Compare-O Bottom Line: Ultimate one bike quiver? The $10k Santa Cruz 5010 Carbon might be it

27.5 Enduro Compare-O 2014 Video

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Large Doesn’t Always Mean Large

Besides its sometimes over-matched fork, some testers felt the 5010 was a tad on the compact side. That’s not necessarily a knock, so much as a warning that just because you ride a certain size something else won’t mean you’ll automatically want that same size 5010.

“The cockpit felt tiny,” commented one of our 6-foot-plus testers. “I’d need to ride a larger frame size before giving a totally fair evaluation. As it was, once the trail pointed up hill and I got out of the seat, there was very little room left. The bars and stem were in the way, and I had a tough time keeping the front wheel light. Just felt totally cramped up.”

This could in part be a product of the 5010’s wheelbase (44.9 inches size large compared to 45.8 inches for the same sized Bronson). Whatever the case, the reach is undeniably shorter than similar bikes with the same amount of travel and wheel size. “I felt like I was too far over top a few times,” affirmed another tester. “It rode small compared to the other size large bikes in the test.”

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Details Matter

You’d think by now most bike manufactures would have sorted out issues such as crappy cable routing. But as we found out during our test session, some still haven’t grasped the notion of clean and uncluttered. The Santa Cruz 5010 is not such a bike. Brake and derailleur cables travel in nice straight lines, which helps keep actuation smooth and easy.

Santa Cruz also deserves props for its choice to not play follow the leader, and instead stick with a 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell. No annoying creak here. We also liked the down tube protector, which will help keep this test rig’s beautiful bright gloss orange frame from being beaten up by flying debris. And it has ISCG tabs if you want to run a chain guide, plus mounts for two water bottle cages if you plan on being gone all day.

Of course we were collectively also big fans of the chi-chi parts spec, which included ride-enhancing ENVE carbon wheels, supremely powerful Shimano XTR brakes, and SRAM’s XX1 drivetrain that’s made dropped chains all but extinct.

With the 5010, Santa Cruz sought to stand out in every way. Mission accomplished. Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Cost Overrun

Spend nearly $10,000 on a bike and you have every right to expect perfection — or at least something pretty damn close. But if forced to look for fault, you can always come up with a niggle or two.

If you’re a fan of 29er trail bikes, it’s likely the 5010 will leave you missing the rolling-thunder feel of plowing over anything that gets in your way. Instead this tweener-sized bike (especially with its 32mm fork) requires a more deft touch when negotiating chunky trail features. Pedal strike was also an issue for some testers. But that’s the price you pay for lowering the bottom bracket.

And then there is the cost. Unless you run a hedge fund, play pro sports, or sell drugs for a living, dropping 10 large on a bike with no motor is likely not part of your long-term financial plan. The good news is that Santa Cruz knows this, and offers the 5010 in a variety of builds, both carbon and aluminum frames. (The low end alloy build is around $3,300 and comes with less than a five-pound weight penalty.)

It’s The Journey, Not The Destination

So who then is this bike for? If you’re ambitions are to be the next Jerome Clementz or Remy Absalon, and take on the Enduro World Series, look elsewhere. Even with a burlier fork up front, the 5010 would be out of its comfort zone in super gnarly terrain where speed was of essence.

What this bike does do well, though, is a little bit of everything. And that’s what we loved about it. In this age of specialization (XC, trail, enduro, all-mountain, DH, blah, blah, blah), the 5010 is simply a fun bike to ride in a lot of different places and in a lot of different ways.

Light duty enduro racing? Heck yeah. Sport class cross-country shootout? Giddy up. Ride an all-day epic, clean all the uphills, and feel confident going down? Precisely.

“In a one-bike quiver shoot-out,” concluded one tester, “the 5010 would definitely be a top contender.”

Price and Trickle Down Versions

5010 Carbon as tested: $9575
5010 Carbon frame set: $2899 with Fox CTD Factory shock
5010 Carbon R AM: $4199
5010 Alloy R AM: $3299

2014 Santa Cruz 5010 Carbon Key Specs
  • MSRP: $9575
  • Weight: 25.68 lbs. (size large)
  • Wheel size: 27.5 inches
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Color: Gloss Orange/White, Matte Black/Green
  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • Fork: Fox 32 Float CTD 130mm
  • Rear Travel: 125mm
  • Rear Shock: Fox Float CTD
  • Headset: Cane Creek 110
  • Handlebar: Easton Carbon Havoc 750mm
  • Stem: Thomson 70mm
  • Grips: Lizard Skins Peaty lock-on
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
  • Saddle: WTB Volt SLT Ti
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR with 180mm front 160mm rear Ice Tech rotors
  • Brake Levers: Shimano XTR
  • Shifters: SRAM XX1, Trigger Shift
  • Front Derailleur: N/A
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM XX1, Type-2
  • Cassette: SRAM XX1 10×42, 11-speed
  • Crankset: SRAM XX1, 34T
  • Rims: ENVE AM carbon
  • Hubs: DT Swiss 240 15mm 142
  • Spokes: DT Swiss
  • Tires: Maxxis High Roller II 2.3″ Tubeless Ready EXO
  • Bottom bracket type: 73mm threaded
  • ISCG Tabs: Yes
  • Chain guide: No
  • Head tube angle: 68 degrees
  • Seat tube angle: 73 degrees
  • Chainstay length: 17.1 inches
  • Bottom bracket height: 13.2 inches

For more information visit

This story is part of Mtbr’s 2014 Enduro Compare-O. Check out our intro story here for all the ground rules and goings ons.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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  • roger says:

    A bike not named Enduro to go with my enduro fork, enduro wheels, enduro tires, enduro cranks, enduro seatpost, enduro saddle, enduro handlebars, enduro helmet, enduro hydration pack, enduro shoes, enduro gloves, and enduro gogles…I can finally Enduro!

