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2018 Santa Cruz Bicycles

Learn about Santa Cruz Bikes and why you should consider them when you're searching for the best mountain bike or cyclocross bike in 2018.

2018 Santa Cruz Bicycles Guide

Santa Cruz Bicycles History

Founded in 1993 by Rich Novak, Mike Marquez, and former professional skateboarder Rob Roskopp, Santa Cruz Bicycles is known for building rider-centered bikes. The company hand-assembles all its models in its California factory. Santa Cruz has been dedicated since its inception to producing the most high-performance mountain bikes on the planet – and many believe they have achieved that mission. The company is beloved for being large enough to have strong R&D but small enough not to be impersonal or otherwise lose sight of its customers.

Important Santa Cruz Bicycles Technology

The Santa Cruz Virtual Pivot Point (VPP)

One of the critical technologies for which Santa Cruz is known is its virtual pivot point (VPP) design. The patented concept behind VPP is to have two short links that rotate in opposite directions. This type of suspension was embraced by the company because it provides more design flexibility, enabling Santa Cruz to adjust shock rates based on the desired personality and intended use of the bike.

Santa Cruz Carbon Fiber Bike Technology

Santa Cruz Another technology that has made Santa Cruz Bicycles famous is its carbon fiber manufacturing – which has been geared toward making it more affordable for people to get their carbon frames. The higher quality carbon fiber frames are known as Carbon CC and are on the highest end build kits, while the Carbon C (the more affordable carbon version) is available on bikes with build kits below the XT / X0-1 Level.  The firm uses proprietary techniques to cut the cost while maintaining impressive rigidity and strength. To achieve that end, Santa Cruz uses a different carbon grade that results in negligible weight gain of 0.6 pounds per frame.


Here is a look at all the bikes in the Santa Cruz 2018 lineup:

Santa Cruz 2018 Nomad

2018 Santa Cruz Nomad

Santa Cruz's Trail and Freeride bike

Spec Highlights: 170mm rear travel / 27.5" wheel size / Carbon C, Carbon CC, or Aluminum.

The basic idea behind the Nomad is to create a trail bike that best resembles downhill characteristics while still delivering an excellent ride on trails and when freeriding.

The 2018 Nomad is the 4th generation of this bike. Every new version of the model expands the layout and travel, with copious testing to ensure that maneuverability is still the core point of focus.  

The 2018 Nomad benefited from the evolution of the V10, with Santa Cruz applying that downhill knowledge to this trail bike in a substantial transition to a lower-link mounted shock setup.

The movement of the bike, grounding midstroke, and ability to maintain light-as-air sensitivity through minor bumps are elements that would typically only come with a downhill model – all possible because of a nearly linear shock rate. You can outfit it with either metric coil or air shocks.

By creating a design that allows people to switch out shocks as they prefer, space in the region of the bottom bracket gets tight. However, Santa Cruz's superior understanding of carbon technology has allowed it to innovate with a front triangle and swingarm that exemplify both sturdiness and smoothness.

See the bikes:

2018 Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon C 

2018 Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon CC 

2018 Santa Cruz Hightower LT

2018 Santa Cruz Hightower LT

Santa Cruz All Mountain Bike

Spec Highlights: Allroad & mountain bike design / 150mm rear travel / 29" wheel size / Carbon C or Carbon CC.

This spinoff of the Hightower model (see below) is intended to allow the rider to take on huge mountains while maintaining lightning speed. This model was built with consideration of the terrain of key race events such as Andes Pacifico, Crankworx, and the Enduro World Series (EWS).

Santa Cruz actually has a racing team that competes at these events – and they have helped push the bike farther. Team member Mark Scott noted to Santa Cruz that the travel of the model's previous rendition, at a stock measurement of 135mm, was insufficient to allow a rider to keep up pace on some particularly challenging portions of the course. The Santa Cruz engineers redesigned the bike's links so that they could get travel up to 146mm. That decision did make it more difficult in terms of supporting various component options; however, compatibility was not a concern with Scott since his configuration was already understood.

