The Santa Cruz Carbon Nomad walks the line between an all-mountain trail rider and a gravity shredder, designed to go uphill just as well as it goes down. Santa Cruz revamped the carbon Nomad for 2013 with the addition of a 142 x 12mm rear axle, which compliments the VPP suspension and keeps the rear wheel center, hit after hit.This impressive carbon frame has a noticeably different silhouette than its aluminum predecessor.
What can I say about this monster of a bike, besides the fact that it is one of my best purchases ever. You want to attack the trails when you are on it and you want to become an even better mountain biker when you are off of it. I used to ride cross country a lot with my old hard tail Gary Fisher but I started getting aggressive with it to the point where I destroyed the stock fork. So it was time for an upgrade not the fork but the whole bike. Yes it took a while for me to gather all my pennies to purchase this bike, but it is worth it.
The bike handles beautifully when on tight twisting single track and switchbacks thanks to its lower BB and feels so stable at high speed to the point where I felt like it was attached to a rail. The VPP does help it when you pedal on flats and I had no problem with it on technical climbs unlike some reviewers said but hey, I didn't buy it to climb better or I would have just stuck to my hard tail.
Overall it is an awesome bike. Yes it is expensive, but if you really love this sport and you can afford to take a hit on your bank account, go for it!
Bike Setup: XT Build, Fox 36 160 Talas, Fox RC4 Shock, Chris King Headset and BB, Twenty6 Predator Pedals(Hella Sick) w/ Ti Axels. Sella SMP Forma Saddle, Race Face Atlas Stem 50mm, Race Face Turbine Handlebar 725mm, Rock Shox Reverb Seat Post, Easton Haven Wheel Set w/ Maxis High Roller Tires, Lizard Skin Peaty Grips w/ ODI Locks and bar ends.
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: February 4, 2013
Strengths: All mountain machine that hits all the right notes incredibly well its just so FAST.
Weaknesses: EH ......................is there any
This is a white 2011model purchased late 2012 for a fab price l could not refuse ,had a mk1 nomad before this so i kind of new what to expect.The mk1 nomad was an amazing bike in 2007 all the way through to 2012 like me she was getting old so much so l was never in doubt that my next frame would be another nomad and to get a carbon one even better. The first thing you notice apart from it being so good looking is how much lighter it feels compared to the mk1 when fully built the next thing you notice when you start riding is how fast this beast is
Bike Setup: Fox 36s 160 talas rc2
stans flow rims ,hope pro2 evo hubs
Hope race m4 brakes
xt and x9 mix
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: October 23, 2012
Strengths: Stiffness, Weight, Climbing, Comfort
Weaknesses: too much work at the pump park. dirt jumps too. expensive.
With the XT build, this bike arrived at just over 28 lbs without pedals. Having not ridden much in years, this is my return to my old favorite hobby. Last year I went out with a good friend on his new SC Blur LT Carbon. I noticed his technical descent was really improved, and following him reminded me of my old days at the resorts. He mentioned the Nomad Carbon, I checked it out on the web, and was enchanted. I used to ride resort DH years ago, and this bike gives me the same feeling as my old DH rigs, both Ellsworth Dares circa '03.
Pedaling uphill is great considering the amount of travel and how plush bumps are. I have no trouble in my small ring and am especially amazed at how it tackles uphill steps, rocks, and boulders when I am just starting to get out of my saddle.I am over 40 now and can ride up stuff I used to push my DH bike up.
Flat ground pedaling is good and riding xc style is still fun. The extra travel and weight only are noticeable if you are riding all flat with somebody on a 29er. If things are twisty and flat or off camber, the rake starts to show, and the front can push and understeer. However, with the descent based geometry, washout is less than expected.
Descending is where this thing earns it's keep. Ear to ear grins while dropping off ledges and hitting berms can be followed up by insane laughter as I float confidently down and through fields of head sized rocks. Sometimes hitting bad lines on purpose is the only way to feel danger on this rocket. Drops that were scary are now nothing, NOTHING. The feel of the bike over rough terrain is amazing due to the carbon's weight and stiffness. It is like riding air, but really stiff air that cares nothing about the insane stresses it is subject to. I can't say enough about how well it holds a line and how easy it is to point and shoot on this bike. The feedback and steering while pointed down are downright telepathic.
