Another ride on the Scott Plasma: a few positives and negatives
Yesterday morning I decided to take my new Scott Plasma Time Trial bike for another test ride. My first ride on the Plasma was done with a full race setup (both me, and the bike), so this time I decided to ride the bike in more of a training configuration. Here are the differences:
Race Setup: Skinsuit, shoe covers, time trial aero helmet, single bottle cage, Zipp wheelset, race tires, no saddle bag, no rear flasher, no video camera.
Training Setup: Regular road kit, no shoe covers, standard road helmet, 2 bottle cages/2 bottles, stock non-aero wheelset, Gatorskin Hardshell tires, saddle bag, video camera, rear flasher.
I did not bolt up my Stages power meter for yesterday’s ride, but normally I will for all training rides and races (it’s just a matter of swapping the NDS crank arm, which takes only a couple of minutes). I wish I had taken the two minutes to put the power meter on yesterday, as the data would have been very interesting.
I purposely did an out-and-back course, so I got to experience headwinds, tailwinds and crosswinds in (more or less) equal measure.
The bike is definitely fast. Yesterday I did 33 miles with a ride average speed of 23.0 MPH. Again, I really wish I’d put my power meter on to help better quantify that speed, but I can tell you from my heart rate and experience that I was probably just mid-Zone 3 (tempo)–perhaps around 250 watts average. In other words, not an easy ride, but far from slaying. Also, considering this ride was done in full “Training mode” (see above), I think if I’d put out the same watts in “Race mode” I would have easily been north of 24 MPH. That’s pretty exciting to me since I was only mid-Zone 3 yesterday, and am capable of putting out a lot more power for a lot longer.
I really like how the Plasma handles. Even on the aerobars it doesn’t feel overly-twitchy, and I have good control.
Power transfer felt excellent. The bike is very responsive, and stiff.
The carbon frame/fork, carbon handlebars and carbon seat tube all combine to make for a very smooth ride. Even with the very harsh-riding Gatorskin tires, the bike felt quite comfortable without feeling “floaty” or disconnected from the road.
A couple negatives…
After enjoying the button-click elegance of electronic Di2 shifting on my Madone’s aerobars (before I removed them), the Plasma’s Dura Ace mechanical bar end shifters feel, frankly, archaic by comparison. I suppose I’ll get used to them, but I’m not going to lie: Di2 is much, much better in my opinion.
The stock saddle is also probably going to have to go. I’ve become spoiled by my road bike’s Specialized Power Pro saddle. I love the Power Pro’s short nose, large cut out and minimal padding; It’s easily the the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever used. The Plasma’s stock saddle is extremely long, doesn’t have a cutout and has too much padding for my liking. The stock saddle is fine for shorter rides, but on long training rides it’s just not going to cut it.
I still have some fit issues to work out, but that’s pretty standard with a new bike. I am waiting on a carbon saw blade (I somehow misplaced mine) so that I can cut down the steerer tube. Because the steerer tube is carbon, Scott requires that I leave one 5mm spacer under the stem. Unlike Trek, Scott does NOT require a 5mm spacer above the stem, so that’s good (looks much cleaner without a spacer above, IMO). So I won’t be able to fully slam the stem, but I will be able to drop the bars at least 15mm from their stock position, and that will make the bike much more aero and comfortable for me.