Santa-Cruz-Bronson-Carbon-Frame-WeightCycling is an expensive sport and Santa Cruz Bikes is one of it’s prime instigators. Between the candy colored carbon and the exotic builds, the company has almost single handedly normalized the ten thousand dollar mountain bike.

Yet for everyone who can only dream of affording the pedal bike equivalent of a Ferrari rally car, Santa Cruz is now offering several new budget minded builds. At the heart of these more affordable offerings are new carbon frames.

These frames weigh more than the top of the line models, but are produced in the same molds, and offer the same  performance as their premium offerings. Well, at least that’s what the press release said. To verify these claims, we headed to the Santa Cruz Factory to get a closer look….


In hand, the frames are indistinguishable from each other, except for a small sticker on the inside of the rear triangle that reads either CC or C. For the minds behind Santa Cruz, that was the idea. These frames are identical except for weight, and that was done just for pricing. Which means almost anyone who could afford an aluminum frame, can now get on carbon without feeling it’s inferior.

On our scale, we found that a top of the line Bronson frame (size medium, sans rear axle, but with a seatpost collar) weighed 2.51 kg/5 lbs, 9oz, while the “budget” carbon frame weighed 2.76 kg/6 lbs, 1 oz. In general, carbon frames weigh a pound less than their aluminum counterparts, but in the case of these mid tier offerings, the carbon frames only weigh ~half a pound less. For those weighing the move to carbon from aluminum, the added cost compared to the weight  may not seem worth it, but those sold on the ride characteristics of carbon can now make the leap for $400 more.

So does this mark the beginning of the end for aluminum? Well, it depends. According to Marketing Manager Will Ockelton, it’s a numbers game. As long as aluminum models sell, Santa Cruz will continue to produce them. For now, the company plans on limiting these more affordable carbon builds to their bread and butter trail bikes, but depending on sales figures, they’ll consider releasing other models. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a more affordable Nomad.

Handlebar WeightsSanta Cruz Carbon Handlebar (2)

Carbon bikes are complicated, so for the engineering team at Santa Cruz, handlebars were simple in comparison.

Santa Cruz Carbon Handlebar (3)The combination of matte and gloss finish was difficult to capture in the showroom, but the graphics look great

Santa Cruz Carbon Handlebar (1)The end of each bar also have cut marks, so you can trim them to fit

For now, these carbon bars will only be appearing on the company’s high end offerings, but there are plans to make them available to the aftermarket. With that in mind, we took our scale our and started counting grams.
Santa Cruz Carbon Handlebar 720mm Flat Scale Weight

These flat 720mm bars have a 7mm rise, 9° sweep, and a 31.8mm clamp. Claimed weight was 176g, but this set pulled off the production floor was only 172g.

Santa Cruz Carbon Handlebar 760mm Flat Scale Weight

The Flat 760mm bars share the same sweep, rise, and clamping diameter, as the 720mm bars, but are (obviously) 40mm wider. At 176 g on our scale, they were 6g lighter than claimed.
Santa Cruz Carbon Handlebar 760mm Riser Scale Weight

On the more aggressive side of the scale, the new Carbon 760mm bars have a 20mm rise, a 9° sweep, and a 35mm clamp. As a result, they’re a touch heavier. The pre-production unit weighed for the press release came in at 185g, but the models we pulled from the production line were 5g heavier.
Santa Cruz Carbon Handlebar 800mm Riser Scale WeightThese 800mm wide behemoth have the same rise/sweep/clamp as the 760mm bar, and weighed exactly what Santa Cruz claimed – 200g.

New ColorsSanta Cruz 2015 Colors (5)

In addition to the new carbon goodies, Santa Cruz also had all of the new colors on display at their showroom. There were too many models and colors to photograph, so we just grabbed a few snaps.
Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (4)

This Easter Egg Blue was perhaps the best color on display.Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (2)

Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (3)

If you’ve never been to the factory before, you can see why it’s worth a visit. In addition to all the eye candy, Santa Cruz also offers a free Demo Program. Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (9)

Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (10)

If I had to take one of these puppies home, this Black frame with the White and Blue accents would be hard to resist.
Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (1)

Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (6)The Bronson is now available in Black with Magenta and Lime Green Accents, or an Orange with Lime Green accents.

Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (7)Remember, don’t call it Pink, it’s Magenta.

Santa Cruz 2015 Colors (8)New Juliana colors were also on display. Expect last years “Rorange” Furtado to soon be replaced by this new Lemoncello color.

Special thanks to Will Ockleton and Kiran Mackinnon for showing us around!


  1. Peep Peep….Peep Peep
    Hang on let me see who this is.
    Santa Cruz Guys, it’s for you. It’s the 80’s. They want their colors back.

  2. ^ this guy.

    You’re right, though. It’s too bad they didn’t just kick out matte black on gloss black or red. How dare they do something else?

  3. Normally, I roll my eyes at the haters on BikeRumor articles, but this article is everything that is wrong with the current state of reporting on bikes by the bike press in one package.

    After acknowledging that Santa Cruz (who make cool bikes, BTW) pricing structures are part of the reason bike prices in general are rising to stratospheric levels, you fail to do a cost-benefit analysis on whether “cheap” carbon (or carbon in general) is worth the “price cut”. Wait, you did mention the “ride characteristics of carbon”, which 90% of riders couldn’t tell the difference between.

    Here is what Santa Cruz just did people: they introduced a version of their carbon frames that weighs almost exactly what the aluminum version does, costs more, and still has all the life cycle and environmental issues that the more expensive carbon does. So you, the consumer, are getting to have your turgid carbon lust fulfilled with a bike that is barely lighter than its aluminum counter part, still cost you more than an aluminum frame would, and still poisons a village in China.

    And before someone in comments says how awesome a half a pound is, remember that the average adult human’s bathroom trip lowers their weight by about a pound. So buy the aluminum frame, pocket the $400 to $1000 of savings, and remember to hit the potty before you hit the trails. Your wallet and villagers in China will thank you.

  4. These colors are RAD, I love it! I just wish they’d offer the Highball C with singlespeed capability – I shouldn’t have to settle for Al!

  5. The differences between carbon and alu go beyond just weight.

    I like the colors too. I used to order Santa Cruz Roskopp decks direct from NHS as a teen in the 80s. I miss those pre- internet days making phone and paper mail orders. My current fav mtb is a blur XC. Gotta admit I dig Santa Cruz, and Roskopp has done an amazing job with that company.

  6. I dig the SC colours (and their bikes too). Not sure if I’ll dig the colours in two years but they are great and out of the box compared to a lot of what’s being plopped on frames right now.

    @CycleKrieg, you forgot to mention the cost savings on SC’s end by punching more frames out of the same set of tooling – cha-ching!

    Carbon is the godsend of the industry’s marketing and bean counter teams – what better way to get people to part with more money than they should for something that is not always any better than the more expensive to produce ‘metal’ versions. And yes, I have a carbon on the rack and it’s light and all that. Do I think it rides better than a good steel or Ti or even Al frame? No.

  7. 7 out of 10 affected Chinese approve of their pollution induced mutations and believe that the benefits will far outweigh the negatives for their future superhero progeny.

    And yes, Santa Cruz raised the price of their existing carbon frames and did nothing to improve them.

  8. While less expensive will get more riders to possibly get into the sport I do wonder if the only change in the frames / bikes is the carbon and carbon lay-up.

    Will the bikes get dummied down? So say the XT model would have and XT rear with FSA cranks and Tektro brakes? Lower grade wheels and lower grade bearings? Not accusing just asking. you see it all the time.

    Funny who the frames will look exactly the same so it could be easy to get one over on the consumer.

    Just a buyer beware. You get what you pay for in most cases.

    And just to put my cards on the table I am a huge supporter of PIVOT.

  9. @CycleKrieg – When did aluminum frame manufacturing become cleaner than carbon? Don’t forget that to make an aluminum frame you have to rape the earth to get the minerals, transport them to a foundry, Make the aluminum, shape the aluminum into tubes, then shape it into frame tubes, then weld it.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of cheaper carbon frames but I don’t think you can call it dirtier than a carbon frame. And don’t talk about the ability to recycle aluminum, unless you strip it down to only aluminum (i.e. no steel bearings or bolts) then most recycle places just throw them into the mixed scrap anyways.

  10. “Cycling is an expensive sport”

    Erm, no.

    I think BR is getting caught up in it’s own elitist reporting here. There are plenty of ways to ride without spending $$$. My reconditioned 90s steel MTB with a 1×9-speed thumbshifter and V-brakes is great fun to ride and cost $400 to build, 90% less than my full-sus race bike.

    Please remember, cycling does not revolve around $10,000 superbikes. Maybe professional racing does, but 99% of cyclists don’t race.

  11. @pfs – Actually, recycling is a big part of the equation. Even if the bike frame itself isn’t recycled by user post-use, its most likely made from some percentage of recycled aluminum. Currently approx. 55% of the aluminum you purchase (by weight) is post-consumer recycled. That percentage has been rising historically. And if your the aluminum frame is replaced by the bike manufacturer (many of whom have lifetime warranties on aluminum), though a retailer, it will be recycled. Currently carbon fiber can not be recycled cheaply. Also, when you attempt to recycle it, it looses strength. So even if the initial aluminum mining is high impact, in the long run its lower in impact.

