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Santa Cruz Bicycles [SCB] is not one of the large mountain bike manufacturers and the way they are going to market is a positive of being smaller. SCB sells their bikes in both preselected complete packages and factory semi-customizable options (select from a variety of Forks and Build Kits). These choices combined with the frame only option gives the buyer limitless options in their needs and desires and budgets. The Santa Cruz Nomad redefined the long travel pedalable mountain bike market when it was releases in 2007. Now in its second generation the Nomad continues to raise the bar in the All Mountain category. The Nomad features 6.3 inches, 160mm, of travel packaged around the company's second-generation virtual pivot point [VPP] suspension.  The guys in California can tell you a million ways as to how VPP work, who great it is and why they use it. Dual counter rotating links affecting the axel path and shock stroke bla bla bla. Now, I am no engineer but I can tell to this, The Nomad pedals like a bike with less travel and soaks up bumps like one with a whole lot more. The suspension features a carbon fiber upper that drives the shock and forged aluminum lower link. The lower link has an integrated lubrication system featuring grease ports. The grease ports along with the included grease gun allow you to pump grease into the lower linkage to clear out dirt, water and other gunk eliminating the need to dismantle the linkage for routine maintenance. The frame featuring a 67˚, 1.5' headtube that allows the use of most forks on the market and ISCG05 tabs for chain guide mounting. All of these features make the Nomad a very versatile frame to build around.

Reviewing bikes is no proven science. Rider preference and the fact we all don't of ride the same and demand the same things from our bikes. That being said I have ridden my fair share of bikes and living in Whistler gives me "out my front door access" to some of the best trails in the land.

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Santa Cruz Nomad lines & carbon linkage.


The Nomad is an above average pedaling trail bike, especially for a 6" frame. The VPP suspension feels very effective with little to no bob with the Fox DHX air's ProPedal off, with ProPedal on the bob is eliminated. The slack head tube is more oriented for the downs then ups and the bike took a little time to get used to on tricky switchbacks and steep ups. The slack layback angle of the seat tube combined with the slack front end makes it easy to have the front end lift off the ground and slowed down technical turns.  The stock stem on my Nomad is 60mm and a longer one would help the in the saddle climbing however it would also change the steep downhill characteristics. After a little tweaking to the seat position and some body english the bike climbed and steered very predictably and controlled. The Nomad performs very well while pedaling uphill however its roots were designed to go down, and that it does extremely well. The 160mm of rear travel feels bottomless. The bike soaks up everything including baby head size rock gardens and gnarly roots to the unanticipated 3-foot drop to flat. There is no pedal feedback even in very rough terrain including rock gardens and rooty sections. Handling was well balanced and steering was predictable and confidence inspiring (other than the steep tricky switchback ups). Overall this is a very solid riding bike.

The Nomad's great looks & finish are first rate. Combined with a terrific suspension platform, superb handling and excellent pedaling efficiency the Nomad is a force to be reckoned with on the trail. Having ridden the Nomad on trails ranging for technical single-tracks and steep loose descents to A-Line in the Whistler Bike Park, I can say this is one of the best bikes I have ever owned and is a true ONE bike solution.

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Santa Cruz Nomad cockpit.  Chris King headset.


Specs:

Weight 32 lbs 15oz

 

The Build:

Santa Cruz Nomad 2 (large)
Fox DHX Air shock
Fox 36 Talas RC2 FIT fork
Chris King No Tread Set w/ Preloader
SRAM X9 Build Kit
Shimano SLX Cranks
Avid Elixir CR Brakes (185 front / 160 rear)
Sram X9 Rear Derailleur and Trigger
DT Swiss ex500 rims w/ DT Swiss 340 rear and Chub front hub

 

Add Ons:

Blackspire 24t-36t ring set with Bash and Stinger (roller chain guide)
Chromag Trailmaster Saddle
Chromag Fubar Acute Handle Bars
KS i950-R 125mm Seatpost
Crank Brothers Mallet 2 Pedals
Maxxis Tires 2.4 Ardent front, 2.25 CrossMark rear

 

Opinion:

Good on the climbs, Superb on the descents and an overall solid feeling Bike.

Plus:

6 inches of well-tuned travel that eats up the trail and pedals like a bike with less travel. True one bike solution for most riders.

Minus:

The Nomad has made me a less disciplined rider both going up and down, this bike can plow through anything, even if it is not the best line or a line at all :-). Not Cheap.

 

Wishlist/What I would change:

1.5 headtube and Stem, looks like a bit of overkill. 1.5 to 1 1/8 tapered steertube would offer more stem options.

Maxel real axle.

 

Rating: 4.5/5

Price: $4926.00 USD.

Website: http://www.santacruzbikes.com/nomad/

 

Full gallery here: http://www.whistlermountainbike.com/wmb/gallery//showgallery.php/cat/795

 

What do you think of the Nomad? Talk back here: