Santa Cruz Bicycles

Quality Bicycles Since 1994

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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 offers an approach to cycling that is uniquely theirs. Santa Cruz got their start in 1993 with the Tazmon and Heckler - two full suspension mountain 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 offers a range of mountain bikes, from the Santa Cruz Chameleon hardtail mountain bike, to the ever-capable Santa Cruz Hightower LT long travel 29er mountain 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 their 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.

Santa Cruz Chameleon Carbon

Changing to Suit It's Environment

Sometimes we cringe at the mere thought of calling something a “shreddy hardtail”, but we can’t get enough of lightweight hardtail mountain bikes that feature geometry and suspension travel to match the fun-filled trails that surround the Salt Lake City area. We’ve always wanted a carbon version of the aluminum Chameleon, and it’s finally here: the Santa Cruz Chameleon Carbon hardtail mountain bike. Shreddy hardtail lovers rejoice!

Here’s the details: a ‘C’ grade carbon frame joins the alloy model as the level-up option. Its essentially the same carbon as what one would find on the Hightower C or 5010 C; nothing exotic, just lightweight, durable, and battle-tested carbon adjusted for hardtail duty. Further, it pulls no punches compared to other Santa Cruz bikes, featuring internally-routed cable routing for the brakes and dropper post, as well as a threaded bottom bracket for a creak-free ride. The alloy model has been and will continue to be an excellent bike in our eyes, but the move to carbon makes it a lighter, faster, and more enjoyable bike.

The Carbon Chameleon changes to suit its environment thanks to just-right trail bike geometry shared with the Chameleon alloy frame. 29 x 2.5” or 27.5 x 3.0”, geared or singlespeed, Chameleon easily swaps between being a burly trail bike, single-speed racer, to a reliable bikepacking mule with ease. It’ll work with either a trail-ready 130mm or 120mm travel fork, respectively.

The Santa Cruz Chameleon Carbon seems to hit a sweet spot in every regard. It’s geometry is capable and well-balanced on the trail, it offers low weight, and is built to be a seriously reliable choice for the trail wizard and bikepacker alike.

2019 Santa Cruz Bronson

Leader of the Rat Pack

Most riders who have bought in to the Santa Cruz Bicycles brand have one bike they refer to with great affection. For many, it was the Blur. For most, however, that bike is the Santa Cruz Bronson. Originally conceptualized as a race enduro bike, riders realized that Santa Cruz built something much more versatile: an all-mountain bike that goes flat out, and consistently redefines what a 150mm travel bike can do. The new Santa Cruz Bronson carries that same spirit, but amplifies it for ample trail time.

Here’s the big news: a lower-link mounted VPP suspension design, similar to what’s found on the Santa Cruz Nomad. With a 33 percent leverage ratio (compared to the 45 of the Nomad), the Bronson is designed to offer a barely-noticeable bottom out, improved mid-stroke support, and an improvement on the Bronson’s strong pedaling performance. Paired to a RockShox Super Deluxe Air shock, the new Bronson sits higher in its travel through quick hits and feels seriously plush. 

With 150mm VPP suspension travel, the 2019 Bronson is designed to be all the bike you need through the wildly-varying trails found through Utah. Ideal for negotiating tech-gnar one moment and fast flowing terrain the next, the 160mm fork travel and 65-degree head angle ensure steering responses remain smooth everywhere, but are beefed up in comparison to the previous Bronson. The tires literally get beefier; the new Bronson fits up a 2.8-inch tires on plus rims. Build kits now come in 27.5 (2.5”/2.4”) and Plus using 2.6 tires. The 2.6” tires look like an excellent alternative for those that want the grip of a plus tire and the cornering support of a standard-width tire.

In other news, the 2019 Bronson now comes in an XS size for those of short stature, in aluminum A and carbon C and CC frames. Builds range from the reasonable Bronson A R with NX Eagle, to out of this world with the Bronson CC XTR Reserve. VPP suspension, now in it’s third generation, is known to be an active companion climbing. This ensure the bike absorbs bumps well and limits kicking rocks and roots to the rider. On the descents, the bike is pure Bronson. Never the longest bike in it’s class, the bike feels significantly more agile than much of the competition, but it’s suspension makes up for it’s perceived lack of “steamroller ability” that other bikes might have.

Call it your Deer Valley bike, or maybe your Moab bike; either way, the new 2019 Santa Cruz Bronson all-mountain bike is designed to be your evermore confidence-inspiring all-mountain epic bike that is livelier and better balanced than it’s sibling, the Santa Cruz Nomad.

Santa Cruz 29er/27.5" + Mountain Bikes

Blur, Chameleon, Tallboy, 5010, Hightower LT, Bronson, Nomad

The Santa Cruz mountain bike line is as expansive as Santa Cruz fans are dedicated to the brand. Over the years, their model line has grown more and more expansive, and made as a direct response of making the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Each model is as high-performance as they come, with models made for every specific trail, rider, and price point. Regardless of whether riders are looking for a 29er full suspension all rounder like the Santa Cruz Hightower, or the forever efficient climbing ability of the Santa Cruz Tallboy in a 27.5” + flavor, Santa Cruz has the gamut covered.

