The Development Story of the Santa Cruz V10.7
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.