Bronson V3
Long Haul REVIEW

Santa Cruz Bronson III CC - A Bike Review in 3 Acts

Words Cam McRae
Photos Dave Smith (unless noted)
Date Oct 23, 2018

A Dirty Weekend at Vedder Mtn - Act I

It took me a few runs to find the middle of the brand new Bronson. I felt a little skittish at first, over steering and finding myself in places I didn't want to be. Once I figured out how the bike would react, the fun began to ramp. In fact I kept thinking about doing moves from my imagination; those I’m incapable of or those I can’t do properly. I kept wanting to nose wheelie after a rise or around a corner and get up on the rear wheel in fast sections. And part of my brain seemed to think that with more time on this bike I'd be attempting and occasionally not completely botching a few of these.

nsmb_2018_gearreview_firstimpressions_santacruz_bronson_5010-7167.jpg

We did a full day of shuttles at Vedder Mtn. long before the launch of the Bronson. I rode the large which has a reach of 455mm in the low position. 

The parking lot test isn’t very satisfying on the new Bronson. Once I had it set up properly a few bounces made it clear the ramp started quite early, as though I had over-inflated the rear shock. Once on the trail however the mid-stroke support was welcome preventing wallow and providing a platform to bunny hop or jump off most anything. And yet when there was a larger impact or repeated higher intensity inputs the rear travel soaked them up with satisfaction. In fact the Bronson was most impressive on drops to flat. When we repeated trails I found myself looking for drops from the previous lap so I could hit them harder. The big hit suspension performance is surprisingly good.

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The third incarnation of the Bronson is almost as comfortable in tight corners as long sweepers. A very manueverable machine considering its length.

After some reflection I think the rear end gets the blame for my challenges on the first few descents. Once I realized how accurately and quickly the Bronson responds I began to figure it out. The combination of the dual strut one-piece swingarm and the stout counter-rotating links make for a very stiff and responsive tail that had me doing a little too much. Once I got a handle on this rigidity everything began to fall into place. This is a bike with a forgiving suspension system but with a rear end that translates your inputs into outputs efficiently.

Bronson

I have only done one lap on the newest Nomad, and while it is certainly very capable, I haven't once felt under-gunned on the Bronson. It may be that the Nomad has an edge in high speed rough situations, which I have encountered very little of,  but I've handled virtually every other condition without once wanting something burlier. 

The reach numbers have increased a little and while the Bronson is longer than my 29er daily driver, (a Yeti SB 5.5) I felt like I could have been pretty happy with a size up, particularly after sitting on AJ’s XL. I think I noticed the Bronson feeling small because of slightly smaller wheels (27 vs 29) extending fore and aft and it seemed I was more limited in my ability to shift my body weight while avoiding disaster. The XL felt like it would have allowed me to be more dynamic (and sloppy) without courting disaster.

greenery

Bathing in green.

This bike is surprisingly stable in loose corners and very well controlled at the edge of adhesion. Several times I lost front wheel grip and expected to hit the deck but I was able to control the slide until friction returned. That sums up our blissful day of Vedder Mountain shuttles.

A Plus-Sized XL Summer with the Bronson - Act II

A week ago a big box arrived from Santa Cruz.* Actually two big boxes. The first was the XL Bronson that AJ rode out in the Valley and the second was a pair of Santa Cruz mid-fat 37mm internal Reserve Wheels, which at 1741g/pair with DT 350 hubs, actually weigh slightly less than the 30mm internal version,

*This was written when the bike arrived in July 2018

Spanish Underpants

Much of my summer riding was done on a sweet and steep interior slider East of Kamloops, and the Bronson slayed there. The climb was also less painful than it's ever been. Photo - Cam McRae

Also in that second box was a pair of Maxxis mid fat 27 x 2.6 tires - DHF and DHR II Max Terra/EXO/3C which weigh a very reasonable 925 and 945g respectively. Once aired up they look beastly with a relatively square profile. My second ride on the tires involved a 5km road ride to get to the fireroad climb and it was an unexpected pleasure. The riding position with the effective 75.3º seat angle was excellent and the tires roll surprisingly well, even on tarmac. Once the real climbing began the rewards from the riding position and the stable platform were multiplied. Standing, seated, this thing pedals like a champ. I would climb this bike as happily as any other 'trail' bike I’ve ridden, but considering its dh capability and 150mm of travel I’d say it stands alone. I haven’t done much tech climbing on the bike but I don’t expect to be disappointed.*

