Santa Cruz Bronson C
This is one of the other bikes that was at the top of my “must ride” list for today so after getting shut out at the Pivot tent (again) I headed to the Santa Cruz tent, filled out my card, and sat and waited until a size large Bronson came back in. It took about an hour but with the heat and my body still recovering from eight hours in the 100 degree sun the day before, I was OK with that. Ultimately, the wait was worth it. Finally someone brought back in this Tennis ball yellow carbon stunner and I was off to ride. With fresh legs I decided to eschew the shuttle and do a different climbing trail with more tech and some steeper climbs. The Bronson eagerly complied.
The same levitation I felt with the shorter travel, lighter, short-link bikes I’d ridden earlier was evident as well with this 150mm travel Bronson C as I pedaled up the smooth road to the beginning of the trail with zero pedal bob felt. The weight was still feathery light, although I could tell it was a few pounds heavier than some of the lighter short travel bikes I’d ridden at the demo. I ‘m guessing in the 27 lb range. Sizing felt really good. Size large SC bikes in the past have felt a tad short in the top tube for me but this one felt just right. (I sat on a size XL Bronson when I was waiting for this large and it did feel too big).
This semi-techy climb really highlighted some of the Bronson’s strengths. The seated position was comfortable, natural, and fairly upright for me. I could tell as I wheelied and torqued up and over steps and boulders that lateral stiffness is exceptional and, like the 5010, no pedal feedback was felt. If you’re hesitating getting a VPP bike because of this reputation for pedal kick back that keeps getting passed down, get over it. It’s not there. This is one of the other bikes on which I was able to clean the four foot step up move on the entrance to the Caldera loop. It’s a really strong technical climber.
On the descents, the rowdy, square hits weren’t totally erased but the suspension dealt with them in a controlled, firm/ plush manner (Yes, that’s a thing). The smaller bumps would’ve felt more smoothed out if I didn’t have to run so much air in the tires to avoid pinch flats but I’ve learned to take that into account here at Bootleg Canyon. I really liked the grip and cornering edge of the beefy Maxxis High Roller II tires front and rear. Up to this point the Bronson was my favorite bike of the show and I really didn’t expect anything to best it, but there were still a few must-ride bikes on my list to check out.
One piece molded carbon rear triangle showed no wag. Very stiff.
2.3” HR II tires were beefy and stuck well everywhere in the loose dry Bootleg conditions. It looks tight in this pic but I think it’s just the angle because it seemed like there was plenty of clearance back there.
Fox 34 150mm forked worked well. We were much more impressed with the Fox offerings this year.
A word about brakes (Ok maybe two): Shimano XT = YES. Avid/SRAM stuff = not so much.
I liked this WTB Volt seat. Looks light, was easy to get behind and was comfortable. Reverb Dropper post worked flawlessly…. as did the Thomson Elite Dropper, The KS Lev 150, and the Specialized Command post I tried. They are indispensable tools for me and they all work well now…. when they’re working. Pick the one that has the best customer service and shortest return time when it needs warranty service because they all will.
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