Santa Cruz Unveils All-New Carbon Fiber Nomad Mountain Bike

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Santa Cruz Bicycles has taken their freshly revised Nomad long-travel all mountain bike and put it on a high fiber diet.  The result?  A svelte carbon fiber version dubbed the Nomad-C that’s a lighter, stiffer, stronger bike made for general trail bashing and drop zone crushing.

Santa Cruz media relations man Mike Ferrentino says of the transition to carbon fiber: “We’ve been so impressed with the improved yields in strength and stiffness by using carbon fiber in our Blur and Tallboy, that it was a natural progression.  We were able to drop one and a quarter pounds from the Nomad’s frame weight while making it stiffer and stronger…why wouldn’t we do it?”

Asked about the potential for impact damage, Ferrentino explained in his usually eloquent manner: “When we first built the frame, it was even lighter.  We’ve buttressed the frame in every critical area, actually adding 80g to 100g of extra material and reinforcements, especially on the bottom of the downtube.  So, unless you’re a crazy Canadian teenager that’s hucking off huge jumps and landing on piles of rocks, you’re not going to break this frame.  But, if you think you’re aluminum frame’s going to stand up to that kind of abuse anyway, you’re eff’n delusional.”  (disclaimer: I paraphrased this a bit, but you get the point)

Wanna see more of the frame and tech details?  Yeah, I thought so…

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Appearances are important, so we’ll start with colors:  White with black details (top) or matte carbon with gold pinstriping (above).  The carbon frame with Rockshox Monarch 3.3 shock drops 1.25 pounds off the alloy version, with frame/shock sets weighing in at 6.1 pounds (matte black frame, size med.).  You can also order it with a Fox DHX Air or DHX RC4 Coil shock, but you’ll be adding about .33 lb and 1.1 lb respectively.  Ferrentino says the Monarch is lighter and plenty capable…but, then again, both bikes shown here have the Fox on them.

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Based on build weights for the alloy Nomad, this bike could easily be built to 27lbs and down to 26lbs with a good budget…all while keeping all-mountain-worthy parts in mind.

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The Nomad was redesigned about 1-1/2 years ago to use Santa Cruz’s revised VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) suspension format, and the Nomad-C shares the design and the Nomad’s 160mm (6.3″) travel.  For those unfamiliar with a VPP design, here’s how Santa Cruz describes it:

VPP is defined by a pair of counter-rotating links that offer a falling- to rising- shock rate, and instant center migration traits that minimize chain growth and maintain lively pedaling with a designed-in degree of anti-squat. The shock rate allows for plush, compliant suspension behavior in the early part of travel, letting the shock react quickly to trail garbage and smaller impacts. Then, as the shock rate flips a to rising rate later in the travel, it offers a nice progression to resist bottom out near the end of the stroke. The end result is a suspension that performs exceptionally well over a very diverse range of terrain AND at the same time pedals with an efficiency throughout that outshines many bikes with less travel.

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Rather than rewrite this, here’s the deal on the pivots and linkages directly from Ferrentino:

The lower link is aluminum and has a pair of grease ports built in to ease maintenance, while the upper link is molded carbon fiber. Pivot axles are 15mm diameter aluminum pieces that thread into the frame on one side, and have nifty locking collet heads on the other – this allows them to tighten down and correctly preload the angular contact pivot bearings (another not-so-common piece of hardware) to keep everything moving smoothly and at the same time wiggle-free. By threading into one side of the frame and then locking into the other, the pivot hardware plays an important part in ensuring that all these carefully designed, stiff, flex hating pieces of bike continue to behave in a stiff and flex-hating fashion. They also are designed to allow for easy removal for servicing when the time comes – no need to remove the cranks or disassemble the bike around the pivot hardware.

Note the metal plate on the chainstay where chainsuck tends to happen…not *ahem* that we’re saying this bike is prone to chainsuck (really, we’re not), but it’s good foresight.

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One thing not mentioned in his quasi press release is that all hardware on the bike is Ti, further upping the coolness and dropping the weight.

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Yep, those are ISCG05 tabs on the bottom bracket, so you can run most chainguides or Truvativ Hammerschmidt, and Ferrentino says it should work with SRAM XX and other forthcoming 2×10 cranksets, though you may have to run the wider Q-Factor options in some cases.

See the carbon bash guard on the downtube and overlay on the chainstay?  Those are the external, visual cues that this bike is completely up to the task of bombing nasty trails and non-trails.  Here’s what you don’t see:

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Santa Cruz uses a proprietary Net mold process that allows them to control both the inner and outer layups, compaction and molding of their carbon bikes.  For the Nomad-C, they’ve bolstered the downtube (notice how much thicker it is than the top tube?) with layers of UD carbon, followed by two layers of Aramid fibers (ie. bullet proof vest material) and topped off with a pretty 3K weave layer of carbon.  All told, it’s more than 4mm thick.

The entire front triangle is laid up and molded as one piece, with continuous fiber running through the entire piece, eliminating the assembly, bonding and additional wrapping required for other frame building methods.  This not only enhances the strength of the frame, it drops grams.

All pivots and disc tab and ISCG mounts are seamlessly molded into the frame, creating a stiffer, lighter structure.

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Lastly, they put an impact absorbent strip on the chainstay and lower part of the downtube for additional protection.  Other features include cable routing for drop seatposts and a full 1.5″ headtube because Santa Cruz says this frame is made for stuff that’s tougher than tapered steerers can handle.

Framesets (frame and shock) will be available in June starting at $2,499 (frame plus Rockshox Monarch 3.3).  Complete bikes will also be available, and their website will be fully revamped in a couple weeks with new build-a-bike and page for the Nomad-C.  About the time it’s up and running online, the 2011 build kits will be available through the build-a-bike feature, too…which might just give you a sneak peak at what’s coming down the pipe.  In the meantime, you can while away the hours building bikes with those boring old 2010 parts.

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Click any image to enlarge. How’s this for a parting shot:

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