Santa Cruz Bicycles


Santa Cruz Bicycles comes from the eclectic city of it's namesake. With a unique combination of beachfront alternative lifestyle and a seriously slept on network of trails for mountain biking and hiking, Santa Cruz Bicycles offers an approach to cycling that is uniquely theirs. Santa Cruz got their start in 1993 with the Tazmon and Heckler - two full suspension bikes released in a raff of hardtail mountain bikes. Over the years, Santa Cruz Bikes has developed one of the most loyal fanbases in mountain biking thanks to their consistent approach of not building what was was best today, but what could be.

Today, Santa Cruz Bicycles offers a range of aluminum frame and carbon frame mountain bikes, from the Santa Cruz Chameleon hardtail, to the ever-capable Santa Cruz Hightower long travel 29er trail / enduro bike. Their advanced VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) technology offers some of the best suspension kinematics in the industry, while each bike is hand-assembled to order in the Santa Cruz California factory. Every Santa Cruz is the distillation of a desire to ride and build the best mountain bikes in the world, with a touch of swagger that only an environment that Surf City USA can foster.


Built for the Rigors of Mountain Biking

Yeah, its an ebike. The Santa Cruz Heckler begs to be defined as anything but that, however. Santa Cruz Bicycles says the new Heckler pedals well regardless of how many watts are involved. With a lower-link VPP suspension shared with the latest and greatest of Santa Cruz mountain bikes, just with the Heckler name that symbolizes change, development, and swagger.

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The Shimano STEPS mid-drive electric unit is the elephant in the room. I won’t be able to say whether the Heckler will convince people that pedal-assist isn’t devil spawn, (maybe Ryan’s Heckler first ride review can) but Santa Cruz did a great job of integrating the drive unit, battery, controller, and display.

Up front is a minimal Shimano STEPS E7000 controller with a similarly unobtrusive display Shimano’s e-bike setup is known for. This is paired to one of two STEPS drive units: the new E7000 unit for Heckler R-Kit and S-Kit builds, and the E8000 unit for X01 Reserve and XX1 AXS Reserve builds. Both drive units offer the same compact form factor, reliable function, and serviceability that lines up nicely with the Santa Cruz ethos. Just a note: while the cheaper STEPS E7000 unit only offers a max 60 Nm of torque, this means that the overall battery range is slightly greater. The STEPS E8000 unit offers a substantial 70 Nm torque. Both are plenty of assist for the vast majority of riders.

All Heckler models share the same 504 Wh battery. Extra batteries are $550 and come with an additional battery cover to make swapping batteries easy, whether at home or on the trail. Other cool features include new Santa Cruz Reserve DH carbon wheels on X01 and XX1 AXS builds, as well as new E-bike-specific Santa Cruz Carbon handlebars that are drilled to hide the controller cable and feed it directly to the main display.

The Santa Cruz Heckler e-mountain bike is well-considered in the same way that just about every Santa Cruz bike has been from the start. The attention to detail impressive, and leads to an overall cohesive package that makes this a true Santa Cruz.


The Gravity Riders’ XC Bike

The Santa Cruz Tallboy is back for its fourth iteration and this bike like previous generations is more trail-ready than the one before it. 120 mm travel out back doesn’t seem like much, but with a new lower-link VPP suspension it is more capable than ever. Ride it up your favorite climbs and rally it back down again; the Tallboy trail bike does not disappoint regardless of what you like to ride and where.

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Here’s the big news: a lower-link mounted VPP suspension design, similar to what’s found on the Santa Cruz Tallboy. Tallboy is designed to offer a barely-noticeable bottom out, improved mid-stroke support, and an improvement on the Tallboy’s strong pedaling performance. Paired to a Fox DPS shock, the new Bronson sits higher in its travel through quick hits and feels seriously plush.

This fourth generation of Tallboy, as well as the new third-generation Juliana Joplin, is remade with the end goal of making it more capable than ever. The ethos is this: while most assume that riders of short-travel bikes slow down when the trail points down, the reality is that fun trails encourage us to ride faster, regardless of what bike we may be on. What Santa Cruz mountain bikes has done as a result is more or less bring over the geometry of the new Hightower and scaled it to fit a 130 mm/120 mm suspension layout. A 65.5-degree head tube angle, 76-degree seat tube angle, long front center and reach measurements, and 44 mm-offset fork exemplify this mission.

There might even be enough here to pitch the new Tallboy trail bike as superior to the Hightower. They both receive threaded bottom brackets, linkage covers to protect against dirt and grime, a flip-chip located at the shock to adjust for tire size, lower standover on all sizes, and two bottle cage mounts. From here it becomes a trade-off between the downtube tailgate protector of the Hightower and the adjustable chainstays of the Tallboy. Also found on the Megatower, adjustable chainstays allow riders to swap between short 430 mm chainstays that make the bike more playful thru technical terrain, or flip to 440 mm chainstays that increase high-speed stability.

Perhaps the prevailing thought that people come away with after looking at the Tallboy is one of mass appeal. The Tallboy is a bike for the people; Tallboy aluminum complete bikes start at an $2699, with the XX1 AXS Reserve bike and CC-grade carbon frame at $10499. There are an impressive six sizes available, allowing riders of all sizes to find a bike that they can be comfortable with on the trail.


