Unboxed, Weighed, And First Impressions – The Blur TRa, The New Budget Quiver Killer From Santa Cruz

The Blur Tr is the bike everyone loves to love. The 125mm travel trail bike, which sits somewhere in demeanor between the Blur XC and LT models, has gradually grown in popularity. Its presence in the enduro scene, on the podium, and at the local trail head speaks volumes about its abilities.

Unfortunately, its availability only in carbon kept this little quiver killer out of financial reach for the everyman – until now. After over a year of speculation, the long rumored aluminum version has finally been released.

We immediately called Santa Cruz and offered a kidney in exchange for a demo bike. Was it worth it?

Weight

The claimed weight on the new frame is a claimed 6.57 lbs. If you believe the manufacturers claims, with the aluminum version you get roughly 1.89 lbs more bike for nearly $800 less!

Our demo ride, which was decked out in a full XT groupo and DT Swiss 350 hubs laced to WTB i23 rims, was borrowed off a demo TRc. As a result, Santa Cruz Bikes asked us not to focus on the specs, but the full build kit on our bike is comparable to the claimed 26.24 lb $5,295 USD SPX xc build kit (w/ the Kashima coated shock option). The main difference between the two appears to be tire selection. The factory build is shod in Maxxis Crossmark 2.1 Tubeless tires. Ours came with a set of 2.3 Tubeless High Rollers (with tubes) that must have recently rolled through a pile of manure.

Our Blur TRa, with the mud freshly hosed of and a set of 330 grams Straightline Amp pedals, weighed in at 30 lbs on our Park Tools DS-1 scale.

Frame

The new Blur TR aluminum frame packs everything that mechanics and riders have come to love about the TRc. Everything from the geometry to the high quality craftsmanship is identical to its light weight fraternal twin.

Given the opportunity, professional wrenches will tend to wax poetically about the locking collets on the pivot axles, the grease ports, and being able to access these two features easily from the non-drive side.

The frame has regular guides for mounting a dropper post. Our pre-production review rig didn’t have an option for stealth routing, but production frames will have the stealth port located on the seat tube just above the BB junction.  updated 2/14/13

If you love running Shimano Cranks or aren’t sold on press fit bottom brackets, finding a threaded BB shell on a brand new high end mountain bike will put a smile across your face.

The frame also has ISCG05 mounts to meet all your chain retention needs.

The Carbon TRc has been a popular candidate for 650B conversions. The new aluminum version also offers plenty of room for the tweener wheels.

The frame has two locations for water bottle mounts – on the bottom and top of the down tube.  Although you can only mount one water bottle above the top of the down tube if you purchase a size small frame.

All this aluminum goodness runs $1925 compared to the $2,698 carbon version. A Kashima Coated shock for either frame option costs an additional $205.

Ride Impressions

The Blur TR is an anomaly, its somewhere between an aggressive bike for cross country riders and a cross country bike for downhillers. In the three weeks we’ve flogged it, it’s done everything from cross country training rides with the local HS team to shuttle runs with a truck full of 8” travel bikes.

The little bike was never a hindrance uphill or down due its well dialed suspension. The VPP platform has great pedaling characteristics. It’s so good we almost never took the shock out of descend mode, although slight pedal bob was noticeable when hammering out of the saddle. The suspension also performed exceptionally well when descending rocky terrain. Square edge hits and off camber sections where inconsequential. The highly capable suspension soaked it all up equally. This bike just feels like it has more travel than the numbers suggest.

The slack angles are what really get people excited about this bike. With a 501 mm axle to crown fork, the head tube angle sits at a relatively slack 68 degrees. That’s just relaxed enough to cause the front end to wander mildly when climbing steep technical pitches but perfect for squaring up high speed berms.

This bike’s most remarkable trait is its stability at any speed. While the bike doesn’t track like a downhill bike on a shuttle run, the frame exhibited no flex when turning and was fully capable of holding a line. This is a bike that feels planted. It likes to stay on the ground. If you’re more average joe than world cup bro, you might find yourself struggling to manual out of berms or gap your favorite line through a rock garden. For a frame with a reputation of a being a more aggressive reincarnation of the Blur 4x, I was surprised by the lack of playfulness.