I am so glad I bought this bike and will gladly trade it in for a 27 inch version if/when that becomes the rage. But I could be happy riding it for quite some time.
This bike has gotten me back in shape and I love riding every minute I am on it. Now I am looking at fatbikes and dirt jumpers. What have I gotten myself into?
Bike Setup: 3 Ring all Mountain Factory build using XT group
Date Reviewed: September 29, 2012
Strengths: Unbelievable riding platform that floats you over the gnarliest of gnar. Goes uphill like a superstar with a Talas and the new CTD shock.
Weaknesses: Do not exist.
This rig is incredible. The 2013 model with F/R thru axle makes this thing hold it's line in studly fashion. The frame is well up to the task of buffeting all of the massive suspension. And then what, well, it is razor sharp, chucking over without a care in the world, just ditch the incredibly horrible maxxis front tire. I loved my 575 and this bike simply put makes that ride child's play. It is a whole other level of pure all mountain insanity. Super expensive, and worth every damn penny.
Weaknesses: Small ring pedal feedback. Lemme say that again... Yeah it's a LOT. Oh and you can buy a used car for the price of the frame alone!
So that you have a way to weigh my review, I will give a very short riding style history. My first serious purchase was a Klein Mantra in ’99. The Klein was a XC geo with 80 or 100 mm up front and 7” in back. That is not a typo. My only complaint with that bike was the travel (rear) was sufficient to be a trail bike, but the geo was pure XC. It still pedaled incredibly well. I rode this bike pretty hard until ’06 when I bought my first DW link Iron Horse MK III. When I transitioned to the IH I was happier with the geometry, and the DW link still pedaled very well with 140mm front and back. I bought a second MK III the next year before my pro form was unavailable, and was riding between 2-4000 per year in SLC and around Utah. If I had the 6k I would have bought a SC in ’07. I never felt like I was able to get enough summer, and in ’08 I got a great deal on a GT DHi dh bike to lap the bike park and finally felt like I got enough riding! I bought a Mongoose boot’r the next that is a complete POS, so I gave it to my dad.
Since most of the world had been to Whistler, I’ll use that as a barometer to my riding abilities. I can (barely) clean A line, but I’m better at tech trails, riding everything but Goat’s Gully. I got a short 2 days of pedaling in Oakridge, OR a few weeks ago getting 70 miles in 8 hours with about 6.5 of that climbing. To summarize, I like the climb for the exercise, the zen, the access to non-shuttleable rides etc, but I live for the DH.
I have wanted this bike for years, but I was just recently able to pro form most of the bike. Significant components:
Fork: Fox 36 FIT VAN 180mm (little heavy, but super sick. Awkward wheelie action when it gets steep –duh, no surprise. When you point it dh you’ll understand. You could probably have 50% better climb characteristics and only 10% degradation in the descent with a 160mm, but I don’t measure the quality of my ride by the climb…)
Wheels: CB Iodine tubeless ready (not my first choice, but great so far)
Tires: Minion DHF Exxo 2.5 front (love these from DHing, but bead doesn’t seal easily) rear Specialized purgatory 2.4 2 Bliss (sealed easily and probably my new AM fav. Bigger than a maxxis 2.5)
XTR trail brakes. 200mm front (required for fork) 160 rear. (super super sick power)
Shimano Shadow rear der. (Amazing chain retention! I decided to leave my triple ring and have returned my chain guide… no dropped chain in 400+ miles!!!)
