2016 Santa Cruz Bronson CC First Impressions
I owned an original Bronson last season. It wasn’t perfection, but it fulfilled my need for a combination trail ripper/enduro racer well. With a few tweaks. The front center was a bit on the short side – so I picked an XL frame over my usual large. The 67° head angle was a little steep, and the bottom bracket slightly high, so I tossed in an offset headset and offset shock bushing to slack and lower the chassis. The suspension leverage curve was a bit wonky; adding a Vorsprung Corset air sleeve to the stock Fox CTD shock helped improve suppleness off the top, and added support to the mid-stroke. My “Bromad” worked pretty well – confirming that there was room for improvement.
My Bromad resplendent in its hideousness. Since stolen, alas.
The v1 Bronson certainly wasn’t a bad bike, but the field of high end trail bikes is now stacked with some very refined hardware, and with prices pushing 5 figures on premium builds, simply good is not good enough these days.
Pretty in pink. Or magenta rather. Also available in basic black for the understated folk.
Enter the v2 Bronson. There’s no longer an aluminum option, but there are two carbon frames offered with identical geometry – the “CC” that we have here, and the less expensive “C”, that weighs about 1/2 pound more. Taking cues from the Nomad, the swing link pivots have been repositioned, and the chainstay drop below the BB reduced, creating a more streamlined, cleaner aesthetic. It’s a pretty bike. But here’s the important stuff:
B-side. Basking in a rare moment of Vancouver winter sunshine.
Summarizing changes over the V1:
-Head angle has been kicked out 1 degree.
-Reach has been extended about 1/2″.
-Chainstays have been trimmed about 1/4″.
-BB has been lowered about 3/16″.
Here’s some general notes:
-Still has 150mm travel
-Still has a properly located water bottle mount (yay!)
-Still has a threaded bottom bracket (yay!)
-Now uses the 148mm “Boost” rear hub standard (not sure what to think yet).
-Weight as tested (size large) is 27.7 lbs with pedals (not included).
Looks great on paper; Santa Cruz has ticked all my want boxes so far. Let’s have a look at the build specs. Unsurprisingly, reviewers rarely receive base spec builds, and this was no exception. What we have here is the high end XX1 build with an Enve wheel option – at an eye watering $10099USD / $12649CAD. Loaded with premium bits from top to bottom; here are the details:
Enough with the jibber jabber; let’s look at some pictures. Starting at the front:
Clean head tube badge. The house brand Carbon 800 bar is properly long (800mm, if you hadn’t guessed), and has nicely understated graphics. Note that the rear brake line is not internally routed (unlike the dropper post remote and derailleur cable); for ease of brake service, this I like.
Rockshox Pike, gripping an Industry Nine front hub, sporting a 180mm rotor. Color matched decals abound.
The Enve M60 Forty HV wheelset. Light, stiff, and a $2k upgrade. The Maxxis DHR II on the front is atypical – but works well. The bike also ships tubeless with Stans sealant. Hints that this bike was spec’d by riders.
Cockpit view: all business.
Guide Ultimate stoppers sporting some great feeling carbon levers and handy contact point & reach adjustments. Nice Ruffian-esque house brand grips with the added benefit of no end lock rings. XX1 shifter hiding in the shadows.
Lingering over the tidy graphics for a moment.
A Kashima coated Fox Float X, with the shapely EVOL air can. The rebound knob is buried near the forward eyelet – no tool-free adjustment there, alas. The upper link pivot has migrated to the seat tube-top tube junction – making for much cleaner lines than the previous Bronson.
WTB in the sitting dept. Supported by the ubiquitous Rockshox Reverb Stealth.
The lower link is now relocated into a pocket above the bottom bracket. Yes, it’s a bit of a mud shelf. It hoses out easily enough; we’ll see if there’s any long term repercussions. Cranking duties c/o the very light, very carbon Raceface Next SL cranks. Alas not impervious to abrasion. Some nicely integrated protection on the chainstay. The front derailleur mount is a bit of a carbuncle, though given given the versatility of the bike, I suppose it makes sense to appease those who run the infernal devices. The mount cover is tidy, if not superfluous.
The VPP. Refreshingly, this is the only acronym you’ll find on the frame.
Sram XX1 11-speed dangly gear bits.
Industry Nine rear hub with Swarmofangrybees freehub technology. I could care less about the many engagement points, but they sound so rad. The Guide rear brake clamps a 180mm rotor.
Yonder mountains beckon.
I’ve had a few rides on the Shore in between (or in the middle of) winter monsoons and my first impression is such: it’s really good. Of course, one should expect superlatives at a five-figure price point, but I’m impressed with how sorted all aspects of this bike are. From fit & finish to spec, to suspension performance & geometry – it’s well dialed. I was immediately comfortable on board, and there’s an added element of playfulness that the v1 Bronson lacked. I’m looking forward to spending more time on the bike and I’ll follow up in my long term review with a bunch more performance related detail. If you have any specific questions to consider, let me know in the comments.
Do you like the pretty colours?