The manufacturer continued to experiment and zero in on the right blend of shock compatibility, travel, and spring rate throughout 2016. Eventually, the verdict was to create a new swingarm – the same path taken with the V10. That adjustment enabled a 150mm travel.

See the bikes:

2018 Santa Cruz Hightower LT Carbon C 

2018 Santa Cruz Hightower LT Carbon CC 


2018 Santa Cruz Bronson

2018 Santa Cruz Bronson

Santa Cruz All Mountain Bike

Spec Highlights: 150mm rear travel / 27.5" wheel size / Carbon C, Carbon CC, or Aluminum.


When this bike was first released by Santa Cruz, it was an immediate success. The bike was made to dominate whether the rider was on The Ridge or in the Trans-Provence. Since this 150mm trail bike was received with such enthusiasm, making changes to refine it was necessarily tough.


The new link setup for the virtual pivot point suspension is the clearest improvement. To safeguard the lower link in the case of a collision, the component is completely recessed and stationed on top of the bottom bracket. The new configuration also positions the upper link so that it is top-tube-mounted, allowing for better lateral rigidity.


There is also upgraded sensitivity for small bumps through a revision of the shock rate.


Finally, the rider is now situated optimally, right over the cranks, thanks to a steeper seat tube angle.


See the bikes:

2018 Santa Cruz Bronson Aluminum

2018 Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon C 

2018 Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon CC 
2018 Santa Cruz Hightower

2018 Santa CruZ Hightower Mountain Bike

135mm Santa Cruz All Mountain Bike

Spec Highlights: 135mm rear travel / 29" or 27.5"+ wheel size / Carbon C or Carbon CC.


This bike is fundamentally geared toward taking on any type of track in any type of weather. Regardless your manner of riding, the location and country where you're riding, and the trails you encounter, the Hightower will prove capable equipment.


The key concern with this bike is determining which wheel-size is the best choice for your needs. Keep in mind, though, that you have a "High/Low" switch on the upper link that allows you to change the height of the bottom bracket; because of that feature, your positioning will be excellent with whichever wheel size you choose. This powerful bike will conquer any terrain that you approach due to its streamlined chain stays, more extensive reach, and 67° head tube angle. Many riders also appreciate that all cables route internally and that the bike features a water bottle mount and seat dropper measuring 150mm.


The basic consideration of wheel size, though, comes down to your specific needs:


  • 29" wheel size – This size is the right choice if you are going for maximum speed on straightaways and moving quickly out of turns.

  • 27.5"+ wheel size – You want these wheels when you are going to ride in particularly rocky, rugged, or muddy conditions. These tires lift you higher so your are not slowed down by loose ground with poor traction.


See the bikes:

2018 Santa Cruz Hightower Carbon C 

2018 Santa Cruz Hightower Carbon CC

2018 Santa Cruz Bicycles 5010

2018 Santa Cruz 5010 Trail Mountain Bike

130mm Rear Travel Trail Mountain Bike

Spec Highlights: Trail Mountain Bike / 130mm rear travel / 27.5" wheel size / Carbon C, Carbon CC, or Aluminum.

Repeat World Cup Champion Steve Peat favors this bike, as does Danny MacAskill, the first cyclist to traverse the Black Cuillin ridge (that time on a Bronson – see above).

The 5010 is able to take on rigorous and sophisticated uphill rides, featuring a low bottom bracket height, abbreviated chainstay, and 130mm travel. Going downhill, you benefit from the bike's superb, finely tuned maneuverability, thanks to its marriage of a short stem and long reach, along with its 67° head tube angle. With the 5010, you will suffer fewer rock strikes with the optimized clearance allowed by the fully recessed lower link; and you will also gain rigidity and toughness with the upper link, which is mounted to the upper tube.

See the bikes:

2018 Santa Cruz 5010 Aluminum 

2018 Santa Cruz 5010 Carbon C

2018 Santa Cruz 5010 Carbon CC

2018 Santa Cruz Tallboy Trail bike

2018 Santa Cruz Tallboy

The versatile Santa Cruz Trail Bike


Spec Highlights: 110mm rear travel / 120mm or 130mm front travel / 29" or 27.5"+ wheel size / Carbon C, Carbon CC, or Aluminum.

