The Santa Cruz Superlight29 D XC Complete Bike proves that you don't have to go all-in with your life savings to get a trustworthy and high-performing big-wheeled rocket. The 100mm-travel Superlight29 uses the same refined single-pivot design that appears on the 26in Superlight and the Heckler. These Santa Cruz models have long been touted for their reliable, confidence-inspiring ride quality and value. Now you can get that workmanlike performance along with the fast-rolling advantages that 29er wheels provide.There are many reasons why good single-pivot designs are still relevant, and the Superlight29 highlights them. The suspension action is predictableAAAyou know what this bike is going to do in any situation. The Superlight29 frame is lighter than the VPP Tallboy Aluminum frame while sharing nearly identical geometry. The 15mm collet axle pivots that link up the Superlight29 are bombproof. And, of course, there is only one main pivot to collect mud and grime. Throw in a wallet-friendly price tag and a custom-tuned Fox Float RL shock, and it all adds up to near-unbeatable value for a trail-dominating steed.Lest you think the Superlight29 is just a bigger copy of the 26in Superlight, check out the tapered headtube, added to withstand the deflection forces applied by the larger front hoop. Additionally, Santa Cruz added cable/hose guides so you can upgrade to a dropper seatpost on the Superlight29. The length/stroke of the Fox Float RL shock differs based on the frame size. Large and X-Large sizes come with a 7.875 x 2in shock, while the shock on Small and Medium sizes is 6.5 x 1.5in. The smaller shock provides additional standover clearance for the smaller bikes. The component package for this complete bike offers great bang for the buck. You'll be squishing a RockShox Recon Silver TK 29 100mm fork that is plush and easy to service. The hoops are WTB Laserdisc XC rims laced to Shimano hubs, wrapped in Maxxis Crossmark 2.1in tires.
Strengths: Terrific Handling
Climbs and descends well, Looks very nice love orange, The frame has been great, Like the rockshox Reba dual air always works great, Fox rear shock is very nice.
Weaknesses: The Avid Elixir 5 brakes are junk my bike only has four months of riding and i have paid a bike shop to bleed and replace rear pads once .I have had to replace the pad four times this summer alone have to do it myself can't keep paying bike shop to do something this often . My LBS said after Avid redesigned these brakes they went to crap. Also my head set went bad Santa Cruz warranted it and i replaced it. Now my bottom bracket is bad and they say it is not covered under their life time bearing warranty wish they could make up their mind on what is a life time warranty they claim on their bike bearings. This is not a bottom of line bike and should not have so much problems for $2500 plus tax .I can more than afford to keep fixing this bike but feel it should not of had so many problems in four months of riding .
The Avid Elixir 5 brakes, Cane Creak head set, And now Bottom Bracket ,Hope i don't have anything else Santa Cruz doesn't seem to care about you after you buy .I do ride this bike three to four times a week ten to fifteen miles a time maybe these parts are not suppose to last that long but it's really only been four month. I would bet that when you buy their bike with pre selected build kits they are just built in China and shipped to Santa Cruz and shipped to bike store they don't lay a hand on them to know the quality their self's. I ride with others that have built their own Santa Cruz bikes and they love them so if you want to build yourself use good parts and you will have a great bike. Might look to Niner for my next bike.
Strengths: Fantastic rear suspension. CTD shock is awesome although it is overkill. I mostly leave it in open setting and it sprints and climbs with the best. Nice geometry.
Weaknesses: On large frame water bottle doesn't fit unless you flip the shock. ???
I built up a frame. At first I thought I made a mistake. Lately I've ridden a Spearfish (love!), Epic 29, Camber 29. Love all of those bikes so the bar was high. Had Heckler which I loved as well so I thought I have to give this bike a chance.At first it didn't feel right and I was bummed. I lowered pressure on shock, mounted a 90mm stem vs my standby 105. After fiddling I liked the ride alot but didn't feel fast. Then I started racking up PRs on Strava. I was shocked. The suspension just feels great and keeps the bike under control. My28 yr old son rode it today for the first time today and he has ridden alot of bikes over the years. He said it was the funnest and coolest bike he's ever ridden! Wow. I love it, I just wish they had designed a bit more room for the water bottle.