*the tech climbing came later 

Luca Silverstar

I've never had as much fun in a bike park on a single crown fork as I have on the Bronson V3. This was taken at Silverstar on a trip with my wife and my then 12-yr-old son Luca. Photo - Cristina Piccone

On the way down the XL Bronson was ridiculously composed. On lines where I am normally tentative I could push hard, carrying more speed with more control. Clearly the XL was the right size for my personal 6’ frame. I really liked the bike when I rode the large non-plus version at Vedder, but I am blown away by the XL 27+ bike. The size allowed me to find the middle easily and gave me space to push my weight around, while the wider rims and 2.6 tires had most of the advantages of large plus tires without the indistinct straight line feel or cornering squirm. 

I managed only a single day in both the Whistler and Silver Star bike parks on the Bronson but she felt right at home.

The Bronson V3 Comes to the North Shore - Act III

The XL Bronson 3 has a wheelbase of 1252mm (49.3") and a reach of 485mm (19.1") in the low setting while the Bronson 2 was 1223 (48.1") and 475 (18.7") respectively. Having a nice long bike is great in a lot of places, but what about the janky, unwieldy rootfests that often pass for trails here on the North Shore? I was pretty confident the 'Bromad' would be happy in the steeps and in the rough stuff but what about the slow tech that requires a careful balance of finesse, and determination? Not to mention crank clearance.

bronson fog

We had all sorts of weather in September, including some nasty rainstorms - perfect to test the 2.6 Minions. Excellent grip indeed. 

Having since ridden virtually every type of trail found here on the North Shore I am certain my fears were unfounded, even on the XL model. It is generally easily maneuvered in tight spaces and agile enough to change directions quickly. When compared to riding a more diminutive frame, there was the odd spot that would require more precision and forethought, and the occasional corner where preserving momentum was a challenge, and hence less fun, but it was never enough to have me choose something other than the Bronson as I was heading out the door to ride a particular trail. The experience is different, and it requires more body english and less timid weight shifts, but it continues to be enjoyable.

Corner

Tight switchbacks are not the problem I thought they might be. A close look reveals I am tucking in my left knee slightly while turning the bar at a signficant angle. My preferred bar length is 760mm. 

The only adjustment I've had to make climbing the tightest switchbacks is to angle my inside knee slightly (as you can see in the image above) to create some space between limb and the bar when it's turned sharply. I have done some climbing with the climb switch flipped on the Rockshox Super Deluxe but I prefer the traction and comfort of the open position. Support is excellent as well so I'd only flip the switch for a paved road climb. I do tend to hit my cranks climbing in rooty or rocky sections occasionally when I am tired and don't have the energy to ratchet slightly to prevent contact. These haven't been hard enough to cause significant damage to the crank boot, let alone the crank. 

Corners

Conventional wisdom says a bike that is as DH capable as the Bronson should not climb as well as it does. 

I appreciate being able to aggressively punch the front wheel of the bike to make abrupt direction changes in technical situations. The burly front end, complemented by the Fox 36 and the Reserve Carbon 37 wheels, allows me to push my weight in with confidence. Several times on a recent ride on Cypress, home of many of the North Shore's most challenging trails, I pushed hard into a steep downhill switchback at some precarious angle but was rewarded with composure and excellent tracking. The remarkably robust frame encourages MMA-level bravado. 

When Large isn't Large Enough

There was a time when I rode a medium frame, and I'm a little over 6' tall. It was a long time ago, but not long enough to make it sensible.* You may wonder WTF I was thinking. Back when I first started selling and wrenching bikes in the mid 80s, those who taught me convinced me of the benefits of a smaller frame that was lighter, stronger and more flickable. It all made sense at the time and left a skid mark that was hard to erase. Looking back it was also a time when I was awful at riding anything other than tight and slow North Shore trails. I didn't notice any issues when I finally matured into a large frame, nor anything incredibly positive, and it could be because most large frames were too small as well.

*I felt somewhat redeemed when I learned that Josh Bryceland, who is 188 cm (6'2") rides bikes that are 'too small'

Bronson Water Bottle

One bonus of the XL frame is even more space for a bottle. The Lg was fine as well but this is very roomy. 