  • roger says:

    Carbon wheels makes all the difference! Test the lower end model of this bike where most racer’s budget and reality.

    • Bikethrasher says:

      I rode the cheapest version of the 5010 in Fruita and smoked the time I set a week earlier on a $10,000 dollar Ibis Mojo HDR with Enve Wheels and XX1 by over 3 minutes on my 22 mile test loop. This bike Rips regardless of the parts. The suspension isn’t perfect, but No suspension is. I also wish the top tube on the LG was 24.5 inches. But aside from that it’s the best Trail bike I’ve ever ridden.

      • Joe Millionare says:

        Three minutes faster on a 22 mile loop? Big deal. That’s like one less pee break.

        • Bikethrasher says:

          I didn’t take any breaks. I do the same loop and go flat out. 3 minutes is a Huge difference. I posted 2 Top 10s and 12 PRs on the 5010. I’ve ridden over 25 demo bikes on this loop and I’m faster on the 5010 than any other.
          The Ibis SLR can’t compete with this bike. The 5.7 even with more travel isn’t as plush. Both are really good bikes but they are lacking.

      • DevinsDad says:

        I can see beating your HDR time. I had an HD 160 with 26″ wheels. Incredilbe bike but not for 22 mile xc rips. I built a Ripley with everything on it (enve, xx1, etc) and it is so fast it’s crazy. I’d like to hear if you road a Ripley on your loop. At 6’3″ tall, I don’t notice any gyroscopic issues wit the wagon wheels, especially enve’s so I am sold on the 29er wheels in this travel range.

        • Bikethrasher says:

          The biggest challenge with bikes these days is that for the most part they are all Really damned good. The hard part is finding the one that works best for you and the terrain you ride.
          I expected the HDR with its 130mm of travel. To have the snap and climbing Prowes of the SLR. I also expected, with it’s extremely stiff frame and 66.5 degree head angle with a Pike on the front to just Destroy the descents. Unfortunately the other three bikes I was riding at the time. My Trusty TRc an Ibis SLR and an Enduro 9. Left me under underwhelmed with the HDR.
          The Ripley looks really good it’s been getting great reviews. So I defiantly want to ride it. Who knows maybe it could be the bike that changes my view of 9ers.

  • tim says:

    Not that I don’t love reading about 10k bikes like this one, but I would much rather read about price points around $ 3,500. This is a better price point for what I think wold be at least a small majority of your readership. Additionally, I would have liked to see a Turner bike included in this shoot out.

  • mr.habanero says:

    Not all carbon wheels break the bank. You can get the utmost rad carbon wheels from LB!

  • David says:

    Test the Ventana Zeus please!

  • Ian says:

    One can look at this bike the other way. It tries to be everything but masters little. This trail category was well covered by the old time favorites 26″ bikes. I’m not sure if you stack this bike against Pivot 5.7 carbon or ibis slr – that it will win. Racer crowd will want 29s and enduro guys are looking at more stout 27 inches like mach6 or NorCo range.. What’s the market for it?

    • Codypup says:

      I think the market is people who like nice mountain bikes, which is a lot bigger market than the people who actually race enduros and who actually ride terrain that would justify the Bronson or something like that. The 5010 with a 140-150 Pike or Fox 34 is probably more than enough for any enduro held in North America.

  • Brooks says:

    For 10K I’ll buy two bikes and renovate my garage to fit them in.

  • Alex Bo B'Alex says:

    I agree with Tim. There needs to be a Turner Flux, burner, or even a czar.

  • Tad says:

    How well is the VPP sorted? Is it a little soft in the mid stroke (that’s what she said). I don’t have much time on VPP, but heard that criticism a lot in the past.

  • Padrote says:

    Propers for the BDP reference

  • guitarjohn21 says:

    10K Weight weenie trail bike?
    I guess they know their market. 125mm wouldn’t cut it even on my local trail rides, though. Why not a 150mm talas? The 2014 fox is super plush compared to earlier models, can be lowered to 120mm, and weighs the same.

  • Bob Stimson says:

    I’ll just stick with my TRC…

  • johnny D says:

    I have a 5010 I built for half that money-xt, mavic crossroc, and x fusion 34 up front. Im coming off a pivot mach 5 and turners before that. This bike kills them all for my type of riding. (xc,trail,all mountain) Faaast, with very light inputs required and a smooth “finger tippy” feel to it. Great technical descender Doesnt have the snap of dw but sits high in its travel on the climbs.Very very good. I love it and would take it anywhere.

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