Similar Products Used: Salsa Spearfish, Specialied Epic 29, Specialized Camber 29, many hardtail 29ers and a really long list of 26ers.
Bike Setup: Fox 29RL, CTD, 2X9 XT,Sun Black Flag tubeless with Specialized Fastrak Sworks 2.0.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 12, 2013
Strengths: Great Value
Climbs and descends equally well
The WTB saddle is really comfortable, and I'm especially picky when it comes to saddles
The black and green color scheme looks nice
Weaknesses: The Avid Elixer 5 brakes squeak a lot
I demoed a number of brands and models before pulling the trigger on this one and don't think there's a better mountain bike out there for the money. Several that cost more than the Superlight 29er felt sluggish in comparison and didn't corner or climb as well, much to my surprise.
While this bike isn't especially light - my size XL comes in at around 31 pounds according to my bathroom scale, which may or may not be accurate - it doesn't feel heavy on the trail. In fact, it climbs amazingly well.
Some of the competing models I tried felt like they weighed about the same when I picked them up, but they felt really heavy and slow on long climbs. I'm not sure why, but the difference was really noticeable.
The day after I bought the Superlight 29er, I did two laps on Moab's Slickrock trail, which is my all-time favorite trail and has some really steep sections. I had been on it a number of times but had never ridden it as well. Getting behind the saddle for some of those steep descents, and then moving to the front of the saddle for the steep climbs, was easier and more fluid than I've experienced in the past.
I was not only able to make it up a few sections that always stumped me previously, but I also had more confidence descending, and successfully rode one or two sections I had walked in the past.
My subsequent rides - mostly on singletrack - have been an absolute joy. This bike just happily eats up the miles and cruises over ruts, roots, rocks, etc.
The geometry of this bike feels perfect. This is the only bike I've owned where I've felt "in" the bike as apposed to "on" the bike. I've gone over the handlebars of previous mountain bikes before, and I was pleased to discover that my center of gravity feels lower on this bike. That's a real confidence booster!
The suspension on the Superlight 29er very good. I will note, however, that I've read others say they don't feel a difference between this single-pivot suspension and the VPP suspension on the higher end Santa Cruz bikes. I completely disagree. That VPP is amazing! I demoed that system on the carbon Tallboy, and was blown away! It will be worth the extra money for many people. But not for me. Not now, anyway.
I chose to go with this single-pivot design, because it comes at a better price point and is still very good. Once my student loans are paid off, I'll probably buy a bike with the VPP system, but until then, this suspension system is one I can be very happy with.
The only thing I really don't like about the bike is the Avid Elixer 5 brakes. They stop the bike just fine but make a lot of noise. I would have happily paid a few more dollars for SLX or XT brakes.
By the way, I got the "R" build, which includes the Fox Float front fork with 120 mm of travel, SLX hubs, Deore crankset, etc. While I'd prefer full XT components, this kit performs just fine for a great price. The difference in weight is apparently only a couple of pounds.
The way I see it, I can spend $1,500 for the upgraded components or make up the difference by cutting my body fat by just 1%. I've already done the latter, which for me was the better way to go.
The bottom line is that I'm very pleased with this purchase. The Santa Cruz Superlight 29er is simply a terrific all-around cross-country bike for a fantastic price!
Strengths: Large wheels get you over stuff so much easier!
Great suspension system.
I could go on all day!
Weaknesses: If I had to choose something I'd say MAYBE it's a little heavy due to the larger wheels. Maybe. Not a deal breaker for me though.
I just bought this bike used from a rental fleet in Moab, UT. It is AMAZING!
I am a 5' 6" female and when the 29ers started coming out thought they were only for people like my husband, 6' 2" tall . I was so wrong. I have never felt so safe or so balanced on a mountain bike before.
The day after picking up the bike we rode Slickrock in Moab. (If you're even a little familiar with the trail you know that it is a great place to get a good feel for your new bike's capabilities. :) ) Well, I was taking stuff I never would have dreamed of on my 26er. Drops I would normally dismount and walk through I was riding with no fear. I feel so good on this bike!
