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LONG TERM REVIEW

Santa Cruz Nomad IV

Words Pete Roggeman
Photos Dave Smith
Date Dec 20, 2017

Now look here: this is a long-term review. In it, I will discuss my relationship with the Santa Cruz Nomad IV. In it, I will not discuss (many) of the details I already covered in the First Impression piece. We write two articles for most bike reviews so we can cook and salt the meat in the first one, and spend the second one pushing it around the plate and mopping up the sauce with a piece of bread.

Since writing down my first impressions back in June, I have spent some time thinking about this bike and what it does, and for whom it is intended. Santa Cruz said from the start that they had Europe in mind when this sucker was birthed: the kind of all-day rides you can find in the Alps, for example. Which is to say that there might be a chairlift or a gondola, but there also might not, in which case you're going to have to do a lot of pedaling to be able to say you ate local cheese in more than one country during a single ride last Thursday. With chunky descents in between.

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What had me wondering, though, was whether the Nomad would convince me that it was a great choice for the North Shore. Whistler? Of course. Maybe your day calls for a little bike park, a little west flank, or some Pemby? Gimme. I've been on 27.5 bikes almost exclusively this year (the Trek Remedy and Rocky Altitude), and they are both very capable descenders that - at 150mm - also go up very nicely, thank you very much. So this here Nomad IV still had - for me at least - a bit of an identity conundrum. Would I put one in the quiver if money weren't an object? Hell yes, but then the question remains: how often would you notch that arrow? Is Bronson or Hightower LT a better choice for most people in most places? The answer is yes, but that's an over-simplification. Let's check out the design brief and see if it helps with this evaluation:

  • Descend like a V10, climb like a 5010.
  • Be able to handle Alp-style valley-->peak-->valley rides. In other words, climb a long way and descend really steep, chunky stuff.
  • Work well with either a coil or air shock.
  • Sizes XS through XL and oh, yeah, there is a Juliana version as well, called the Strega, as well as an aluminum version now, which presents a very interesting choice for some people.

Descend like a V10, climb like a 5010*. Well, it wouldn't be a brief without some lofty goals. For all intents and purposes, #1 and 2 are just different ways of saying the same thing. And no, the Nomad IV doesn't do either thing quite as well as its bigger and smaller brothers, but it comes closer than most bikes that make these claims. Where I get a bit stuck, though, is when considering the people that do these all-day rides over very rough terrain. If I'm choosing a bike for a day of nasty riding, the 150mm bikes listed above can handle whatever I'll be riding down. There are riders with bigger balls and more skill, but they also would probably choose a bike that won't be as much of a bear to pedal all day. Some of those people are Enduro racers - and Santa Cruz's team races Hightower LTs and Bronsons. On the other hand, Bryceland and the 50:01 crew make liberal use of their Nomads, and they're some of the cats I think of when talk turns to a 'rebirth of freeride'.

*please don't quote me as those are not my words and this is not a "goes down like a DH bike, and up like an XC bike" kind of review

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The Gloss Tan and Black colour scheme is certainly unique. It's grown on me, but if I had to pick a Tacoma-inspired colour, I'd go with the TRD Concrete.

Work well with either a coil or air shock. All right, well this is compelling, no matter what you're doing with the bike. Whether you intend to run multiple shocks or not, just knowing that it was designed to give you that flexibility is pretty boss. And it also probably points again to the rider who expects to find themselves in the bike park on the regular, or who has a truck with a well-worn shuttle pad.

Size spread is great, but doesn't give much of a clue about intended use. Strega for the ladies: that's just awesome. Our very own Hailey Elisee loves hers. And in alloy: this is interesting for people who may have to replace their park bike but aren't looking to spend big bucks or get a DH bike, and yet want some cross-platform compatibility (wheels, tires, etc). For them, an alloy Nomad may be ideal.

All right, so Alpine adventuring. And bike park riding if you don't want or have a DH bike. Fine, but...is that really it? I struggled with this question a bit more than I normally would, because I had some unusual days on the bike this summer. Some truly shocking forgot-how-to-ride kind of days.

