The five-inch travel Santa Cruz Nickel X9 2x10 Complete Bike fills the trail bike niche for those of us who appreciate refined manners without unnecessary complexity. What gives the Nickel its respected ride quality is Santa Cruz's APP suspension design, which provides a similar spring curve to the lauded VPP. In this offering, the Nickel is dressed in smart mix of SRAM's X9 and 2013 Easton EA70 components to keep its price reasonable and performance inspiring. The Nickel benefits from Actual Pivot Point (APP) suspension, which is the result of Santa Cruz's efforts to mimic the variable shock rate produced by its Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension ? in a simpler and more cost-effective single-pivot design. What's so special about the VPP shock rate? It makes the first part of the travel plush and ultra-responsive to bumps, and the last part of the travel stiffer to avoid harsh bottom-out. To achieve a similar variable shock rate in the single-pivot Nickel, Santa Cruz added two links connecting the swingarm to the shock. These two links are the crux of the APP design, and they allow the Nickel to offer some of the superior ride characteristics of VPP suspension in a budget-friendly package. Those links ride on 15mm aluminum pivot axles, as does the swingarm, and they're fastened with locking collet heads to reduce any tolerance issues or loosening during use. Adding to the Nickel's durability and precision are smooth angular contact bearings. Controlling the APP is Fox's tried and true Float RL shock, a light and adjustable unit with a lockout and rebound adjustment. Up front, a Fox Float 140 RLC complements the Nickel's rear suspension, offering rebound, compression, and preload adjustments, with a lockout as well for efficient climbing. The Nickel rides on tough, light Easton EA70 XCT wheels with 2.25in Schwalbe Performance Rocket Ron tires. Twisting those wheels is a 2x10 SRAM X9 drivetrain, and stopping them is a set of Avid Elixir 9 hydraulic disc brakes. Easton's 2013 EA70 components comprise the handlebar, stem, and seatpost. A Selle Italia Kit Carbonio saddle provides a solid, comfortable pedaling platform. The Santa Cruz Nickel X9 2x10 Complete Bike is available in Black, Chocolate, Raw, Red, Sea Blue, White, and Yellow. It comes in sizes Small through X-Large.
When I am not complaining about the brakes, ( Which have been solved BTW by changing the rotors from Avid BR1 to Cleansweep G2 .) Otherwise I love this bike. It has not been completely trouble free going back into the shop for creaks from pivots. But hopefully this is all sorted out now. But a very capable climber and awesome decender.
Strengths: Incredibly fun to ride. Climbs as strong as any bike I've ever ridden and feels solid descending. I've taken this shuttling on chunky dh trails and not felt out of place. No negative squishy traits to speak of (bob, jack, etc). Also a very reasonably price framed.
Weaknesses: By the numbers, the frame is slightly heavy. But I can't feel it riding.
Strengths: awesome geometry, looks cool, pedals great, feels stable in corners....it's a santa cruz, duh.
Weaknesses: not sure
I should wait to review this bike because I have only ridden it one time. Although I can tell from my 3 hour ride how amazing the bike is. I'm not sure I've ever owned a bike that I've smiled as much when riding it. It pedals great, it rails corners (and feels stable through the corner), the build kit is really good. I bought this bike on a Sunday morning, and by Sunday afternoon was riding. I will review later when I have put more time on it, but for now it's a winner.
Similar Products Used: Heckler, Parker, Stinky, Chameleon...
Bike Setup: All I changed form the build kit was a shorter stem, wider bars and shorter cranks.
a Weekend Warrior
from Reading, Pa USA
Date Reviewed: February 6, 2012
Strengths: Climbs better than any FS bike I've rode, doesn't bob while hammering out of the saddle, handles drops/jumps/roots with ease, great value for the money, gets lots of attention on the trails, the list goes on and on... Truely the best bike I've ever owned!
Weaknesses: Cable routing around the pivot point causes cable rub (fixed with frame patches), no ISCG tabs (big brother Butcher gets em)
Other than those two this bike is perfect...
This bike will do anything... From a mellow XC ride to moderate FR. Excels at climbing and at home bombing down your favorite line... Much better value than other bikes in it's class/price...
Bike Setup: 2011 D Build... SLX F/R, Sektor R, Float R, Juicy 3's
Sunline V1 50mm Stem, Bell Dart Saddle, Answer Rove FR Pedals
a Weekend Warrior
from Jakarta Indonesia
Date Reviewed: November 18, 2011
Strengths: - Burly frame for trailbike category
- Ease of maintenance (pivot bearings easy to clean)
- Ample rear tire mud clearance (important for "wet weather" countries)
- Great looking bike IMHO
- Value for money
- Its a Santa Cruz!
