When you're among the first to market with a 27.5-inch bike that rips, how do you go back and improve things? It's a constantly evolving process, and Santa Cruz looked to the success and capability of their Nomad while redesigning the Bronson and 5010 for 2016.
2016 Santa Cruz Bronson II Highlights
- Use: Trail / All-Mountain
- Frame: Carbon CC, C
- Rear Travel: 150mm / 6-inches VPP3
- Fork Travel: 150mm / 6-inches
- Wheels: 27.5-inch
2016 Santa Cruz 5010 II Highlights
- Use: XC / Trail
- Frame: Carbon CC, C
- Rear Travel: 130mm / 5-inches VPP3 (Travel Increased 5mm)
- Fork Travel: 130mm / 5-inches
- Wheels: 27.5-inches
- Updated Geometry
- Lower Standover Height
- Revised VPP Links
- Revised Suspension Tune
- 150mm Reverb Dropper Compatibility, 125mm on Small/XS
- Side Swing Front Derailleur
- Fully Guided Internal Cable Routing
- 148x12mm Rear Axle
- RockShox Front Suspension, FOX Rear Suspension
At the forefront of the changes to the Bronson and 5010 are several key geometry updates. With one-degree slacker head tube angles, 20-25mm longer reach measurements, 6-8mm shorter chainstays, shorter seat tube lengths for better sizing flexibility, and a 0.8-degree steeper seat tube angle nearly every aspect has been improved for the hard charging rider. Thanks to a third generation VPP suspension design the suspension is now more up to the task, too.
Do all the claims really add up to better bikes? We're pleased to report that they certainly do. Santa Cruz doesn't mess around, and the bikes perform as stated.
Starting with the Bronson, Downieville, California offered up the terrain capable of smashing the bikes into bits, but they ate it up in stride. If we were to fault the former Bronson in one major area, it'd be its ability to perform under heavy hits and a bit of a dead, wallowy feel when pumping and turning. That's all gone with this new edition. Running 30-33% sag on the FOX Float X Factory DPS shock with an EVOL air can resulted in a bike that can be tossed around every bit as hard as a Nomad without harsh bottom outs, plus it's more apt to gain speed when you put some pump into it. Thanks to the revised leverage curve and EVOL can it's quieter over the small chunder too, allowing you to skip over the rough without any unwanted surprises.
Toss in some wider 800mm bars, tires with actual tread on them, and a bunch of other smartly chosen components and we were in dust roosting heaven, doing our best to keep up with Bryceland and crew while hooting and hollering all along the way.
Switching from the Bronson, it was immediately clear that the new 5010 offers a ride that's far more precise and spritely. On technical terrain the thing demands a rider that's attentive, but it'll bring a smile to your face as you blast the bonus lines on the side of the trail and pump your way up to silly speeds. The updates make it far more composed when the trail gets gnarly and all hell breaks loose - an area we previously noted for improvement.
Aside from that, it's business as usual at Santa Cruz, with a no bullshit approach to all the little details that make the bikes more enjoyable from a real-world perspective. Things like the fully guided and rattle free internal cable routing, 73mm threaded bottom bracket, standard shock mounts, ISCG-05 tabs, and perfectly molded frame protectors help them stand out from the trend chasers thanks to years of refinement and a well-trained eye for what really matters.
Watch as Ratboy treats the kalimotxo-colored Bronson II to some amazing riding in Madeira, complete with a catchy new theme song:
Build Kits, Pricing and Availability
From the entry level but trashable $3,599 Carbon C R AM to the high end and flashy Carbon CC XTR AM at $8,699, Santa Cruz offers the Bronson and 5010 in several complete models. There's also a carbon frame + shock combo available for $2,999.
Expect an aluminum version to drop in early 2016. Carbon bikes begin hitting stores in September 2015. Check out www.santacruzbicycles.com for complete details, and be sure to watch our Juliana Roubion II and Furtado II feature for a look at the women's equivalents.
Photos by Gary Perkin and Mike Thomas