Remember the scene in Tin Cup where Kevin Costner gets the shanks? No? Well, here you go in brief (start at 1:50). Anyway, that was me. And instead of having Cheech Marin as my caddy to sort me out, I just had cajoling ride buddies telling me how much I sucked. So I switched back to flats and it mostly sorted itself out. But in the middle of all of that, there were also some amazing rides. Days when I could will myself to go faster than I thought I wanted to, and never ever doubt that the Nomad had my back. Days when everything came together and it became clear to me that for some people this certainly was THE bike. People who don't care much about how long it takes to climb that hill but want every available advantage on the way down. People who want to trick themselves into dropping from higher, jumping farther, or riding down truly stupid shit because the bike is not an excuse so now it's either you go and suck it up or you don't go and you just suck. If you're one of those people, and you ride bike park or like to ride all day in the Alps (or similar) then the Nomad IV is a glorious big mountain hammer. Or if you're Josh Bryceland or Loose Dog.

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"[for] people who want to trick themselves into dropping from higher, jumping farther, or riding down truly stupid shit because the bike is not an excuse so now it's either you go and suck it up or you don't go and you just suck. If you're one of those people, and you ride bike park or like to ride all day in the Alps (or similar) then the Nomad IV is a glorious big mountain hammer."

Descending

If I tell you it's like a mini DH bike, I don't know if that'll help you understand whether you'll want to buy it. Reviewers have been saying that for a long time and I think it's a bit...lazy. Anyway, it doesn't feel like a mini DH bike to me, although the difference in downhill performance isn't vast. It feels like the burliest trail bike you've ridden, and even if you think I'm splitting hairs, I really don't think I am. It isn't unwieldy, but it does feel big and doesn't like to go slow. It handles, and you have to muscle it around at low speeds in tight stuff, but it's not awkward or lumbering. Get up to speed though, and you're happily skipping like a stone and the angles and stiffness work together well. Until then, it's a bit like a cold V8. Ok, so it has mini DH bike attributes, but I stand by the 'biggest trail bike you've ridden' comment.

One paragraph isn't enough to cover the Nomad's temperament on the way down. We had both a Rock Shox Super Deluxe Coil and Air shock. The coil is like a fresh cinnamon bun - it's gooey and makes the rear wheel stick to everything. For my riding style, that would usually be the preference, but I actually preferred the Super Deluxe Air RCT for its liveliness on the way down and a more supportive feeling when pedaling. If I were logging bike park days or long, back-to-back shuttles, I'd swap to the coil but for most riding, I preferred the more progressive feeling of the air.

One last thing: this sled is stiff but the Santa Cruz carbon recipe is wizardry. They were responsible for the frame, the wheels, and the handlebar. None of those components felt like they wanted to give an inch in the chunder or in a rough turn, but I never got that harsh transmission of jarring chatter that you can get from an overly stiff frame or component. The wheels will get their own review, but for the frame, stiffness counts when you're riding a little outside of your comfort zone into something steep and nasty and you can rely on everything to stay tucked and solid beneath you.

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Climbing

The thing about a bike like this is that everyone wants to write that it goes up like an XC bike and I'm here to tell you that that's utter bullshit. Is the Nomad IV an overachiever on the climbs? I would say yes it is. It's not all that fast - the 700-meter climb from my place up to the trails on Fromme is enough to figure that out. But it doesn't bob like a drunk otter in the surf, so you don't feel like your legs are wasting effort. Ergo, for a 170mm travel bike, it climbs well. In technical terrain, I was happy to leave the shock open and take advantage of the extra traction on the steep ups, but on a smooth surface climb, that compression lever did make a difference I could appreciate.

Component Highlights

If you haven't yet ridden a bike equipped with GX Eagle, let me just tell you that it is, in my opinion, the engineering feat of 2017. Every lick of Eagle performance in an affordable package? Even you SRAM skeptics have to acknowledge that they've achieved something great. If I was buying a drivetrain, that would be it. After almost 6 months, I've had to tighten the derailleur cable once (quarter turn) and gave the derailleur the hairy eyeball after I thought I knocked it out of true, but it fell in line. Otherwise, it's been glorious 10-50 tooth action, complete reliability and, so far, no durability issues.