This bike has incredible versatility – as indicated by one of its riders, Greg Minnaar, a well-known downhill racer who won back-to-back World Championships. This bike features short chainstays and long reach, as well as a virtual pivot point suspension with 100mm of travel. These attributes, along with its 68° head angle, give this bike a playful persona that goes beyond its function.

You can switch out the fork with different tires (a 120mm one with 29" wheels, and a 130mm with 27"+ wheels), while adjusting the flip chip so the bike is easily modified for different sizes and build kits. The aluminum frame ranges from Small through XL, and the carbon frame runs from Smal to XXL – all of which benefit from the same fundamental geometric layout.

See the bikes:

2018 Santa Cruz Tallboy Aluminum 

2018 Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon C

2018 Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon CC

2018 Santa Cruz Chameleon Hardtail Cross Country Mountain Bike

2018 Santa Cruz Chameleon

Santa Cruz's Classic Hardtail Cross Country Mountain Bike

Spec Highlights: XC, Trail & Hardtail Mountain Bike / Hardtail / 120mm front travel / 29" or 27.5"+ wheel size / Aluminum.


This classic bike has been around so many years that riders have often already ridden a previous model-year or are familiar with its reputation. The bike was originally given its name because it can be singlespeed or geared, and it can be ridden on city roads, in mountains, on pavement or dirt. Today, the Chameleon name fits better than it ever has. Originally a hardtail capable of taking on any trail, it is now ready for long adventures and any dreary condition, with a graceful yet purposeful transition to 29" or 27.5"+ wheels. You can choose singlespeed for either size wheels, and you can switch from one wheel to the other by using interchangeable dropouts.


See the bikes:

2018 Santa Cruz Chameleon A R+

2018 Santa Cruz Chameleon A D+

2018 Santa Cruz Highball 29 Mountain Bike

2018 Highball 29 Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Cross Country 29" Mountain Bike

Spec Highlights: XC race or XC design / Hardtail / 29" wheel size.

This model was previously only available with 29-inch wheels, but now you have the option to go with those ones or the toned-down 27.5-inch tires (see below). The idea was that the rideability of the bike would remain constant, so that only the difference between the two sets of wheels would be noticeable.

The Highball is a redesign of an incredibly durable cross-country bike. Its centerpiece is a 100mm travel fork. It is a model focused on efficiency, with the intention that the drivetrain get all of the force from your legs. The Highball is also considered an excellent choice for those who want staying-power; its sturdiness gives many racers and riders an incredible piece of equipment for years.

With this refresh, Santa Cruz wanted the Highball 29 to be capable of better speed going through turns and to adopt a stem/bar setup that is considered more modern. To achieve that end, the engineers lengthened the front of the bike about a half-inch and removed that same approximate length from the chainstays. The design led with the understanding that no one wants a bike to get out of control when making an ascent. For this reason, the bike was outfitted with a 69° head tube angle to keep it optimally stable and maneuverable.

The Highball 29 is available in sizes Medium through XXL.

See the bikes:

2017 Santa Cruz Highball 29 C R2x

2018 Santa Cruz Highball 27.5 XC Race Mountain Bike

2018 Santa Cruz Highball 27.5

Santa Cruz 27.5" Cross Country Race Bike

Spec Highlights: XC Race Mountain Bike / Hardtail / 27.5" wheel size.

The Highball can achieve extraordinary speed. It gives you excellent stability and on-a-dime maneuverability with a no-nonsense head tube angle. You will be able to guide yourself when headed down hills and areas that require greater precision, due to the amount of space you have to move and adjust when riding it. It is built to ascend hills, making the most of your power.