Post: Rock shock Reverb (gawd dam it’s heavy, but I would put it on if it weighed 2x as much. No exaggeration. This is my first dropper post, but I will include one on everything that is not a full DH from now on)
Let me get my rant out of the way… If you think this bike “pedals better than a 4” XC bike,” you are drunk! I’m not pointing to any post or anyone in particular, but my 140mm DW link bikes pedal twice as well in the small ring. If you are spinning up a fire road, you can flip on the pro pedal and reduce it to nil, but if you are on a steeper trail and torque up the lil ring, the pedal feedback feels like you laced your shoe strings around your neck!!! With as pedal conscious as SC designers seem to be, I’m truly surprised this characteristic made it out the door. I want anyone that likes to pedal to take note: with the small ring under high power, you will want to throw $8000 worth of bike into the bushes and file a claim on your homeowners policy. For reference, my GT DHi with 8" of travel only pedals slightly worse than the Nomad does in the small ring! After my gf lets me move back into the house, I’ll probably dump another $800 into the Push link and a coil and see if that improves the ride. If that doesn’t work, I may give the Ibis Mojo HD a try as it seems to have better pedaling reviews. Rant over!
I have tried different air pressures, but with enough pressure to keep pedal feedback tolerable I only get about 1/2 travel from 3’ to flat with harsh small bump sensitivity. Small bump sensitivity is fantastic when air P is set to almost bottom a 3’ drop to flat. This gives about 2/3 travel for a well built 15’ table…
Read this before you flame my review!!! This bike is effing amazing. Anything but the little ring at high torque is truly amazing! The carbon is stiff, responsive and forgiving. I’ll probably been at 35 mph on semi rough single track thinking I could ramp it up even further and still be real comfy. You can stand up in the middle ring with very little pedal feedback. I’m 6’2 with a short(ish) torso on an XL. 50mm stem 700 mm bars and this thing feels perfectly sized to toss around. I do have wheelie trouble in the climb when it gets steep and techy, but ever since DHing, I’m not above a push-a-bike every now and then.
If you are waffling between this bike and the Ibis Mojo HD, like I was, I hope this helps. If you want a "One Bike Solution," jump on in! You won't be disappointed by the Nomad!!!
Strengths: awesomely stiff and light. pedals super well with rp23. holds line through rocks and roots like a champ. my frame came with new 142mm rear axle.
Weaknesses: my green paint looks sweet but may not be that tough
this bike made me ride everything better. i got my medium green frame built with 180 talas, rp23, chromag bar,stem,seat, hope m4/tech2 combo, crossmax sx, xt cranks with mrp guide, x9 1x10 set up, ks dropper post. it came in at 30.7lbs. with 36 frontring and 11/36 in the back this thing rips everything so fast. on another level compared to banshee rune i switched from. even on flat trail, i can have fun ripping corners and stay poppy even with the built i have. though i do want to give 34 frontring a try, i do not miss hammerschmidt i use to run on my old rune what so ever. i think 1x10 works really well with a bike like nomad carbon. i have not jumped a lot on it yet but little air ive gotten, it felt stable and easy to throw around. new 142mm rear axle is super sweet. this is my first 142mm rear axle frame and this addition made this frame a perfect frame.
The nomad carbon is an incredible mountain bike. If you want one bike that can handle the climbs and descents, this is it. I ride this on mondo 30 mile with 4k ft of climbing and descending rides. Its not the fastest cllimber but it gets you to the top pretty quick. You can charge any aggressive line and the nomadc will hold its line like a champ. You can drop off a 5 ft rock drop, no problem. Hit a 10 ft gap with ease. You probably won't win an xc race with this bike but whatever.
If you want a fun bike that can handle pretty much anything other than resort downhill, this is it. You do sacrifice some speed on the climbs but the fun is on the downhills. My only regret with purchasing this bike is not purchasing it sooner. Get the nomadc it is so sick. Don't buy this bike if you are a pure xc rider. Buy this bike if you want to ride to the top and enjoy the downill to the fullest. It would be nice to have a water bottle cage for holding energy drinks on big rides.
My build is 30lbs with 7" travel in the front and 6.5" in the back.
Similar Products Used: Mongoose Teocali, Santa Cruz Heckler, Yeti 575
Bike Setup: R AM kit, mrp double chain guide, shimano xtr pedals
a Cross Country Rider
from Auckland New Zealand
Date Reviewed: January 20, 2012
Strengths: Incredibly stiff and responsive. Confidence inspiring. Great geometry. Efficient. Good looking. VPP2 a big step up from VPP1
Weaknesses: None that I have found. My current set up with a coil shock and saint cranks adds some weight that need not be there so it can be a bit sluggish uphill, but that is not the frame, its the rider.
