Welcome to the Humble family, Santa Cruz Bicycles.
We are very excited to announce that we are the new home of Santa Cruz Bicycles in the South-West!
When Santa Cruz Australia called us recently and asked if we wanted to be a dealer for their brand, our instant response was ‘HELL YEAH!’. So, what is it about Santa Cruz that makes us love the brand and want to have their bikes in our store? For us it’s a combination of a great company ethos, a bike that rides brilliantly and a thoughtful construction that allows the bike to be easily serviced for years to come.
Santa Cruz are a brand that the Humble family has a strong history with. Rex has previously ridden a Bronson and Hightower, Nick a Bronson and Hightower LT, not to mention his beloved Chameleon that he still rides nearly every day. Rex’s dad has also been getting around on a Blur LT for over a decade, and it still rides like a dream after all those years!
Santa Cruz are a company that only make mountain bikes. They don’t worry about hybrids or road bikes, kids bikes or beach cruisers. This means they can focus 100% on making an extensive range of mountain bikes designed to cover all styles of off-road riding (including cyclocross!). Their design is always at the forefront of where mountain biking is headed (remember when they kicked off the 27.5” movement with the Solo/Bronson? Or when they took the Downhill World Cup by storm by racing a 29er V10?), yet they don’t follow trends that aren’t functional. A perfect example of this is their dedication to threaded bottom brackets when a a huge chunk of the industry marketed Pressfit 30 as the new 'standard', only to come crawling back to threaded BB's a few seasons later!
We have both ridden an awful lot of bikes in our time as bike shop nerds, many of which we rate as good bikes. There are not many bikes that we would rate higher than a Santa Cruz. The keys to this amazing ride quality are frame stiffness, the VPP suspension platform and tried-and-true geometry.
Carbon quality and frame stiffness is something that marketing departments don’t really talk about a whole lot, as it’s hard to quantify (its much easier to brag about weight or suspension lockouts). When it comes to riding a mountain bike though, frame stiffness is a massive contributor to how your bike it rides out on the trails. The Santa Cruz frames feel solid and confidence inspiring, and when you try to hit a line they go where they are pointed! Santa Cruz go the extra mile when it comes to carbon technology to ensure their products ride great, while still being extremely light and amazingly strong (just ask Rex - he couldn’t believe it when he put a huge rock into the downtube of his Hightower without any adverse affects!)
Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension is a wonderfully tuneable system. If you are really keen to know all the in-and-outs jump on the Santa Cruz website for more information. When it comes down to how the bike rides on the trail, what really shines through is that they can tune the suspension to work differently at certain parts of the travel. We have always found that they offer incredible suppleness in the initial part of the travel (which equates to really good rear tyre grip), support through the middle of the stroke (so you don’t blow through all your travel too easily) and then a controlled bottom out. Oh, they pedal really damn well at the sag point too! No need for any aids from the shock or remote levers unless you fancy riding on the tarmac.
As we are both mechanics, we really appreciate how amazing Santa Cruz bikes are to work on. Santa Cruz frames are designed to be ridden hard, then rebuilt to as-new condition. Repeatedly. For many years!
First up, their quality control is second to none. Every frame is built using the best carbon technology available in Santa Cruz’s exclusive Skybox Carbon factory, then the bike and wheels are hand assembled in their California HQ. This means they aren’t the cheapest bikes going, but it’s the price to be paid for the best quality control in the industry.
Santa Cruz then backup their frames with free pivot bearings for life. Yes you read that correctly. They recommend that for an average rider the pivot bearings should be replaced annually to keep the bike running sweet. While most bike brands press bearings into the frame, Santa Cruz contain the bearings in the two links of the VPP system. This makes replacing the pivot bearings far easier, and means you can replace the links if necessary. When you are replacing the pivot bearings there are no cheap pivot bolts running at high torques that round out easily. High quality expanding collet hardware means you can take them apart easily over and over again.
Hate trying to do internal routing at home? The good folks at Santa Cruz mould full length tubes into the frame, so you just simply slip your cable/hose on through in two seconds. It’s these touches you don’t see that make their bikes more expensive to buy, but far nicer to live with!
