It’s going on a year and a half since Santa Cruz updated the beloved Bronson, but thanks to smart design and choice of specs, the bike is still a standout. It might lack the ability to run plus tires, but for fans of the standard 27.5″ wheel, that hardly matters. However, it does have all the features necessary to be relatively future proof – for a few years anyways. The bike also features Santa Cruz’s lightest carbon frame which paired with an outstanding Eagle X01 build kit makes for a very light and lively trail bike…
Depending on your location, the Bronson would compete with the 5010 for the title of your ‘daily trail bike.’ Built with 150mm of travel front and rear, this newest Bronson ushered in the latest version of VPP suspension which has had a profound effect on the ride. In addition to providing more clearance behind the bottom bracket shell thanks to the linkage moved to the top, the chainstays have been shortened and the suspension claims to have better small bump performance and a flatter suspension curve. As a result of using higher modulus carbon in the layup, the CC level frame is about 280g less than the C level frame, just in carbon alone. To keep that full carbon frame fresh, the chainstay and the downtube feature molded rubber protection. And like other Santa Cruz VPP bikes, angular contact bearings with dual seals and collet axle pivots help to extend bearing life.
Indicative of its intended purpose, this build includes rally worthy suspension from Rock Shox with a Pike RCT3 150 Solo Air fork and a Monarch Plus RC3 shock out back.
Initially, I had inquired about the possibility of a frame as a way to test a few exciting new parts. But when Santa Cruz offered up the full build for testing, I hit the drive train jackpot with a full SRAM X01 Eagle kit. Obviously, we’ve reported on Eagle to death, and Tyler has his own XX1 group to play with, but I’m pretty excited to finally have an X01 group to put through the paces. Fitted with the standard 10-50t 12 speed cassette and a 32t Eagle chainring on a carbon crankset with a threaded bottom bracket, the Bronson is geared towards the low side which was perfect for my first few rides. For me, there’s nothing better than breaking in a new rig down in Asheville, NC – and I was very happy to have plenty of low gearing for a few steep climbs. If you need them, there are ISCG05 tabs hidden behind the chainring as well.
Another benefit to the Bronson 2.0 frame design? Better standover clearance and increased room for droppers. At 5’8″, I’m on the small side of mediums, which usually means 150mm travel droppers are questionable. But on the Bronson I have room to spare with the full 150mm travel Rock Shox Reverb Stealth.
Rounding out the SRAM build is a set of SRAM Guide RSC brakes with 180mm Avid Centerline rotors. In this case, those rotors are bolted to DT Swiss 350 6 bolt hubs laced to Race FAce ARC 27 aluminum rim. To match the frame and fork, the hubs are Boost 148 x 12 and 110 x 15 – though the front is also fitted with Torque Caps to mate with the Pike fork. We’ll get into this more in depth in another post, but it should be mentioned that the front wheel is not compatible with non-Torque cap forks without an adapter kit (as I found out the hard way).
Tires are exactly what you would want on an aggressive trail bike with 27 x 2.3″ Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR2 TR tires (max tire size is 2.4″). Better still – they come already sealed with sealant in the tires. This is one of the big benefits of having the bikes assembled in Santa Cruz since their team can add sealant right before they leave the warehouse and you can take it out of the box, ready to ride.
Another thing to love about Santa Cruz builds is the ‘all killer, no filler’ attitude when it comes to part spec. Down to little details like the Cane Creek 40 headset, Race Face Turbine basic 35mm stem, and the WTB Silverado Pro saddle, the only “house brand” parts are the 800mm wide Santa Cruz Carbon bars with a 35mm clamp and Santa Cruz Palmdale Lock-on grips. Not too shabby. All in, without pedals this bike tips the scale at 28.1 lbs (12.75kg) for a medium without pedals.
Santa Cruz also does an incredible job in the included accessories department. Inside the roll top storage bag, you’ll find a spare derailleur hanger, extra Bottomless Tokens, fittings to shorten brake hoses, valve core tools, a frame protection sticker sheet, and all the necessary instructions and “reflectors” (reflective stickers) to keep it legal.
Granted, this isn’t exactly a “cheap” bike at $6,599, but it’s right in line with the competition, and in most cases with fewer in house parts. You’ll see a lot more of this bike in the near future as we bolt up some new goods, but look for the full review later this year.