The Santa Cruz 5010 CC.

The Santa Cruz 5010 CC (click to enlarge).​

Lowdown: Santa Cruz 5010 CC

Considering the current Santa Cruz Bicycles lineup, the 5010 is not your best option if you are a shuttle-happy trail rider with very little interest or need to face extended and/or numerous climbs in the course of your average ride. The Bronson, or even the Nomad, would be a far better option for that style of riding. But if you are a more pedal-happy XC type (like myself), the 5010 will suit your more rounded riding preferences with impressively limited compromises in terms of riding ability in any specific condition.

Build: SRAM XX1 with ENVE wheelsSeat tube: 73.8 degrees
Use: cross country, trailBB height: 13.1"
Size tested: LargeChainstay length: 16.7"
Frame material: CarbonFork: 130mm
Rear travel: 130mm (VPP3)Price (as tested): $10,100
Wheels: 27.5"Base price: $3,599 (5010 C-R)
Head tube: 67 degreesRating:
5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
5 Chilis-out-of-5 (industry leading bike in intended application)
Stat Box
In the same league: Ibis Ripley 29, Specialized Camber, Giant Trance


Pluses

Minuses
  • Superior performance for the all-around cross country mountain biker
  • Not best choice if you are planning to ride it in a more downhill-specific riding style
  • Wheelie friendly, encouraging a more playful approach to the trails
  • Struggles to keep up with bigger bikes on more chunky, technical downhill lines
  • 150mm dropper compatibility, mixed with stable
  • Excellent climber (especially in the "climb"
    long-and-low riding platform makes for agile    suspension setting), but don't expect this bike to
    cross-country weapon that encourages its rider    out climb thoroughbred XC race bikes
    to take a more dynamic and playful riding position
  • Not the best in any individual category, but
    at high speeds    a terrific option for those riders interested in a
  • Suspension package with true "climb" setting
    single tool for doing it all...doing it all really
  • Lightweight packaging, yet excellent capability on
    well
    the faster, harder downhill lines


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Full Review: Santa Cruz 5010 CC

The Santa Cruz 5010 (originally called the "SOLO") was first introduced in 2013, billed as a bike "built to serve the most technical [of] backcountry missions." I like that description, and I love the concept for the bike that it inspired. The original 5010 brought a smile to my face for the bike's ability to please on highly variable terrain and in highly variable riding styles. So when I heard that bike was being redesigned, just a couple of years after its initial release, I was excited to check out the changes.

With the new 150mm dropper post compatible design, even a park setting feels comfortable on this playful all-access bike.

With the new 150mm dropper post compatible design, even a park setting feels comfortable on this playful all-access bike (click to enlarge).​

My own riding style is highly variable. I'm a speed freak, cross-country racer at heart. But I often find myself packing my lunch (along with everyone else's) and enough survival/maintenance supplies to satisfy a drill sergeant, then following large groups down trails that are new to them at a very low rate of speed. Guiding is my job in the warm months. But on my own time, I enjoy riding up hills. I also very much enjoy riding down hills. And the most enjoyable form of riding for me is when I'm doing both as fast as I can.

So, like many of my readers, I'm always on the hunt for that one bike to satisfy a wide range of needs. I'm looking for a "Swiss Army knife" of a bike, if you will, that allows for reduced spending on an already expensive sport.

Continue to page 2 for more of our full review of the Santa Cruz 5010 CC »



The Process Blue 5010 looks right at home in its backyard.

The Process Blue 5010 looks right at home in its backyard.​

My first date with the 5010 CC (I prefer to call it the, 5011), was an impromptu ride with Santa Cruz marketing director Don Palermini in the company's backyard -- their testing grounds outside of Santa Cruz, California. But not before Don took me on a tour through the Santa Cruz assembly plant just after the work day had finished.

Here, he showed me how the raw products are put together by hand and dressed up in great looking and highly recognizable detail packages. After a quick tour of the factory -- the old Wrigley gum factory on the outskirts of town - it was time for ride No. 1 on a brand new Process Blue test bike.

We wound our way through some westside Santa Cruz backyards and through the UCSC. I was immediately impressed by the bike's climbing ability, especially its factory equipped Fox Float Factory EVOL shock's "climb" setting for the uphill traverse. The CTD (climb, trail, descend) system is cool in theory, but I've never found it useful or even worth using because of a lack of substantial functionality. But the "climb" setting is now actually a climb setting, thanks to some impressive new engineering and collaboration between Fox and Santa Cruz in the design of the bikes it is integrated with.

I felt almost as if I were on a hardtail upon flipping the simple switch. This shock and this bike made our climb effortless. I was able to get lost in conversation and almost forgot about the effort it took to get to the top of the 1,200 vertical foot climb to campus.