A bike that begs you to push it harder. The most solid bike I've owed and I've had a Demo 9, Sunday, Commencal Supreme DH bikes. Built it heavy duty or whippet light. Outstanding all round performance.
Similar Products Used: I owned a Nomad Alloy before this and a VPFree. Enduros, Commencals, GT's, Yeti. Intense. Ironhorse.
Bike Setup: 1 x 9 with Lyrik U-turn, vivid 5.1, easton havoc wheels and bar. Thomson post (soon to be reverb) and X4 stem. Saint cranks, straight line guide, XO brakes, X9 shifting, XTR pedals or flats, tubeless 2.25 Ardents.
a Weekend Warrior
from Somerset West
Date Reviewed: January 18, 2012
Strengths: Very stiff frame laterally. It holds its line very welll through rocky corners. Best pivot bearings in the business (if looked after and well maintained)
Awesome paint job - excellent quality. Solid pedalling - very little bob (with a coil shock).
Awesom heavy duty trail bike.
Weaknesses: Weak dropout - bends very easily. Exposed grease nipples on bottom link very likely to get mashed by rocks - I have already had to tap a new thread and install a new grease nipple. Lower link needs to be removed to grease correctly - greasing on the bike oozes grease all around the lower link and frame and attracts muck. This muck stops new grease being injected the next time.
My fifth Santa Cruz bike and best to date. Use it for gnarly trail riding. Downhill the bike rewards being pushed hard and never seems to get fazed by anything. Get the best brakes you can get - you'll end up going a whole lot faster through the rough stuff ! Carbon frame is super stiff so suspension setup is super important - stiff wheels are also key to keep up with the frame ! Corners on rails - you have to get used to the razor sharp handling !
Brilliant on climbs - very very impressed. This thing climbs anything..
Frame came with a DHX Air and I was never happy - dead rear feeling and blew through travel too quickly. Upgraded to a Cane Creek Double Barrel - 100% improvement - absolutely brilliant and no messing with air pressures again ! Transformed the ride - downhills through rock gardens are a breeze and I am always amazed by how much it can handle. Shock Setup is tricky and I have ended up running very little low speed rebound and low speed compression damping - rather let the VPP do its job.
Similar Products Used: SantaCruz Blur original, Morewood Shova (awesome !!! - still have it)
Bike Setup: XL Large frame (I am 185cm tall - perfect fit) Rock Shox Lyrik 160mm Coil. Cane Creek Double Barrel with 450 spring. (84 kg rider weight)
Thomson 50mm stem. 2x9 drivetrain 11-32, 22/34. Gravity dropper, WIDE Funn bars, Elixirs, ZTR Flow rims on Chris king hubs, 2.35 High rollers. SRAM shifters
Recommended: Modified a THE mud guard to fit into rear triangle to protect lower link from mud splatter - brilliant !
No chain device - would like one though.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: December 23, 2011
Strengths: Beautiful craftmanship, well designed, good pedalling platform even with dhx rc4, Weight-Strength
You pay a premium for the best, and you'll get the best. For all mountain riding at this end of the price spectrum you wont be dissapointed with whatever bike you choose. But the Carbon nomad is sex on wheels. I expected a little more bobbing with the rc4 but the bike has been designed well and pedals better than expected. I ride an xl, im 6'1" and use a 55mm stem. The fit feels dynamite.
a Cross Country Rider
from nashua, nh, usa
Date Reviewed: November 28, 2011
Strengths: carbon frame very responsive. vpp maintains grip. decends and corners amazing, goes over everything, jumps and drops smooth and easy, climbs almost as well as my Santa Cruz Superlight
Weaknesses: cost, although I did splurge a little on the fit up.
about 30 lbs of all mountain mayhem. it is worth every penny if you ride often enough but... you WILL want to ride, like every minute you can! Sticks to the earth when u want it to but flys through the air with grace and control. Climbs pretty good, but seriously excels at everything else. A good choice if you like berms, jumps, drops, hurling over rocks, fast twisty, and downhill. Probably not so fun for long distance flat or up hill riding.