The Gravel Bike for Going Deeper

The Santa Cruz Stigmata is a mainstay in the off-road drop bar world. It’s initial release in 2015 brought about MTB standards and design features to create a unique CX bike. This latest Stigmata carries on that torch of making what forward-thinking riders want to ride today, with big tire clearance, elite handling, and the ability to make this Santa Cruz Bicycles gravel bike whatever you want it to be.


Now in its third generation, the Santa Cruz Stigmata started sparked riders’ interest in gravel bikes by offering a go-anywhere bike with the performance of a road bike and the dedicated build quality of a Santa Cruz. Responsive and snappy, capable and reliable, the Santa Cruz Stigmata can be just about whatever you want it to be.

The Stigmata gravel bike uses their top-level CC-grade carbon frame, which blends together as an excellent mix of road smoothness and sharp feel that makes the Stigmata unique. Other parts to note include a threaded bottom bracket, internal cable routing, compatibility with 1x and 2x drivetrains, internal dropper routing, three bottle cage mounts and fender mounts. There is also space for a 700 x 45c or 27.5 x 2.1” tire. Standard fare for a gravel bike, but information that should not be taken for granted.

Refinement is the word of the day with the Stigmata. The color options are mature, and the fit itself is accommodating for those looking for long days in the saddle, and increased standover height in every size shows that Santa Cruz cares about the varying way the Stigmata might be used. This refinement carries on into how the bike rides, as it strikes a just-right combination of technical handling capability and straight-line stability at speed. That said, Santa Cruz has stepped up this time around by using two distinct fork rakes across the size range, instead of sharing just one, in order to keep the desired handling characteristics consistent for all rider sizes.

A fork weighs 450 grams, and a frame weighs in at 1050 grams in a size 56 cm.


Bicycles Built to Last

Santa Cruz Bikes is unique in the cycling world for their creativity; they started off by making their first bike a single pivot full suspension mountain bike, unique amongst the competition. Over 20 years later, Santa Cruz’s level of dedication to building uncompromising mountain bikes is rarely seen in the bicycle world, with their VPP suspension design, carbon fiber manufacturing, and Santa Cruz Bicycles Reserve Wheels leading the way.

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While Santa Cruz holds steady to their dedication to single pivot swingarm design on their full suspension mountain bikes, their calling card is their Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension design. VPP uses two short links rotating in opposite directions, one below the top tube, and one just behind the bottom bracket. Not only does this unique suspension design allow for a more active rear suspension early in the suspension travel, but it allows for finely-tuned shock rates and kinematics for a whole range of mountain bikes. The result? Because Santa Cruz has used the VPP design since 1999, the company has a deep well of knowledge on how to tune VPP into all the various shock, drivetrain, wheel size and travel configurations to create the perfect balance. In addition, Santa Cruz offers easy serviceability on each VPP-equipped model they offer, along with lifetime bearing replacement available, it is an incredibly stout suspension design. Instead of designing a new suspension every year, they’ve refined it into one of the most efficient, responsive, and strongest rear shock designs on the market today.

Those at all familiar with how Santa Cruz develops their carbon fiber mountain bikes know the lengths they go to ensure strength and longevity in their bikes. While all companies stress test their frames, Santa Cruz carbon frames take it up another notch. They famously drop 75lb gym weights onto frames for impact assessment, and use conduct 800lb shear tests on various parts of their frames to give them one of the best carbon fiber strength-to-weight ratios on the market. Each grade of their carbon fiber frames use a one-piece carbon layup of the front triangle which allows fibers to be used that continuously wrap between tubes. This allows the frame to distribute loads and absorb impact energy more effectively, and able to absorb impact better than any other frames they’ve tested. They didn’t just limit this to their top-end bikes; Santa Cruz use the same proprietary processes to create lower-cost carbon frames that retain the same legendary strength and stiffness that makes Santa Cruz unique.

This carbon fiber design prowess isn’t just limited to their framesets; Santa Cruz now offers carbon fiber wheelsets. The Santa Cruz Reserve line of mountain bike wheels is relatively new to the carbon wheel scene, but they come with a promise: a lifetime warranty. They’ll replace any rim broken from riding for free, with a rim sent out within 48 hours. How are they this confident in their wheels and rims? After plenty of testing far above that of UCI standard regulation, Santa Cruz found that rims needed to be strong around the spoke nipples, as well as around the rim bead. By making their rims as light as possible, they were able to add material exactly where it was needed. The result of their testing and development is a rim that Youtube-famous trials rider Danny MacAskill thrashed – without a rear tire – and still impressed with its durability. Add that to the high quality DT Swiss and Industry Nine hub choices available, and the Santa Cruz Reserve mountain bike wheel is an extremely reliable wheel packaged by an impressive technologically-advanced wrapper.

Santa Cruz Bikes are on the bleeding edge of design, refinement, and durability in not just their frames, but their components as well. They offer strongest carbon fiber mountain bike wheels on the market, as well as some of the most capable bikes on the market, as tested by the likes of Danny MacAskill and their Enduro World Series team. Regardless of what it is, a bicycle or part with the Santa Cruz name is sure to be a top-level product.



At Contender Bicycles, our best tools for selling bikes are the people who ride them. Everyone at Contender Bicycles has extensive experience riding bikes across many brands. If you have any questions regarding a Santa Cruz Bicycles or want to discuss build options, email us at or by phone at Contact Us.

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