Honourable mention goes to the SRAM Code RSC brakes. The recent cold weather has got me wishing for carbon levers (yes you can justify them) but they are more powerful and far more consistent on long descents than Guides. For this bike, Codes were the only appropriate choice from the SRAM family. My only nitpick would be that it is a little unusual not to see a 200mm rotor up front. Power didn't suffer greatly in many scenarios but for the intended uses of this bike, go for the bigger rotor up front at least.

We're going to hang on to the Santa Cruz Reserve wheels from this bike and review them in full on their own, but my experience so far has been impressive. As I mentioned, they're stiff without being harsh and despite multiple rear flats, the rear wheel has only once been knocked out of true - easily knocked back. Truly impressive, though, is the USD 1599 - 1899 retail price (depending on hub choice) and lifetime warranty.

Other Details

Not a single creak from the pivots or the threaded BB. Not a squeak from the internally-routed cables (omit the rear brake which runs externally). No issues with the e-13 chain guide, which has sustained plenty of knocks due to the low BB height (both climbing and descending). The Maxxis Minion WT DHF and DHR II...well, what do you expect? Paired with the Codes, those tires deliver serious traction and although the rear is starting to wear now, it has seen a lot of miles under a lot of hard braking.

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Conclusion

If it seemed like it took a lot of hand-wringing to draw a conclusion, let me just be clear: the latest Santa Cruz Nomad is, again, setting the standard against which other all mountain bikes should be judged as far as descending prowess goes. As trail bikes in the 140-150mm category have gotten better, however, you are faced with a familiar decision: buy the best descending bike that you can still pedal, or give up a bit of outright downhill juice in favour of something that pedals better? For a lot of the riding we do on the shore, I could go with a step down on the descending scale and not feel like I was giving up much in terms of enjoyment. The other bikes I mentioned (Remedy, Altitude) have been faithful descenders in truly steep terrain, and they both climb better than the Nomad. So does the Bronson (according to Cam, the Hightower LT). Everyone has a line like that, but it's up to you to find yours. For my part, I continue to enjoy 27.5" wheels, but that doesn't mean I'm not smitten with several 29" bikes - I'm just not putting mid-sized wheels in the ground just yet.

If my weekends were spent shuttling or in the bike park and I was buying a bike to excel there, the Nomad would be a top choice, because it has also been great for 2 or 3 hour trail rides with a lot of pedaling - and I don't feel like I'm working too hard to get it to the top. But, since I don't ride in the bike park that much, the waters are muddy. Within Santa Cruz's lineup alone, I'd probably advise myself to go with a Hightower LT or Bronson for the way I ride these days. But goddamn have I ever enjoyed my time on the Nomad, and I'll sure be sad to see it go.

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Here is some basic 2017 Nomad build kit and pricing info in Canadian dollars. For the complete picture including USD pricing, head to the Santa Cruz site. Reserve denotes Santa Cruz Reserve Wheels upgrade.

Aluminum

Strega/Nomad A | R | RockShox Super Deluxe R | RockShox Yari RC 170 | CAD 4,849
Strega/Nomad A | S | RockShox Super Deluxe R | RockShox Lyric RC 170 | CAD 5,749

Carbon

Strega/Nomad C | R | RockShox Super Deluxe R | RockShox Yari RC 170 | CAD 5,999

Strega/Nomad C | S | RockShox Super Deluxe R | RockShox Yari RC 170 | CAD 7,049

Strega/Nomad C | XE | RockShox Super Deluxe RCT | RockShox Lyric RCT3 170 | CAD 7,849

Strega/Nomad CC | X01 | RockShox Super Deluxe RCT | RockShox Lyric RCT3 170 | CAD 9,549

Strega/Nomad CC | X01 Reserve | RockShox Super Deluxe RCT | RockShox Lyric RCT3 170 | CAD 11,099

Strega/Nomad CC | XX1 | RockShox Super Deluxe RCT | RockShox Lyric RCT3 170 | CAD 10,849

Strega/Nomad CC | XX1 Reserve | RockShox Super Deluxe RCT | RockShox Lyric RCT3 170 | CAD 12,399

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Comments

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 20, 2017, 7:07 a.m.