It is so easy to get in front of or behind the saddle in a split second and still be totally balanced. The geometry of this thing is spot on! I just can't rave enough about it!
Ladies, if you're contemplating a 29er but wondering if it's just going to be too big for you, lay your worries to rest. If nothing else, rent one for a day. If you're not sold within the first 10 minutes of riding...well, I'll eat my helmet. :)
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: July 16, 2013
Strengths: Great bike. upgraded to R XC version which is a much better value.
Weaknesses: Maxis Crossmark tires are subpar.
Great bike. Tested many different full suspension 29ers and this was definitely the best bang for my buck. Upgraded from a single suspension 26er and could tell the difference right away. I was about to buy a Specialized Camber but this bike is nicer and the components are better. Got a good deal at $2500. Bike didn't climb very well initially but I changed the front tire to a gripper XKing tire and it came alive. No other complaints.
I purchased the Superlight R Xc version (Gloss Black) because I thought the components that came with it were worth the extra dough, and I see that most others feel the same.This is my first 29er and I've ridden the bike 4 times on 2 different trails and really like it. I came from a Trek with the RockerLink suspension but I don't feel that this Single Pivot suspension is inferior in any way; Santa Cruz really have it dialed in, I'm about 180 pounds and have noticed no pedal bob issues. I'm 5' 5" and riding the size small; the bike shop where I bought it is very particular about getting the right size bike (as any shop should be) and I think they did a great job, including putting an 80mm stem instead of the 70mm or 90mm that comes with the bike, everything feels perfect. Of course I noticed a difference with the 29" wheels right from the get go but did not feel that they made it harder to take off from a stop or anything like I've seen some folks say. The bike definitely makes it easier to get up hills for sure: I had a few obstacles in mind from my most local trail that usually give me some trouble and I took them no problem now. There are also some really tight, flat swtichbacks on my local trail and I got thru those without issue, including no toe overlap on the front wheel at all. As stated I've only ridden 4 times on 2 different trails but haven't noticed any of the issues that others have had with the brakes or the front fork yet. I've ridden over a good mix of stair drops, switchbacks, man-made hills and have no complaints with the bike at all, I feel like it can handle anything I'd want to throw at it. The bike made me realize how hard I was working with the 26" wheels, it's hard to describe because I loved going riding before, but this bike and the 29" wheels make it like a whole 'nother level of fun. The Shadow Plus rear derailleur shifts like a dream as well. I'm running it with the stock tires, but tubeless setup. I had the same Maxxis Crossmark on the back of my old bike and I'm fine with it there, but will definitely look at something a little more grippy for the front. One other thing is the saddle may be a bit small for my sit bones but I'm going to ride it a few more times and if needed I'll put my old Specialized Rival 143 SL on. I highly recommend this bike after 4 rides and will update if any issues come up.
Strengths: I got the RX build which I would recomend. This is a great riding bike. It rides much better then my Specialized Enduro and Astrix Rook 29. The geometry on this bike works well for me and deserves a 5 from this stand point. The bike shifts well with no noted issues. With the proper pressure in the tires I have had no issue with them and they seam to grip well.
Weaknesses: The issues I have had with this build is why it loses chilis. The Elixer 5 brakes have failed twice and were rebled the same (down and out until the breaks were bled). The fox fork failed right out of the gate (returned to fox and serviced (down at least a week)). I seam to be returning the bike for service on a regular basis due to the parts. I have had the bike for 6 months but in the shop for many weeks.
Overall I love this bike. I would recommend it with upgraded brakes. The fork being rebuilt now seams to function but i can't tell the difference between modes with exception of the climb mode vs the trail and decent.
Strengths: This review is on the 2012 SC Superlight 29 DXC build.
A good solid bike with a light frame. The suspension is not like the Tall Boy but it is a proven design that SC has used on many of there bikes in the past. I only ride about 2 to 3 time a week and I wanted a FS for exercise. I had a hardtail 29er before this bike. At this point in time I could not justify spending more money until I get in better condition and become a better rider.
Although, I would recommend for anyone thinking of getting this bike to go with the RXC build if you can swing it. The extra $500 cost is worth it along with different tires as noted below.