The cream of the Santa Cruz 29er/27.5” plus crop is the Hightower. Built after years of dominance with the last Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, the new Hightower has the versatility to deal with whatever appears on the horizon. It starts life with a 140mm or 150mm fork (for 29er or 27.5” +), and couples it with a 135mm travel rear shock. This shock is paired to their classic VPP suspension kinematics, which gives the Hightower a higher initial leverage rate and a flatter overall suspension curve. In a nutshell, the company was looking to improve the bike’s feel over small bumps while also making it feel more consistent throughout its range of travel. Combine that with the requisite longer, lower, slacker frame upgrades, and there is no doubt that the Hightower feels steady and confident when descents get rough. Running either proven 29″ wheels or the new 27.5”+ standard, the Santa Cruz Hightower all mountain bike seamlessly adapts to the trails and style you ride. With both Hightower C (carbon) and Hightower CC (even lighter carbon) models, there is a Hightower for at nearly every pricepoint.

It wasn’t long after the Hightower’s release that images began to surface of riders using a 150mm travel shock instead of the stock 135mm. While this was clearly to the chagrin of Santa Cruz, there was clearly desire for a long-travel 29er Santa Cruz. With that, the Santa Cruz Hightower LT long travel 29er mountain bike was born. While the front triangle and VPP suspension kinematics are the same as the standard bike, the rear swingarm changes to accommodate the longer shock. Accompanying the 29er only wheelset option is a 150mm travel fork (compared to 140mm), which slackens out the headtube angle to 66.4 degrees. This makes for a bike that feel comfortable right from the start. It feels best at higher speeds, but still surprisingly fun at lower speeds that a more novice rider might ride at. The bike feels even more of a jack of all trades than even the standard Hightower, all thanks to its additional suspension travel, and Hightower LT C (carbon) and Hightower LT CC (even lighter carbon) framesets.

Over the years, cross country mountain bikes from every brand have been injected with more “rowdy”; like the long travel bikes that are growing in popularity, these normally-conservative bikes are more than ever blurring the lines between traditional XC bikes and trail bikes. The Santa Cruz Tallboy – whose last iteration was much more capable than it’s 100mm travel suggested – now offers a 110mm shock out back, and a 120mm or 130mm fork for 29er or 27.5” + tires. A 68 degree head angle, VPP kinematics, and a rear shock flip chip develops the original Tallboy’s playful character into something much more capable. Longer reach and shorter chainstays fuel that personality on Tallboy CC (lightest carbon), Tallboy C (medium-mod carbon), and Tallboy A (aluminum). It is still very much a bike that climbs tight trails with great poise, never feeling sluggish, or that the front wheel was too unweighted. On the descents, however, it feels faster, and again is much more capable than it’s 110mm travel suggests. Despite it being built for XC exploits, it is a through and through Santa Cruz, built to be confidence-inspiring everywhere.

Santa Cruz claims the all-new Blur “rides faster, more comfortably, and more efficiently than any XC bike we’ve ever designed.” To do so they’ve aimed on two parts pieces of development: low weight and handling. Starting with an 29er-specific all-carbon chassis, Santa Cruz claims a frame, rear shock, and hardware weighs in at just 2060g (size M), lighter than most other XC mountain bikes, and light enough to make you feel guilty for that brownie you grabbed with your morning coffee. Low weight inherently makes any bike more lively and responsive, but they’ve coupled this innate playfulness with modern XC geometry. With a 69 degree headtube angle, a 74 degree seattube angle, greater reach across all sizes than the cross country competition, and a longer than average rear center, the Blur promises race-ready climbing performance and none of the high-speed dartiness that plagues other XC bikes. Combine this with their VPP suspension kinematics, and the Blur undoubtedly is one of the best XC bikes on the market today.

The Santa Cruz Chameleon hardtail mountain bike has always been a bit of an “odd man out”. In a lineup filled with high-tech full suspension bikes, the Chameleon has always been the scrappy and shreddy sibling. The aluminum starts life with a charismatic drab olive/purple colorway, with a 120mm suspension fork. Most people associate hardtails with cross-country, but with the Chameleon’s short chainstays, long reach, and slack 67.5-degree head tube angle, it is equipped to deal with trails that are much gnarlier. It big hits and jumps with ease, and the rigid rear end excels in efficiency and keeps weight down relative to full-suspension models. Couple that with swappable rear dropouts for 27.5” + and 29er wheels that can be equipped for both geared and single speed options, and the Chameleon is a hardtail ready to tackle any trail, or any type of bikepacking scenario.

Few bicycle companies captivate the mountain biking world like Santa Cruz Bicycles. Their bikes frequently set the tone within their genre as premier mountain bikes, ready to conquer whatever comes next.

Santa Cruz Technology

Bicycles Built to Last

In the cycling world, it is fairly clear that many brands do some combination of trend chasing and copying one another. It’s not inherently a bad thing; innovation spreads quickly and as brands put their spin on the newest technology, bikes become even more optimized. 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 Reserve Wheels leading the way.

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 takes 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.

All it takes is one ride

Come talk to one of our Santa Cruz experts today

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 or want to discuss build options, email us at or by phone at Contact Us.

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