After a few laps through the thick coastal shrub lands and the bordering Redwood forests up top, we made our way down through Wilder Ranch State Park. Weaving through the little bermed corners, popping off little booters and bombing down wide-open loose fall lines that were too steep for anything to grow on. I couldn't stop smiling. This bike was a riot.

Continue to page 3 for more of our full review of the Santa Cruz 5010 CC »



The 5010 CC climbs with ease, descends with grace, and flies like an eagle (only if you want it to).

The 5010 CC climbs with ease, descends with grace, and flies like an eagle (only if you want it to).​

I got my first hint for how this bike might perform at speed as we were still grinding our way up the hill. I've never been great at wheelies, but this bike wanted to get up and play for me with very little effort (or skill). The biggest difference in the geometry of the new 5010 CC is a longer top-tube length (between .4 inches on my size large and almost an inch in size small). This, in turn, allows for a shorter stem length. This combination is quite popular right now in the trail bike market and for good reason.

Another notable change is the bike's head tube angle has now grown to 67 degrees (equivalent to the original Bronson) to provide a slacker, more carvable ride. The chainstays have also shrunk to 16.7 inches, the already low bottom bracket has further dropped to just a hair over 13 inches, and the wheelbase has been lengthened to almost 46 inches on a size Large frame.

You'll see these same changes made across the rest of Santa Cruz's trail bike lineup. The adjustments up front allows for a much more playful front-end, encouraging a more active riding style in even the most rigid of cross-country purists. And to balance that out, the rear end adjustments make for a more stable low-and-wide riding platform that delivers stability at speed, in the air, and everywhere in between.

5010 Geometry chart. Courtesy of Santa Cruz Bicycles

5010 Geometry chart. Courtesy of Santa Cruz Bicycles​

These subtle changes come together to translate into a more dynamic and aggressive riding position on the bike. I was leaning harder than I ever had before coming into and out of corners, and manualing with ease over the chunky stuff that my front wheel didn't want to mess with. These simple changes in my riding form resulted in a much more confident, playful, and faster descent.

I saw these improvements on that run through Wilder, on a trail which I had previously ridden on several bikes, including, notably, the original 5010. I also saw this in effect and really grew to appreciate its ability to advance my riding level over the next few weeks in some new terrain out east. And I have learned to love this playful feel in the time spent on my home trails since.

Lucky for me, the review was planned in relation to a "technical backcountry mission" of my own on some Colorado trails that I had not yet ridden. I was excited by the potential to challenge the "Swiss Army knife" idea that the 5010 represents for me on some true mountainous terrain.

Continue to page 4 for more of our full review of the Santa Cruz 5010 CC »



The 5010's unique colorways stand out in any landscape.

The 5010's unique colorways stand out in any landscape (click to enlarge).​

Appropriately, my riding partner was on the same basic platform and had the same basic riding style as myself. So as we chose our routes along this 10-day road trip of Colorado's southwest quadrant, we were naturally inclined to choose certain trails that fit with that style and the tools we had chosen. Fortunately, not many bikes, even today, can truly handle both climbing and descending so well.

Indeed, we never avoided a trail based on technical nature. And, apart from one "goat trail" called Moore Fun near Fruita, Colorado, there wasn't a single instance where the 5010 didn't carry me through with the grace, confidence, and playfulness of a true trail bike.

The lower and wider riding platform of the Santa Cruz 5010 CC inspires a more stable, more active riding position at any speed.

The lower and wider riding platform of the Santa Cruz 5010 CC inspires a more stable, more active riding position at any speed (click to enlarge).​

That said, there were several occasions on one trail in particular (Engineer Mountain Trail - Durango, Colorado), that brought to mind the potential limitations of this platform over its beefier brethren in terms of its ability to eat up the more chundery fall lines.

However, as this was a cross-country bike on a cross-country trip, those same lines came as a reward after an 8-mile, 3,000-foot climb that topped out at almost 12,000 feet. So considering our approach, a very stout climb rather than a shuttle ride to the top, there's no question that a slight disadvantage in blasting through some of the more technical sections on that descent was worth the tradeoff for a bike that was able to get me there with considerably less difficulty. I was able to enjoy the entirety of a ride that offered just about everything in terms of terrain and conditions.

So while the Santa Cruz 5010 is not your best option if you are a shuttle-happy trail rider with very little interest or need to face extended and/or numerous climbs in the course of your average ride. (The Bronson, or even the Nomad, would be a far better option). But there's no question in this reviewer's opinion that the 5010 will suit more rounded riding preferences with impressively limited compromises in terms of riding ability in any condition. I say this bike will make you a better rider. It's done so for me, anyway.

View full specs and more technical details here and visit www.santacruzbicycles.com.