    I wish I could find the carbon-vs-aluminum manufacturing/life-cycle paper Specialized did earlier this year. The difference in energy and water usage alone where jaw dropping.

    On top that, the resin for carbon fiber is part of mix that is dangerous stuff. Part of the reason carbon from China is a thing is because China does not have/does not enforce environmental standards. So unlike the US/EUR, you can just dump that resin right down the drain when you are done.

    I’m not anti-carbon everything. I’m just anti-carbon for the sake of carbon. For a small minority of bike riders, they need carbon. It really does make a difference in their performance. But if you are not in that minority, carbon is an expensive, polluting, short life-cycle product that is just about having the sexiest looking frame to show off to riding buddies/peloton.

    What Santa Cruz is doing here is asking you to pay more for little or no advantages (and arguably, some real disadvantages) over an existing product. What BikeRumor did in this article is not call them out on it, which they should have, especially they open this article in discussing Santa Cruz’s history of “upscale” pricing. Instead, they spent the time talking about what colors these bikes come in.

  12. @CycleKrieg…I have to say I only lurk on these threads but your comments are salient. I am on my second carbon MTB and do love them but the impact is undeniable. But does out carbon bike frame purchase really make any difference in this giant shit show? I think perhaps not.

  13. @Nolander- One grain of sand doesn’t make the beach but an inconceivable number of grains do. Not looking to be a naysayer, but there are environmental costs in all lines of manufacturing, from raw material on up, across all materials and industries. Think your carbon/steel/Ti/Al/plastic frame and components don’t have a price? No industry is net zero on this one, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. Best we can do is purchase as responsibly as we can.

  14. I would respectfully disagree on the salience of @CycleKrieg’s comments. 1) There are no life cycle issues with modern carbon, and even early carbon models rarely failed mid tube. Tube joints, particularly bonding aluminum to carbon, were the source of most early failures. 2) Specialized hasn’t exactly earned a place as the trusted spokesman for the bike industry. 3) Whether you recycle or not, aluminum, and ESPECIALLY anodized aluminum, is nasty business. 4) Santa Cruz makes heavier than average aluminum frames, a point that was not covered in this article. Therefore, the weight savings is closer to a pound or even more for the entry level carbon. 5.) To achieve the torsional stiffness of a well made carbon frame an aluminum frame needs to either a) have thicker (ie heavier) walls or be a prohibitively expensive alloy. I would argue that far more riders can feel that difference than @CycleKrieg contends.

  15. Everyone who wants to buy a carbon frame should have to go through CycleKreig’s stringent screening process before they’re allowed to do so. Because he can’t get his mind around the fact that people want to pay more money than him to enjoy the same recreational activity. Apparently you should should meet this “need” to enjoy high quality products.

    I’m pretty sure bikerumor is a news site, not an opinion column. Why can’t people figure that out? If you want to soapbox about grade school level supply and demand go do it on your own blog.

  16. A mid-size upper end mountain bike company like Santa Cruz can no longer be everything to everyone. I have said before that the day is coming that SC will drop all of their aluminum bikes or relegate them to the lowest price point models. That is already happening and as mentioned above they will only keep making the beer cans if they sell. I am going to bet that with their “lower tier” carbon numbers the aluminum sales will soon dry up.

  17. The main factor that has me interested in a new Santa Cruz is the presence of a THREADED BB. I probably would not buy a bike with a pressfit BB.

  18. Nice new SC eye candy. Also, an interesting way to “recycle” the molds for their carbon frames: dual usage. Though I hate the price hike; the price was already pushing it (full disclosure: I am the deliriously happy owner of a blue Tallboy C…)

    Some thoughts:

    1) I disagree w/ Saris’ contention that SC “almost single handedly normalized the ten thousand dollar mountain bike.” I think that ‘honor’ has to go to Specialized and their S-works Epic 29er from 2011 as the first production MTB to hit the five-digit stratosphere previously reserved for road uber-bikes. At that time, SC was “only” offering four build options, topping out around $6K. I’m pretty sure that their current nine (!) build options did not come until 1-2 years later; adding the ENVE stuff is a pretty effective way to reach the $10K mark quickly.

    2) I owned a 2011 Epic carbon 29 (the Comp, not the S-works!), and while a great bike, it came with that idiotic press-fit non-sense (but, get this: with an adapter to run a GXP threaded BB!) I sold the frame in 2012 and built up one of the first thru-axled SC Tallboy C’s (threaded BB, bless you, SC!) and have never, ever been happier on a mountain bike. The VPP offers ridiculous traction uphill and literally feels as if it’s molding to the contours of the trail continuously. And to disagree with the comments above, you absolutely CAN tell the ride quality difference between AL and carbon. It’s not subtle and it’s not even close.

