The long-awaited update to one of triathlon's most successful bikes over the last decade appears to be just around the corner. It's hard to think that it was over six years that Scott unveiled the Plasma 5, a bike which they saw win regional Ironman championships and a World Championship soon after its introduction. It has also served as the weapon of choice for Mitchelton-Scott and super-woman - and former Time Trial world champion - Annemiek van Vleuten.
Scott's latest Plasma - the Plasma 6 - has been rumored to be due for its release for a bit over a year and we've finally been able to gather a few details about what we can expect. As to when we can expect it, our best guess is "soon".
WHAT WE KNOW
- As expected, Scott's flagship triathlon bike will be made available in disc-only, which should come as a surprise to nobody.
- The bike appears to be designed and geared towards triathlon, in particular, mid to long-course racing. While looking through the UCI's list of approved frames, we could only find the Plasma 3, 4, and 5 on UCI's list, but no mention of a Plasma 6. The Plasma 5 is a fast bike, and presumably, it can still serve as a worthy UCI legal option for those who need one.
- The Plasma 6 will be available in three configurations in the US: A Plasma 6 Premium frame module, a Plasma 6 Premium complete bike, and a Plasma 6 RC complete bike.
- Availability will be very limited, particularly on the framesets. Sizing will be limited to Small, Medium, and Large on complete bikes, and Medium and Large in framesets only.
- There are a number of really interesting features of this bike, at least from what we've been able to find, which makes it pretty compelling, despite its higher price point. Keep reading as we'll highlight some of those below.
PLASMA 6 Frameset - $6,999.99
GEOMETRY & FIT
The Plasma 6 appears to have quite a bit of range as far as fit goes, which wasn't necessarily the case with its predecessors, at least the flagship models 3 & 5. As bikes get more integrated, and use their own proprietary cockpits & front ends, they often also become less adjustable so we're relieved to see the range the Plasma 6 will offer.
The pictures & tech docs we've seen appear to show a mono-post style of system for the aerobar adjustments, with the post being at a similar angle than the head tube, meaning as the Pad Y increases, the Pad X decreases. We prefer this over a completely perpendicular system like TriRig's Alpha X since it makes the bike taller & narrower as it's adjusted higher, and longer & lower as it is adjusted down. From what we've seen, the only downsides appears to be a lack of tilt adjustment in the aerobars, something that has become increasingly common, and also perhaps limited options for someone who needs a really narrow pad-width.
Scott's decision to only bring in the Medium & Large frames only isn't as limiting as it seems, the geometry chart below seems to show that there's a bit of overlap between sizes. Being that M/54 & L/56 are often the most popular sizes, this option will work for a lot of those opting for the frame. For those looking for a complete bike, the three sizes (S,M,L) should be able to fit most people.
While it'll take us some actual time spent working on the front-end to know how well thought-out it truly is, we're encouraged about we've been able to see thus far. Along with the geometry chart, at least on paper, it seems this bike will hit a wide range of Pad X/Y's. As mentioned above, however, there seems to be a lack of ability to adjust aerobar tilt from what we can see.
For those needing a little extra height from the aerobars and pads, the base bar appears to have the ability to be set-up with positive rise to reduce the drop between the pads and bullhorns.
We'll post an update upon building our first frame with some thoughts, and possible challenges or pleasant surprises to expect.
Front-end and storage seems to be pretty thorough on the new Plasma, they've jumped on the integrated frame hydration wagon, and while it isn't a must-have in our opinion, a lot of people seem to be asking for it. The Plasma 5's integrated hydration worked quite well, though we heard of certain instances of it leaking, or affecting the handling when full, hopefully this addresses both of those issues.
The BTA (between the arms) storage pod appears to act as both nutrition storage, as well as a Wahoo/Garmin mount as well. While it looks to be removable, some drawings in the tech-docs we've come across, appear to also show this as the hiding place for the eTap AXS blip box. One of the holders also looks to serve as the clip or magnet for the hydration straw.
A big drawback with offering this level of storage is that it can sometimes make the bike look cluttered. We'll likely be experimenting to see how to eliminate this pod while still maintaining a clean look up front.
The rear storage appears to be a relatively straightforward, integrated draft box. Thankfully, unlike some other bikes, it is size-specific which integrates well on any of the sizes while looking intentional and not like an afterthought. This feature has become a must-have for any triathlon-specific bike so we're glad to see Scott implementing it on this bike. At some point, we expect there to be some information on whether this is "aero-neutral" or if there's an advantage to leave it on, whether it is used for storage or not.
The seatpost also has an integrated water bottle cage mount that works much like the previous generation's, though it seems to be the more updated, more stout version that Cervelo uses in its triathlon bikes. The cage mount appears to have an option for a single cage, or dual-mounted cages.
If the draft box, behind the saddle hydration mount, frame-integrated hydration, and BTA nutrition pod weren't enough, the new Plasma 6 also has integrated bottom bracket storage, or is it a water bottle? Its placement makes us think that this will be storage and not hydration as it's quite low to be easily accessible while riding.
If this indeed is storage, it appears to be pretty substantial, at least as far as it's depth, though the width of the frame around that area will limit how much one can stuff down there. But, with all of the other options, will there be a need to store much?
It could be argued this bike offers too much storage, perhaps over-engineered as far as that's concerned, but we think having more options is a lot better than having too-few. Triathletes use storage differently, and there's not one way to set-up a bike across all distances, so if any of these particular storage options are not of interest, easy, they’ve can be left alone to save a few grams.
As with any new, disc brake-equiped, superbike, we always have to bring up traveling with the bike. Triathletes tend to travel quite a bit, and the more complicated & integrated the bike is, the harder to assemble and disassemble tends to be. Yes, there are cases such as the Scicon Aerocomfort case, which make traveling somewhat easy as there's little disassembly, but they tend to do so at the sacrifice of frame protection.
The drawings & pictures we've come across, don't seem to show a collapsible base bar, though it's possible there are other features we're unaware of that make it a breeze to travel with.
Improving upon something that's had as much success and been as well received as the Plasma 5 is no easy task. We feel Scott has put forth a good effort, and only time will tell. At least for us to form an opinion, the time that it takes us to get one built up and on the road.
Clearly, this isn't an instance where a manufacturer has taken a version of their bike, and made it disc-brake compatible. We've got to imagine the latest Plasma is the end-result of Scott's team, in collaboration with their athletes, finding ways to fine-tune something that could have been left alone if they wanted to be lazy.
Timing is a bit delicate given the global pandemic, and lack of racing, but we think Scott (along with everyone else) is being hopeful events will start trickling back in 2021. We also can't imagine they wanted to sit on this much longer, as it's been probably ready to be released for a bit.
We'll table the discussion for a couple of months, until we've had a chance to get our hands on one (or a few). If you're interested in reserving yours, please get in touch! When we say quantities will be limited, we mean, really limited.