Last weekend Fayetteville, Arkansas, played host to the second stop on this year's Pro XCT tour. The OZ Trails US Pro Cup was an opportunity for athletes to test their early season fitness and for brands to soft-launch their latest fast and light cross-country gear. Several Santa Cruz athletes were spotted riding matte black bikes that are notably different from the company's current XC race rig, the Blur. Is this the next-generation Blur, or an entirely new platform?

Related: Santa Cruz Blur Review

The current Blur was introduced in 2018. As the Tallboy grew more trail-oriented, Santa Cruz found it had a hole in its line for a dedicated cross-country race platform. The short-travel Blur and hardtail Highball were launched to cater to this need. Santa Cruz has also poured resources into cross-country racing, partnering with FSA in 2019 to launch the brand's first UCI Cross-Country Team. It's clear Santa Cruz sees the need for a new XC platform capable of competing at the World Cup level and it looks like we're getting our first glimpse of it.

Related: Santa Cruz Highball Review

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This is Blur that Ortenblad was racing prior to last weekend. (Tobin Ortenblad)

The new bike was unveiled without fanfare at the OZ Trails US Pro Cup. Santa Cruz athletes Alexis Skarda, Keegan Swenson and Tobin Ortenblad swapped their current Blurs for this unknown model. Swenson would go on to finish second aboard this new rig and Skarda would finish in fourth. Not a bad first showing.
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That's not the current Blur (Cole Paton)

Images posted by several athletes to their Instagram accounts show that the new bike is a departure from the rest of the Santa Cruz line. It retains the Blur's top-tube mounted shock, but it appears to eschew the brand's VPP suspension in favor of a simplified single-pivot design. The vertical braces connecting the seat- and chainstays have been removed as well. It's very likely that this new bike uses some form of flex-pivot, with a degree of flex engineered into the stays.

This approach has become increasingly common as a means to minimize frame weight. Bikes such as the Specialized Epic, Cannondale Scalpel and Transition Spur all use similar suspension designs.
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Room for two bottles in the main triangle? (Cole Paton)

In addition to reducing weight, ditching the lower VPP link frees up space in the front triangle for what appears to be a second set of water bottle bosses on the seat tube. If this is the case, this new model will have the ability to carry two water bottles in the main triangle and possibly a third bottle under the downtube for ultra-endurance events. The ability to run three bottles should be especially useful for Skarda if she tries to best her sub-seven-hour White Rim time.
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The non-driveside appears to show a straightforward single-pivot suspension. (Tobin Ortenblad)

Along with what we can see in the images, the Blur also likely received a geometry refresh. The current bike features a 69° head tube angle with a 74° seat tube angle. This is complete speculation on my part, but I would wager that these numbers will become slightly more aggressive as well. I'm guessing that when it's officially launched, this new bike will have a slightly slacker head tube angle and longer reach than the current Blur.

Related: Visit Mtbr's Santa Cruz forum

I reached out to Santa Cruz for more information on this yet-to-be-released bike. "That's a full-on XC bike being raced by our full-on XC racers," Santa Cruz brand manager Seb Kemp said. "Watch this space," he added.

Whatever it is, this bike seems quite capable under the hands of Swenson and Ortenblad.