It was one thing getting invited to Switzerland for a VIP bike launch experience at the new Scott Sports headquarters, but what I was in for was beyond anything I could have imagined. The facility is a spectacle in itself! A brand new, 3-month-old, state of the art eco-building, solar-driven, automated, staff focused and future-proofed… the holy grail for a global green movement.
With open arms, we are welcomed to the WORLD headquarters of SCOTT Sports. A sporting global powerhouse comprised of SCOTT and other incredible companies under the Scott Sports umbrella. I collect my goodie bag, full of amazing gifts, and am shuttled into the never used conference room and officially welcomed to Switzerland and Scott Sports with a promise of nothing less than an incredible couple of days. The promise of riding the latest bikes not yet even released to the cycling community, seeing one-off, yet to be released, road bikes and mountain bikes, is just about too good to be true.
…Here I thought my sneaky one-day trip to Stuttgart to visit the Porsche Museum would be the highlight of my trip, but somehow the bicycles were still more exciting for this 25year shop veteran...Here we go! The main foyer towers 4 stories tall and the doors opening to the 2020 range are 10 ft tall! The first glance of the newest bikes for next year is a smorgasbord of bike porn, new is everywhere…from the latest E-bikes, newest pro tour road, and the Scotty Browns crowd favourite, the N1NO Spark RC race bike…. all here… for me to see.
I beeline for the new Addict as this is the bike that holds heritage to my heart in the Scott range. In my opinion, this road bike is one of the top 3 bikes I have ever ridden, and this year the new Addict is better than I can even describe. Beautifully shaped tubes, updated geometry and zero cables; as they are now all beautifully integrated into the new handlebars! A new one-piece bar (and 2 piece for entry models) is the final touch that makes the 2020 Scott Addict so modern and thoughtfully designed. The Scott Addict just became perfect and later in the day I get the opportunity to ride it on the smooth, perfect rolling roads of Fribourg Switzerland. Like many of you in the Scotty Browns Bike Emporium family, my senses and eyes are just on “next level mode”, way too much to take in, and too many shiny and exciting toys. I’m like a wee kid in a candy store. Next, I wander over to see the newest 2020 Scott Spark range. with the new colours and features, I am blown away. They are just stunning! To rub sugar in the wound… there’s N1NO’s World Championship frame, yet to be built, painted in a colour which even now, I'm not allowed to tell you about, but soon you will see as its being launched at the World MTB Champs. After drooling over my personal favourites, I couldn’t help but gravitate to the biggest buzz coming out of the Scotty range for all the Christchurch Adventure Park enthusiast- The new Scott Gambler DH bike! A beast to be recognized, with a massive facelift and totally modern suspension configuration. This is a bike that has been creating some buzz and well-deserved attention. The fancy cat in show was the latest Scott Foil road bike with jaw-dropping paint colours and limited edition, special order frames, all teasing me! I just said yes to everything… I was in love! … ”stuff it, I'm here, I feel it… the guys back home (you) will want this too… It’s my duty to deliver!
So, after 2 hours of just jaw-dropping bicycle entertainment, the front doors open, and the whispers start… the MICHELTON SCOTT Pro Cycling Team are in the house to see the new facilities! They are in town for The Tour of Switzerland and making a short visit. And, holy shit, we get to hang with them!!!! The DS for the team Matt Hayman, Paris Roubaix Champion, is heading the riders visit. What an absolute honour to meet him and the boys! They too are wowed by new building; the whole experience is truly overwhelming.
All this excitement and I can’t believe there is more! It is now time to saddle up and take these bikes for a ride. I gear up and head downstairs where my personally picked and fitted road bike awaits. The new SCOTT ADDICT. I'm so excited …. what’s better than getting the chance to test and feel a pre-released dream bike? How about 30 degrees, zero wind, in the summertime, in SWITZERLAND! We are off and I’m winding round beside Schiffenensee, smiling, riding with passionate bikers, gloriously enjoying every sense. The Scott Addict was everything I expected and more! Never being a huge fan of one-piece carbon bars, as I'm precious about hand position, and tuning the perfect position, I'm pleasantly surprised with how perfect the shape is. The bike is smooth, lively, electric, fast. Actually, it’s f*@king AMAZING! I ordered one for me as soon as I got back to HQ… “don’t tell Aidan” was what I was thinking hahaha!!!!
