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Downhill mastery.

In the game of seconds, it's no surprise to see carbon fiber becoming the material of choice for competition downhill bikes. When Santa Cruz introduced the V10 eight years ago, its VPP suspension platform revolutionized the gravity scene, but the stout aluminum chassis was a bit portly. And while that bike was in the lime light, enjoying time under talented riders, Santa Cruz's pixel pushers were secretly working on what would become the lightest and strongest production DH race frame in the world -- the V10 Carbon DHX Mountain Bike Frame.

It's been in production for two years now, but this latest version has received multiple upgrades to ensure that the V10's ahead of the curve. For starters, it sports a new carbon rear triangle, where the original opted for aluminum. This keeps unsprung weight -- supremely important for bump compliance and optimum shock absorption -- at a minimum. In fact, Santa Cruz developed it in conjunction with the carbon wizards at Enve Composites in order to maximize its ride quality.

The fresh design uses the new 157mm rear spacing standard that many current hubs are compatible with via adapters. This spacing also boasts easier wheel removal and installation. The rear triangle incorporates carbon dropouts and disc mounts, so there's no bonding or weak spots. Basically, this enables the junctions to have continuous fibers that run around and through the joints, then out into the tubes.

Connecting the front and rear triangles, is a redesigned carbon fiber upper link with co-molded aluminum hardware that provides substantial flex resistance. All of the oversized pivots use locking collets that ensure secure positioning without pinch bolts, which ordinarily causes stress risers on the carbon bores. The lower link is constructed from forged aluminum, and it has repositioned grease ports in order to avoid damage. The ports flush out grime and feed fresh grease to the angular contact bearings. And ultimately, this provides a long and smooth operating life.

The front triangle itself has been the benefactor of a few upgrades, too. And like the rear triangle, it features continuous fiber technology. The result is a one-piece, homogeneous structure with excellent load distribution and strong impact absorption. Now, the stresses of normal, and even abnormal, riding are spread across a greater area of the frame. New to this V10 is integrated fork bumpers and cable guides that save weight and eliminate complexity.

The V10 Carbon has 8.5 or 10 inches of Virtual Pivot Point suspension, depending on your preferences or course conditions. VPP permits the upper and lower links to rotate in opposite directions in order to shape the arc of the migrating virtual pivot point. It geometrically balances rider weight and shifts chain pull and bump forces throughout the travel. The result is a bike that pedals without unwanted suspension compression, yet it reacts to the tiniest trail inputs.

When letting the V10 flow, you ride in a suspended pocket with plenty of positive and negative travel. This ensures that you have ample traction and control over bumps and through ruts and holes. Rear brake forces are also independent of suspension travel, so the VPP stays plush when braking late and hard into tight corners. With the Fox DHX offered on this V10, it weighs under eight pounds and sports all of the tuning a competitive race could want. The DHX provides rebound, low- and high-speed compression, and spring preload, along with bottom out progressive adjustments. The V10 Carbon also features an 83mm bottom bracket and ISCG 05 chain guide tabs.

The V10 has a 1.5in head tube, and you'll need a 30.9mm seatpost. It comes with rubber swingarm protectors that are designed specifically for this frame. But, if you're hesitant to hop on a carbon DH bike, keep in mind that, while this frame is new to the public, Santa Cruz's Syndicate riders have already spent 2012 aboard this very sled. And this isn't to mention that the V10 Carbon already has 64 UCI World Cup podiums.

The Santa Cruz V10 Carbon DHX Mountain Bike Frame is available in four sizes from Small to X-Large and in the colors Syndicate and Yellow.

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