Weaknesses: I have found that the weakness of this bike is the tires. From day one this bike wanted to wash out on easy down hill turns. Because of this I never wanted to push it on down hills. I know that some people like the maxxis crossmarks, but they did not work me. There is a cure. Read below
I have own this bike for almost a year (10 months). About 2 week ago I finally replaced the tires and this bike absolutely came alive. I bought the "Specialized Ground Control" tires but I think any tire known for good traction would work. It was about $60 per tire but well worth it. I kept the tubes in for now.
It took about 20 mins of my test ride to realized that I was flying down these single track trails like never before. The turns were coming up quicker and it seemed like I was not peddling as hard. It was like I had a driect drive to the rear wheels. On the down hills it was holding the corners, although I was still afraid to push it on this test run.
Finally, yes, this is how this bike should be running. I had doubts about the 29er wheels and was thinking of going back to 26er wheels. But no more.
I have since got a few more rides in and it is just wonderful. I'm looking for hills to climb and steeper down runs.
Santa Cruz has a good bike in the Superlight 29 but it needs good tires to bring out the best in this bike. I guess this would hold true for any bike. Where I ride there are varying track conditions. Mainly loose over hard-pack and the crossmarks don't make it.
I'm a happy camper now because of my new tires.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: April 5, 2013
Strengths: 29 inch wheels roll well, uphill and down. I think got a good value for my money.
Weaknesses: No good place for waterbottle.
I am not a real avid biker. This my second bike. My first was Specialized Rockhopper. This Superlight 29 is way better. I am very happy with it. I got the rx kit. Glad I got the 29 instead of the 26.
Strengths: Its Quick or Fast both up hill and downhill
Weaknesses: None for the cost
This Cheetah can climb as quick as it descends. I tried many bikes and realized I was not only drinking the 29r Kool-Aid I need it. A list of 29rs I rode were Trek Super Fly - Rumble fish, Tallboy Carbon, Kona Hei-Hei,Yeti 95, and Pivot MACH429. All great bikes but for the money and the types of trails I have in southern California the Superlight 29 does it for me. If one day I can drop 7k on a carbon bike I would have a tough desition on weather I get a Tallboy LTc or a Pivot MACH429.
This is a Superlight 29 review and I for one love it, little by little I have been upgrading stuff as warranty items come up. I bent a front chairing tooth and after several trips to the LBS of them bending the tooth back they replaced my chain(KMC hollow chain ring upgrade), dear derailleur (X9 upgrade), crank bottom bracket and chain ring (XT upgrade) with me paying the difference for the upgrade cost. Once they replace my crank the instead of the initial (bend the tooth back) the bike has not had one issue shifting. It climbs like a hard tail, descends so quick I bought a mouthguard so I don’t chip my teeth or bite my tongue. I haven’t, lost control on a downhill yet, and my strava times constantly show PR when I ride consistently once a week. Lines are easy to find since the 29" wheels make their own path. The bike sits low enough that I don’t get thrown over the front handlebars on descends and turning is sharp and concise. The rims are tubeless ready but the tires are not. I bought the stans kit and am now running tubeless, I personally can’t tell a difference but know that if I don’t ride every week or two I need to add air to the tires. I am very happy with the way the bike rides looks and feels. One day I will upgrade my rims and buy a dropper post.
For now I will enjoy my weekend rides at Top Of The World, Whiting Ranch and the Fullerton loop.
Favorite Trail: Top Of The World - Laguna California
Duration Product Used: 8 Months
Purchased At: The Path Bike Shop -
Similar Products Used: 29r Trek Super Fly - Rumble fish, Tallboy Carbon, Kona Hei-Hei,Yeti 95, and Pivot MACH429
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 1, 2013
Strengths: Handling, value for money
Weaknesses: Fork blew up after 60 miles - tends to squeak after rebuild, wheels are heavy and managed to have two nipples fail on the rear after 75 miles - nipple failure (brass) is basically unheard of. Both failed nipples were very corroded.