    3) The various color choices SC offers is just icing on the cake. Practically guarantees that a) you’ll love your bike color; and that b) someone will loathe it. Win-win, IMHO. ; )

  19. @CycleKrieg is so wrong on literally everything he writes it’s mind boggling. Good grammar and large words do not make something correct. One quickie, “On top that, the resin for carbon fiber is part of mix that is dangerous stuff. Part of the reason carbon from China is a thing is because China does not have/does not enforce environmental standards. So unlike the US/EUR, you can just dump that resin right down the drain when you are done.”
    He clearly has zero understanding of how carbon fiber parts are made. google pre-preg carbon knucklehead.

  20. I like santa cruz bikes and what they are doing in the industry. I like they are small and have not become specialized (yet) I hope they never do of course. I think their bikes are a bit too pricey for me, however i really do love the company and would like a few of their bikes. Get those aluminum bikes down in price guys and you will have an army of people queuing up to buy them. ( me included)

  21. – Colors that are different are cool IMO.

    – Carbon does make a pretty big difference on non-suspension bikes in ride quality. Even more on a road bike without a suspended fork. its also stronger and lasts longer.

    – Carbon is a problem for the ecology indeed.

    – Santa Cruz did in fact rise the price of its good carbon frames with their trick. Kinda sucks.

    – “Chinese” carbon frames are cheaper than branded alu frames AND better quality. It’s sad. You can get an IP-036 for about 600 to 660 USD. That’s a good quality T700+T800 FS frame mind you – people win races on it, too.

  22. santa cruz make the best bikes in the business. not the hugest fan of VPP but everything else is amazing. strong frames, good support, great build kits, threaded BB, nearly flawless!

    5010 w/ pike = GOAL!

  23. I think Santa Cruz should have differentiated the middle and top level carbon frames more. Now they look exactly the same except for one small sticker. I’m just wondering if this kind of dilutes the image and resale value of their high end carbon? They seem to have tackled this by offering only mid level buils with the mid level carbon frames, and by only selling frame only options with high level carbon. But in the end the frames look exactly the same.

    The other thing I’m thinking is that now they have a huge amount of different frame combinations. Alu, Carbon C, Carbon CC, and most in sizes S-XL. They are probably waiting how buyers like the cheaper carbon option and if it sells better than alu, then alu is going out. I just hope that they keep atleast some budget minded alu options available (Highball, Chameleon, and Heckler at least).

    And now that they are starting to make carbon parts, how about carbon rims? I know they have long standing relationship with Enve, but Enve wheels are just too expensive to justify even for many wealthy customers. Mid level carbon option would be cool. Or maybe they could just ditch Enve and make high end carbon rims, too? I mean Enve really have got the initial kick and all the PR they could hope for from Syndicate Team so they could continue on their own from now on?

  24. @CycleKrieg. Do you work at FOES ? I have to run out and get the Park scale scat adaptor tray to verify the dung weight claims. Stay tuned…

  25. What is “bad” about carbon fiber frame manufacturing (the process and all…). I’ve done some simple googling around, and I’m not finding why it’s such an eco-unfriendly process. Why all the green-finger waiving? Can someone point me to a link or enlighten me? I get that aluminum can be pretty bad (mining, processing, etc…), but what’s the rub with carbon?

  26. all this yap yap yapping about price, don’t fret, once the Miami Vice colors grow tiresome (maybe next week?), SC will undercut the bike shops that support them and dump these frames to the online bottom dwellers.

  27. The whole “cycling is expensive” argument is pretty null in the grand scheme of things.

    A $10,000 bike with arguably cutting edge equipment, R&D, materials, etc. is really not that insane.

    What’s insane? $10,000 watches. They. Basically. Only. Tell. The. Time.

    I know there are some cool things they can do, but really, $10K for a “designer” watch is like a worn out Tiagra Triple front shifter to some people.

    Minimize your own waste, have fun, and TRY not to be a douche.

    If you don’t like a product, don’t buy it. Simple.

  28. A-ron’s grand scheme of things point is still valid. You can buy and happily ride a $1,000 bike or you can buy and happily ride a $10,000 bike. They still do the same thing, just like that price difference with watches ends with the watch still doing the same thing. You can do the same with pretty much everything that’s for sale. Almost every basic product has a “premium” company selling a premium version of said product. Complaints about pricing are ridiculous. If you can’t afford it, it’s clearly not aimed at you or your budget.

  29. Why argue about this and that. Who really cares if you spend $100 or $10000? We are getting what we want and like. The reason they make the bikes is because there are buyers. So What? The car, house, close industries are all the same. If you have a problem with Santa Cruz making $10000 bikes, you better be driving a Yugo, live in a trailer, and buy your close at Walmart.

What do you think?