Strengths: +Able to take a beating
+Can handle huge drops and jumps
+Vpp linkage nearly eliminates all pedal bob
+Vpp linkage and 8.5" rear suspension creates endless travel feel
+Durable/lasts a lifetime
+Can shred going UP
+Riding style can go from AM to DH depending on components and setup
Weaknesses: -No ISCG mount (can be solved with a ISCG-BB adapter)
-High BB makes DH a smidgen harder for some
-Advanced VPP makes having the perfect drivetrain setup a little harder to achieve
I have owned my VP Free for 1 year now and its by far the best bike i have ever rode. I have ridden GT Fury's, Specialized Status's, Kona's, Trek Sessions and none of them have come close to the feel of the VP Free. With the BB 319 millimeters of the ground you can easily roll over anything without worrying about scratching the frame or damaging your gears. With the right shock setup in the rear you can have the feeling of Endless suspension and even bottoming out is not that noticeable. The cool thing about the VP-Free is that it operates like a AM bike if you put low-suspension travel on it but then if you max out the 8.5 in the rear and put a 203mm fork on it operates just like a DH rig. No matter what setup you have on the VP Free, they can seriously climb and you will be coming down the mountain before your friends are halfway up. These frames are also bombproof (don't blow one up) Ive never seen a picture of a broken VP Free frame and they WILL NOT break unless it's horribly horribly misused. Bottom line, if you can get your hands on a VP-Frame buy it, people do not realize the potential in them, the one i bought was on the market for months. This of course means resale is difficult but if you can get somebody to test-ride it that can afford your price and is looking for a bike you will have no problem selling it, which you should never have to unless you want to upgrade and have some $$$ for your new bike because you could ride this bike to the end of time as long as you keep the parts on it in good shape and don't do 50FT drops none of your other "smart" friends do, every other weekend. Just remember, this is a BIG bike made for BIG hits, if your only going to do 8ft drops, go with something with less travel such as the Santacruz Nomad it will be better suited for your type of riding.
Bike Setup: Boxxer race 2008, avid juicy 7, saint cranks,e13 lg1, mavic 721, hope pro2
from Anacortes, Wa, USA
Date Reviewed: September 16, 2010
Strengths: unbreakabe frame, dependable, just as good on the ups as it is on the downs. Great all around bike.
Weaknesses: bearings. Bridge behind the bottom bracket collects dirt and rocks.
You can't go wrong with this bike. So far it has been the best bike I have ever owned. I've been riding it for 5 years now and it is the best all around bike. Sometimes a little over kill on the XC trails but why not ride in comfort it climbs just as well as my hardtail just a little slower.
Similar Products Used: GT Zaskar, Schwinn straight 6
Bike Setup: 888, roco rear, xt, juicy sevens.
a Weekend Warrior
from Madrid, Spain
Date Reviewed: August 12, 2010
Strengths: I think the best thing of this frame is the geometry, and specially the angle of the seat tube, that allows you to use it as a freeride-downhill bike, and at the same time you can ride as if it was (almost) an enduro bike, by simply extending the seatpost.
Construction is very very robust. As I see it, must be difficult breaking it.
On the other hand you can get this SC frame at a very "low" price as the model is discontinued since two years ago, but then again, an incredible frame, it is very polyvalent.
And 215 rear travel that can use 2 chainrings... can you ask for more ?
Weaknesses: Perhaps a bit older look if you compare the style with more modern frames.
The cable guide on the sides of the top tube are very simple, extremly simple, and you will have to use some kind of gadget or plastic bridle to keep them in place.
Some part of the tubes are factory "crushed" in the rear triangle so that the tires have enough space, this is just a look issue than other thing, but at first sight you could think the frame is broken or similar.
The rear hub works well, but be carefull with your 12 mm axle, if you loose it or if it was broken, the replacements are really expensive
A great frame, I consider it can be used as a frame for everything, enduro, trail, downhill and of course freeride, even we could say Xc with limitations, as uphilling could be difficult depending on the suspension settings.
The frame provides a virtual point pivot system, this is really important, since if you combine it with some kind of stable platform like SPV or Propedal, you can pedal really comfortably.
Regarding the replacemnets, my local dealer told me that Santa Cruz has in stock all the replacements, bearings and rear mech hangers.
If you are looking for a "all use" frame, reliable, with long, long, front and rear travel, and do not mind the weight excessively, this is your (and mine) frame.
Similar Products Used: kona stinky but no where near as good
Bike Setup: rock shox boxxer teams elment 5 rear shock
Kiwi in UK
a Weekend Warrior
from Reading, UK
Date Reviewed: June 13, 2009
Strengths: Swallows the terrain with amazing ease
Weaknesses: Nothing so far....
With the above 36 pound build this 8.5inch travel frame hoovers up the terrain whether you are going down or up. Okay it isn't as quick as my Nomad uphill but downhill it is more stable and takes the bigger hits much better.