When I got on the Bronson at Vedder I hadn't spent significant time on a 27 inch-wheeled bike for well over a year. And it felt small right away despite being longer than most of the size large bikes I'd ridden. As mentioned above, the smaller wheel size likely accentuated the sensation and helped me notice something that had been there for a long time.

too big

Does the XL Bronson look too big for me? Photo - Pete Chambers

When it came time to get a tester,  I had to convince Seb Kemp to send an XL, despite the fact that he rides a large and may not be the tallest person I've heard claim to be 5'10". I persevered and I couldn't be happier. Before this I have tried to shield my eyes from Poles, Geometrons, Mondrakers and the like because I didn't want to be ruined for bikes of a more modest stature. 

It now seems that longer bikes are hitting the mainstream. The new Yeti SB150 in large has a reach of 480mm while the large SB5.5 was only 442mm. The Bronson XL has a healthy 485mm reach in the low setting (489 in high) which has felt really good, but lately I put on a Renthal Apex 33mm stem to replace the 50mm Raceface Aeffect and that seems to be my sweet spot.

One downside to the larger frame* is that it's even harder to get on the back wheel. It used to be easy to pull up into a manual and go too far on most bikes, but I find it very challenging on the XL Bronson, and most of the bikes I've ridden recently. It was tough on the large as well. I can wheelie the bike at least as well as most others I've ridden but that's not something that comes in handy on the trail like a brief manual (the only kind I can do). Otherwise it's all golden. The saddle is more comfortable because of the slightly more stretched out and angled position, the bike is more stable, thanks to feeling like I am in the frame rather than on it, and I have lots of space to move my weight forward and back without courting calamity. There is no looking back; my future will only include bikes that fit. 

*another is resale - XL bikes are harder to sell than larges which are harder to sell than mediums

A nice bonus is that the Bronson V3 feels incredible in the air. I have recently found myself boosting moves that normally scare me. It's equal parts balanced and poppy, thanks to the supportive rear suspension. This goes for drops, step downs or kickers; every air delivery method feels much better on the Bronson than any other bike I've ridden recently. Unfortunately I can't tell you why that is, but I suspect the generous reach and the low centre of gravity each play a significant role.

Carbon Cash

In the first big wave of carbon frames, when a few companies seemed to have found a particularly profitable niche, aluminum frames started to disappear. Ibis and Yeti no longer produce aluminum bikes and I wondered if, as it seemed for a time, Santa Cruz would go the same route. Thankfully aluminum bikes have returned to the line, nudging prices below the dentist threshold. 

For 3500 USD, or 200 bucks more than the price of a Carbon CC frame and shock, you can get a complete Bronson R. If you are wondering how different they feel, in the words of product manager Josh Kissner, "They really don't ride too much differently- mostly just a bit heavier."

Bronson aluminum

Santa Cruz doesn't peddle the aluminum versions as poor cousins - even the paint choices are the same. These are good looking bikes in either frame material.  Photo - Santa Cruz

If you don't want to drop dental cash but you are still after carbon, the least expensive C model (vs the premium CC frame) will set you back 4400 USD. Adding a set of Reserve wheels to any build will add 1200 USD. 

Cable* Porn 

(and Line for sticklers)

If you have ever built a bike and you are even somewhat fussy you have likely agonized over the length of your cables and lines. I like mine to be as short and tidy as possible, with loops that are sized equally and symmetrical. This is what is right in our line of vision on the bike, particularly when we you are drooling from fatigue at the top of a climb. 

Factory builds rarely come with tidy cables and there are some obvious challenges. Since this bike is the largest size available in this model you can expect to see riders much taller than I am on it meaning they would need to reveal more seat post. Cutting the line for the Stealth Reverb short would be a bad idea, since you can't make it any longer. Still, I'd like to see tidier cables than these.

Cables

The Bronson CC XO1 Build with Santa Cruz Reserve wheels retails for 8200 USD. The lines and the cable on our test bike may not be representative of a factory build, and the shop where you buy your bike can cut them to a tidier length. Make that a condition of sale, but don't say it was my idea.

Cables

Here is cable porn courtesy of Jeff Bryson at Wheelthing. Or in the words of Josh Kissner, "Pro mechanic length." It doesn't hook on anything or rattle and it looks amazing. You can DIY if you have the bleed kit(s)* necessary. 

