First Impressions: Santa Cruz Nomad

Santa Cruz Nomad (2015) First Impression—WEB (1 of 27)

We’ve tested lots of bikes at Dirt Rag, but none have garnered even a fraction of the attention of the Miami Vice bike. This blue and magenta heartthrob instigates all sorts of comments from riding buddies and other trail users. Rightfully so, thus far in the test period it’s backed up those good looks with a thrilling ride.

If you remember, we reported on our experience with the Nomad at the press launch in Chile. Read that story here if you missed it . Back home on familiar terrain, the Nomad has continued to impress with its combination of pedaling efficiency and descending prowess.

Santa Cruz sold through the first run of Nomads in an astonishingly short time, so our test bike hails from the second production run, which includes the new-for-2015 spec. Noteworthy bits on our $6,600 X01 build kit include the new Race Face Turbine Cranks as well as Santa Cruz’s new Carbon 800mm handlebar and Palmdale lock on grips. It’s worth noting Santa Cruz is offering a new X1 build kit for $5,900.

Santa Cruz Nomad (2015) First Impression—WEB (24 of 27)

This new 200-gram handlebar features a 35mm clamp, 20mm rise, and 9-degrees of sweep. As much as it might undermine my enduro/shred/rad/manliness, I admit to trimming this beast down to “just” 780mm. For all around riding in this neck of the woods, 800mm is just a touch too wide—and I like wide bars. Kudos to Santa Cruz for going wide and letting us trim as desired.

Santa Cruz Nomad (2015) First Impression—WEB (16 of 27)

The new Palmdale grips have quickly become a favorite. They clamp only on the inside and offer a mid-size diameter that provides some cushion without being too big.

Santa Cruz Nomad (2015) First Impression—WEB (18 of 27)

We opted against the Enve wheel upgrade directly through Santa Cruz because we wanted to be able to test the new M70 wheels back-to-back with the WTB Frequency i23 Team rims with DT Swiss 350 hubs. Enve was kind enough to ship us a pair of M70 wheels with the matching Aqua and Magenta decals just this week. With just one ride on the new wheels it’s far too early to weigh in, but we can touch on the value proposition. Direct from Enve, these wheels will run you $2,718. They’re a $2,000 upgrade through Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz Nomad (2015) First Impression—WEB (26 of 27)

The stock wheels weighed 1,872 grams without tape or valve stems. The M70 setup without tape or valves weighed 1,675 grams. Net weight loss of 197 grams or 0.43 pounds (about $10 per gram lost). Obviously the go/no go decision for this upgrade is more a question of means than value, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Would you spring for the upgrade, and why? Those of you who have purchased a bike or wheels lately, what factors shaped your buying decision?

As for the Nomad, look for the full review in issue #180 of Dirt Rag, on sale September 30th. Subscribe by September 1 to have issue #180 delivered to your mailbox or digital device.