Bottom line - Yes, I know this isn't 'The latest and greatest' frame and I know the bearing life is limited (although I haven't had any problems yet) this is the best Freeride frame I have had ridden so far. If the Driver 8 is better than this then it will be the next frame on my shopping list for sure!
Bike Setup: SRAM XO, 2009 Deemax, Hayes Stroker Ace, XTR 960 crank with 38, 22 dual ring set up with Blackspire Ring god X bashguard and Stinger chain tensioner, Easton CNT bars, Kindshock i900 seatpost, SDG Ti seatpost, Chris King headset, rockshox Totem Coils, Maxxis 2.5 single ply running tubeless with Stans No Tube sealant.
from Las Vegas, NV USA
Date Reviewed: February 7, 2009
Strengths: Bike is AWESOME... Great feel in corners.. for being 42pds it pedals uphill pretty good...fox 40 forks are great.. Santa Cruz quality is TOP SHELF
Weaknesses: Have not been shown one
Best Bike I have ever ridden .. I cant wait to try out 2009 Santa Cruz BULLIT
Strengths: plush, very strong and stable. also light weight!
really worth to buy if ya a freeride or downhiller~
Weaknesses: head angle is too steep. if that has a tunable position, just like orange 224 will be perfect.
before i changed the 8.5" rear shock. this bike was both good at up and downhill. but the cornering sucks. but now, i put a 8.5" shock on~ the whole world had been changed. more stable, perfect in cornering, and also lighter! a lot! now my bike's still using inner tube tires and steel spring. the weight is 36lb. it's not a really light weight frame. but this can reduce the frame weight from 9.3lb to 8.7lb. and my expected final weight is 33.5-34.5lb.
Bike Setup: Boxxer team, with e-13 stem 45mm tune. cane creek S-8 headset, en321 for front and EX 721 for rear. both are using nuke proof hubs. 8.5" Fox DHX 5.0 to provide a less steep head angle. thomson elite seatpost, funn saddle, MRP sys.3, e-13 chain ring, RF altas AM crankset. saint rear der. XT chain, Hope M4 Break w/ floating disc, F/8" R/7".
a Weekend Warrior
from exeter, ca. USA
Date Reviewed: December 13, 2008
Strengths: VPP design and all that travel!
Weaknesses: no IS chainguide mounts
This bike is phenomenal. 8" of travel is incredible forgiving when taking gnarly lines. It pedals like a dream, ya, it's heavy and 38lbs but it's not wasting your energy. Great build quality (not as good as Intense, forged vs, CNC) big bearings hold up well. Geometry is fast and flickable. The best freeride frame period. (too bad they don't make it anymore)
Similar Products Used: banshee scream, brodie demon
Bike Setup: codes, 66 rc3, dhx fox 5
Date Reviewed: July 1, 2008
Strengths: built solid, looks awesome, rides great
Weaknesses: i can't marry it
after coming off of a couple of konas i couldn't believe the difference between suspension designs. i never thought i would be able to tell, but i was wrong. the vp-free is way smoother and soaks up way more than my konas ever did.
Similar Products Used: Turn-of-the-century Rocky Mountain.
Bike Setup: 7" fork and DHX5
from Wellington, New Zealand
Date Reviewed: October 22, 2007
Strengths: Pedals amazingly well, climbs like a XC bike, strong, very plush suspension feels bottomless.
Weaknesses: Pivot bearings short life
I stuck a shorter shock in mine a 2.5" x 7.5" Fox DHX, this has lowered my Bottom bracket together with 180mm forks. With the smaller shock I get just under 8" of travel. This bike is very plush and takes the hits and rails the downhills like nothing I have ever ridden. And then this bike climbs steep stuff like I can't imagine. Just spent the weekend on this bike riding 7 1/2 hours worth of XC tracks on one day then the next shuttling jump tracks and the Nats DH track. This bike is truely amazing. It does everything, best bike I have ridden ever and I have ridden and owned a lot of bikes. Its just a shame the bearing wearing quickly let it down and I think mine might be on their way out :(
Similar Products Used: SnataCruz Heckler, Intense Socom, Giant AC, Kona coiler etc
Bike Setup: 2.5" x 7.5" Fox DHX, Rockshox Domains 318's 180mm, Saint, Hope, Holzfella, Thomson etc
Date Reviewed: October 15, 2007
Weaknesses: higher than normal maintenance
This bike can do it all. It's my everyday trail bike as well as my Whistler DH bike. Don't buy into the BS about steep head angles and high bottom brackets. Marc Beumont and Neil Donaghue dominated UK racing on VP-Frees. VP-Frees are very capable race bikes as well as great pedaling trial bikes. I think the negative reviews are a result of Sam Hill killing it on a bike with a crazy low bottom bracket. So now all the slow kooks think they need a 13" BB to go fast. You're still gonna be slow on your Sunday! Nothing makes me smile more then flying by kooks on there Sundays with my slow top heavy trail bike.