a Cross Country Rider
from layton, utah
Date Reviewed: July 29, 2005
Strengths: lightweight. great climber. value. simple design. stable downhill. takes small jumps and small drops easy. great on tight switchbacks up/down. overall handling. low maintenance.
Weaknesses: stock rear/front shock. radial lace spokes. uncomfortable saddle. deore r.derail. and shifters. feels twitchty on steep uphills with 4" fork. brake jack. chain slap. crude looking hardware bolt for main pivot. cheap stickers.
This bike has been and still is a great bike. I've ridden with guys who have newer and more complex suspension and I've never felt like trading mine in. If I could ride this bike with a longer travel fork without sacrificing standover and climbing ability and fit 8" disks, I wouldn't need another bike to bomb down gondola/lift-assist trails. The bike feels better with coil front and rear. Buy it if you are a x-cross rider who likes an efficient and simple design with quality build. 5 value chillis for price significantly below 2K for the first time for this model. 4 overall chillis because I had to change significant amount of parts to get it right, but luckily the shop gave me credit for parts switched out and installed the ones I wanted.
Similar Products Used: RM element, Kona hardtail, Specialized fsr, and GT hardtail.
Bike Setup: terry liberator saddle, precision billet rim brakes, marzocchi z2, vanilla r coil rear, xt r. derail., brake levers/shifters.
a Cross Country Rider
from State College, PA, USA
Date Reviewed: June 10, 2002
Strengths: Where do I start? This baby has it all - she floats over stuff like a ghost. Marzochs are part of the charm here, but I've ridden other bikes with them, and nothing compares to "my mistress". Don't believe all the hype about multi-bar linkage - she climbs, and she tracks like she's glued. I sometimes look for the autopilot switch and wonder if its on.....long live the single pivot!! Santa Cruz customer support guys are cool, and it was worth the drive to jbmountainbikes.com (almost 3 hours) to get this ride - Justin is a great guy, and his service matched the quality of this bike. Buy this bike if you love to spend all day on the trail.
Weaknesses: I'll likely upgrade Deore stuff when I break it or it wears out - whichever comes first.
I've broken EVERY bike I've ever had. I have been respectful of my Superlight, but I have not sugar coated any ride, either - I beat her pretty hard. It will be interesting to see how she holds up in the long haul.
Bike Setup: Mostly Deore; some LX; Fox Vanila rear shock; Rockshox Judy SL
a Cross Country Rider
from San Diego, CA
Date Reviewed: December 20, 2001
Strengths: Simple and light.
Weaknesses: Didnt like the seat. The tires are thin but they are light and have suprisingly good traction. Havent cut one yet.
The other bikes listed above are all great rigs but didnt feel "right" for me. Only the Superlight and K2 fit my personal preference. The Superlight has received great press in all the mags, other riders on the trails had great things to say about it, and the reviews on mtbreview.com have all been positive.
My comfort level has improved in that I can ride over rocky sections at a faster and smoother pace. Most importantly, steep rocky/rutted downhills dont bounce me all over the place. My old bike was a 94 Klien Fervor which I really liked but it put a hurtin on my back. I used to have to stop and stretch quite often. The Klien climbed really well so I was afraid that I would lose some of that with a full suspension. The Superlight climbs differently but it maintains traction really well on the loose rock and sandy type SoCal trails. I am able to climb much better actually because I can maintain momentum.
I am a big fella (6'3"/215lbs) but hardly notice the suspension bobbing at all even though I see the rear shock moving as I pedal. My riding style tends to more on the finesse side (for a big fat guy) and I would never attempt to get air or bomb on downhills because I had never felt comfortable doing that in 10 yrs of mountain biking. I cant help it now, the bike just goes where you point it! Noble Canyon trail here in San Diego has some crazy rocky sections but I couldnt believe how much I was able to do.
I love this bike. Its a perfect fit for me and I have been out 3-4 times per week since I bought it. Its a great all round bike and it seems to appeal to a wide variety of riders.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: November 5, 2001
Strengths: Great value, strong stiff frame, great company reputation. This bike "floated" on the trails.
Weaknesses: None of real merit. Tubes were thin. Not my favorite saddle. Would have liked disk brakes, but cost more money.
I was a road racer back in college and occassionally rode in the dirt with an early model Fischer, however, I consider this my first real MTB. I have been riding this bike 3-4 times a week for two months and consider it flat out awesome. I was deciding between a Sugar and the Santa Cruz and really intended to get a Sugar, but changed my mind once I tested the bikes at the shop. I am convinced I made the right choice, even though the Sugar 2 was on special for $50 less with higher end components for the most part. This bike is a dream to ride. Fast and light, but really solid. With the mass produced bikes, you can get higher end components for a similar price, but this bike is worth it. I cant't get enough and only wish that I did not have to work during the day so I could ride all the time.
