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Santa Cruz has long held court in the top tier of off-road bike builds, with dream kits abounding and a price tag that starts well outside the limits of most of our bank accounts. 2017 is bringing about some welcome changes with the new aluminum 5010 2.0 S Complete Mountain Bike. Boasting the same renowned geometry as its higher-priced carbon siblings, the aluminum 5010 brings Santa Cruz prestige, functionality, and eye-catching aesthetics to a much more attainable price point. Kitted out with SRAM's workhorse GX one-by drivetrain, powerful Guide R hydraulic brakes, a dropper post, and WTB STP i23 TCS hoops, this bike boasts versatile capability that pushes the boundaries of its trail bike classification.
In comparison to the previous 5010, the 2.0 updates touch on almost 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 sled. The frame's reach and bottom bracket follow suit, with the former gaining an additional 20-25mm, depending on size, and the latter dropping slightly. The combined result of these tweaks is a longer, lower, more stable frame that eagerly attacks lines that the previous 5010 would balk at.
While the 5010 2.0's front end and bottom bracket recline, the changes out back tighten things up for more pedaling efficiency and cockpit versatility. The seat tube is steeper, longer, and wider, which benefits the ups and downs of all-mountain riding. While torqueing 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. On steep descents, the shorter, fatter seat tube allows for more dropper travel, which nets increased stability when gravity dictates your speed.
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. On the trail, this translates to power transfer when dropping watts into the pedals and more nimble dexterity when gnarly terrain turns the tables. The frame's rear triangle terminates in a boosted 12 x 148mm 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 sees some updates for its third generation. 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 updates make for a better standover height, ground clearance, and stiffer rear end; however, VPP's real pride is in its revised tuning. The altered suspension curve keeps VPP riding higher than OG VPP, increasing small bump compliance and keeping the tires glued to the trail for more efficient traction across successive impacts. 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 the hole shot in a mass start or 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 this version of VPP. Where the previous suspension curve described a deep "U," this one resembles a flattened check mark. When paired with Fox's Float Performance 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.
Despite the expansive list of changes and new frame material, most of the impeccable details that we've come to associate with the clean lines and understated aesthetics of Santa Cruz frames carry over, including down tube and chainstay protectors, and the 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell. In comparison to its carbon counterparts, the aluminum 5010 2.0 ditches ISCG tabs and utilizes an integrated headset, which helps reduce overall weight and minimize the difference between materials.
- The 5010's new geometry expands trail capability
- Responsive VPP suspension with 130mm of travel
- Aluminum construction drops the price tag
- Boost thru-axles increase stiffness and improve tracking
- Internal cable routing maintains clean lines
- 130mm fork travel softens the bumps
- Workhorse drivetrain provides precise gear shifts
- Item #SNZ009Z