Santa Cruz's current model range includes far more mountain models than your average brand. Each bike in their model range is targeted at a specific type of rider. To help you understand the range, here is a quick breakdown of some of the key models:
5010 (27.5” wheels - 130mm travel)
For those who like a playful bike that is up for all day pedalling adventures, can shred jumps and handle enduro races. This would be our pick for a ‘do-it-all’ model for those who prefer the feel of 27.5” wheels. Want to do whips down Line Managers one day, then do a Cape to Cape stage the next? This bike is for you! We aren’t sure if we have ever ridden a more fun bike than the 5010.
Bronson (27.5” wheels - 160/150mm travel)
The ultimate bike for those who prefer the downs to the ups, but still pedal their way to the top. If you like the agility and acceleration of 27.5” wheels, but want a bike that can dominate rough and steep trails, this is it! Do a 30km loop of South Carters one day, then do shuttle runs down Nannup the next. Perfect for WA Gravity Enduro events, and possibly the ultimate Linga Longa bike!
Nomad (27.5” wheels - 170mm travel)
Are you all about the descent and treat climbs as something that should be done at a leisurely pace? Maybe you like taking the odd trip to a interstate or overseas Bike Park, or love riding DH tracks? Think of the Nomad as a DH bike that you can pedal around on. If your intentions are to ride Linga Longa, Nannup, Wellington Mills and some DH rounds, but you still want a bike you can ride your regular trail loop on during the week then the Nomad is a good choice. If you want a bike that will inspire confidence and help you ride the gnarly stuff, go a Nomad!
Blur (29” wheels - 120/110/100mm travel)
A new school XC race bike. With XC racing on courses like Pemberton and Linga Longa getting far more technical, having a bike that inspires confidence on the downs is becoming equally as important as something that gets up the climbs like a mountain goat. For Marathon events (Cape to Cape MTB/Dwellingup 100/Karri Cup), State level XCO racing and just generally going really fast around the trails, the Blur is our pick!
Tallboy (29” or 27.5”+ wheels - 120/110mm travel)
A classic trail bike. Want something that is great fun around the local trails on a Sunday, but can occasionally be raced? For it’s travel numbers, the Tallboy can really hammer. We can’t think of a better bike for clocking up kays on Sunday rides around the Dunsborough Country Club and Brown Street. If you enjoy doing rides of reasonable distance and like to have a go on both the climbs and descents, but don’t see yourself as a super-serious XC racer then the Tallboy is for you!
Hightower (29” wheels - 140/135mm travel)
Want an efficient trail bike for pedalling loops of Meelup or South Carters, that will give you the ability to mix it up on the harder trails like Happy Myles, Valley Girls and Paper Trail? The Hightower is that bike. Rex has done everything from 50km marathon events to racing a whole season of WA Gravity Enduro in the Elite category on one. For people who like to do everything, the Hightower is the definition of a mountain bike.
Hightower LT (29” wheels - 150mm travel)
Want to race Enduro and like the feeling of big wheels? The Hightower LT is the bike of choice for the Santa Cruz factory enduro team and is designed for burly descents and racing against the clock. Nothing else needs to be said, this bike is a brawler!
The comment we often hear when people look at Santa Cruz bikes online is ‘wow, they are pretty expensive’. If you look at them purely based on component spec for the money, they are indeed very expensive compared to other bikes! If you are wanting to spend $3-$6k we would not recommend looking at one. In this range we have a number of Trek and GT models that ride great and come with killer specs for the money. The value of a Santa Cruz is elsewhere. Some people can see the value in the exceptional ride quality, lifetime bearing and warranty backup, how easy they are to service and how long they last. Our $0.02? If you are looking at a Santa Cruz model then look at it as an investment in a quality product that will serve you well for many years to come.
Want to know more about Santa Cruz? Peruse the following:
http://www.santacruz-pl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Santa-Cruz-Juliana-katalog-2018.pdf (first few pages only - the bikes are older models)