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INDUSTRY NEWS

The Development Story of the Santa Cruz V10.7

Words Tim Coleman
Date Sep 11, 2019

I've been out riding and racing the Santa Cruz V10 for a couple months now as part of a long term review. What better way to test a downhill race bike than to take it to Masters World Championships and race it? That's done now, but I've been pestering Santa Cruz since getting the bike for some details on how the bike was developed. I was put in touch with Jack Russell, one of the engineers on the V10 project. Unfortunately Jack was super busy and at first I thought I was being sluffed off. But then Jack said he was coming to Whistler. We'd ride bikes, and he'd tell me about how the Santa Cruz V10.7 was born.

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This is one of the mule front triangles that was made for Syndicate testing. There were 3 made, one for each Syndicate rider. They all used swing arms from the V10.6 29er that was raced by the Syndicate, but never made available to the public.

At the bottom of the lift I see Jack leaning against his V10, which has a WWII fighter plane-inspired custom paint scheme which he designed himself, and it looks awesome (more on that later). We head to the lift, and make some introductions. By the top we're deep in Nerdville, going hammer time on leverage curves and design process.

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This is a photo of the 29er mule from the December 2017 test in this Syndicate video. The front triangle was welded in house at Santa Cruz Bikes, and the links are CNCed at Santa Cruz Bikes. The carbon swing arm on this frame is the 29er swingarm used on the V10.6 to make it into a 29er, which was raced by the Syndicate for the 2017 season.

Jack explained that the V10 29er idea was started by Greg Minnaar. Greg was pushing for a longer downhill bike with bigger wheels. Apparently the story goes that Greg managed to convince Fox to make a 29er version of the Fox 40, and Maxxis to make some decent downhill 29er tires. Once the fork and tires were in process, Santa Cruz set about shoe horning 29er wheels into the V10.6. This required a custom swing arm for the whole thing to work. The Syndicate turned up at the first World Cup in 2017 with the big wheeled V10 prototype, and downhill changed forever.

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This is an earlier concept sketch of the V10.7 29. This is when Santa Cruz had the kinematics about where they wanted them, but still working out tube sizes, shapes and the overall look of the frame.

The Syndicate raced the V10.6 29er for the 2017 season and the success they had attracted attention. At the time it seemed like every other team was scrambling to get their riders on the big wheels. At the center of the chaos, Santa Cruz was calmly working on optimizing the suspension kinematics by trying different links. There was a ton of back and forth between Santa Cruz and the Syndicate race team to dial in the geometry and suspension of the bike.

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After a bunch of napkin sketch concepts, this illustration was fleshed out as the final concept for the V10.7 C 29 design. The objectives of the design were to evolve beyond the organic styling of the V10.6 into something that is more efficient and purpose-driven while toning down design features. Santa Cruz also wanted to keep the frame as low as possible while fitting a much longer shock than the V10.6. This illustration also shows some preliminary ideas with Syndicate graphics.

With a year of racing under their belt in 2017, Santa Cruz knew what they wanted from the V10.7 but they were in a crunch to finish the design for the start of the 2018 race season. Jack Russell and Nick Anderson dedicated their Christmas breaks to designing the V10.7, and by New Years the design was complete.

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This photo is of some full size prints Jack made of the V10.7 C 29 frame after Nick Anderson got the preliminary CAD done. This photo was taken 12/27/2017. Jack and Nick worked straight through the Christmas holidays to make sure the V10.7 was ready to go in time for the 2018 race season. In the photo the prints are on Jack's living room floor. Jack left them there for a few days so he could keep staring at them and making sure everything looked good.

Its worth noting here that Jack isn't some engineering squid who can't ride. This whole discussion took place while riding some gnarly bonus features in the Garbo Zone. The chat and trail difficulty are ramping up when Jack asked me about one of Whistler's most infamous trails. Said trail is a favourite of mine, and Jack hadn't ridden it before, so we headed that way. Jack proceeded to the clean the trail his first time down, which is mighty impressive!

