Review: Scott Plasma 5 Superbike
article & images by Nick Salazar
Mar 16, 2015
As a general statement, the Plasma 5 is an awesome bike. It is truly a modern superbike, with triathlon-specific features, a low frontal area, and beautifully-hidden cables. The integrated Aeria aerobar is probably the easiest-to-use integrated bar of any of the "superbike" bars, and also easy to re-adjust if your position changes, something a lot of integrated bars don't do very well.
The integrated nosecone bottle is a feature triathletes have been talking about, pining for, and in some cases even DIYing, for years. With the Plasma 5, Scott introduces the first production bike to really offer this feature, and it's very cool. I wish the bottle and its associated rubber pieces had been designed as just a single piece, and that's something I'd definitely like see improved in future versions. Also, I can't help but lament that athletes with a low-stack position can't take advantage of the bottle. But of course, there's still the classic BTA bottle for those folks.
This last point brings up an important concept that ANY athlete looking for a new bike needs to consider: how the bike meshes with the current (and future) bike fit. If you're looking to the Plasma 5 because you love that aerobottle, then you'd better make sure it jives with your position now, and where you think your position might be in the future. A big kudos are in order to Scott for using Profile Design's Aeria bar; as mentioned above, it's a bar where it's easy easy to change position if/when needed. A lot of athletes (and bike designers, for that matter) often forget that bike fit changes over time, for virtually everyone. It's important to pick a bike that lets you tinker with that position without requiring a complete reworking of your bike. The Plasma 5 lets you do this, for both mechanical and electronic drivetrains.
Overall, the bike is solid, and very slick. I have very few complaints to offer the Plasma 5, and wouldn't fault anyone for picking it as their next bike. Excellent work by Scott.
A true triathlete's bike
Complete Bike - Tri Mode
The Scott Plasma 5 is one of the latest generation of superbikes to feature a whole lot of integration up front. In its debut year, it was ridden to a World Championship victory by Sebastian Kienle, Scott's marquis athlete. This section shows the bike with its +45mm stem and the integrated bottle/storage unit that go with it.
Complete Bike - Low-Stack TT Mode
The Plasma 5 can also be built with a lower-stack +0mm stem for those who need a lower position. However, in this configuration is cannot use the integrated bottle or storage mode. But it's VERY clean, and I really like the look in this mode.
The Plasma 5 uses an integrated version of the Profile Design Aeria bar, and an integrated stem to match. The stem is available in the stock +45mm version, or a +0mm version that can be purchased separately, but the low version isn't compatible with the bike's integrated aero bottle.
The integrated bottle is a very slick and usable aerodynamic feature, and something triathletes have wanted to see for years. The only real downside is that it's not compatible with the low-stack stem. The bottle has a number of somewhat difficult-to-install rubber pieces (I wish they were all just one piece), but once on the bike it's a really cool feature.
The integrated storage unit forms a perfect aero match with the rest of the front end, and has quite a lot of space to store gels, tools, tires, etc. Even better is that Scott used the industry-standard boss spacing, so that you could optionally mount any other top tube storage unit you wanted. This could be nice if you run the bike in low-stack TT mode, because then you could put on a storage box with a rounded leading edge, like some of the units from XLAB, or the carbon unit we featured from Glen Alden.
The Plasma 5 uses custom integrated TRP centerpull brakes that completely hide from the wind. These brakes are built on the Shimano Direct-Mount standard. But in an awesome and very thoughtful move, Scott also included a standard brake boss on the front of the bike. This means that if, for example, your brake gets damaged in travel, you could easily bolt on a standard brake as a last-minute replacement. In my case, I installed a TriRig Omega, which even fit underneath the aero cover after a small modification.
More shots of all the beautiful pieces of this very clever bike.