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The addition of 29er wheels opens up another chapter in the Santa Cruz's Superlight's long history. Before VPP bikes, there was SC's line of dialed single-pivot bikes like the Superlight, Heckler, and Bullet. And, they didn't get phased out once SC introduced the VPP platform for a simple reason. They offered unrivaled performance vs. cost -- just like this Superlight 29 R XC Complete Bike.

Equipped with 100mm of rear wheel travel, a hydroformed aluminum frame, and a Shimano SLX drivetrain, the Superlight 29 R XC offers performance to rival bikes costing twice as much -- with reliability to keep it out of the shop and on the trail. The light, strong, hydroformed aluminum front and rear triangles are shaped and butted to place more material where it's needed. This ensures strength and stiffness for charging aggressive lines.

But, that strength isn't going to hamper your climb to the top, because of the hydroforming, Santa Cruz eliminated any excess weight to keep the Superlight, well superlight. With big wheels, stiffness is paramount, which is why you'll find that the rear triangle has an asymmetric shape. This prevents flex and ensures suspension motion is directed to the rear shock and not into flexing the frame, causing it to dog trot around switchbacks or across rock gardens.

The Superlight relies on SC's proven suspension pivot location. It's placed slightly above and forward of the middle chainring, to offer responsive pedaling when seated. One drawback of single pivot designs has always been out-of-the-saddle sprinting, because the suspension will compress under rider loads -- losing energy to moving parts. Luckily, shock technology has rendered that point moot. The Fox Float CTD found on this Superlight has three distinct damping settings, and one of them is designed to counter those stand-up pedaling forces.

The CTD, or Climb, Trail, Descend, setting on the rear shock offers damping for any trail situation. If you’re going to sprint up a fire road, the Climb setting will essentially lock out the rear shock -- but remain compliant over water bars or sharp edge bumps. The trail setting provides a more active motion to assist with traction when climbing punchy root-laden hills, and flowy sections of trail. And the descend setting offers unrestrictive motion for technical downhill sections of trail.

Up front is a 100mm Fox Float CTD fork with a 15mm thru axle, that, like the rear shock, sports three damping positions for simple operation. For wheels, the Superlight rolls on a hand laced and tensioned wheelset consisting of WTB i19 rims, DT Swiss 14 gauge spokes, and Shimano SLX hubs. The wheels are slowed by Avid Elixir 5 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm front and rear rotors.

The Superlight R XC kit consists primarily of SLX drivetrain components; including the front and rear derailleur, shifters, cassette, and crank. Race Face competes the R XC package with a Ride handlebar, seatpost, and stem.

The Santa Cruz Superlight R XC Complete Bike comes in sizes Small though X-Large and two colors, Black or Green.

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  • Familiarity:I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I am a novice rider, I like single track, and ride for the exercise and challenge. This is my first 29er and first dual suspension bike. I have a Trek hard tail that I like but I decided to upgrade. I'm very glad I did, the bike is lighter, taller, handles better, rides easy, has adjustable suspension, disc brakes. I put in 20 miles my first ride and I could not be happier. If you are wondering if a 29er would ride better vs. a 26er, don't think any longer. Its a lot better, and I feel a lot better clearing obstacles.