Just sold my 2008 Nomad Mk2 to a buddy after 9yrs of riding. Such a great bike. The new Mk4 rig looks nice, but it's veered too far to the Free-Park-Ride side of the spectrum for my needs. Otherwise I might have been tempted just to keep my Nomad streak going!

Reply

trumpstinyhands
+1 FlipSide
trumpstinyhands  - Dec. 20, 2017, 7:24 a.m.

I had a genuine 'LOL' moment when I looked into the pricing. The Nomad with the 'cheap' carbon frame and GX Eagle is over $2000 more than the likes of a Norco Range C3. Granted one or two of the components are branded, but having owned both, I'd take the Tranz X post over a Reverb. You can't even buy the bike with the normal carbon frame for less than 10k. Nice bikes but are Canadians getting shafted or is the pricing this hilarious everywhere?

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FlipSide
0
FlipSide  - Dec. 20, 2017, 8:38 a.m.

Same here. Lol-copter material for sure. I realize it's getting old to complain about bike prices, but this is something else.

It will be a cold day in hell when I'll drop 7 600$ (+15% taxes here) for a bike with a Yari.

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 20, 2017, 10:07 a.m.

Confession: I used pricing from the release. Just went back and checked on the Santa Cruz site, and lo and behold, all prices are btwn $600 - 950 cheaper than what I had originally written. I apologize for the error. 

Correct pricing is now reflected above. I also added aluminum bike pricing and made it a little easier to see how much the upgrade to Reserve wheels adds to the price in the X01 and XX1 version of the CC Nomads.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
0
trumpstinyhands  - Dec. 20, 2017, 2:23 p.m.

I was referring to the prices on the SC website though. 2 grand more than the competition for a bike that comes out of the same factory and similar spec.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 20, 2017, 10:48 p.m.

Who told you it came from the same factory as a Norco? Check your intel, sir, the Russians are fucking with you.

The two grand part can't be argued. As far as the Nomad vs the Range, Cam's review may shed some light, or maybe you're already familiar with how one or both bikes ride on the trail.

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Nelson1111
0
Just Askin  - Dec. 24, 2017, 8:52 a.m.

I agree you may be comparing apples and oranges when comparing to Norco... but what about when you compare to an Intense Tracer?  2018 carbon Tracer Expert is only $5,590 Cdn and pro is only $6790.  Appears to be $2k spread there, and Tracer would ride a lot more similarly than a Range.   Hard to justify buying any SC when Intense's prices just came down about 25% across the board with rider direct pricing.

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Nelson1111
0
Just Askin  - Dec. 24, 2017, 9:01 a.m.

Isn't it strange that the price for the model's with the Reserve wheels adds a bit over $1,500 to the price of the complete bike?  If the wheels only retail for $1,600 - $1900, and the X0 and XX models that offer this upgrade option already come with good wheels, I would have thought the upgrade option might have been closer to $800...  you're not really getting much credit for the "standard" wheels.  Probably economical to buy the regular version, sell the wheels and buy the Reserve wheels separate.  Crazy SC wouldn't make it easier.

Reply

DaveSmith
+3 luisgutierod Metacomet Pete Roggeman
Dave Smith  - Dec. 20, 2017, 9:05 a.m.

I don't generally get to review many bikes because I am busy taking pictures of them but I had the Nomad for a week this summer while Pete was finalizing the Altitude review. I have to say that I was quite smitten with the MK4 from the start. I would agree that it doesn't climb as well as other bikes we had in the NSMB stable this year but it for my slow-diesel climbing style it suited me just fine. I don't have much to add to Pete's review of its downhill prowess but after every single ride I got to the bottom and stared at the bike with lust and found any number of reasons to keep her an extra day longer. I'm not saying that I was responsible for this long-term review being a little stretched but I had to reminded numerous times that Pete needed to get some time on it for his review. If I wasn't keen to try a 29r for an extended period this bike would be on my shortlist for 2018.

Reply

luisgutierod
0
luisgutierod  - Dec. 20, 2017, 5:22 p.m.

Price aside ( Lots of people complain about it). I'm sure the Canfield Balance 2016/17 climbs and descends similarly if not better in the pedal department... check that bike's geo against this N4... of course no carbon bling and SC pedigree won't appeal as many people...

