Santa Cruz Bronson Review

A responsive descender

27.5 All Mountain Trail

Features of the Bronson are as follows:
– 27.5″ (650b) wheels
– 142 mm rear axle spacing.
– New molded rubber swingarm and downtube protectors.
– 2 x bottle cage mounts.
– Forged upper link.
– Forged aluminum lower link with angled grease ports: offset for chainguide clearance.
– Collet axle pivots: lock in place without pinch bolts.
– Angular contact bearings: all pivots.
– Direct mount rear derailleur hanger option: standard hanger comes as stock.
– Full carbon dropouts and disk mounts.
– Co-molded aluminum hardware on frame pivots: no bonding.
– Carbon ISCG-05 tabs.
– Routing for Reverb Stealth.
– 73mm threaded BB: creak-free riding and easy installation.

Looking at the geometry charts reveals some good numbers.

The BB height is not exactly low at 346 mm or 13.6 inches. So it won’t be a low-riding carver like the Blur TRc at 13.1 inches but it will be better suited for rocky trails in Arizona, the East Coast and Europe, and not just the loamy forests of Santa Cruz, CA. The head angle looks just right at the slack side of the field at 67 degrees. The seat angle is nice and steep at 73 degrees for pedaling but the seat will be neatly tucked away for descending with a Reverb Stealth dropper post.

A geometry comparison to what’s available today is here.

First we’ve converted our Santa Cruz Blur TRc to 650b Blur TRc. This carbon bike has a 5 lb frame so it’s ultralight yet very stiff laterally. We got our test rig to 26 lbs with Enve carbon wheels and it is noticeably better than the the stock 26er version. It is agile and capable with the bigger wheels and the BB height only bumped up to 13.6 inches since it started out at a very low 13.1 inches. The only downsides were we couldn’t put really awesome and big tires on this 130mm converted bike since there was not enough room.

Second, we’ve been riding the Intense Tracer 275 and Carbine 275. Both these bikes license the VPP design from Santa Cruz so they really foreshadow what’s coming with the Bronson. What we have are six inch bikes that perform and fly downhill with confidence. They make the rider look good soaking up hits and drops with little drama. Yet, when it’s time to climb, these bikes will hammer up on or off the saddle. The Tracer is quite heavy though with the bike topping out over 30 lbs with about a frame well over 6 lbs. The Carbine was lighter but the geometry on it was a bit off since it seemed lika a retrofitted 26er and was a departure from the new Tracer 275 geometry.

So we expect the Santa Cruz Bronson to be a 27 lb climber and descent annihilator. Given what we’ve seen with the TRc and the Tallboy LTc, this bike is going to carve corners with its dialed geometry and lateral stiffness. But we shall see for ourselves this week as we give this bike the shakedown on April 2.

Check out Bronson Videos on the Next Page >>

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • old school says:

    Wasn’t SC saying just recently that they saw no value in the 650b wheel size?

  • Francis Cebedo says:

    >>Wasnโ€™t SC saying just recently that they saw no value in the 650b wheel size?

    In basketball, that’s called a head fake. They poke fun at the social media hype often.

  • Kirk Bailey says:

    Although the Santa Cruz is a very popular company and now having a 650b bike, I find there are a couple of other options out there with better pricing. i.e. Scott’s Genius 700 series. It may only have 140 mm of travel, however it handles very nicely compared to most of the other 650b I have tried. Scott’s also gone to a 3 position remote lock out for the fork and rear shock. The Scott 740 weight is well under 30lbs. And if you upgraded to different wheels set, it could be under 25lbs. We don’t see many guys buying into the carbon framed models, so most (around my part of CA) will be eyeing the alu framed version. Non-the-less, Very nice bike Santa Cruz!!!

    • liquidSpin says:

      I totally agree. The new 2013 Scott Genius is just incredible…just wish I had the loot to buy one. However, I’m happy with my 2012 Scott Genius ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Brooks Yancey says:

    Looks like a beautiful machine, but why is it that a category only gets legitimized when SC enters the market? Kind of an insult to the other manufacturers that put in the work on the leading edge concepts and design. In any other industry that would be product suicide, but in the MB world we seem to put a disproportionately high value on the “cool” factor.

    • Mark Baeder says:

      I’m not saying others aren’t doing 650b right, but anyone can jam 650 wheels onto a 26″ bike. Designing it from the ground up can make a difference. Just as SC did with the Tallboy- they were later to the market, but instantly one of the better sellers because a lot of FS 29ers at the time rode like crap. I’m sure the cool factor/internet hype machine helps too though ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Izzy says:

    New on the top of my lust list!

  • MJ says:

    Nice to see Santa Cruz jump in. 650b will make us taller, smarter, happier, just generally more desirable. Well…. not really. Riding my Jamis 650b for 1.5 years now and still loving it. Santa Cruz makes great bikes. Their entry into 650b may help other riders stop thinking we’re the lunatic fringe on our tweener wheelsize. Thanks for the new choices!

