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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.

The All-New Santa Cruz Blur

XC Heart with Santa Cruz Execution

The Santa Cruz Blur has been a lot of things to a lot of people. The first model, which 100/115mm travel, was Santa Cruz’s first mule for their then-new Virtual Pivot Point suspension design. Over the years, it developed into any number of bikes, some with pure XC intentions, some becoming slack trail monsters with 140mm travel. After a five year hiatus, the Santa Cruz Blur is back to fill in the full suspension cross country mountain bike gap that’s been missing.

Here’s the nitty-gritty: 100mm travel fork and 100 rear shock, with a 69 degree headtube angle and 74 degree seattube angle across all four sizes (S-XL). It uses Santa Cruz C and CC grade carbon, with the C grade frames about 250g heavier and no less stiff or durable. CC grade frames weigh in at just 2060g (lighter than most all of the competition). The CC X01 model with Santa Cruz Reserve wheels weigh in under 22 lbs. All bikes are 1x and 29er specific, with full suspension remote lockout available on nearly every model. It also offers internal routing capability for a dropper seatpost, two bottle cage mounts (rare for a full-suspension mountain bike), and the typical Santa Cruz threaded bottom bracket.

Santa Cruz definitely designed this as a dedicated cross country bike, because anything more would make it into a trail bike like the rest of their model line. The 69 degree headtube angle may seem steep (especially compared to the trail bikes we love), but they’ve combat this with a low 44mm rake fork. This increases overall trail, which slows down steering at higher speeds and makes the bike feel stable and confidence-inspiring. The bike also features longer reach measurements than the cross country competition, adding to it’s feeling of greater confidence on ever-more technical cross country courses; you can put a shorter stem on it and not turn it into a wheelie machine on climbs. It climbs as a VPP bike should, with excellent pedaling platform performance over rocky surfaces. The ideal suspensions setup soaks up bumps without offering a ton of kickback, and this bike does it fantastically.

The Santa Cruz Blur is available in six kits between the C grade carbon and CC grade carbon frarmes. The Blur doesn’t pretend to be a jack-of-all trades bike; there are a half dozen other Santa Cruz models that will do the job. Instead, this is a dedicated race machine that promises to surprise in how comfortable and efficient the bike manages to be.

Santa Cruz Hightower LT

Built for Big Days

Santa Cruz released the Santa Cruz Hightower trail bike to high praise. Riders were surprised by how much speed they could carry on descents, and how versatile it was over all trails. 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 model. With that, the Santa Cruz Hightower LT long travel 29er mountain bike was born.

Changes from the Hightower to the Hightower LT start from the back forward. While the front triangle and VPP suspension kinematics are the same as the standard bike, the rear swingarm changes to accommodate the longer shock. It’s not a night and day difference, but enough added capability to be a different bike. The rear end has slightly longer chainstays (438mm from 435mm) to accommodate the longer shock. This doesn’t change how the bike climbs all that much, but it is much easier to maintain high speed through rough high-speed sections

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. It comes in both the Hightower LT C (standard carbon) and Hightower LT CC (lighter carbon) flavors, depending on model and budget. Both models are designed to the same level of stiffness and durability, but the CC is 250-280 grams (0.6 lbs) lighter per frame.

How does it feel on the trail? Well, seeing as it’s roots are in a trail bike, the Hightower LT handles like a nimble rally car compared to the monster truck-like all mountain and long travel 29er competition. The VPP suspension, 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, riders who modified their regular Hightower bikes get their wish; it feels faster on descents, and actually hides it’s 29er wheel size very well. The extra travel and slacker headtube does wonders in making the bike more stable. Once again, it doesn’t feel like a monster truck like some of the competition, which means it needs a bit more finesse to descend quickly down the trail.

Overall, the Santa Cruz Hightower LT strikes an excellent balance between downhill slayer and a versatile trail bike. It climbs well, is lightweight, and comes with well thought out specs over the whole price range. The threaded bottom bracket, space for a water bottle, legendary Santa Cruz quality, and five-frame size range (S-XXL) pushes this bike over the top.

Santa Cruz 29er/27.5" + Mountain Bikes

Hightower, Hightower LT, Tallboy, Blur, Chameleon

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 info@contenderbicycles.com or by phone at Contact Us.

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