Cycling is an expensive sport and Santa Cruz Bikes is one of it’s prime instigators. Between the candy colored carbon and the exotic builds, the company has almost single handedly normalized the ten thousand dollar mountain bike.
Yet for everyone who can only dream of affording the pedal bike equivalent of a Ferrari rally car, Santa Cruz is now offering several new budget minded builds. At the heart of these more affordable offerings are new carbon frames.
These frames weigh more than the top of the line models, but are produced in the same molds, and offer the same performance as their premium offerings. Well, at least that’s what the press release said. To verify these claims, we headed to the Santa Cruz Factory to get a closer look….
In hand, the frames are indistinguishable from each other, except for a small sticker on the inside of the rear triangle that reads either CC or C. For the minds behind Santa Cruz, that was the idea. These frames are identical except for weight, and that was done just for pricing. Which means almost anyone who could afford an aluminum frame, can now get on carbon without feeling it’s inferior.
On our scale, we found that a top of the line Bronson frame (size medium, sans rear axle, but with a seatpost collar) weighed 2.51 kg/5 lbs, 9oz, while the “budget” carbon frame weighed 2.76 kg/6 lbs, 1 oz. In general, carbon frames weigh a pound less than their aluminum counterparts, but in the case of these mid tier offerings, the carbon frames only weigh ~half a pound less. For those weighing the move to carbon from aluminum, the added cost compared to the weight may not seem worth it, but those sold on the ride characteristics of carbon can now make the leap for $400 more.
So does this mark the beginning of the end for aluminum? Well, it depends. According to Marketing Manager Will Ockelton, it’s a numbers game. As long as aluminum models sell, Santa Cruz will continue to produce them. For now, the company plans on limiting these more affordable carbon builds to their bread and butter trail bikes, but depending on sales figures, they’ll consider releasing other models. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a more affordable Nomad.
Carbon bikes are complicated, so for the engineering team at Santa Cruz, handlebars were simple in comparison.
The combination of matte and gloss finish was difficult to capture in the showroom, but the graphics look great
For now, these carbon bars will only be appearing on the company’s high end offerings, but there are plans to make them available to the aftermarket. With that in mind, we took our scale our and started counting grams.
These flat 720mm bars have a 7mm rise, 9° sweep, and a 31.8mm clamp. Claimed weight was 176g, but this set pulled off the production floor was only 172g.
On the more aggressive side of the scale, the new Carbon 760mm bars have a 20mm rise, a 9° sweep, and a 35mm clamp. As a result, they’re a touch heavier. The pre-production unit weighed for the press release came in at 185g, but the models we pulled from the production line were 5g heavier.
These 800mm wide behemoth have the same rise/sweep/clamp as the 760mm bar, and weighed exactly what Santa Cruz claimed – 200g.
If you’ve never been to the factory before, you can see why it’s worth a visit. In addition to all the eye candy, Santa Cruz also offers a free Demo Program.
Special thanks to Will Ockleton and Kiran Mackinnon for showing us around!