Similar Products Used: None. Tested the Sugar 2 with higher end components at bike shop and preferred the Superlight.
Bike Setup: Stock Superlight R except added Time ATAC Alium pedals and Powerlink chain.
a Weekend Warrior
from Bozeman, Montana
Date Reviewed: August 29, 2001
Strengths: Light wieght, lots of suspension travel, excellent components, stiff frame, made in the USA.
Weaknesses: Weak undersize tubes. I blew the back out on a small rock. The tire wasn't damaged but the tube blew out. When I removed it I found it was undersize and too thin walled for my taste.
When it came time for me to buy a new bike I was very skeptical of full suspension rides. I had always ridden hardtails and felt the FS bikes just wouldn't peform and were heavy and cumbersome on the tight trails. The more FS bikes I rode the more I started to think that I was wrong. During all my test rides I climbed the same single track and was very impressed with the climbing capabilities of all the FS bikes. I had pretty much settled on one of the "Similar Products" above but then a friend turned me on to the Superlight. I finally managed to scrounge one up and immediatly fell in love with it.
This is a well made smooth riding full suspension bike! The geometry is perfect! Everytime I finish a run down a single track I am blown away at the difference between this bike and all the others. The suspension is firm when climbing with very little bounce and yet the four inches of suspension travel is there when you need it. One of the key features of this bike is the simple rear suspension design, the term bullet-proof comes to mind. It works great-better than any of the others I rode!
I would highly recommend this bike to anyone who is looking for a light weight, race ready, FS bike and is a hardcore hardtail fan wanting to transition over to a FS ride.
Bike Setup: Valiant wheel set, XTR rear, XT front, Deore Hollowtech crank set, Hutchinson Air Light Python tires, Avid Single Digit 5 V brakes, Rock Shox Judy SL, Fox Float R rear shock.
a Cross Country Rider
from San Diego
Date Reviewed: August 6, 2001
Strengths: I found that the bike handles really well. Corners fast. Tracks well( Goes straight where you piont it.). It climbed like your car insurance after an accident. The component group at this level performed as you might expect. No complaints from me.
Weaknesses: The saddle was the 1st thing I changed. I have a tendency to straighten my right leg when I stop pedaling, and the rear brake cable hits my leg. A minor complaint solved by relaxing my left leg instead.
This is my 1st full suspension bike.I recently made a trip to Moab and rented a Sugar to ride,and love it. But, I had been looking to buy a Santa Cruz for sometime. The superlight is the perfect bike for me. The 1650.00 price tag was a great value. Compared to the hard tail that I've riden for 6 years, the superlight is a whole new world. I'm able to ride faster with more control and better handling. The rear end sticks to the trail when climbing. I had fears, due to all the talk about bio-pacing(which,I like to call monkey motion) but I was greatly pleased to find that with the superlight this was barely noticible. Even when standing to climb short sections. My overall thoughts about the bike are,"YaHooooo!!!!!"
Similar Products Used: Gary Fisher Sugar. Very similar suspension designs. One pivot.
Bike Setup: Mythos tires, Deore(I'm assuming this is lx/xt stuff)group, hollowtech cranks, azonic bars, titec stem, avid brakes, fox vinilla rear, judy sl. Very nice a this price.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 9, 2001
Strengths: Light! Quality, American-built frame. Super stable on the fireroads and quick on the climbs and in the flats. Savvy parts mix for little dough.
Weaknesses: Front fork "poing." Changing gears to middle and small chainring seems slow.
I was looking for something with some decent cush for these 42 year bones but something that could climb extremely well. I also had ridden the quick, fun F-700 for a year and still wanted to be able to sprint a bit. I agonized over this purchase. I read this board for months and studied the literature. Then after all this, I finally rode a Santa Cruz R and bought it just because it felt the best. Go figure.
Well, the reason is probably not so irrational. I am 6-2, 180 and have a long torso which meant very few bikes - such as the Specialized - fit me. And it really did win out in almost every other way. Here is a summary of the bikes I looked at in this price range: Giant NRS-2 - This bike is heavy and the paint job was way ugly. (Even the NRS-1 is too heavy). It seems like a nice quick XC bike but it's just not specced right for XC with its heavy wheels, brakes and RF parts. Trek Fuel 90/Fisher/Klein triplets - Too many on the road and not enough travel. Specialized XC - Short toptube, not as stiff as the SC, had some squat in the climbs and has a few suspect parts (like my pedals!). A bit more agile in the singletrack but not as stable or fast as the SC. Cannodale Jekyll 700 - A very fun bike with some cool tech but all that lame Coda and proprietary stuff was too much; bust a fork, you getta buy a new one for $600. Marin Rift Zone - Just not as fast in the flats as the SC and had a bit more bob. Also, another short top tube.