Reply

TheSpangler
0
TheSpangler  - Dec. 20, 2017, 9:29 a.m.

I rode one of these, it's amazing, climbs nice and descending like a champ. Great bike, the not so great thing, the price. As good as it is, with the price it's hard to see "value" in it.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 20, 2017, 10:11 a.m.

I won't argue with you about value because it means different things to different people, and SC bikes are premium-priced, no doubt. Plus it's not my place to defend bike pricing - the manufacturer can do that.

I will, however, use this reply to remind other readers that there are a few things worth remembering that change the value proposition somewhat:

  1. Santa Cruz frames, including bearings are warranted for life. Most companies give you five years. Some even less.
  2. At NSMB we have private experience with Santa Cruz's customer service, and it is excellent. Unsolicited reports from people whose email address doesn't end in 'nsmb.com' also consistently report really great customer care.
  3. Santa Cruz owns their own carbon production facility and their carbon design and manufacturing is as good as it gets. So, their bikes and frames are expensive, no question, but some of those extras are at least worth pointing out. To some, it might change the formula a bit.

Reply

hbelly13
0
Raymond Epstein  - Dec. 20, 2017, 10:37 a.m.

I agree wholeheartedly with Pete's review here. The newMad is a capable weapon in the right hands if you need it for your battles. Personally, I like many would chose something slightly more well rounded from SC's quiver. In particular, I think a HTLT with a 160mm fork would be a hoot giving you the 29er pluses over the N4 with most of it's gnar-gobbling ability.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 20, 2017, 10:50 p.m.

Thanks, Raymond. Cam has been spending a lot of time on a HTLT and his review will be coming in the next month. I won't spoil anything, but he also feels like a 160mm fork would be awesome on that bike.

Reply

Xorrox
0
Brad_xyz  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:24 a.m.

This review really highlights many of the issues I keep going around in circles with in regard to which direction to go for my next bike. 

My current bike started firmly in the "Trail" category but as I got back into mountain biking I realized I really wanted more capability on the downs.   As a result I have piece by piece modified the bike to be more biased in the descending direction with a burlier fork, shock, wheels, tires,  wider bar, long travel dropper post, etc. (pretty much nothing on the bike is  stock anymore except the frame).  It now kind of sucks on the climbs (or more likely I just suck) but is way more fun on the way down.

The question I keep asking myself is whether I should stick to a more 'middle of the road' all mountain bike like a used 2017 Transition Patrol or the current Trek Remedy or keep feeding my passion for a bigger, faster and more downhill oriented bike like this one (or the aluminum version) and suffer even more on the uphills than I already do.

Reply

jaydubmah
0
jaydubmah  - Dec. 20, 2017, 12:25 p.m.

I'd humbly submit that with your long list of upgrades to improve your bike's descending performance, means that you should gun for the more downhill oriented bike!

I have no idea what you're currently riding, but a lot of these new bikes in the Newmad category may even climb better than what you've got already. 

Also, you mention in your post about being passionate about pinning it on the downs. In a world where we've got to be "responsible" about so many things, I'd rather my bike light my fire when I ride it as opposed to being just "practical". Being overtly rational can be a drag, especially when it comes to guilty pleasures like bikes :)

Reply

eZa
0
eZa  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:33 a.m.

Is there ever really "one bike for all"? I live in Whistler and cant decide if the Nomad v4 is the perfect one bike for Whistler Bike Park and surrounding trails in the Sea to Sky. Or is money better spent on 2 bikes at half the price (around $4k)?

One high end bike for all or 2 low spec bikes that are designed for specific disciplines.. I don't know!

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:34 a.m.

I'd rather have one nice bike than two cheap bikes. If I can have two nice bikes that of course is the best! ;)

If you got a Newmad you could get two wheel sets for a fast change in personalities from park to trail.

Reply

eZa
0
eZa  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:44 a.m.

Thats where my heart is leaning towards.

Do you think you would even need to change wheel sets? Maybe a Huck Norris in the rear and good Maxxis tires would be enough?

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:46 a.m.

You don't need to swap wheels.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 20, 2017, 10:54 p.m.

It would be enough. But you could also buy some cheaper, burly alloy wheels and tires with DH casings for the park and shuttling, and another lighter wheelset/tire combo for other riding.

