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King of all mountains.
With the release of its 2.0 geometry in mid-2016, the 2016 Santa Cruz 5010 2.0 Carbon CC XTR Complete Mountain Bike marked a shift to a longer, lower, slacker chassis that looks to redefine the "all-mountain" category. Kitted out with Shimano's top-end XTR componentry, a dropper seatpost, and smooth spinning WTB wheels, the 5010 2.0 is ready to shred almost any terrain.
The 5010 2.0's redesign is so pervasive that it touches on virtually every important aspect of frame geometry. The biggest change is to the head tube, which drops one degree from 68 to 67 degrees. That's the same as the previous Bronson model, and it situates the 5010 2.0 just this side of a slacked-out enduro monster. The frame's reach and bottom bracket follow suit, with the former tacking on an additional 20-25mm, depending on size, and the latter dropping slightly. The combined result of these apparently minor tweaks is a longer, lower, more stable frame that eagerly attacks lines that the previous 5010 would have to think twice about.
If the 5010 2.0's front end and bottom bracket are about slack excess, then the changes out back are about tightening things up for more pedaling efficiency and cockpit versatility. The seat tube is steeper, longer, and wider, which benefits both the ups and downs of all-mountain riding. While grunting over the crux of a climb or grinding speed on singletrack, the steeper angle puts the rider in a more efficient pedaling posture, making it easier to stay on top of the pedal stroke. While descending or cleaning lines through rock gardens, the shorter, fatter seat tube allows for more dropper travel, which nets increased stability when increasing speed is the last thing on your mind.
The 5010 2.0's chainstays are stubbier, reduced from the previous 5010's already impressive 17.12in to an even stiffer, more agile 16.8in. Better power transfer while we're putting the pain into the trail and more nimble dexterity when gnarly terrain turns the tables? Yes, please. The frame's rear triangle terminates in a gigantic 148 x 12mm rear axle, making for more rear clearance which in turn allows for those abbreviated chainstays.
Like the frame itself, Santa Cruz's VPP suspension also gets a makeover. The most obvious, external changes to the 5010 2.0's suspension are an additional 5mm of travel and a relocation of the system's counter-rotating links. These changes make for a better standover height, ground clearance, and stiffer rear end; however, VPP's real proof is in its revised tuning. The altered suspension curve keeps the new VPP riding higher than its predecessor, increasing small bump compliance and keeping the tires glued to the trail for more efficient traction across the successive impacts of lumpy courses and rooty climbs. The initial stroke's reliance on the upper link activating for a vertical wheel path remains unchanged, maintaining the firm feel during accelerations while jockeying for position in a mass start or a finishing sprint.
As the suspension compresses deeper, the lower link takes over, letting the rear wheel back out of big hits. The overall curve across travel is less dramatic with VPP3. Where the old model's suspension curve describes a deep "U," the new VPP's curve resembles a flattened check mark—an appropriate shape considering that the design checks off many of the points on our pedal-platform wish list. When paired with FOX's Float CTD shock, this makes for a ramp-up arc that doesn't dramatically alter as the shock compresses, so the pedaling platform stays consistent across travel, with less wallowing, bob, and bottom-outs.
All of these changes are included in a frame that's still built with Santa Cruz's top-end Carbon CC construction method and materials, which allow the engineers to use less carbon in order to hit stiffness targets. The frame is every bit as responsive as the less expensive Carbon C version, but its claimed weight is almost 300g less. Both triangles are constructed as whole, monocoque pieces, which also contributes to keeping weight low because the carbon can be wrapped through junctures and around joints. This eliminates the artificial weak points of bonded frames and actually requires less material in the process. While it's being cured, the frame is compacted from inside and out. This final step eliminates excess material and resin pooling, resulting in more structural integrity and, of course, additional weight savings.
Despite that extensive list of changes, most of the obsessive details that we've come to associate with the clean lines and understated aesthetics of Santa Cruz frames carry over. These include down tube and chainstay protectors, ISCG-05 tabs, and the glorious 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell. It's impossible for us to overstate how much we love threaded bottom brackets. As advanced as even Santa Cruz's Carbon CC construction has become, even it can't produce molded bottom bracket PressFit cups that rival the precision of CNC machined threads. A threaded bottom bracket adds a touch of weight and the extra labor is reflected in the price, but we think the reduced creaking and greater durability are worth it.
- An all-mountain race bike with a royal pedigree
- fiv einches of VPP travel smooths the bumps
- Longer, slacker geometry for all-mountain versatility
- Top-tier CC carbon construction
- Superlative Shimano XTR componentry
- Internal cable routing maintains clean lines
- Santa Cruz Bicycles has long occupied the mountain throne
- Item #SNZ007K