The Superlight is an amazingly stable ride. I ride a lot of steep stuff with loose rock in Marin and it just seems to hold its line better than anything I have ridden. It screams in the flats in the middle and big rings and it just has good geometry for climbing. It seems to be neither super quick nor slow steering, which is good for me as I ride mostly fire road with some singletrack thrown in. It has 4 inches of travel but it is not a cushy bike. If you want couch you ain't gonna get the speed and lightweight fun that this bike gives.
Yeah, it does bob a bit in the granny but as I recall, this is a full suspension bike which, yes, has rear suspension. That the horst link bikes, e.g the FSR XC Comp, don't bob is a laughable claim. Also, I don't know if it's the tension that SC designed into the chain, the Deore crank, or what, but it is slow shifting down to the middle and small rings. I only have about 150 miles on the bike so maybe it just needs to work in. Finally, the RS Judy SL fork makes a "poing" noise when compressed. I read on this board that indeed that is product characteristic. No biggy.
The price for a quasi-boutique Superlight frame is amazing and the parts spec is just about the best out there for under $2000. But I only give a 4(+) overall as: 1) The Superlight XTR version would probably merit the 5; and 2) I haven't ridden a Turner or Ellsworth so I don't know yet if it gets any better than this. Maybe not..it's a great bike.
a Cross Country Rider
from Canton, GA USA
Date Reviewed: May 25, 2001
Strengths: Light weight, functional mono-pivot geometry, durability, upgrade componets 'cause frame is rock solid, comfortable ride position decending and climbing, quick turns, great control.
Weaknesses: None. All owner weaknesses!
As you guessed, if I was still riding my original hardtail from '86, I wasn't a avid hard rider. Not until a year or so ago, that is! Got back into riding just in time to join the local bike club SORBA and help build the first of 3 five miles loops at a trail system 4 miles from my house. I'd gotten the Rockerhopper-comp times down respectable times, but was beginning to take the toll of the pounding. Not planning to race competatively, but planning to ride alot, I looked around at other rides and listed. The few guys and gals who had the Santa Cruz Hecklers and Superlights couldn't say enough good things about them. So, I made the investment and haven't been disappointed at all! My riding improves daily. My courage and skill continues to go only up. All the time, I know I'm not near the potential of riding the bike offers! I look forward to upgrading my ScubaCruz to and even lighter, leaner, tougher machine over the next year or so! And, I'm ready to race! (just to beat the local buds!) 5 & 5 Flamin' Chilis - no faults or short comings with this one!
Favorite Trail: Blankets Creek (4 miles from house!)
Duration Product Used: 6 months
Purchased At: Cartecay River Bike Shop, Ellijay, GA
Similar Products Used: NA. Jumped up from rigid '86 Specialized Rockhopper Comp.
Bike Setup: (R) - Fox Float R, Judy SL, LX/XT, Botanger wheels, Hutchenson Xlite Python tires. Avid 5.0 brakes, Avid aluminum riser bar, WTB SST-X saddle, Shimano LX Hallow cranks.
a Cross Country Rider
from Laramie, Wyoming, USA
Date Reviewed: May 24, 2001
Strengths: As a woman, it is often difficult to find comfortable frames, 5' 7", and the medium SL frame is very comfortable. Climbs well, looks good, better yet, makes me look good - HaHa. Ride is comfortable, especially on long rocky and rooty cross-country rides. Depending on dealer, may not be able to see all the frame colors before you buy. The Santa Cruz website has a "Color Picker" option but it is difficult to determine shades, based on your computer screen. I ordered the gun metal grey - without seeing it first on a bike, and am very pleased with the outcome!
Weaknesses: Non-replaceable derailleur hanger, even when most other companys have switched to replaceable derailleur hangers. The dealer assured me that with a break-away bolt, this is really no problem. Also, through no fault of Santa Cruz, the Rock Shox Judy SL has given me problems from day 1. Popping noise in the tubes. Apparently, the shock was incomplete from the manufacturer. RockShox is going to send additional pieces that were supposed to come with.
I ride 3-4 times per/week, pretty technical trails (loose rock, roots, etc.). I have been interested in full suspension for a while, but hesitated to buy, typical reasons. However, after only riding for a month or so on the Santa Cruz Superlight, I am convinced I will never go back. I am very satisfied with my purchase. Wanted the benefit of 4" travel, rather than the Sugar's 2.5". The single pivot is supposed to be a little less maintenance, and rides like a dream! No problems to report, I would like to upgrade eventually to XT/XTR, but purchased with lesser components to keep the price down. A little more costly than the mass-produced models, so only 4 value chili's but worth it!