CX content is pretty hard to source over the summer months so we thought we would see what some of the CX regulars get up to in the “off-season”. First up, and I hope they will be a regular contributor, is Louse Borthwick. For those of you who don’t know her, Louise is a fast female who has just moved up to the senior ladies and spends her summer racing on the road for Edinburgh Road Club. Louise is one of Scotland’s brightest talents and seems to be able to turn her hand to most forms of racing.
In this article, Louise reviews her Scott Foil road bike for us. This isn’t a magazine test where they have just ridden a couple of hundred miles between coffee shops. This review is based on a seasons racing on the road. Exactly what the Scott Foil was designed for.
For the majority of this season I have been racing on the Scott Foil 15, equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Bontrager Aura 5 wheels. I took some time in deciding which bike to buy, eventually settling on the Scott. The main attractions being its light weight and its aerodynamic capabilities, it is designed in a wind tunnel using the same technology as time trial bikes, making it one of the most aerodynamic frames out there. The TriCentre were brilliant in supplying the bike and setting it up for me with a bike fit, highly recommended for anyone thinking of getting a new bike.
From the first ride on the bike I could immediately feel the difference from my old bike, a 2011 Specialized Tarmac, it was as simple as the Scott just went faster. Going downhill the bike accelerates more and this is also felt when ascending, it just seems to float up hills. At first it felt like I had a constant tail wind, in short I loved it from the first ride!
In races the bike preforms even better. The aerodynamics of the frame and wheels came in handy at the Scottish Champs up in Alford, the course was infamous for its ascent of The Suie, but that also meant a descent. Because I am a junior I was on restricted gears, my biggest gear was 53-14, therefore on the descent I should’ve been struggling to keep up due to everyone turning bigger gears. But I was having no issues at all, in fact I was actually overtaking people when we were all in our tuck positions, showing just how fast this bike can go. The acceleration of the bike makes it just perfect for crit riding as well, this year it has seen me through 3 rounds of the Johnson Health Tech Series, the London Nocturne, The British Crit Champs and The Guildford Town Crits, as well as many other crits, all against top opposition such as British Champion Hannah Barnes and Olympic Medalist Joanna Rowsell. I have literally never been disappointed with how it rides, it performs in corners, sprints and breakaways and I’ve tested it to the limit in all 3.
The thing I get asked about most on the bike is the Di2, I was wary myself when first getting it. What if something goes wrong? What if the battery stops working? There are many things that could happen to stop the Di2 changing gear, but equally on standard gears the gear cable could snap or cable stretch could cause the gears to skip and not change properly. Basically although it doesn’t seem it, due to its electrical nature, Di2 is actually equally as reliable as mechanical shifting. Then there are the benefits of it, I know everyone says the changes are super smooth, but the changes are super smooth. In races I barely have to think about the gears, this was especially useful when I was racing the town centre crits at Otley, the course features a hill which is quite steep at the bottom. Depending on the speed we came into it on some laps I decided to change down to my small ring. Usually I would have to be careful about doing this, especially on the hill, and then changing back up would be a hassle, possibly causing me to loose my position in the bunch as I tried to coax my chain onto the big ring. But with the Di2, bam and its there, no need to worry about anything. Super smooth.
The wheels I ride on my Foil really complete the bike, the Bontrager Aura 5s don’t actually come with the bike but having tried out a set of them last year I decided to get a set to put on it. The wheel is a 50 mm deep section but made with an aluminium braking surface and carbon profile. The aluminium braking surface may be slightly heavier than carbon rims but it makes changing wheels much easier, as you don’t have to change brake pads and the brakes work much better in the rain. These wheels also have quite a wide profile making them very stable, especially in windy conditions, the bike doesn’t get blown about nearly as much as expected.
Overall this is a top quality bike and I would highly recommend any of the Scott Foil range to anyone looking to go a bit quicker on their bike.
The Scott Foil 15 retails for about £3300. More details can be found on the Scott website. You read more about Louise’s adventures on her blog. Pic Credits British Cycling and Andy Whitehouse, unsure which is which, hope this is ok guys, excellent photos