*you'll need a kit for the brakes and another for the Reverb in this case. Photos - Cam McRae

I asked Santa Cruz product manager Josh Kissner how these lengths are determined: "Brake hose lengths are determined by our Engineering tech, and are meant to reflect the worst-case scenario. Widest bars, etc. We do include spare fittings with the bikes, so the shop can choose to shorten them when they attach the brake hose to the lever. (which come disconnected with the SRAM Stealthamajig fitting that's designed for internal routing). Or later if desired- they come in the bag of goodies we send along, like spare derailleur hanger. Cable length is determined by the shop because we don't string cable and housing."

The bike we got wasn't likely a production bike so, as Josh put it, "anything could have happened." He went on to outline his philosophies further; "But yes - the goal is to have it be a bit longer than 'pro mechanic' length to account for differences in preference and setup. I've found myself leaving stuff longer over the years, which makes it easier to pack them for travel, and offers plenty of length for a few take-apart and put-back togethers where you need to cut and install a new fitting."

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Santa Cruz chooses a wild colour and a mild colour. In this case I think the mild has a slight edge for me.

Denouement

Before this I suspected that tweener wheels were dead to me. I'd been enjoying myself so much on 29" wheels that I doubted I'd ever want to go back. The Bronson, as you may have noticed, has changed that. I still enjoy riding big wheels, but I love the cornering angles, pop and maneuverability of fun-sized hoops. I haven't noticed any negatives at all, and I'm sold on the 2.6" minions mounted on Reserve Carbon 37 wheels for the riding on the North Shore.

The way bikes are currently progressing, it feels a little like Groundhog Day; the bike I am currently testing is often one of the best bikes I have tested. Virtually every element is shifting and improving and conspiring to create bikes that ride better than those that came before; suspension components and kinematics, geometry, wheels and tires, brakes and drivetrain. As a bike reviewer this is a challenge because I often find myself hitting high water marks and wondering if I've already said that about another bike. 


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This is a bike I may want to hang onto for awhile. Hey Santa Cruz! I'm doing an extra long term test. K. Thanks.

Here's one I've said before, with a slight twist; this is the closest I've come to one-bike-to-rule-them-all for riders with access to aggressive terrain. I haven't found a trail situation too aggressive for this machine and it's incredibly happy in bike parks, but there is no climbing tax applied. 

And here's another. One of the best ways to measure the utility a bike delivers is the 'take me anywhere' question. If I knew I was being sent to an unknown mountain biking destination, but lacked any info on terrain, elevation or trail difficulty, the bike I would choose today is the Bronson CC 27+ I rode yesterday. I’d pack this seafoam beauty into a box without a care in the world.

It's too capable to be called a trail bike but it climbs too well to be labelled enduro or all-mountain. 

The Bronson is something all its own.


For more on the Bronson check out AJ's review here and our interview with product manager Josh Kissner here. After that head to santacruzbikes.com/bronson

Comments

gdharries
+1 grcgrc
Geof Harries  - Oct. 22, 2018, 9:29 p.m.

Man, the seat tube on that XL is a good 1.5-2" shorter than most XL-sized frames. I get that people are buying bigger bikes for the reach, but c'mon manufacturers you have to start adding a XXL (or larger) to your selections.

There's far too few capable bikes out there for people who are 6'4" and above. And don't say just buy a 170mm dropper. That's still not enough tube.

Apart from Ventana and a few others, who's making big bikes these days? NSMB, I'd love to see a test.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Bogey
Cam McRae  - Oct. 22, 2018, 10:16 p.m.

There is an XXL Hightower LT but otherwise more research is needed.

Reply

craw
+2 Skyler AJ Barlas Jerry Willows Bogey
Cr4w  - Oct. 23, 2018, 7:56 a.m.

Pole and Geometron are your only real options. Mondraker gives you the reach but not the seat tube angle or CS length. The XXL Hightower still has a slack seat tube and short CS - a recipe that most brands haven't realized doesn't really suit XXL people.

Reply

dogboy
+1 Cr4w
Dogboy  - Oct. 23, 2018, 8:09 a.m.

Then buy a 185mm Revive or a 200mm Fall Line. Having switched to a 185mm Revive on one bike and a 170mm OneUp on another, I'll never settle for a bike I have to run a 150mm or shorter dropper on.

Reply

shoreboy
0
Shoreboy  - Oct. 23, 2018, 8:25 a.m.

Buying a longer dropper post doesn't necessarily fix the issue Cr4w is talking about.  If the bike has a slack ST and short CS, the further you extend your seat, the more your weight is shifted back over the rear wheel.

