First Impression: Santa Cruz Bantam D

Editor’s note: This is one of six bikes we’ve gathered together that fall between $1,900 and $2,600. Read our introduction to see the other five and watch for our long-term reviews of each in Dirt Rag #182, due on newsstands and in mailboxes in February. Subscribe now and you’ll never miss a bike review.


Santa Cruz markets the Bantam as the 5010’s single pivot brother, but I can’t help but see a lightweight Heckler hiding in there. Because I owned and loved a Heckler back in the day, I’m excited to see how it matches up to its forefather on the trails.

The Bantam D features 125mm of rear travel, 27.5 wheels, thru axles fore and aft, a decent SRAM/Shimano mixed component set, and among other bits a 130mm Rockshox Sektor Gold fork. All for $2,499—stellar.

My first couple rides have shown great promise.


With a nice beefy rear triangle, the Bantam is stiff and responsive. The RockShox Sektor Gold feels way above its pay grade, and even though the brakes are the entry level SRAM DB1s which still use the problematic TaperBore design, they respond well.


I’m really digging the inclusion of a matched set of 2.3″ Maxxis High Roller IIs. These tires are just awesome. Snow, sleet, mud and dirt can’t phase ’em.


So far, so good I’d say. Make sure you keep up on your subscription so you don’t miss the Bantam’s long-term review and all the other great stuff we’ve got lined up this year.



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