Santa Cruz Stigmata Gravel Bike - Five of Our Favorite Things

Written by Alvin Holbrook, on March 03, 2021

In a lot of ways, Northern California can lay claim to being the spiritual home of the gravel bike. Sure, that spirituality started in the 1970s with the advent of mountain bikes in the Marin Headlands among other places, but what modern gravel bike has become today - inching ever closer to the capability of a mountain bike with drop handlebars - is thanks to the demand for ever-ready bikes that can crest the array of fire roads, shred the descents, and push the limits of what they can ride. This leads us to the Santa Cruz Stigmata, the famous MTB brand's gravel bike that seems to be good at just about everything.

The Santa Cruz Stigmata is, plainly, a great gravel bike. Below are five of our favorite things about this custom Stigmata that distinguish it from the myriad gravel bikes on offer at Contender Bicycles.

Refined Handling

Sometimes it's good to fit in, and it's clear that Santa Cruz aimed to refine the Stigmata to the point that it fits in neatly into whatever riding it comes across. Between how the bike feels out on the road and its feature set, the Stigmata is built to feel at home in most situations.

Those coming from a road bike background will find familiarity in its direct, agile handling, while those coming from a mountain bike will find body positioning to be more comfortable than they might otherwise expect. Additionally, the Stigmata features a fairly relaxed fit with a tall stack and shorter reach across the size range. It's no longer purely a cyclocross bike as the previous Stigmata was, but something that looks to be approachable and familiar for those of all kinds of cycling backgrounds.

Another note here is that the Stigmata uses two fork offsets - 50mm on sizes 49-54cm, 45mm on sizes 56-61cm - to prevent toe overlap where possible. It also has the benefit of making sure that trail numbers are largely consistent across the size range.

Santa Cruz Stigmata

As Normal as It Gets

Refinement can be found not only in how the bike rides but the details too. A standard 27.2mm seatpost eschews any amount of propriety found in some other gravel bikes, while the BSA bottom bracket keeps things sturdy and reliable - a trend with the Stigmata. The chainstay gets a molded composite chainstay cover that wouldn't look out of place on the Blur. Additionally, the Stigmata uses a neat custom aluminum front derailleur clamp that can be easily removed for a clean, drill-free look.

Few quirks, even fewer compromises. The Stigmata is refined and does so to make the bike simple to service and ride.

Santa Cruz Stigmata

A Fire Sale on Tire Clearance

The Stigmata has so much tire clearance that you may as well put whatever you don't use on a fire sale. Santa Cruz suggests that a 700c x 45mm tire or a 27.5 x 2.1" tire will fit just fine. Great numbers for something with a 420mm chainstay length. To note, while the Stigmata can fit a claimed 700c x 45mm or 650b x 2.1" with ease, we've seen tires as wide a 700c x 48mm tires fit with adequate space.

Is tire clearance everything? No, not really. Most people are happy with a 700c x 40mm tire or a 650b x 48mm tire depending on wheel size, but lots of people value the grip or comfort that accompanies a wider tire. And while there are myriad other gravel bikes out there that fit a wider tire, you'll have a tough time finding one that fits a tire this big with a 2x drivetrain without stretching out the chainstays more than the Stigmata.

See? CC Carbon Makes a Difference

Santa Cruz doesn't list a frame or fork weight for the Santa Cruz Stigmata. Santa Cruz isn't known for building particularly lightweight bikes either. Those points aside, this build comes in at 18 pounds on the dot without anything exotic. We suspect a frame in a size 54cm to weigh in at about 1600g for a frame and fork.

Santa Cruz Stigmata

Reserve Wheels

The Reserve 22 gravel wheels featured on this Stigmata cut the fuss. They're well-designed, light enough, and as easy as it gets to service. Above all else, they're backed by the same fuss-free warranty that the Stigmata frame gets. In short, the lifetime warranty means you have the wheelset for a lifetime so long as you're riding in normal circumstances. But even if you melt a rim with the exhaust of your car on a long drive or crash at the end of a long day, they offer a low-cost replacement.

As the name suggests, the internal rim width of 22 mm is claimed to be designed for up to 45 mm tires, while the 24-spoke build is designed to tread the line between comfort and stiffness. DT Swiss 350 hubs add reliability to the wheel build while keeping the wheelset at an impressive 1398g. Refreshingly, there are no claims to aerodynamic performance here, with comparatively shallow rims aimed toward strength and ride quality first and foremost.

Juliana Quincy GRX

Bonus: the Juliana Quincy

Juliana Bicycles, Santa Cruz's partner in crime building bikes for those looking to shred, offers their version of the Stigmata called the Quincy. The frames and a majority of components are the same. Key differences here include different colors and women's specific touchpoints, including a unique saddle and different handlebar measurements.

Crucially, the Quincy comes in a 49 cm frame size that the Stigmata doesn't offer, where riders 5' and up can find a bike that fits them easily.

But maybe the best part of the Quincy? The color schemes. The 2020 model and its blue clearcoat over carbon really impressed us, but the 2021 Gypsum color is something we'd like to see more of in the bike industry.

 Santa Cruz Stigmata

We have both the Santa Cruz Stigmata and Juliana Quincy in stock now at Contender Bicycles. Want to learn more? Find us in store, by phone, or by email at info@contenderbicycles.com.


2 comments

  • Cole,

    happy to hear you’re digging your Stigmata! It’s a great choice.

    Alvin - Contender Bicycles on

  • That’s my bike! Thanks guys, I’m loving the build.

    Cole on

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