Reply

craw
+3 jaydubmah Tim Coleman Skyler AJ Barlas Bogey
Cr4w  - Oct. 23, 2018, 12:07 p.m.

Short CS and slack seat tube in the bigger sizes is just lazy design.

Reply

metacomet
+2 Curveball Andrew Major
Metacomet  - Oct. 23, 2018, 10:02 a.m.

https://ridegg.com/thesmash   

This in the XL would be a great option for you.  I have a friend that is 6'7" and he loves the thing.  First bike that's ever actually fit him properly.

Reply

Curveball
0
Curveball  - Oct. 23, 2018, 4:53 p.m.

An XL Guerilla Gravity Smash is made for your height. There's a guy who is 6'7" that rides one comfortably.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 24, 2018, 4:32 p.m.

I was just talking to those gents today. One of whom is similarly gigantic.

Reply

cxfahrer
+4 Geof Harries grcgrc Cr4w Cam McRae
cxfahrer  - Oct. 22, 2018, 11:26 p.m.

XL is for 6' people?

My XXL 29 Capra just barely fits me (6'7") with a 500mm reach and a 480mm seattube. And yes, the cable of the seatpost is too short, and the brake hoses are too long.

There is a need for XXXL bikes.

Reply

Heinous
0
Heinous  - Oct. 23, 2018, 3:32 a.m.

Would you be game to more directly compare it to your daily, the 5.5?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 rvoi
Cam McRae  - Oct. 23, 2018, 4:44 a.m.

The challenge comparing these two is the size issue. Before I tried the XL Bronson I had no reservations about the 5.5 but there is a significant reach difference; 442 for the large Yeti vs 485 for the XL Bronson, so the Yeti has begun to feel small. I particularly notice it, when I have ridden the Bronson the day before, on long climbs and descents that require many weight shifts. Feeling slightly uncomfortable muddies the issue for me but I'll give you what I can. 

I find the Yeti a little more spritely. There is a section of trail I ride regularly that requires and awkward log crossing and on the Yeti I can bunny hop it quite easily. In fact it was riding the Yeti after a day on the Bronson that had me realize this was in option in the uneven terrain. Since then I've been able to do it on the Bronson but it's harder work. The challenge is the larger size likely contributes to that difference. I'd rather climb the Bronson, but again that is probably size. The Bronson frame feels burlier and I think it deflects less and tracks a little more accurately. I haven't stripped either down and recorded the weight but I'd bet a six pack the Bronson is heavier. I don't notice the wheel size difference as much as I thought I would but I think that's related to the Plus wheels. I had hoped to do some back and forth between the 37mm rims and the 30s but I didn't get there. 

A more direct comparison will be the SB150 vs the Bronson. The size of the large SB150 is quite close to the XL Bronson and I'm told that bike is currently on the way here.

Reply

DangerousDave
+6 Cam McRae sospeedy Velocipedestrian Metacomet Tim Coleman Cr4w
DangerousDave  - Oct. 23, 2018, 11:53 a.m.

While I felt like you could have gone into a bit more depth, I was happy to see you acknowledge one of the downsides of a longer bike. Most reviewers seem to avoid the reality of physics or talk about pros and cons of different approaches. For me, a good review lays out all the trade offs and lets the reader decide whether the characteristics of that bike fit their needs, rather than read like another ad.

Reply

bogdan-m
+1 Cam McRae
Bogdan M  - Oct. 23, 2018, 7:04 a.m.

I picked up a frame a month and a half back ... and gotta say that I fully agree with you. I came from a Nomad 3 to this. Feels like it’s not giving up much on the downs and gains so much more on the ups

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Oct. 23, 2018, 8:42 a.m.

Cam, what is the STA on you 5.5?  Also how does the butt to bar compare on each bike?

By my rough calculation you get about 12mm shorter with every degree increase in STA at a 30" (762mm) seat height.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 23, 2018, 9:21 a.m.

It's listed as 73.6 effective. Butt to bar? Where would you measure that from? Bar to centre of seatpost with saddle fully extended? An issue is that it will change for riders of different saddle heights.

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Oct. 23, 2018, 10:21 a.m.

Centre of bar to centre of saddle.  I typically take a 30" seat height.  It gives you a "seated reach" dimension and is useful to compare bikes with different reaches and STAs.  You also need to factor in stem but assume you are using the same length on each bike.

