The Perfect Wasatch Bike?
The cross country mountain bike world is changing, and fast. Over a short period of time, courses have become sloppier, steeper, and rockier. As a result, XC mountain bikes have become longer and lower, with geometry better optimized toward stability. In short, the lines between XC race and XC marathon have, well, blurred. That’s where the new 2022 Santa Cruz Blur comes in.
Channeling the Superlight
Santa Cruz Bicycles has lived - for better or worse - on their famed VPP suspension for more than 20 years. It's seen tweaks through that time but one of the downsides is the extra weight that comes with the pair of rotating links central to VPP. The last full suspension Santa Cruz to go without VPP was the Superlight, and in many ways, the Blur channels its inner Superlight.
That same superlight spirit is carried through what Santa Cruz calls Superlight technology. This is best described as a concave-shaped seatstay toward the bike, tuned to flex alongside the shock like a spring. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a leaf spring concept with short-travel mountain bikes - SCOTT and Cannondale employ similar ideas - but it is the first time we’ve seen it curved as it is in the shop.
As a result, when the bike is 45 percent of suspension travel the seatstay becomes flat, and increasingly stiffens up through the travel. Santa Cruz claims that doing so means the Blur has a better pedal platform and reduces pedal feedback. And on the trail, Santa Cruz says the rear wheel offers better traction and tracking ability through chunk and roots when compared to the previous Blur. As you’d expect, these claims comes with the addendum that this amount of traction comes WITHOUT the pedal bob that can impact a bike’s overall speed. Impressive stuff!
Total weight of the Blur CC frame, swingarm, and hardware is a claimed 1800 grams in a size medium, or about a substantial 10% lighter. We know that weight isn’t everything, and even the most die-hard XC racers understand that too. But it is good to see Blur CC is every bit as light as the light options from Cannondale, SCOTT, BMC, Giant, and Orbea.
Geometry and Fit
Cross country race and marathon bikes like the Blur XC and Blur TR have seen not only their features change with time, but their geometry too. Despite Santa Cruz being typically conservative in their geometry over the last few years, the Blur is surprisingly contemporary, and dare we say, cutting edge.
Big numbers here include longer reach measurements across all sizes paired to shorter 60mm stems across all sizes. Front center lengths have grown across all sizes to match the shorter stem. Perhaps most importantly, however, is the introduction of variable seattube angles and chainstay lengths. Many bikes might change their seat tube angles to match the rider size, but not many bikes change their chainstay lengths based on size.
Santa Cruz really committed to having the same riding experience for riders both small and tall, and different chainstay lengths based on size, while expensive, is something we find to be a worthwhile addition.
XC v. TR - Which is Best?
The Santa Cruz Blur comes in two iterations: non-TR (for XC) or TR. Blur TR takes the lightweight platform, adds a 120mm fork, and adds a slightly longer shock that bumps rear travel by 15mm to 115mm. Blur TR also receives slightly chunkier Maxxis Rekon tires, Fox suspension rather than Rockshox, and larger 180mm rotors front and rear. Dropper post lengths vary by size, but TR models stick to Rockshox Reverb droppers.
Regardless of which model you choose, you're guaranteed a dropper post, a necessity in this day and age.
Newly introduced for the Blur and Blur TR is the new Santa Cruz reserve 28 rim, found on all Blur Reserve models. This is Reserve’s latest version of their XC rim, now with a wider 28mm internal width. They’ve really keyed in on ride quality, aiming for something that tracks through terrain better than most other carbon wheels and won’t leave you as beat up at the end of a long ride or hard race. All said and done, they weigh as little as 1367g with tape and valves with DT 180 EXP hubs.
Also new to the scene is the Fox Transfer SL seatpost. Being lighter is a given, but the SL sees a redesign that cuts X grams when compared to the standard Fox Transfer seatpost. Part of cutting that weight however is limiting the dropper to two positions - up and down - in the name of cutting weight. Fair enough for us; we rarely ride without full extension.
Frame features are fairly straightforward. Sizes medium and up can hold three bottles (two inside the frame, one on the downtube), but every size can carry one bottle on the downtube and one bottle under the bike. You also get a threaded bottom bracket, Boost hub spacing, and Santa Cruz's lifetime frame and pivot bearing warranty.
What’s it like to ride? Not sure yet, and we won’t know until we get them in later this month. We could make some educated guesses in the meantime, however.
Revised suspension means that the bike trades a bit of poppiness for some traction and pedaling ability, but considering the relatively high anti-squat and regressive suspension curve we think this will pedal very well without needing to ever touch the lockout lever.
Tunes like this have found quite a bit of success around these parts. It means you can get away with relatively little suspension travel (100 or 115mm here) and flow through square edges and roots without them disrupting your pedal stroke. It might not feel immediately fast, but we expect the new Blur to carry momentum extremely well.
Finding the right mountain bike can be tough. But with all the changes we’ve seen to the Santa Cruz Blur and Blur TR, the Blur might just be the ideal bike for the Wasatch Mountains pedaller: light, strong, forgiving, and able to handle more trail riding than you’d expect. Those dissuaded by the Santa Cruz Tallboy because they wanted something lighter will be sure to find a home in the new Blur TR and its short travel sibling.
We expect to have a size run with different colors, specs, and build configurations in the shop soon. Want to reserve your own Santa Cruz Blur? Give us a call or send us an email; we’d love to help you out.
Words by Alvin Holbrook. Photos by Berin Klawiter.