I'm all for having a spare bike for unforeseen stoppages in ride time due to maintenance or whatever, but in this case I think one bike trumps two. If you have two you're just going to want a third anyway...hardtail, DJ/pump, XC, whatever scratches your back.

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:49 p.m.

Pete - out of interest would you have the Nomad or Primer as your "one" bike.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 30, 2017, 7:50 a.m.

Neither one belongs in the category I'd consider the one bike for my personal uses or wants, however if I had to choose, the nomad would come closer. The purist in me would love the answer to be the hardtail, but the realist knows that I need a dually to help me ride some of the stuff I enjoy most in the sea to Sky corridor.

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Dec. 30, 2017, 8:16 a.m.

Pete, thanks for the comments.  

It would be am interesting article on your and the other NSMB writers take on the "one bike" you would have and rational behind the choice.

agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Dec. 20, 2017, 12:56 p.m.

Go consumer direct and get a DH bike and a trail bike. 

If you're riding park and shuttling DH bikes rule. Obviously this is a rad bike but if I'm riding a lift or shuttling a DH bike is radder and built to handle the abuse. 

To me the role for this bike is if you have lots of DH bike-worthy trails that only have climbing access or that you prefer to climb to. 

Reply

eZa
0
eZa  - Dec. 20, 2017, 1:16 p.m.

Thats a really good point!

Commencal have some pretty well priced / spec'ed bikes too.

Although I have never really understood how a DH bike takes abuse better. It seems frames and carbon components are pretty strong and reliable these days. Bearings and pivots are all pretty similar too right? EWS racers would beat their Enduro wheels more than I could in a park. The only thing I can think of that would take a beating is the suspension. It would be working harder and therefore need servicing more often? Am I missing something?

Reply

agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Dec. 20, 2017, 1:25 p.m.

Depends what you're comparing it to you. With the nomad or EWS race bikes probably not much difference in that regard.  Especially with two wheelsets and tire setups.  But compared to a trailbike pivots, bearings and general frame burliness.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:04 p.m.

Burlier everything, including bearings. Except, as I mentioned, SC will send you fresh bearings if yours get fubar'd. Still, if you ride the park a lot, no question you should have a dh bike. Also, be careful about Enduro racer comparisons. Yes, their stuff holds up to a lot of abuse, but they also have the luxury of access to a lot of spare parts - in between days if not always stages. You'd be shocked at how much shit they go through. Read Cam's pieces from the Whistler EWS - this one about Melamed and Gauvin's bikes, and this one about shadowing their mechanic, Jeff Bryson, for race day - the race day when Jesse won, by the way. Just a taste.

Reply

EnduroTata
0
Marcin Dobija  - Jan. 29, 2018, 12:23 p.m.

Now that is EXACTLY how I think about Nomad. Since I already own a V10 (what a superb machine that is) I'd love to have a close-to-v10 downhill performance with an ability to climb uphill. And honestly, it doesn't need to be a superclimber, it is enough to be able to climb seated ;)

I'm so close to ordering one.

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Dec. 21, 2017, 3:54 a.m.

I think you can have "one bike for all" but it does depend on where you live.  I'm in Surrey, UK and for me that "one bike" is a steel 29HT.

If I were somewhere with a little more altitude I would probably go with something with some travel in the rear like a Starling Murmur as I like steel bikes and big wheels.

The benefits of a HT are that you can run it singlespeed, geared, with bouncy or rigid forks or any combo of the above.  FS bikes are limited in this respect.  Also having the ability to run 29 or 275+ tyres is a plus.

Reply

Xorrox
+1 Bernard Simmonds
Brad_xyz  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:54 a.m.

I'd also love to be able to ride a Nomad 4 back to back with a Pivot Firebird, a Polygon XquareOne and 2018 Transition Patrol SBG to get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses.

Reply

agleck7
+3 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Metacomet
Agleck7  - Dec. 20, 2017, 12:59 p.m.

Really enjoyed this review

Reply

metacomet
0
Metacomet  - Dec. 20, 2017, 1 p.m.

