fork and shock perform superbly, you can also make use of the lockout if you really need to. We tested the Scarp mostly on fast Cross Country Tracks – tight, lots of bends and turns, some really mean climbs and also one or two rough down hill trails. Especially in tight corners we felt the advantages of the smaller 650b wheels on the scarp. The handling is just a little bit faster and the bike more agile. However, on technical uphills, we sometimes wished for the bigger 29″ wheels. Wheelsize is still and will always be a choice depending on rider preference and track. On faster, rougher down hill parts, the Scarp 27 Elite had its issues. First of all, the Rocket Ron tire on the front tends to lose grip pretty suddenly, especially when it’s wet. Something that affected the down hill performance more severly was the nervous handling of the bike though. The reason lies in the steep head angle and the long standard stem length. After we switched to a 20mm shorter stem, the bike performed a lot better down hill.
The KTM Scarp 27 Elite is a truly devoted racing machine that is just a whole lot of fun out on the trail. The suspension performed excellent and drivetrain is a pleasure to ride. On rougher down hill parts, the KTM had its issues, which is not a major point of criticism – the Scarp is still a Cross Country bike. Especially the racing folks and marathonisti should take a closer look, it’s worth it!