2016 Scott Foil 30 Review
2016 Scott Foil 30 Bike Review
Last summer, Scott unveiled the completely redesigned Foil. When first released, the Scott Foil was revolutionary in terms of aero road bike design. The use of truncated aerofoil shaped tubing (pointy on one side, flat on the other) helped over come some of the problems with earlier aero road bikes, mostly weight and stiffness.
The original Scott Foil was highly successful, winning Grand Tour stages, Monuments, and countless other races, but it did have some shortcomings. The first generation Foil had impressive stiffness and responsiveness but as a side effect, it had an extremely harsh ride. I spent two seasons on a 2013 Scott Foil 20 and can attest to the strengths and weaknesses of the original design so when I got a chance to jump on a 2016 Scott Foil 30, I couldn’t say no.
The 2016 Scott Foil 30 comes with Shimano’s workhorse 105 5800 shifters and derailleurs which provide the light feel and precise shifting we have come to expect from Shimano. The brakes and crankset break up the 105 groupset with the brakes being provided by Tektro and the non-series Shimano FC-RS500 crankset with 52/36 chainrings. The wheels are also provided by Shimano with the RS-WH330 with Continental Grandsport tires. The finishing kit for the 2016 Scott Foil 30 is provided by Scott’s very capable in house component brand Syncross.
When redesigning a bike, manufactures normally look to improve on it in four ways: lighter, stiffer, more aero, and increased comfort. The new Scott Foil is no exception. Scott claims to have hit all four of those buzz phrases with the new Foil.
Scott claims that the top of the line Foil model, which uses their HMX carbon, is one of the lightest aero frames on the market at 945g for a medium. The Scott Foil 30 I rode uses Scott’s lower grade HMF carbon making it slightly heavier but still sharing many of the ride characteristics.
As an aero road bike, further improving already impressive aerodynamics was always going to be one of Scott’s priorities. The new Foil apparently saves 6 watts over its predecessor which equates to about 27 seconds over 40km at 45km/h. This was achieved by using an integrated bar and stem combo which hides the cables on the top end models, smoothing the transition between the fork crown and frame on all models, and moving the rear brake to under the bottom bracket (a real headache for anyone who has tried setting up one of these brakes).
The biggest complaint against the generation one Foil was the harshness of the ride. For 2016, Scott improved the Foil’s comfort by lowering the seatstay attachment and using thinner seatstays, both changes made possible by relocating the rear brake. As a result, the new Foil increased vertical compliance by 86% at the seattube with an additional 11% increase in fork compliance.
Finally, Scott maintained and improved on the impressive stiffness of the original Foil. A massive oversized bottom bracket (PF86) on the 2016 Scott Foil allows for wide connection points for the downtube, seattube, and chainstays allowing for larger tube diameters. Combined with a stiffness optimized layup, the bottom bracket stiffness on the new Foil was increased by 13%. Scott also improved torsional headtube stiffness by 13.5% and lateral fork stiffness by 6% over the previous generation Foil.
All the claims and marketing mumbo-jumbo means nothing until you get the bike on the road and right from the first pedal stroke, the 2016 Scott Foil 30 lived up to all the hype.
The first thing I noticed on the 2016 Scott Foil 30 was the massive improvement in comfort. While riding on familiar roads, many of the bumps and cracks that would rattle my teeth on the original Foil were smoothed out to a dull thud. On longer rides, I would finish feeling fresher because I wasn’t being beaten up by the bike. Despite all the improvements in comfort on the new Foil, it still provides road feedback like a race bike, you don’t feel disconnected from the road like you do on many endurance bikes.
So Scott improved the comfort for the new Foil, but did they retain the characteristics that made the previous Foil so great? Without a wind tunnel its impossible to measure their aerodynamic claims but they definitely maintained the impressive bottom bracket stiffness of the first generation Foil. Every pedal stroke pushed the bike forward with no power lost in side-to-side movement. And thanks to a stiffer front end, responsiveness and acceleration were some also improved.
The 2016 Scott Foil gets up to speed fast and maintains that speed really well making it a great race bike for breakaway specialists and time trialists who can only afford one bike. But the Foil can also hold its own in criteriums and technical road races thanks to tracking well through corners and snappy acceleration. I made sure to put the 2016 Scott Foil 30 through all its paces including putting it through the gauntlet at the London O-Cup Criterium.
The new Foil is an outstanding bike but unfortunately the 2016 Scott Foil 30 is held back by a heavy finishing kit. The complete bike weighs in at 8.3kg (18 pounds 6 ounces) for a large, which holds it back when going up hills. The Foil 30 screams for a wheel upgrade to something lighter and deeper to do away with the porky Shimano WH-RS330 wheelset. The inclusion of the non-series Shimano crank rather than a full 105 groupset is unfortunate and adds to the weight. And the beefy handle bar, who’s diameter on the top was way too thick for my preference, could be replaced to save some more grams.
The other little niggle I have with the 2016 Scott Foil 30 is that the foil shaped headset spacers Scott use rub against the top of the top tube. This issue would be further enhanced if you ride in nasty conditions and dirt gets under the spacers. Although part of the integrated aerodynamic design, these spacers rubbing on the frame could cause issues in the long run or at least some unsightly marks.
In conclusion, the 2016 Scott Foil 30 is a fantastic bike. Scott was able to improve on the already impressive first generation Foil by improving comfort while at the same time increasing stiffness and responsiveness. The biggest problem with the 2016 Scott Foil 30 is the heavy finishing kit but if you have the budget, spending a little more on the Foil 20 will save you over a half kilogram thanks to the Shimano Ultegra groupset and the much lighter Syncross RR2.0 wheelset.
Despite the poor finishing kit, the 2016 Scott Foil 30 is an excellent platform to throw some upgrades on. A fast set of wheels would not be like putting a tuxedo on a goat. I would recommend it to anyone in the market for an aero road bike and am considering it as my next road bike.