Review: Santa Cruz 5010

27.5-inch super bike is perfect blend of uphill prowess and downhill grit

27.5 All Mountain Trail Cross Country
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.

Stat Box
Build: SRAM XX1 with ENVE wheels Seat tube: 73.8 degrees
Use: cross country, trail BB height: 13.1”
Size tested: Large Chainstay length: 16.7”
Frame material: Carbon Fork: 130mm
Rear travel: 130mm (VPP3) Price (as tested): $10,100
Wheels: 27.5” Base price: $3,599 (5010 C-R)
Head tube: 67 degrees Rating: 5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 5 Chilis-out-of-5 (industry leading bike in intended application)

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

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 »
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About the author: Dillon Caldwell

Dillon Caldwell is a native of Bend, Oregon with a big heart for the sport of cycling. He grew up to be a successful junior cross-country racer but got hooked on road racing during his time at the University of Oregon, where he ran the school's club cycling team for several years. He now spends the majority of his time as a road racer for both the Audi and the Canyon Bicycles - Shimano racing teams on the regional and the national scales, respectively. On the side, he is a mountain bike tour guide for Cog Wild, a cycling coach for Wenzel Coaching, a member of the board of directors for the Tour des Chutes cancer charity, and a passionate writer.


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  • chicken_rider says:

    How would you compare this to the older “Swiss Army Knife” SantaCruz, the TRc (excluding the wheel size differences)?

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>How would you compare this to the older “Swiss Army Knife” SantaCruz, the TRc (excluding the wheel size differences)?

      Great question as I’m an old TRc owner. They are very similar. The travel is active and compliant. This new bike is longer and more capable. And the suspension (shock and fork) is much improved.

  • Patrick says:

    Great looking bike and might be my replacement for the Tallboy next year, although at the next price point down. The drop in the fourth pic, Phil’s World? Moore fun is definitely a technical trail..

  • Heffe says:

    I’d like to see a comparison to the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt.

  • Ken says:

    Great review! Can you give any insight into sizing? I am also fairly XC oriented but want an all-mountain bike. At 5’10″ I’m right in between the medium and large sizes. I tend to like a longer reach, but maybe medium is long enough? I’ve read all of the threads on this topic but it would be helpful to have your opinion as well. How tall are you and what size did you ride? Thanks!

  • Francis Cebedo says:

    >>Ken
    December 5, 2015 at 12:23 pm (Edit)
    Great review! Can you give any insight into sizing?

    You are absolutely perfect for a medium. The top tube is so long now that it’s really built for very short stems. (like a 40mm) for a 5’8″ person like myself. So if you ride a 50-70mm stem, you’ll be dialed. Wide bars make the cockpit longer too as your arms get spread out.

  • Tim says:

    The main question for me would be: Even if you like to earn your descents, does the 5010 climb so much better than the Bronson? Is it worth not taking the additional travel and descender capabilities along? Highly subjective, of course. Let’s assume you’re not an XC racer (who’d likely want a different bike), but a person who wants to go pretty fast, up and down, on rides that average 3-4 hrs and is looking for a trail bike.

    • kurt says:

      yes the 5010 does climb better than the bronson. i would be much more inclined to grab the 5010 for 3-4hr rides. i’ve rode both bikes a bunch. the 5010 while being the better climber seems to be easier to ride and manage in tighter singletrack, up and downhill. The bronson has a tendency to want to be on open fast singletrack. Bronson felt much longer on the climbs. dont get me wrong hear the bronson was a great climber just the 5010 was better. I live in Fernie BC, where we have big steep climbs to long decents. for the most part the 5010 was better all round than the Bronson. If going to the bike park or shuttling is also in your expanded riding styles, grab the Bronson, otherwise stick with 5010.

  • KRIS says:

    What was the exact weight of the tested bike?

  • time keeper says:

    I’ve found SC weights on their website to be pretty close to accurate.

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