Weaknesses: - NONE (maybe the lack of seabright blue color option for 2012? Also, I like the 2011 letter design better)
Awesome bike. I am rider who rides around 70% XC and 30% AM / light FR and the bike is perfect. Fully recommend it to anyone who's cost conscious, wants some brand prestige, but at the same time needs a real "do-it-all-rig". At 7.3 pounds, I can't feel the heft while pedaling (and I haven't used the propedal lever so far). What I like most is how versatile the bike is. Slap some light Maxxis Ikon tires for hilly / flowy XC singletrack riding or Nevegals for AM / light freeride duties at the mountain peaks, it rides like its at home. Much better handling than the previous bikes I have owned. Seem to absorb anything you throw at it. Bumped up the front travel to 140mm with DT Swiss forks with 725mm bars / 70mm stem and it feels fantastic on the downhills, especially with the slacker head angle. The bike is confidence inspiring and I feel that my skill level upped a notch. Rear shock didn't bottom out even though went through various rocky and rooty terrain. Living in a tropical area where mud is common, the ample mud clearance at the rear certainly helps. So far the best bike I have owned, not to forget that it looks good too.
a Weekend Warrior
from Knoxville, TN
Date Reviewed: November 15, 2011
Strengths: -CLIMBS! For its weight (28.6lbs is my setup) it tracks uphill like a boss! For all those weight weenies, life is short, so pick up any good bike and build some more muscle.
-SUSPENSION! Fox FTW, I've never had better experiences with the new RP23 Boostvalve, and the Fox Alps up front eats up boulders as if they were small pebbles!
-SMOOTH! Newest Elixir 5 brakes offer NO noise yet tremendous dime-stopping power! Shifters flawless!
-BURLY! Takes several foot drops onto concrete with grace! This bike is built right.
Weaknesses: None yet!
A damn solid bike. My first Santa Cruz, so coming from Giant and other stuff, I am unbiased, but what a fun bike!
It eats anything, screw geometry obsessors...at 6 feet even this size large is perfect for me and I go up and down stuff with EASE. One of most worthwhile bikes I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing!
Similar Products Used: 2007 Giant Anthem 0, 2008 DMR Trailstar custom, 2011 Hito 24" Street trials
Bike Setup: Shimano Deore LX, Elixir 5's, Fox Alps 130mm, Fox RP23 Boostvalve, Maxxis Crossmarks
a Cross Country Rider
from San Jose, Ca., USA
Date Reviewed: October 24, 2011
Strengths: -Climbing efficiency
-Can take a beating. It loves jumps/drops and even stutter bumps!! PLUSH all thoughout its travel!
-With the short/med rear derr & stinger chainguide, this bike is stealth! Only thing I hear is the back tire when landing on the jumps/drops.
-With RP23 set at "1" in Pro-Pedal, the rearend stays stiff while I'm on or off saddle and absorbs small (1"-3") bumps while NOT interrupting the pedalling efficiency like hardtail does.
-Slack Head Angle: 68* for 130mm fox float which I plan on getting push'd and extended to 140mm. This should make the HA even more slacker. ;)
-Perfect TT, 23" for Medium! Normally I buy small (21-22" TT) but I like long top tupe (23" at least) so that I can run short stem and wide bars... The seat tube and tt is perfect fit for me!
Weaknesses: -Weight of the frame. 7 lbs for medium (but you only feel this when lifting the bike. Pedalling it, I can't tell the weight penalty.
-My 2012 came with fox float RL rear shocks and it only has pro-pedal and lock-out option. This make the rearend of the bike felt like a hardtail. Idk why SC even bother selling these bike with the RL. It should be JUST RP23!
-Tires. 2.1 really? I slapped 2.4 Pan-FR in the front and 2.25 No-Nic rear. It has less rolling resistance than the tires this bike came with. Try it!
Dont let the weight push you away from buying this bike. I'm a weight weenie myself (19 lbs xc & 23 lbs AM/HT) and had to really think about buying this bike, I'm really happy that I did! The bike sits at 31 lbs but I ride it with an added weight of 2 lbs (from bottle water on the bike frame which I normally dont carry on my other bikes.). At 33 lbs, the bike still climbs well. As a matter of fact, it is only 1 minute slower than my 23 lbs hardtail on a 2200', 2.6 mile climb.
Stutter bumps (1-3"), this thing just absorbs it and I have my tire psi set at 30! Before on my hardtail, I ride it at 22-25 psi but never went pass 25 psi. Now with the nickel, I can get away with running 30 psi and still very plush!
3' drops and jumps is plush too! I cant even bottom out the shock. I will release some air on it and see if I can use up all the travel because right now, I have it set to 130 psi and I'm 150 lbs geared with this, I still have 19 mm left on the travel.
Value Rating is 5 chillis because I got this for cheap! $2500 out the door!!
Value Rating is 5 because It is the bike that you would consider, DO-IT-ALL!
Bike Setup: Medium:
-2008 RP23 (bought used but in excellent condition, $160)
-60mm kcnc stem
-740mm answer bar red
-32T bbg bashguard (looks great, lightweight and can take a beating!)