Reply

amrskipro
0
AndrewR  - Oct. 26, 2018, 5:40 p.m.

I used to think that the Norco "scaled sizing' was just marketing mumbo-jumbo. Having been on a C9 Sight and C9 Range, both in XL, this year I can honestly say that they are the best fitting bikes I have ever been on. One of the reasons I moved was the conservative (too slack) seat tube angle of the Hightower and Hightower LT. The longer rear triangle (only 7mm) and steeper seat tube angle put me in the centre of the bike far more naturally than any other bike ever has. Finally centred and not always fighting to get forward over the BB (seated climbing) or the centre of the bike (descending).

Reply

Andeh
0
Andeh  - Oct. 23, 2018, 8:46 a.m.

No offense, but I'm a bit disappointed in this review, which I was looking forward to as I'm considering new bike options currently.  The review focuses a lot on the XL size choice, and not a lot on the details of the ride.  In particular, other than commenting that it negotiates switchbacks fine even in XL, it doesn't talk much about the details of how it feels pedaling.  For example, I would have liked to seen comments on the seat tube angle (at 75 degrees it's somewhat conservative compared to the latest wave of bikes from Transition, YT, Evil, Ibis, & others).  Or how the suspension reacted to brief out of the saddle sprints up short steep sections - the Nomad 3 is a total pig for that unless the shock is locked out.  A bit more on how the suspension handled different types of descending terrain would have been nice too (bomb craters, roots, and rock gardens).  I would have loved to see a brief head to head comparison of it against a similar bike, like how Pinkbike has been doing lately. 

I hope that doesn't come across as bitchy, but I just felt like as a review it was lacking depth in some areas that are more important to most people.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+3 Jerry Willows Metacomet IslandLife
Cam McRae  - Oct. 23, 2018, 9:59 a.m.

No offense taken Andeh. Writing a bike review is hard. Writing a hundred of them (I have no idea what that number actually is over 18 and a half years) is more difficult in some ways, and I certainly don't purport to have answers to every question. One issue here might be format. I need to change things up to remain sane, so rather than speaking about suspension feel in a section all its own, that info is scattered throughout the three sections, making it likely more challenging to recall and certainly tougher to reference.  It's entirely possible that info was omitted as a well. I'll try and add some detail here. 

I didn't mention out of the saddle efforts, but I did mention the ample support, and I spend a lot of time out of the saddle climbing. I'd say this is one of the Bronson's strengths because of the excellent platform. As mentioned, I rarely used the climb switch and this includes climbing out of the saddle. Very responsive to inputs and it doesn't dive into the travel noticeably when pushed hard. 

As for suspension performance, I mentioned traction, big hits and repeated high intensity impacts, which is what I would consider roots and rock gardens. I could add that it has a very planted feel and it doesn't sit too low in its travel, keeping it ready for more serious obstacles. I wouldn't describe it as lively as much as ready to react. It doesn't have the springy feel some bikes exhibit but none of the dead wallowy feel of an earlier VPP bike. Tracking I mentioned as well as cornering grip. One thing I noted several times, that I believe has an influence on the suspension feel, is the stoutness of the frame. I think this is one reason it feels so good on big hits - it's easy to predict where the bike is going to go once you hit the ground. Composed is an apt descriptor. 

While I haven't ridden the three bikes you mentioned enough to compare how the ESTA influences pedalling, for me the climbing position was excellent, both on fire roads and single track. I didn't want it to be any steeper, but it's possible taller riders would. (I'll add the length of my exposed seat post when I get a chance to measure it).

The size change part way through was a complicating factor and it's made comparing the bike to others difficult. Comparisons are something we have been doing more lately (with Mano a Mano) and we realize its value but there were too many variables at work for me to make a meaningful comparison. Apologies for that. That was a snafu but I don't think I could have given the bike its due without going a size up once it became clear that was the way forward for me.

Reply

LWK
+1 Cam McRae
LWK  - Oct. 23, 2018, 11:09 a.m.

I found this an interesting review as it sounded pretty much how I would have described the 2018 9.8 Remedy I rode this season.  On paper, the Bronson and Remedy are very similar bikes and my riding experiences were also very similar to Cam's with the Bronson.   Incredibly fun and capable bikes.  Was also interesting to hear positive things about the 2.6 sized tires.

