By Eric McKeegan. Photos by Justin Steiner and Jon Pratt.
Santa Cruz didn’t seem to need another trail bike. It already has the well-regarded 26-inch Blur TR and Blur LT with 125mm and 140mm travel respectively; the 29-inch Tallboy LT at 135mm; and the evergreen single pivot Heckler at 150mm. Bookend those with the Nomad at 160mm, and the 100mm Tallboy, Superlight 29 and Blur XC, and it gets hard to see a gap in there to fill.
But it seems the 150mm bike is shaping up to be 2013’s hot ticket, and while the Heckler is heck of a bike, it is no match for the excellent VPP system. And why not match that middle-of the-road travel with the middle-size wheels, and a middle-size fork?
Well we are going to find out how all this mid-size stuff pans out as what might be the worst kept secret in the bike industry showed up on our doorstep yesterday. In person it just looks right—everything is properly proportioned. This is our first chance to see the Maxxis High Rollers in 27.5-inch size, and they are huge, even for a 2.4 tire. They actually measure closer to 27.75 inches unlike the most common 650b tires we’ve seen, Schwalbes, which come in a bit under 27.5 inches.
The geometry on our medium carbon-framed Bronson is pretty middle-of-the-road too, with a shortish 23-inch top tube, 17.3-inch chainstays, 67-degree head angle, 13.6-inch high bottom bracket, and 44.9-inch wheelbase. No surprises here.
We got the full-on, money-to-burn build kit, with ENVE wheels, SRAM XX1 drivetrain, and Shimano XTR brakes. Retail is somewhere north of $10k. And in case you were wondering, yes, Santa Cruz sells plenty with this build kit. Those with less disposable income (or without the cushy cycling magazine job) have plenty of less expensive parts kits and the aluminum frame to choose from, prices starting at $3,400 complete. All complete bikes utilize the excellent Fox 34. Those looking to roll their own can score a carbon frame for $2,700 or aluminum for $1,925.
Stay tuned for first ride impressions. Between this and the Specialized Enduro 29, we’ve got the two hottest bikes going now, and spring has sprung with a vengeance. It’s a good time to be reviewing bikes!