After moving to California and deciding to step up and compete in more triathlons, I thought it would be a good idea to get a good entry-level all carbon road bike for racing with. I searched for a couple of months and ended going with the Scott CR1 rom Atlanta Cycling back in May; based off of a trusted friend’s recommendation. I was really excited to put this bike to the test. I could have probably wrote this review after the first month but I thought I would wait until I had a 1,000 or more miles on it. It took me about 5 months to get to that mileage.
Below is the formal product description from Scott, images, my review, and my configuration; which, is not the standard config for the CR1 30 model. Atlanta Cycling graciously upgraded my components to the same as on the CR1 20 model, and I upgraded the tires after a mishap with the stock ones (more on that later). This review will still serve useful as Scott has not made any broad sweeping changes to the 2014 Scott CR1 bike.
The bike retails for roughly about $2,300 but if you search around you can probably save a couple hundred dollars from that price. Like breaking in a new car, the first 2-300 miles will be a take it gently period. During this Break-in period you can expect a stiffer than normal ride and somewhat slow responsiveness when taking the bike out for a spin. It took me a little over a month to get that really comfortable on it and do regular 30+ mile rides on it.
The SCOTT CR1 30’s IMP Carbon frame offers the perfect balance of performance and comfort at a more affordable price point. Designed to save the rider from shock and vibration, the CR1 is the ideal choice for the enthusiast who wants to enjoy long rides but doesn’t want to feel beat up at the end of the day. Equipped with performance oriented components, this is the most affordable of the CR1 family.
- FRAME: SCOTT CR1 Carbon
- FORK: CR1 Carbon , 1 1/8″ Carbon steerer, Alloy Dropout
- GROUP SET: Shimano 105
- BRAKES: Shimano 105
- PARTS: Syncros
- WHEELS: Syncros Race 27 Aero Profile
- TIRES: Continental Gator Skins
- CRANK SET: 234109 (Compact 18 Speed)
I decided to start to take notes and to keep track of what things I liked and didn’t like after the bike was finally broken-in. First positives note, I absolutely love the light weight carbon frame. I think Scott chose a good blend of carbon materials (HMX) for this bike and it feels very aerodynamic and light. Their carbon machining process aims for a single carbon build versus a tube to tube approach. The serial numbered frames go through rigorous quality control and I really love the end result.
As far as styling & color; the matte black frame with white and yellow accents really gives it a pro look. Scott also kept the number of screws and bolts around the frame limited, giving you nice sleek lines all around. The whole bike just feels really solid and well put together. It really flies down hills. Going uphill is easy as well thanks to its lightweight carbon frame. When I analyzed my average speed on my old bike compared to the Scott on similar courses, I found that I’m averaging 2 miles an hour faster per stint, with about the same amount of effort/watts than I was before.
Additionally, Scott really throws in a great upgraded component group at every level of the bike. The website for the bike is a little misleading as the component sets actually start at the Shimano 105 level and go up to DuraAce. In fact, at REI you can get the bike equipped with SRAM parts if you want. The big upgrade on the bike are the Syncros Race 27 Aero Profile wheels on the CR1 30 model. These wheels have a deeper rim than the average road bike and result in better aero performance out of the box. The wheels themselves should bump the bike up a few hundred dollars in price, but Scott spares you on that point.
Despite the overall light frame, it does feel a little heavier in the back and I don’t think it is owing mostly to the rear cassette, derailleur and other components. I believe Scott aims to build a bike with strong rear stiffness, so I think the bike is just built with extra materials in the rear, compared to other similar road bikes. Additionally, the stock seat is more unforgiving than other others that I have tested out in the past. An easy change, but it took some extra padded shorts and time to get used to. Lastly, the handlebars sit a little high if you’re looking for a more racing style/aerodynamic setup in a bike. The stem is long and angled up which causes an initially odd riding profile. All of these are fitting tweaks that can be easily altered, but points you should be aware of nonetheless. The bike is intended for endurance, so the initial set up makes sense.
My biggest annoyance with the bike was the stock tires that came with it, the Continental Ultra Race set. These tires are fast initially, with great traction in almost all conditions. They don’t, however, seem to hold up well to heat or bumpy rides (California roads are not in the best condition). I was inflating these tires from almost half their initial PSI every day, even after short rides. The really sad part was when I suffered three flats on the bike leg of my IronMan race. I eventually switched to the Continental Gator Skins, which have made me very happy. So, if you pick up one of these bikes, consider getting a different tire set from the shop at purchase time.
I only needed a handful of modifications to the bike after purchasing it. I added some lightweight carbon bottle cages. I also removed any lights and reflectors, as I prefer the removable type for when I ride at night. I added two bento boxes, one near the front handlebars and another just under the front of my seat for storing extra supplies and food. I also installed Garmin Speed and Cadence sensor on the rear wheels to sync with my Garmin 910 XT. Lastly, I added Look Kéo Plus pedals. I’m still debating on whether or not to add carbon aero bars on the front or just save that money towards a dedicated Triathlon bike in the future. Based on my experience with the bike I don’t think that adding aero bars will be of any significant advantage given the geometry of the bike. It’s just not set up for that type of body positioning and riding style. It is however a really great touring/endurance road bike and I assume if you upgrade to the Ultegra DuraAce component set, it would make a great competition bike.
All in all, I can give the Scott CR1 30 a solid two thumbs-up recommendation for anyone looking for a great entry-level carbon road bike. I used the bike in my 70.3 IronMan race bike leg, that went up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, all over San Jose and on the awesome ride I took with a buddy from San Jose to San Francisco that you can check out below.