Reply

Kenny
0
Kenny  - Oct. 23, 2018, 1:54 p.m.

I'm definitely interested to try one. I am on a Bronson 2 and found the same thing sizing wise. I'm 5'11" and on an XL with a 40mm stem (475mm reach). 

The increased mid stroke seems to be the big claimed benefit of the v3. I can see that, with an air shock the v2 tends to feel choppy and unsettled at 25% sag, and the dynamic ride height is just too low at 30%.

I installed a coil recently and it makes a big difference but I do see how a different leverage curve could potentially be both more plush and more supportive.

Reply

selberschuld
0
selberschuld  - Oct. 26, 2018, 5:02 a.m.

whoa, 5'11 and XL? 

I'm 5'11 as well, currently riding a trail bike which starts to feel too short (reach 430mm, had to install a longer 65mm stem but it still doesn't feel right). 

I'm eyeing the V3 Bronson, wasn't sure about M or L size, but it seems L will be perfect, and I fall right in the middle of L on their current sizing chart...

Reply

Kenny
0
Kenny  - Oct. 26, 2018, 6:21 p.m.

Santa Cruz sizing is on the small side. In reality an XL v2 is only 475mm reach, that's a size L in many other brands. I run a 40mm stem. The size L was 445mm reach and felt tiny. 

I find 460mm reach and 50mm stem is as short as I can handle without feeling sketchy, and I don't really like the feel. 

With the v3 the reach goes from a size L at 459mm to XL at 489mm. Shorter than I'd prefer, and longer than I'd prefer. 

Another bike I want to try in the same vein is an xl nomad. Tiny bit longer than an xl V2 Bronson but shorter seat tube.

Reply

andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Oct. 23, 2018, 2:55 p.m.

I feel a little sorry for you tall riders. I think more manufacturers need to make larger bikes with longer rear centres. Steeper seat angles isn’t necessarily the answer in my mind. But mountain bike fit is not like a road bike. We need fit for pedaling ergonomics and fit for handling. And complicating things further is the the different fit for descending and climbing. Trying to design a bike for all these things is an exercise in compromise. But I do think making all sizes of bikes with the identical rear end is done to keep costs down. Not only is it cheaper to make one size it’s easier for the suspension designer too as the kinematic remain the same. Cannondale has taken a good step with their latest creation but I don’t think they went far enough. Norco is one of the few that do make longer rear ends for larger bikes. Have you tested any of those Cam?

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Oct. 23, 2018, 8:18 p.m.

I have ridden the Range 29 - but in a size large.

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Inki31
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Inki31  - Oct. 23, 2018, 5:37 p.m.

exactly my hesitation right now between a yt jeffsy 27  large or xl.  I spent the last summer on a large but I think an xl coule be better. I measure 6 feet and the geometry of the jeffsy is similar to the Bronson. You just made my choice harder ahaha

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bogdan-m
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Bogdan M  - Oct. 23, 2018, 6:45 p.m.

I’m curious if you played much with the H/L shock setting. I found swapping the H/L was a bit of a pain, not quite as easy as I would have expected, given the bearing cover, odd location etc.  I found going to the L setting the bike seems to ramp a little different. I emailed SC but I have gotten no response. I seem to prefer the L setting, but that could also be the slacker head angle ... One thing to note, you prob never had to do this but fishing the brake cable and shifter cable thru the rear triangle was a major pain. Unlike the Front there’s not guide tubes in the back.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Oct. 23, 2018, 8:23 p.m.

Good to know Bogdan. I was happy enough with the low setting that I had no desire to mess around so I didn't change it. Noted on the cable fishing. I generally try to use the old line or housing to fish the new one through. Or, if one is being removed and reinstalled you can insert an old chunk of line in there as a place holder, and use it to feed the original back in. If you are starting from scratch these will not work of course.

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bogdan-m
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Bogdan M  - Oct. 24, 2018, 5:46 p.m.

I tried something similar but the tolerance on the hole in the back to feed the brake cable through (i have Saints so I have to go back to front) is super tight, can’t wrap anything around the outside of the brake line ... ended up having to hook a piece of wire at the exit point and try to catch and pull it. 

Ah so in your test you were running the low setting? I guess due to the “plus-ish” tires.

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shoreboy
+1 Cam McRae
Shoreboy  - Oct. 24, 2018, 7:16 p.m.