After the ride we all take a break and are schmoozing and chilling as we kill time roughly 1 hour before dinner from the professional kitchen that has been integrated into the building. Which feeds the 350 staff that work at SCOTT Sports. I am approached by Tracker, NZ SCOTT Sales Manager, and am asked to do him a favor. “Scotty, I need you to MC/host Matt Hayman tonight for a this is your cycling life interview in front of the conference invitees”. Now, Tracker is Ex military, so he asked, but I was more so being told…. Rather terrified, I swallowed hard and said yes… I meet Matt, I was a nervous schoolboy, interviewing one of Australia’s all time famous pro cyclists, in front of 60 people on a stage! And, to make matters more hair raising… the owner of SCOTT sports Beat Zaugg is here too! Arggghhhhhhh …. I'm pooing myself honestly. But despite all nerves, the interview went well…. what an amazing guy, family man, cyclist and Pro team mentor and Director Sportif.
Day one dusted, another to go. Its breakfast time at the hotel and Pro cycling Team LOTTO is staying at the hotel tonight. After all the TDS is riding through old town Fribourg, I’m planning my exit strategy from the conference for an hour. I mean, come on, my MC roll last night scored huge brownie points. I had bigger fish on my mind, there was a pro cycling race on! I wanted to see the pros ride at Mach 1 through the cobbled streets of old town. So, whilst we are all in the meeting rooms ordering and scheduling…. I sneak away, I jump on a 2020 Scott E-bike, through my backpack on, and use google maps to try and work out where the riders exactly go. I have a good idea, but I reckon I’ll sort it. Afterall, my Scott E-bike will be my life saver! I'm 2km off course as I hear the helicopters circling, shit, I'm on the wrong side of town! Time to shine baby, and I boost the e-bike in power mode, 35kph. I get to the intersection 20 seconds before the pros! Thank god for my electric engine! I get to see the Tour de Swiss, live, first- hand, right here in front of my face. It’s a dream come true for me. And as quick as the pro’s arrive, they're re gone. Can’t believe I was so lucky! What an adventure! Time to get back to work, I boost back to SCOTT HQ!
There I am, fizzing from my escapade of ditching class, nothing new there, and back at the HQ. I am a bit guilty of skiving off to do my own thing, and quietly showing off as I tell the story of my “got lost” Swiss Tour experience to the other riders just returning from a in the forest on their MTB ride…. So, yes, a sacrifice was made as I missed my 2 hour mtb demo ride in the forest… but no loss really because I still got to ride the new SPARK RC. The boys are forgiving, and I ask them to grab me a Scott Spark RC 900 and I was off. The new Scott Spark RC is everything as I expected. I owned the 2019 World Cup model this last season and developed a rather familiar relationship with this model. No changes this year except for the cooler paint job, but still such a beast to ride. If you've ever thought about a Scott Spark RC, stop thinking, just do it. On my return, I hand it back the bike, and 20 minutes later I'm inside with Damo, my NZ rep, ordering the 900 SL AXS. Easy to spend 15k when you're on bike heat!
That night we have an amazing final dinner, say our goodbyes and get ready for the long journey back to NZ. I felt very privileged to be invited by SCOTT Sports to Switzerland. We have an amazing partnership here in NZ, more so, we as a store believe and love the product. Scott has an incredible 2020 range of bikes. The new Gambler DH bike has had a huge chassis revamp, the Scott Addict is a whole new ground-up design, showing real-world rider design integrity. Fabulous new carbon wheels/parts and Syncros products (SCOTT's own in house P&A brand) are being launched on all the bikes and for after-market upgrades too! Being at the SCOTT HQ hit home - the specialness of the brand, the R&D, passion and commitment to the brand and its global partners (including your very own SCOTTY BROWNS BIKE EMPORIUM) reminded me how special it is to be a part of this industry. Additionally, the focus and commitment to our future… by way of sustainability is very inspiring. This is something that was very pronounced as making sure the environmental impact of each bike created and packaged is high on the list of objectives. Scott Bikes for 2020 will have nearly ZERO plastic packaging and only be delivered in a totally recyclable box. This is a HUGE leap in the cycling market as the sadness of thousands of pounds of waste from us yearly is now very much a habit of the past.
Overall, what did I take from this amazing adventure? Mostly that we are working with passionate likeminded people and friends, that are riding bikes and enjoying the love of the outdoors. They get it, they have voiced it and live with the very same issues and love you and I do. So, they have our backs, working towards a perfect bicycle, perfect experience…. The perfect SCOTT!
A big thanks to SCOTT NZ for the experience and to Beat, the SCOTT family in Switzerland, and my crew here at the shop. Plus, my amazing family at home for letting me getaway for 10 days! GOLD!