Scott Solace Premium ReviewMay 6, 2016
- Best combination of stiffness & compliance
- Top end carbon components
- Excellent braking
- Excellent all-around carbon wheelset
- Some bounce in seatpost
- Excess flex in front end
While it’s clearly an endurance bike, the Scott Solace Premium is also relatively light and offers superior stiffness in key areas like the bottom bracket, downtube and fork for excellent acceleration and responsiveness. The combination means this bike can easily go from gravel grinds to road races without much sacrifice on either. We only found a few minor drawbacks including some instability in the front end and some bounciness in the saddle, especially while climbing or at a high cadence.
If a cushy endurance ride is what you’re looking for, the Scott Solace Premium may not be the best option—it’s very smooth and comfortable, but it has a slightly steeper head tube angle than others, and the stiffness in the bottom of the frame sacrifices some compliance. That said, it is considerably more comfortable than a comparable race bike, thanks to: narrow shaped seatstays and narrow seat tube, which aid in compliance; taller head tube for a more upright position; and carbon bars that help suck up vibrations. The spec’d 28mm tires are also a welcome addition: They’re counterintuitively fast—research shows they’re actually faster than 23mm tires—and you can run sub-100lb air pressures for huge improvement in vibration absorption. The carbon rims also improve absorption over alloy, and their 21mm width will allow 30mm tires.
At just a hair over 16 pounds, the Scott Solace Premium is among the lightest in the group. Matched with its highly responsive BB and Dura Ace cranks, this bike has speed and agility to rival many race bikes, and exceed most in this category, especially if you prefer power pedaling instead of high-cadence. Of course the tall front end makes for a less-than-aggressive sprinting or standup climbing position, and there was some flex when throwing the bars from side to side, so you might notice some difference there. And during high-cadence peddling the seatpost had some noticeable bounce, which may not have actually slowed me, but it did mess with my rhythm.
Again, the light weight of this machine and stiffness of the BB make it a natural climber. Plus, especially during seated climbs, the upright position on the Scott Solace Premium opens the lungs and keeps the back and neck more relaxed. You may not win a mid-climb sprint, and you’ll feel some flex standing up to grind out a 15% grade, but concerted efforts will be rewarded, and the longer you go, the better you’ll feel (relatively of course). Thanks to the electronic shifting even your fingers will stay relaxed!
The first thing you’ll notice is the extremely impressive performance of the DA brakes and Shimano’s IceTech 160mm rotors (although we’d love to see IceTech on the calipers too as on past models). The delicate modulation and crazy stopping power—all with one or maybe two fingers—actually means you’ll descend FASTER with this bike, thanks to added confidence and the ability to fly into a corner, tap the brakes, and accelerate out. Of course most disc brakes will easily outperform calipers, but this combo is the best we’ve tried. And while the bar/stem/head tube interface showed some flex under pressure, there was no brake vibration thanks to 12mm thru-axles and a stiff fork. Endurance bikes like this Scott Solace Premium don’t snap into turns like race geos but once initiated they carve smoothly, and they don’t feel as twitchy.
Components: Drivetrain, Shifting and Brakes
As mentioned above, Shimano’s Dura Ace Di2 11-speed drivetrain is perhaps the best all-around performer available. Shifting is almost unnoticeable from the light touch on the lever-button to the instant, absolutely precise shift, whether front or rear. The system is designed together and functions accordingly—everything fits and synchs seamlessly. Even the noise becomes enjoyable—more of a whir than the familiar click. While setup can be a bit tricky, and there’s always the chance of battery failure (or more accurately human error since it’ll be your fault for not plugging it in!), the shifting is simply unmatched by mechanical systems.
The Shimano RSS805 hydraulic disc brakes are equally exceptional, especially with 160mm Ice-Tech rotors, which help dissipate heat from “fins” extending out from the caliper and disc bodies, increasing surface area for cooling. With legitimate one-finger operation, and highly sensitive modulation—not to mention almost scary stopping power—a rider can fly into a corner, slow on a dime, and accelerate out with almost no exertion at all. But don’t worry, they’re dialed perfectly to just avoid locking up unless you’re really trying to endo!
The Syncros RP1 Carbon wheelset spec’d on the Scott Solace Premium is an excellent combination of value and performance. Without jacking up the price like some other brand names could, these wheels simply jack up the bike’s value. The combined weight is 1490g (without rotors), which is well within the lightweight range, especially considering the 38mm profile, which also aids in aerodynamics. It’s a perfect depth for almost any type or riding, including off-road, thanks to the combination of strength and vibration absorption. The 21mm rim width means 30mm rubber will fit properly, providing huge benefits in ride feel and fewer flats.
While the Scott Solace Premium is among the most expensive in the group at $7799, it’s truly a top-of-the-line bike right down to the little details including carbon bar, saddle and seatpost. It may not the best value in the group, but it’s certainly near the top, especially considering the aero carbon wheels and DA Di2 components. “Race” bikes with similar frame quality and the same spec can easily run from $8000 to over $10,000, so for a bike that can do so much, it’s a fair price to pay.