Back in the day when I was fishing cables on my Kleins, we used to use the string and vaccuum trick with some success.  If you can tie a piece of string (or strong thread) around the end of the cable, and get it close enough to the exit port, a vaccuum (now you know why you bought that super powerful Dyson!) will suck the string out and you can then pull the line through.  What Cam said works best if it isnt a fresh install.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Oct. 24, 2018, 10:03 p.m.

That's a cool trick with the suction!

Bogdan - you can sometimes find a small threaded fitting that will thread into a spare piece of line and the active line to attach them together without any extra girth. I think one came with a bike I was building at one point. You could probably fashion one out of a screw with the head removed as well. 

Indeed low setting because of 2.6" tires but also because I like it like that!

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JVP
+1 Cam McRae
JVP  - Oct. 25, 2018, 10:41 a.m.

Those fittings you talk about are little red thingies that come is most SRAM bleed or hose kits.  The LBS would probably have a spare one they could sell you.

cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Oct. 26, 2018, 10 a.m.

Those the ones JVP!

Mikelb01
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Mikelb01  - Oct. 31, 2018, 12:57 p.m.

Cam,

You mentioned your fork settings for this bike, but how about the rear settings on the Bronson?  How much do you weigh also?

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Nov. 1, 2018, 9:58 p.m.

I'm about 165 and as I recall I was about body weight or slightly more. I will correct if it's significantly different when I check it.

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johnsharp
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johnsharp  - Nov. 3, 2018, 5:28 a.m.

I tried something similar but the tolerance on the hole in the back to feed the brake cable through (i have Saints so I have to go back to front) is super tight, can’t wrap anything around the outside of the brake line

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adamgreggs
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adamgreggs  - Nov. 7, 2018, 3:08 a.m.

This ride is sweet!

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DADventureTV
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Ryan Richie  - Feb. 20, 2019, 12:42 p.m.

I'm 5'10" but have always ridden larger bikes for the longer reach. I never understood how people could ride such small bikes as I always felt squished and too forward on the bike to have confidence. What sucked though were the long seat tubes meant I often couldn't lower my seat (pre-dropper days) as low as I wanted for downs and drops and jumps, and seat tube angles being slacker put me pretty far back when pedaling (even with the seat post in a lower position than a 6 ft plus rider) instead of centered over the pedals (I would have to slide the seat as far forward on the rails and it still wouldn't quite feel right). The new geo of steeper seat tube angles and shorter seat tubes has fixed that. Interesting what you said about wheelies/manuals- I find them easier on a longer bike with a slack headtube angle and relatively short chainstay. I guess the industry has now caught up with me!! LOL

I have a 2017 Bronson in XL. I demoed the 2019 Bronson in L and XL and went with a XL like you. I got the C R+. I also switched the 50mm stem for a 35 mm Deity Copperhead, not b/c of reach so much, I just like the steering feel of a 30-35mm stem with a wide bar. Put on my 1 in rise Renthal that I always ride in 800 mm. Man I love this bike. Agree with everything you said about it. It comes off as a bit fanboyish, but it is truly the best all-rounder I have ridden and is truly confidence inspiring. Reading your post was pretty funny because it was like listening to myself talk about the bike to someone. LOL Not in love with the SRAM Guide Brakes, probably will put XTR 4 pistons on it. Also plan to move to the Shimano XTR 12 speed (51 tooth cog) b/c I prefer the steps in gearing in the lower gears (which is why I went R+ instead of S+ since I'm going to move to XTR drivetrain anyway). But will ride the NX Eagle for a while first. Brakes and a new helmet due to the speeds I am riding and things I am doing on this bike are required first. I also might put 170mm crank arms just to give that extra clearance but it's not a necessity.

I demoed the 2019 Bronson and 2019 5010 and 2018 Tallboy. I found I could bunny hop them all about equally. I found I could manual and wheelie on the 2019 Bronson the easiest- especially in real world situations- not just a "look at me" wheelie in the parking lot. I found the 2019 Bronson with 2.6 Minions felt the best landing off of drops and jumps and would make up for a lot of mistakes on my part. The bike just kind of takes care of me unlike any other bike I've ridden. And downhill through gnar the 2019 Bronson is just a beast- it just opens up all kinds of faster lines.

Only downside to the bike is that on mellower trails it's kind of like- OK well this is nice. I find I grab my 2017 Bronson or even my hardtail on those trails just to make them more interesting.

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