-stinger BB mount chainguide (for stealth mode)
-hawk-racing BB red
-kcnc skewers red
-gravity dropper descender
-2010 specialized phenom saddle
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 20, 2011
Strengths: Great ride, sharp looks, excellent climber
Weaknesses: None so far. If I had to name something, I'd say the Avid Juicy 3 brakes. On big downhills, they can get "grabby." but that doesn't happen often where I ride.
I agonized over whether I should upgrade the 12-year-old hardtail or get this. Glad I did. It's opened a whole new world of MTB. The ride is easier on the body, too.
a Weekend Warrior
from Albany, NY
Date Reviewed: October 16, 2011
Strengths: The suspension design on this bike is really good and the bike's geometry is perfect for a trail bike. The bike climbs surprisingly well (yes, better than hardtail) and the downhills are handled by the five inches of suspension. The bike is comfortable to ride and responsive to rider input. There is no noticeable bob.
Frame parts (bearings,hanger, etc.) can be purchased easily from SC.
Weaknesses: You will pay a few bucks more for a SC bike.
The Nickel is a fun bike to ride. If you are a trail rider looking for a tough bike, the Nickel is a good option. True, the frame is heavier than other comparable frames but the bike rides lighter than the scale would indicate.
Bike Setup: D XC kit (Sektor fork) with upgraded SLX crank and XT cassette.
a Weekend Warrior
from New York
Date Reviewed: August 17, 2011
Strengths: This is my first full suspension bike, however, my fear was that climbing would be an issue compared to my hardtail. This was NOT the case. The Nickel climbs quickly, efficiently and goes where you point it. The decents are fast. The bike just wants to go. The rear suspension feels bottomless, setting the sag to 20%. The five inches of travel appear to be perfect for my East Coast rocky/rooty trails. The Avid Elixer brakes have great stopping power, not noisy or transmit any modulation. Seemless and perfect. I added the Chris King tapered headset and I think it makes a difference campared to the Cane Creek I have on another bike. The Maxxis Cross Mark 2.1 tires are good for cornering, however, I really prefer the Kenda Navegals 2.35 from my other bikes and will swap these out after the season. The Lizard Skins lock-on grips are also very good. I am a big fan of the ODI grips on my other bikes, however, I do not feel compelled to swap these any time soon. The SPX xc package is a well thought out mix of exactly what I needed to get started with.
Weaknesses: The overweight rider. I also do notice cable rubs more than I would have expected after only 7 weeks on the bike. I use a camelback so the bottle cage clearence is not a concern for me.
I highly recommend this bike for those who ride East Coast trails, have lived on hardtail bikes and don't want to lose the ability to climb, while drastically improving their decending capabilities. The bike weighs in around 29 lbs. and is about the same as my hardtail. This bike really flies fast. The move from hardtail to full suspension really helps stay connected to the trail and float above the trail chatter.
The week after I took delivery of the bike, the model year changed and prices went up. I think the 2012 specs are a little different, but with same or similar results.
Pretty awesome bike for general trail/all mountain riding. Heck, I even take it to the park for slopestyle and dirt jumps. Very good investment if you aren't a biking beast. Only qualm is the Elixir 5's, which can be a bit noisy/shaky if not taken care of.
a Cross Country Rider
from Denver, CO
Date Reviewed: April 2, 2011
Strengths: Plush rear travel, slack head tube angle eats up everything
Weaknesses: Weight, 1st gen bugs, slack head tube results in less weight on the front wheel during climbs.
True, it is heavier than I expected it to be when I first put down my deposit, but I can always break out the old hardtail when I want. I'm not afraid to drop it into the granny gear for a climb. It may be from CA, but it seems ideal for franger trails like Mt Falcon, Hall Ranch, etc.
Being from CO, I REALLY wanted to buy a Yeti. ASR 5 was a little too much of a racing machine, and with less front travel and a straight single pivot design, no where near as plush. The 575 on the other hand was like riding around in a Cadillac with no shocks (and maybe even hydraulics!)...too plush. The Nickel won out in my test rides, and was *just right.*
Watch out for cable rub on the rear triangle, which I noticed after a few rides...such are the challenges with getting a 1st gen bike.
Bike Setup: R xc build kit with RP23, swapped out stock fork for Fox Float Fit RLC 140
a Weekend Warrior
from Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
Date Reviewed: January 19, 2011
Strengths: Plush and bottomless suspension feel, none of noticeable pedal-bob (it is very nice to climb on rocky terrains with propedal turned off), very stable on both extra-slow climbs and fast descents, rear wheel traction is excellent.
Weaknesses: Weight, but I don't mind, it's not an xc-racing bike.
This is just the right bike for me. I'm 5'7" which is right in the middle of the Medium Nickel's sizing chart. (5'7" is right between "S" and "M" on many bikes so it was hard to choose the size for me). The Nickel seems to have a very well-designed center of weight position as it feels very stable and easy to control. Hi chainstay position is very helpfull and looks cool.