Strengths: Great if you only have one bike. Suspension has a bottomless feel and very little bob while pedaling.
i just finished 3 days at Northstar on Boondocks, Sticks and Stones and Dogbone. the bike was soft on all the big hits and was great on the tight switchback turns. it jumped very smooth and liked all the big drops i could find, and only 30.1 pounds! great bike if you can only own 1!
Similar Products Used: Nomad 2 Aluminum, Kona Stinky Deluxe, SC Heckler
Bike Setup: 180 Talas, DHX Air 5.0, XO 1x10, XO brakes, RASE adjusatable seat post
a Weekend Warrior
from madison, WI, usa
Date Reviewed: May 27, 2011
Strengths: -- Front and back end act as a single unit with no flex
-- Versatile feel from XC with Talas in low setting and All Mtn. in high Talas setting
-- Confidence inspiring front end tracking and stiffness
-- Jack of all trades personality
Weaknesses: -- Not the best at anything but excellent in just about any area (climbing, descending, technical, smooth, etc.)
I've been riding for more than 15 years, and I've owned so many amazing bikes. The Nomad carbon is such an evolutionary leap in mountain bikes that it makes the riding experience incredibly enjoyable.
I think what's remarkable about this bike is its versatility. With the Talas you can dramatically alter the personality of the bike with a flip of a switch. I opted for the 160 mm Talas and I'm so glad I got it. The geometry feels at its limits at the 160 mm setting so I couldn't imagine how it would ride with at 180mm fork. Just my personal preference. Coming from a Yeti-ASR, I expected the Nomad to be bouncy like a DH bike but it really is incredibly efficient. If you are coming from a 3-4 inch travel full suspension you will feel right at home on the Nomad.
Most reviewers talk about the stiffness of the frame and it truly is remarkable. Drive the bike through a rock garden and it acts as a single stiff missle that won't flex or track funny. It's really confidence inspiring. It's forced me to ride differently because I don't need to worry as much about the line that I pick. I also can't say enough about the Fox Talas with the tapered steerer and 20 mm axle. Wow... what a difference from a traditional axle set up.
I opted for the 2x10 set up, which is a first for me. I love it. The shifts are so much smoother and I find that I'm hunting for the right gear less. The only negative is the dropped chains. I often will drop my chain on the outside of my big ring which rarely happened to me with a 3x10 drive train.
This is the perfect bike for someone that loves technical terrain, isn't concerned about his/her time but is more concerned about having fun and the quality of the ride.
Similar Products Used: Yeti ASR-Sl, Litespeed Obed, Trek Fuel EX
Bike Setup: -- Sram XO 2x10 group
-- 2010 Fox Talas 36 160mm tapered
-- Easton Haven handlebar
-- Thomson stem and post
-- Mavic Crossmax ST
-- Kenda Nevegal
a Cross Country Rider
from Tahoe City, Ca.
Date Reviewed: January 23, 2011
Strengths: Light, stiff, lively
Weaknesses: none, so far. It is going to cost you to build it the way you
Finally, what I have dreamed about has come true. A six inch
travel frame that rolls, climbs, and descends like a rocket.
An all-mountain bike that weighs under 30 lbs. is so worth
the chunk of change it costs.
Bike Setup: Santa Cruz kit- xo a.m. 1x10, Talas 36, Gravity dropper turbo
Date Reviewed: November 6, 2010
Strengths: SUPER STIFF SOLID AS A ROCK. CLIMBS GREAT IF YOU HAVE ADJUSTABLE FORK.
Weaknesses: MUD STAINS ON THE PAINT. I THINK ITS BECAUSE IT IS A FLAT MAT FINISH BUT SIMPLE GREEN WILL CLEAN IT UP NICE. AND THATS ABOUT IT!!
THIS BIKE IS THE BEST BIKE OUT THERE IN MY OPINION, THE TECH ON THIS BIKE IS INCREDIBLE. 30 LB. BIKE THAT FEELS LIKE MY GIANT GLORY AND THAT CLIMBS LIKE A BILLY GOAT. A TRUE DO IT ALL MTB. NOW I GOTTA SELL SOME BIKES THIS THING WAS EXPENSIVE!!!!