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This is the full size 3D print of the V10.7 29 in the paint booth at Santa Cruz Bikes while getting painted. Santa Cruz print and paint a full size model of every frame they make. This is used for clearance checks for things like cranks and is also used to check the design of the frame in real life, not on the computer screen.

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This image overlays the V10.6 275 and the V10.7 29. While the stack and rear axle are higher on the V10.7 relative to the V10.6, due to the wheel size, you can see how much the reach grew on the V10.7. Also notable are the longer shock the V10.7 had to fit, the lower stand over, and how the seat tube had to move forward to clear the rear wheel.

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This was another huge full size print that Jack made later on to check the final front triangle and swingarm design. This was printed actual size to check the proportions of the frame.

The Syndicate ran the V10.7 for the 2018 race season and tested 20 - 30 different link configurations to narrow down on the best kinematics for the production bike. Santa Cruz released the production version in December 2018 like this:

  • Rear travel: 215 mm
  • Frame material: Carbon fibre
  • Sizing 27.5" wheels: Small, Medium, Large
  • Sizing 29" wheels: Medium, Large, Extra Large
  • Rear center adjustable by 10 mm
  • Bottom bracket height adjustable by 5 mm
  • Head angle; 63.3° in Low and 63.7° in High
  • Wheel base range; 1199 mm for the 27.5" Small to 1316 mm for the 29" XL (Long setting adds 10 mm)
  • Reach range; 412 mm for the Small to 492 mm for the XL
  • Weight; 34.8 lbs for the 27.5" and 35.5 lbs for the 29er
  • Colours; black or grey

All the details you could possibly want on the Santa Cruz's website here.

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This is a photo of Greg Minnaar from a test session in Santa Cruz from May 2018. This is after the 1st WC of the year, but was still early on with the full production V10.7 29.

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The non-anodized links on this frame were CNC machined in house at Santa Cruz Bikes. The intent was to make many links to test different suspension kinematics. Also note the data logger strapped to the bike.

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Jack is passionate about downhill bikes, and this V10 was the first downhill bike he worked on at Santa Cruz. He wanted something special. Jack's inspiration came from the Planes of Fame's P51-A Miss Virgina, which he saw at a National Championship Air Race. A very cool livery on the V10.

While Santa Cruz has been gracious with all the development details, they still won't share the actual kinematics with me. Jerks! I take that back, meeting Jack was awesome, and I hugely appreciate them taking the time to chat with me. I find the process fascinating. Santa Cruz had huge expectations to meet with this version of the most successful downhill bike in history, let alone one with 29 inch wheels. I think they've met, and maybe even exceeded everyone's expectations, and that's a huge feat. But it didn't happen by accident. The V10.7 was in development for 2 years before being launched to the public. The result is a very polished and sophisticated product.

Keep checking back here in the next couple weeks for my final review and impressions riding and racing the V10 29er this summer.

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Comments

AJ_Barlas
+3 Dan grambo Tim Coleman
AJ Barlas  - Sept. 11, 2019, 6:29 a.m.

Jack’s bike looks so sick! I really dig bespoke paint designs like that. The serial number (?) details are a great touch too.

Reply

bart
+4 Tim Coleman Andrew Major Dan grambo
bart  - Sept. 11, 2019, 8:26 a.m.

Look like SC part #'s for front triangle and rear triangle.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Sept. 11, 2019, 6:29 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

dan
+1 Tim Coleman
Dan  - Sept. 11, 2019, 2:23 p.m.

Very cool. I sure love the V10. Haven't had an opportunity/haven't opted to pay to rent one, but now with its big wheels, I owe it to myself to give it a try.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Sept. 11, 2019, 9:44 p.m.

My full review will be coming out soon. But coles notes are; you should definitely give one a try.

Reply

mawa12
0
Matthias Wasmer  - Sept. 12, 2019, 12:42 p.m.

Would love to see a aluminium version of that bike. Never even thought of buying a carbon downhill bike. Just look at that raw YT. I think they could sell a huge number of V10 AF. ;)

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