Updating my previous post - Fox sent back a fork that works better than the original overall. However it has an annoying squeak after it heats up (10 miles or more). Also the stock WTB STi19 wheels are not very impressive. Two nipples failed after 75 miles on the rear wheel - on each side of the pinned joint. This after no abuse. Never had a nipple failure. SC says send the wheel back and they will build a new one. Not sure if I will want a new one or simply need to invest in a better wheelset. Also not that thrilled they want me to send the wheel back, then they send a new one as I have sent in photos of the failure, and actually repaired the wheel so I could ride over the holidays. Being down for a week plus is not what I call great service. They need to send a new wheel to me, and I'll send back the bad one. Second warranty claim on the bike since new in October. Never had any warranty claim on any other bike. Still like the bike, but I'm not as pleased as I was originally.
Date Reviewed: November 28, 2012
Strengths: Size and Cost
Weaknesses: None so far at 100 miles.
I am a short guy 5'3" and anxious to join the 29 craze. This bike fit me perfectly. Lighter than my 26 inch Blur. Feel secure and confident and makes my 26 feel like a kids bike. I purchased the RXC built which lists for $2450 with Shimano parts except Elixir brakes, which seems to be the standard for bikes in this price range. My local shop did me good and got it at $2038. So I think it is a bargin
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: November 22, 2012
Strengths: Compact geometry, ride quality, handling.
Weaknesses: Slightly heavy, but feels lighter than it is when riding; front fork failed after 60 miles - Fox Float 120 CTD
This review is for the 2013 model RXC build with the new Fox Float CTD suspension front and rear. It shipped with the Fox Float 29 120 CTD fork. I have the XL frame bought on the advice of an advisor at Huck 'n Roll (now Competitive Cyclist). I am 6'1" and it fits me perfectly. It handles tight trails that I ride frequently extremely well. I just love the ride quality, slow speed and high speed handling. Very easy to go faster on than my 100mm travel 26er I just gave up. I have 4 rides on it now and around 60-70 miles. I was used to it within 5-10 miles, and it feels like something I've ridden for years. This is the first 29er that I've owned. Having ridden the 2011 Specialized Camber Elite (a bike I like but feels way more stretched out than this bike and does not handle the really tight stuff very well) and the 2012 Trek Rumblefish Elite (a bike I thought I would like but really didn't feel at home on at all) on rides in California as rentals, I knew they were not perfect. The Santa Cruz is perfect for me. I've been riding 17 plus years now and am 53, but in good shape. I ride south Florida mostly (Oleta River - rocks, trees, roots, very tight; and Amelia Earhart - fast, flowy, minimal tight woods) and this bike shines in that variety of terrain. I would highly recommend this bike to anyone looking fr a cross country oriented 29er. A bonus is that the price is excellent fro what you get. Shimano Shadow SLX rear derailleur shifts as good as anything I've tried (mostly XT) and the Avid Elixir 5 brakes even work well. They squeak when they get wet, but otherwise perform well. Wheelset is a little heavy, but works well. I have converted to full tubeless swapping out the Maxxis Crossmark on the front for a Specialized Purgatory Control 2.2 which helps with front end grip. I swapped the stock Truvativ 27" aluminum bars for a pair of Ritchey Pro Carbon low riser bars that are 26" wide for the tight trees I ride in. Otherwise it's stock.
The one flaw so far is that the Fox Float 29 CTD fork has failed internally. It has developed a squeak on small bumps, tops out badly, and during the last ride won't compress beyond 80mm of travel. Spoke to Fox yesterday and they are being very nice about it but have asked me to ship it back for repair after just 60 miles or so. Disappointed in that especially as this is the first Fox fork I've owned. Every other brand I've had in 17 years (Rock Shox, Marzocchi, Magura, and Manitou) and no failures of any kind except seals. I'll see how Fox does and if this is a one-off issue or a bigger problem in the new CTD line.
Similar Products Used: Specialized Camber Elite 29, Trek Rumblefish Elite
Bike Setup: Stock except Ritchey Carbon Pro low riser bars and a Specialized Purgatory 2.2 front tire. Tubeless using supplied WTB valves on the stock WTB TCS rims.
Date Reviewed: October 13, 2012
Strengths: Got the 2013 rxc which has a good compoment group. I think the bike is very neutral handling and playful, not bad going down hill or up though i'm not saying it would win a world cup if you get my drift. Its a simple sturdy design that works well.