Sooo for someone happily getting along with the advantages/disadvantages of the Nomad 3, is the Nomad 4 of similar nature and as easy to get along with for that kind of rider?   Or is it better overall both up and down?  Or is it now more narrowly focused strictly on the down and less on the all around?  Any more notes in direct comparison to the 3.0 that you could offer?   I see the 3.0 as my XC bike in that I ride it everywhere, but know its not always best suited to everything.  But it's fun as shit wherever I go, and even on frequent park days I am not left really wanting for SO much more descending ability that I need to run off and buy a DH bike tomorrow.  And its also not such a life draining succubus that I need to run out an buy a burly but fast and capable and more practical trail bike like the evil following or transition smuggler.  I have my Nomad 3 built up quite like a DH bike.  Saint cranks/brakes/r der, coil shock, DVO diamond, Onyx hubs, stout aluminum rims, cushcore inserts, and either exo or DD minions/aggressors/shortys/HRII.  Heavy, but liveable and loveable and very dependable and can be smashed into and over and off of most anything I would ever dare and then some.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Metacomet
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 30, 2017, 7:56 a.m.

If you love your Nomad 3, you'd love a 4 if:

  1. You would appreciate a longer reach
  2. You want an even groovier shock rate for descending, plus flexibility to run coil or air
  3. You want slightly better (but not shocking) climbing performance 

The nomad 3 is still a great bike by any measure with only one real issue: short reach. If you need justification for replacing yours, you should be able to find it. But if you need a reason to hang onto what you have, your happiness with it might (should?) be enough.

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metacomet
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Metacomet  - Jan. 9, 2018, 10:13 a.m.

Thanks for the reply Pete!  

The extended reach would be appreciated for sure. The shock rate and even slightly improved climbing performance are my greatest areas of interest on the new frame.  Having even more descending chops and better climbing and general pedaling ability would be fantastic.    I do truly love my current nomad, but like many I am split with my "need" for a pedal-able bike for every day, and my desire for a DH bike for the park.  As much as I absolutely want the DH bike, its practicality is right on the edge of being too limited to justify owning and maintaining one even with 10 or so trips to the park each year.  

So my dilemma is that I am split between buying a DH bike and keeping my current nomad, or move on to the new nomad when the time comes with hopes that it can come closer to being ideal for both smashing around on local trails and being as close as I can get to DH bike performance without actually being a DH bike for the fairly frequent park days.  As expensive as getting the new nomad frame would be, it could prove to be cheaper (especially over a few years) than keeping my current nomad and buying even a used DH bike, and then consequently maintaining two bikes with a measure of overlap between them.   Would the N4 quell my desire for a DH bike And be even better on my local trails and climbs!?  Or would the N4 just barely move the needle outside of my N3 and leave me penniless and homeless after discovering I have just sold my soul to buy the DH bike I've been longing for!?  Heeeelp!   Maybe I should submit this as a question to Uncle Dave!!??

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DaveSmith
+1 Pete Roggeman
Dave Smith  - Dec. 20, 2017, 2:58 p.m.

Just gonna leave this merkin right here.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 20, 2017, 11:05 p.m.

I have a weird nostalgia for that mustache. And I love that shot, Dave!

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cypressjoe
+1 Pete Roggeman
Joe Isberg  - Dec. 20, 2017, 3:01 p.m.

Good review!  I've owned a Nomad Mk4 since June and the bike has exceeded my high expectations.  Prior to the Nomad I owned a Kona Process 153 DL and a Santa Cruz V10.  When SC released the new Nomad the promise of the V10 style linear suspension curve and coil shock were too much for me to resist.  As the reviewer mentions the bike gets the pedaling job done but is nothing special.  The bike shines on the downhill and let's you push the pace on pretty much any type of trail.  It actually feels like a more nimble v10 and I've owned two of those bikes so can confirm that.  I mostly pedal the shore but the bike is amazing in the park as well.  I loved the versatility of this bike so much I sold the DH bike cause it was pretty much just as capable and actually faster with less suspension.  Overall couldn't be happier with this bike and have a friend who has since bought one and has similar opinions.

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jitenshakun
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Jitensha Kun  - Dec. 21, 2017, 8:25 a.m.

This is a great review and more stuff for the sausage factory that is deciding on a bike.  What I'd really like to see from Santa Cruz is a XXL Hightower LT sized bike with 160mm of squish and Nomad geo.