The aluminum review unit that Santa Cruz lent us weighed thirty pounds, while a typical high end TRc build will weigh somewhere between 23-25 lbs. This bike would be a completely different animal if it was five pounds lighter. The stiffness between the two frames is comparable but the weight accounts for the biggest difference between the two versions.

As a result, the Blur TR is a highly accomplished 5″ bike, but it’s not the trail demon the hype had led me to believe. It’s fast, it’s stable, and it’s very well balanced, but it’s not the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike. It’s more pedal than pop. If you’re a cross country rider looking for something more capable or a downhill guy looking to rack up the miles and do some enduro racing – this is the bike.

Comments

Vassilis K. - 02/14/13 - 4:28am

correct !

Ploutre - 02/14/13 - 6:59am

Pretty expensive for a budget frame … but I love how $1900 become 2200€ in France … (thanks the distributor for that!)

Phil - 02/14/13 - 7:36am

Feels planted? No pop? Pretty amazing that my TRc feels completely the opposite. I’m not sure 5lbs can eliminate such ride characteristics. Maybe it didn’t fit you?

Transmission - 02/14/13 - 8:03am

“The frame has internal routing for a stealth post or regular guides for mounting whatever you already own. Our pre-production review rig didn’t have an option for stealth routing, but production frames will have the stealth port located on the seat tube just above the BB junction.”

Can you confirm this? I was under the impression stealth routing wouldn’t be available until the 2014 kits are out?

JZ - 02/14/13 - 9:58am

I was completely agreeing until you said no pop and planted. Unless the aluminum TR is completely different than the carbon I couldn’t agree less. I’ve yet to ride a bike that is more fun to throw around.

Haywood - 02/14/13 - 9:58am

So many bikes in the 30lb category that I would rather have. I own a TRc, but it’s only awesome because it’s 24.4lbs with a dropper and I still have a pound to shave.

Charlie Best - 02/14/13 - 10:21am

Ah, the weenies are out. I started riding in the 1980s on a rigid steel bike that weighed around 30lbs. Are we so spoiled that we discount bikes based on weight alone? And i ride an EX 9.9 so I do have a reference.

BT - 02/14/13 - 10:58am

haywood – per what they posted above, if their TRa had the build of your TRc, it would weigh in the low 26lb range which really isn’t bad at all. I’ll wait for either Santa Cruz or Competitive Cyclist to blow these out for around $900 next year and pick one up then as it looks like a fun bike.

Haywood - 02/14/13 - 4:42pm

BT – nope, not bad. But for $600 (the price difference between the frames at blowout prices), you’ll save 1.89lbs (per the article) if you went with a TRc frame. My bike initially weighed ~25lbs without the dropper in XT trim non-650b (sorry, don’t remember the exact weight). You save maybe 1.5lbs upgrading to to high end components/wheelset and it will cost more than $600. The frame will last longer than the expensive components that you will replace when they wear out. Lastly, I can’t put gold trim on a Corolla.

Charlie – My quiver killer requirements include double duty as a race bike.

Jib's Mom - 02/14/13 - 4:56pm

Going forward, could we all drop “Quiver Killer” from our vocabulary? Thanks in advance.

Jtree - 02/14/13 - 8:16pm

Only if we drop “going forward” as well.

bin judgin - 02/14/13 - 11:34pm

where is the four pound discrepancy in build weight? my nomad barely weighs 30 pounds.

Pete - 02/16/13 - 9:45am

What happens to the geometry on the TR bikes when converted to 650b? Does it go to hell like I suspect?

comrade - 02/16/13 - 9:23pm

pete
biggest thing will be a higher bb. pretty big difference, too like an inch
the steering will feel like a bike with a slacker head angle when you slap on the bigger wheels.

Andre - 03/06/13 - 3:02pm

Wrong, the difference will be nowhere near an inch…
http://forums.mtbr.com/650b-27-5/santa-cruz-trc-26-650b-830188.html

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