  • GJ, CO says:

    Glad SC is making a 650b! Hopefully they’ll make it available on the Blur TR platform soon. A conversion for the linkage or dropout would work. And please SC, move the rear derailleur cable boss from the rear of the seattube on the Blur TRc.

    Also, how about a 20mm axle 650b fork? Anyone??

  • Mr. K says:

    Yes, I have a problem with SC saying they had no interest in 650b last year. So, I bought a Blur LT and put 650b wheels on it. Does anybody have an opinion on bb height? My Blur with 650b wheels is just a touch over 14″. Since I ride East Coast trails, I like the fact of having a bb height, but wish it were a little lower. Also, anybody if the Bronson’s rear triangle swingarm would fit on my 2012 Blur LT? It would be nice to have a 142×12 axle instead of QR. Thanx, Mr. K

  • WB says:

    White Bros Fluid 650B 20mm axle. Been riding one for a year and a half.

  • Mickey DeSadist says:

    Wheel size is the only substantial innovation in years. Should be interesting.

  • Michael says:

    Sure would like to see SC come out with a 4.7 lb – 5″ travel 27.5…

  • Adam says:

    I’m so confused… I think I will just keep riding my Blur Lt and my 907.
    Looks fun though

  • Peter says:

    This bike looks awesome. I demo’ed the Norco Range Killer B2 for a few days last week while vacationing in Moab, did the Mag7 and a few other of the famous trails on it. I currently ride a Specialized Pitch. The Norco felt really fast, even with 160mm of fork – I don’t know if it was the frame and/or the wheel size, but it just felt good. I had heard from a few SC local shops here in the Bay Area that SC had told them they were preparing for the switch to 650b, but I had heard they were redesigning the Nomad for the wheel size. But whatever – I was holding off on a new ride until the 650b thing got settled, I’ll definitely be looking at this.

  • Julius says:

    I WAS looking at the Superlight 29 but now I have to hesitate!

  • roger says:

    The SC blur LT plaform beats any of the current offerings in the 650b market before the Bronson. bhaw ha ha

  • Izzy says:

    Haha, “aspirational” ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Thanks for comparing with the Sight (my former dream bike, before the Bronson came)
    This now begs the question, what will happen to the Nomad?

  • Mike says:

    Santa Cruz builds great bikes and I am really interested in picking one of these up. I am thinking of a custom build to get the weight down. I figure getting rid of the poppy post and big rubber will help. Interesting they don’t spec with an enve dh bar.

  • Jamie says:

    Your thoughts on bottom bracket are not entirely correct. You are using static unsagged numbers to imply how the bike will carve singletrack. If they had the same travel, then it is apples to apples comparison.

    Assuming vertical travel (which is not correct, but a good approximation)

    sagged bottom bracket at 30%
    Blur TRc =13.1 unsagged bb height -30% sag*125mm/25.4=11.62 inches
    Bronson =13.6 unsagged bb height-30% sag*150mm/25.4=11.8 inches

    So the reality is 0.2 inches, not 0.5 inches, so the differences are less than originally suggested.

  • Michael says:

    I still ride my superlite(12 years now), its like flying coach maybe-I never want to fly business or first-I dont know what I am missing- those seats sure look inviting though. I have to save the money to keep the 3 kids outfitted in their outdoor endeavors. Lots of nice new bikes.

  • Dale Burton says:

    I test rode the Bronson yesterday on an 8-km loop of varying terrain that finished off with a great down hill section that had everything man made ramped jumps.

    Having now ridden both the Tall Boy and Bronson carbon versions (circa $6,500) bikes I can say these bikes were not fun, at least for me anyway. I rode the Intense Carbine 27.5 right after the Bronson and the difference in easy of riding was like night and day.

    The Intense was the better bike for me, although the rear tire clearance was really tight to the point I got tire buzz when pushing it hard on the down hill sections. They should have changed the chain & seat stays to accommodate 27.5 instead just replacing the dropouts.

    Before unloading a ton of cash on a decent 27.5 you really need to ride them hard off road. Just going on the street outside the LBS you may find you bought something less than you bargained forโ€ฆ!

  • Leonidas says:

    Norco Sight actually has 73.9 estimated seat tube angle and this is comparable to the 73 of the bronson. The 70 mentioned is the actual and not what it counts to teh rider. Was this mistake made purposly? Only the cable routing is an advantage – again according to an author who made a serious mistake. The Sight is lower, shorter stays, better SA and the bronson better cable routing, which is better now?

  • Matias says:

    Hi i am from chile,south america
    I m looking for a santa cruz bronson i am 5’10” tall and i want to go for the medium size
    Is that ok ?
    I also tried a rune v2 in medium size and i felt a little bit more confortable
    Which bike should i get?
    I personally prefer the bronson
    Saludos desde chile

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