One major change with this refresh is that the seat post size is reduced to 27.2mm. This seatpost size was chosen because it is more adaptive during the ride, so that it doesn't get painful as you make your way through a long race or trek. Carbon layup of the seat tube and seat stays was modified as well. Internal routing of the cables was designed in a manner to prevent frustration when putting together the bike. You will avoid stresses as you work with the bike because it has guides or tunnels for all cables. The engineers of this hardtail made sure that the bike was stronger and more streamlined than its predecessors.

The Highball 27.5 is available in Small through XL. 

(Coming Soon to Summit Bicycles)

2018 Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

2018 Santa Cruz Stigmata

Santa Cruz Cyclocross Bike

Spec Highlights: Hardtail / 700c wheel size.

The Stigmata is a cyclocross bike that was inspired by mountain bike engineering.

The majority of bike manufacturers initially started using carbon to build road bikes. Instead, Santa Cruz, believing carbon to be incredibly versatile and durable, started implementing it in mountain bikes and then downhill models. The next step was to use it for gravel or cyclocross bikes, as indicated by the carbon Stigmata.

The Stigmata is a revival of a discontinued bike with the same basic design but made from aluminum. In order to fit the drop bar, the original model had to use outdated brakes. This modern rendition takes advantage of component innovations with hydraulic disc brakes.

You are able to make the Stigmata what you want. You can fit it with slimmed-down tires for a road ride, and you can go with huge 41mm tires when you want to bring yourself up from messy trails a bit and improve your traction.

The bottom bracket, a PressFit 30, is brand-new and only available on the Stigmata. This piece is durable and strong enough to meet the strict, proven Santa Cruz standards while also being lightweight. It also is fully compatible with any type of road bike crank.

See the bikes:

2018 Santa Cruz Stigmata Carbon CC Rival

2018 Santa Cruz Stigmata Carbon CC Ultegra

2018 Santa Cruz Stigmata Carbon CC X1

2018 Santa Cruz Jackal Dirt Jumper

2018 Santa Cruz Jackal Dirt Jumper

The Santa Cruz Dirt Jumper


Spec Highlights: Dirt Jump Bike / Hardtail / 26" wheel size.

The Jackal is a bike designed for pumptracks, dirt jumping, and taking on city roads. Santa Cruz only sells the frame of the bike, but it can be set up with any standard 26-inch wheels.

The frame is incredibly durable – important given its intended use. You will be able to keep riding it season after season, and you will get great speed since it is lightweight at under 5 pounds.

The rear dropouts, with an intelligent sliding design, make it possible to go singlespeed or geared. You can also utilize 15.2" chainstays, which are extremely short and promote incredible stability, due to the assymetricality of the yoke.

(Coming Soon to Summit Bicycles)

Santa Cruz V10

The Santa Cruz Downhill Race Bike. 

Spec Highlights: 216mm rear travel / 27.5" wheel size / Carbon C or Carbon CC.

In mountain bike downhill World Cup history, the bike that has most often been ridden to victory is the Santa Cruz V10. This model was engineered for speed but also rideability. The impressive 216-mm-travel virtual pivot point (VPP) suspension is driven by its lower link.

Drawing on advice from professional riders, this bike has the capability to adjust to a slacker, lower configuration via a flip chip. High and low measurements are:


  • Bottom bracket 360 mm and headtube angle 64°
  • Bottom bracket 353 mm and headtube angle 63.5°.

For better, more even damping on a trip, the shock rate was adjusted by Santa Cruz for better linearity in this sixth-generation bike. By improving cost-efficiency with a study of carbon lay-up and redesign of the frame, the manufacturer was able to redirect spending to make the V10 more durable and capable of seamlessly landing flat from large jumps. The bike is also made stronger and more rigid by greater-diameter sections of the front swingarm and triangle. 

(Coming Soon to Summit Bicycles)


Which Carbon Fiber Frame is better for me, the Carbon C or Carbon CC?

We get asked this all the time, and if you want the best carbon technology, the lightest and stiffest that Santa Cruz produces, and you are racing or riding at the highest levels, you will appreciate the Carbon CC.  For the rest of us the Carbon C will be the choice as it rides amazing with some weight gain (and serious cost savings).