Weaknesses: I upgraded to xt brakes and an ardent on back for where i'm riding but really no weakness
I'm a 55 yr old clyde and am loving this bike it does everything i ask of it what more need i say?
25lbs & counting
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: July 11, 2012
Strengths: Great geometry, 15mm thru axle tapered fork, good parts selection R xc kit. Fully covered cables for the shifters, YESSS! Room to upgrade to dropper post too.
Weaknesses: Avid Elixir 5 brakes
I am truly impressed. I've demoed a Tallboy several times and never could pull the trigger on that bike as the fit just didn't work. I'm 5'6" and never had standover clearance with the Tallboy. First thing I checked was clearance so all good on a size medium. My thoughts were that with the longish chain stays and geometry that this bike would feel like my small Niner EMD 9. Which is a great bike, but just didn't have that quick mobility that would make me want to ride fast. My small EMD 9 and the medium Superlight have about the same geometry. So my first impression was that it was going to feel like my Niner with full suspension.
I was wrong. I was glad to have waited..... I have enjoyed Santa Cruz bikes for years. Owned a 03 Blur,2010 Carbon Blur, 06 Superlight and Chameleon. I was bummed when they brought out the Tallboy due to the fact that they start at a medium. Low and behold Santa Cruz has come to the aid of the short people. Tried both small and medium and found a better fit with the medium, with proper clearance for the boys.
Parts are good, I would have been happy for a while with the stock kit. However I was using a Giant XTC 1 29er that was upgraded with Easton EA90 wheels,Thompson post.70mm stem, light WTB saddle and Easton EC 70 bars, which transitioned over to the Superlight. This brought the bike down to the 25 lb. level. That is where the ride really got sweet. The ride is smooth, quick, stable and balanced. I don't find that this is a "racer" level bike, doesn't feel like it needs to be pushed fast as most race bikes do. Instead this bike brought the fun into riding. Climbs well, desends well, tracks the trail and just gives a smooth flow to the ride. That is the best way I can describe it, doesn't do any one thing like a rock star ,it just makes everything flow.
The only thing that I have issues with is the Elixir 5 brakes. I had a Giant 29er XTC 1 that featured those brakes and could never get the damn things to stop squealing. So far, knock on wood, I have yet to have that problem with this bike. Comparing this bike to the Tallboy, I find that you get the thrill and feel of the Tallboy without much more added weight. Yes the VPP suspension offers a little more when the going gets rough, but I remind myself that I just bought an entire bike for the price of a frame. That being said, if you give the Superlight a try first, I bet it would be hard to defend the need to spend more for a Tallboy. Grab the Superlight, step up the wheels and there you go.
Better yet, need a light trailbike?.... Haven carbon wheels, dropper post, Fox TALAS 120 fork. Stay tuned....
Because of the chainstay configuration?
I've only seen other riders go down rocky trails on this bike. They seem to just glide along without making any noise. So the first thing I notice is that the chainstay is ABOVE the chain!
Does it help? Any "reduction of chain slap?" Anybody with experie ... Read More »
I'm a tall rider - 6'4", in east coast. Would love to get a Tallboy LT, but too expensive. Therefore considering a Superlight 29 RXC, XL frame.
Any thoughts / opinions for a tall guy? I've yet to ride the Superlight, but if it's anything even close to a Tallboy it seems like a great deal.
Other bi ... Read More »
Bored as heck since it's been raining for a week. Just got a Superlight 29 and was wondering what you experts would upgrade first-for around a couple hun and besides tires. Thanks for any input.Read More »
Posting the cliche question trying to find the right bike for my 5'6 (31" inseam) intermediate girlfriend. We are definitely going Santa Cruz, and trying to decide which option is more confidence inspiring/fun to ride?
Superlight 29- 29" for rollover confidence and probably overall ... Read More »
Trying to figure out the best bike for my 5'6 (31"inseam) intermediate Girlfriend.
I had planned on a Superlight 29, to give her a little bit more wheel to keep up with and the rollover confidence a 29er brings.
Then I started wondering if the Blur TR is a better alternative. No 29" wheels, b ... Read More »