I think it is called a Wreckoning...

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eMcK
+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
eMcK  - Dec. 21, 2017, 12:42 p.m.

I signed up for an account to publicly call you out, Pete. 

This kind of writing makes my job harder, you jerk.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 30, 2017, 7:59 a.m.

Thanks, E! Anything I can do to help ;)

Hope all is well with you and that we ride together again soon.

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andrew-bruce
+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
Andrew Bruce  - Dec. 21, 2017, 10:59 p.m.

Great review! It’s exactly why I keep coming back to this site. Good work Sir!

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qduffy
+1 Pete Roggeman
qduffy  - Dec. 22, 2017, 12:29 p.m.

I had a really interesting experience riding the Nomad 4 in Santa Cruz a few weeks ago. I was in San Fran for a convention and decided to head up to Santa Cruz for a couple of days to do some factory demos. Nomad4 day one, and the new Ibis HD4 day two. The Nomad4 is surprising and I'm still not sure I can wrap my head around it. I covered way more miles than I thought I would and climbed a lot more altitude than I expected and at the end of the day my legs felt a lot fresher than I thought they deserved to be. 

As I mentioned, there's some cognitive dissonance with this bike that my brain has yet to fully navigate. 36km, over 1000m of climbing. 170mm of travel? How? Why? 

And I could have done more.

Admittedly, it's Santa Cruz and only a couple of parts of maybe one of the trails in the Wilder Ranch "Area" was even remotely a challenge for the Nomad, but that's a pretty solid day of riding - I'm no stud in that regard, but I don't think the bike would hamper me too much on long days. Of course our climbing on the Shore or the Sea to Sky corridor is far more concentrated, so it might be different doing an all day ride in Squamish say instead of Santa Cruz.

It definitely needs to go fast for its size to disappear. I felt the length and the HTA a LOT at slower speeds, but it managed most switchbacks well, climbed nicely even sans climbing lever, felt bombproof on the babyheads, launched itself vigorously, but not lightly, over some huge waterbars, and was beautifully equipped; Santa Cruz Reserve wheels and Eagle (I'm sold!). I have the same seat, same tires (2.5 DHF, 2.4DHR2) as the demo on my own bike so it felt quite familiar and predictable right away. It also looks better in person.

It's just sooo pricey. And I agree with Pete's sentiments - it's an odd bike to 'categorize', its competency is remarkable, but could I live with it? Are there compromises I can't see yet? Am I worthy? 

The HD4, on the other hand, was easy to understand and love. I rode that one in the Soquel demonstration forest on more familiar feeling terrain. I have the HD3, so this was a nice comparison for me. The HD4 is more stable than the HD3, poppier than the Nomad, climbed like a banshee with a set of 2.6 DHF tires that just blew me away (that was the most revelatory experience of the two days). It's a frickin' bike and you know exactly what you're getting. You wouldn't need to go nearly as fast on the HD4 to find the fun, or your limits, as you would have to do on the Nomad. My brain gets it.

Remarkable bikes. We live in interesting times.

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Dude@
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Dude_  - Dec. 23, 2017, 12:11 p.m.

Interesting comparison with the N4 and HD4. I would have assumed they would have been more similar considering that their, unsagged, geometries are nearly identical.

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qduffy
0
qduffy  - Dec. 23, 2017, 9 p.m.

Yeah, I know. On paper they're quite similar. Just 20mm more travel on the Nomad...and all those other things that seem to make a difference somehow.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 30, 2017, 8:05 a.m.

That was a really useful and interesting comparison, Quinn. I haven't ridden an ibis in several years but that jives with my experiences on them: they are approachable, user-friendly bikes that are a ton of fun to ride. Those two rides belong in different categories but the thing that strikes me most about your comments is how much they sum up how good bikes are right now. To those who question whether all the new stuff being marketed and sold is much of an improvement, your experience is as good a testament as any to the good stuff being put on the market.

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lukenlow
+1 Pete Roggeman
lukenlow  - Jan. 11, 2018, 7:25 a.m.

I really liked the style of your article, I beg you not to lose it and write the following articles in the same spirit!

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