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SANTA CRUZ GIVES BIRTH TO TWO NEW BLURS--APRIL 11
By: R. Cunningham

The first Virtual Pivot Point design that Santa Cruz launched was the Blur trailbike. To say that the Blur was a success would be the understatement of the new century. The bad news is that the sharp-handling, four-inch-travel Blur will be phased out over the 2005 season. The good news is that Santa Cruz has taken the original Blur and created a new trio: The 4-X Mountain cross, racer, The XC cross-country racing version and the LT: an all-new longer-travel Blur which will replace the original.

(From left): The Blur LT, XC and 4-X.

MBA has already tested the 4-X version (we liked it) and we are happy to report that our only beef with the 4-X (its long-ish chainstays) has been rectified. A mid-year change will shorten the stays by a half inch, which should make it a rocket out of the starting gate. New for this season is a two-piece forged upper link, 4.5 inches of rear wheel travel and a beefed-up front section with a special, formed-sheet-aluminum head tube gusset.

Blur 4-X

The Blur XC was a hoot to ride. I spent a half day busting around the technical trails near UCSC with Santa Cruz founder Rob Roskop. The XC version uses smaller-diameter frame tubes, a titanium upper VPP link, and a lower, 12-inch high bottom bracket. Its 16.625-inch chainstay length is shorter than the original Blur by over a half inch, and the swingarm is lighter weight. Its frame angles are a little steeper and its top tube is slightly longer for a given frame size. The weight of the frame is reported to be five pounds, which puts its racing weight at sub-23 pounds if you outfit it with all the expensive stuff.

How does it ride? Well, it pretty much flies uphill, with no hint of the pedal feedback that its predecessor had. Despite the longer stem, steeper angles and lower cockpit, the new XC Blur was fun to descend on, because it retains a healthy dose of the no-problem handling that the original was famous for. The XC feels light enough to make any racer-boy (or girl) happy, but its handling begs for more technical terrain than a NORBA circuit could ever provide.

Blur XC

OK, now for the fun story. The Blur LT is a new frame, not just a longer version of the original. Its 5.25 inches of rear wheel travel and relaxed, 69-degree head angle are perfectly suited for the modern, ride any terrain cross-country enthusiast. Its swingarm is new, with more tire clearance and beefier stays. Larger pivots keep lateral forces in check. The front section has large-diameter tubes and formed sheet aluminum gussets at the head tune junction. Chainstays are 17 inches for better climbing traction, and its bottom bracket height (12.5 inches) is tall enough to keep the pedals out of the rocks. The top tube is dropped to afford more stand-over clearance-which is a thoughtful addition throughout the Blur lineup. The LT also shares the XC version's titanium upper links. The frame weight is listed at 6 pounds, which is about the same as the shorter -travel original. Sweet!

We ran out of trail time before I got a chance to ride the LT. A quick parking lot thrash, however, gave me the impression that Santa Cruz's premier trailbike will be twice as fun as its older brother. The same great handling, better pedaling and an inch more suspension travel? When do I get one?

Blur LT

The new XC and LT Blurs will be released some time this summer. The 4-X is on sale now. We'll keep you informed as the release dates arrive, so stay tuned and watch for an upcoming test in MBA's print magazine. Still hungry? Log onto
www.santacruzbikes.com

Titanium VPP upper link
 

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