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All-mountain aggression, refined.
The original Bronson was instrumental in swaying the preconceived notions of riders skeptical of the so-called "tweener" 27.5-inch wheel size back in 2013, seeing just how damn capable the bike was everywhere from epics in the mountains to enduro race courses and even blasting a few laps at the bike park. So when Santa Cruz announced they completely redesigned the Bronson Carbon CC 27.5+ XO1 Eagle Reserve Complete Mountain Bike with their "new" plus-sized tires, a longer, more aggressive geometry for the ever-increasing capabilities demanded by riders, and a lower-link driven shock inspired by the latest Nomad, we gladly listened and took note, seeing their expertise and foresight in designing mountain bikes far surpasses the skeptical attitudes prevalent in much of the mountain bike world.
One of the biggest changes to the third-gen Bronson lies in a longer, slacker geometry that pushes it deeper into the gravity end of the riding spectrum. However, this redesign doesn't significantly alter its all-around versatility, meaning it's still great for the rider that desires the monster truck plushness of a slack, long-travel rig while having fun on trail systems with big climbs and high-speed descents. To be specific, Santa Cruz lengthened the reach by approximately 15 millimeters per size for a more confident, comfortable feel at higher speeds, plus a centimeter lower standover height for a better fit with shorter riders. The head tube angle drops from the previous generation's already slack 66 degrees to an even slacker 65.4 degrees in its highest setting, complete with a flip-chip that slackens it out even further to a bike park-friendly 65.1 degrees. These were numbers that you'd only see on a freeride or mini-DH bike just a few years ago, meaning you'll have tons of confidence bombing those technical descents littered with steep drop-offs and nasty rock sections.
Another significant change to the latest Bronson lies in a reconfigured VPP suspension platform. Instead of relying on upper-link driven design, the third generation Bronson enjoys the increased bump compliance and glued-to-the-trail traction you'll experience with a VPP suspension driven by a lower-link mounted shock that's inspired by the latest Nomad. This lower-link driven VPP suspension platform is something that's reserved exclusively for the Bronson, Nomad, and V10, seeing the need for increased bump compliance, better support, and higher levels of traction for all-mountain, freeride, and downhill disciplines. To best match the increased performance capabilities of this lower-link driven VPP, Santa Cruz spec'd a Super Deluxe shock for a more supple feel that tracks to the ground noticeably better and resists heating up on those scintillating descents over thousands of vertical feet.
The last major change implemented on the third-gen Bronson is the introduction of Santa Cruz's "new" plus-sized tire, which is simply adding a slightly larger 2.6-inch tire for all the benefits in traction, bump compliance, and support afforded by plus-sized rubber, but without the major downsides of running wider 2.8 and 3.0-inch tires. By redefining the usability of plus-sized tires, Santa Cruz offers levels of plow-anything confidence to the masses without the negative attributes of traditional plus-sized tires, namely being the added rotational weight on climbs, overly vague handling feel, and tendency to squirm while cornering and braking hard. If you'd like to run a true plus-sized tire, the newest version of the Bronson will gladly accept 2.8-inch tires with its flip-chip accommodating this wider rubber.
Lucky for all of us, one thing that hasn't changed is Santa Cruz's carbon frames, which is a good thing if you're after the legendary strength and unwavering stiffness of their renowned carbon layups. This particular Bronson benefits from the top-shelf Carbon CC layup, which drops weight due to using a higher-end carbon in the manufacturing process, but without sacrificing one bit of stiffness or strength. Although we don't have any definitive figures on hand, the lighter, more expensive Carbon CC saves anywhere from 250 to 280 grams from lower-spec Carbon C on many of Santa Cruz's popular models, so it's worth upgrading if you'd like a lighter build, especially seeing how the Bronson has grown in length and travel figures for this generation.
It's worth noting this particular Bronson Carbon CC 27.5+ bike is upgraded with Santa Cruz's newest Reserve 37 Carbon Wheels, which provide all the strength and stiffness benefits of carbon wheels, but with a 37-millimeter internal width to properly accommodate wider tires. This means you'll be able to properly run tires up to 2.8 inches without deforming them into an overly bulbous shape that's prone to suddenly breaking loose or squirming excessively while riding hard and fast over technical terrain. In case you're not aware, these Reserve Carbon Wheels are reinforced along the spoke nipple interface to prevent them from breaking while smashing and bashing them on the trail. Plus, they're even backed by an amazing lifetime warranty for added peace of mind while pushing this Bronson to the absolute limit.
- Santa Cruz's redefines their all-mountain masterpiece
- Aggressive geometry is slacker and longer than before
- Flip-chip slackens the head tube angle from 65.4° to 65.1°
- VPP with lower-link driven air shock inspired by the Nomad
- 6in of VPP travel smooths out bigger hits, tames rock gardens
- Carbon CC frame reduces weight without sacrificing stiffness
- "New" plus-sized 2.6in tires for plow-anything confidence
- Reserve 37 Carbon Wheels for precise handling and strength
- Item #SNZ00IX
- Q & A
Bronson is better than ever!
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
Iâve been riding Santa Cruz bikes since the original Nomad was released years ago. The ride quality is superb and the lifetime warranty is indicative of how much confidence they have in their bikes. Thereâs a reason you see Bronsonâs everywhere. They are the quintessential trail bike, and the new changes to v3 have made it even more capable.
When the V4 Nomad was released, I like many people eagerly awaited the new lower link VPP design to trickle down other models in SC's line. That time has come, and itâs brought several welcome upgrades to the Bronson as a result. Not only does it make the suspension more progressive, I found it rides higher in the travel than a lot of VPP bikes Iâve ridden. This allows the suspension to be more supportive while descending through successive, rough, hits. It also means that it doesnât wallow in the midstroke of the travel while pedaling. And while no VPP bike is going to be the most efficient climber out there, the Bronson certainly holds its own. I never felt like the front end was going to lift up while clmbing.
Take one look at the Bronson and itâs clear that it was intended to be fun on descents. And it is!
Only the tamest, flattest, smoothest, singletrack felt dull on this bike, which is not something you can say about a lot of aggressive trail bikes. It remained lively and fun in all types of terrain. The lower link also really lowers the center of gravity on this bike, which is especially noticeable cornering. I really enjoyed how predictable and quick this bike was in corners, I felt like I could really push hard into corners and still flick the back end around if a switchback got really tight. Itâs not the most stable bike at flat out speed, but thatâs not really what itâs meant for. I canât really put my finger on why, but it jumps so well! It feels smooth when you pop take offâs, and remains so composed in the air.
The Bronson has struck a great balance between good trail manners on the climbs, and a really fun, lively descender that still remains composed when you push it hard.
27.5's get it done
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
27.5’s get it done
Right from the start let’s get this straight, I’m going to be comparing the Bronson to my Ibis HD4. These two 27.5’s crush the dowhills and work really well in the turns. The main difference in my opinion is the rear linkage. The VPP linkage for the Bronson is nice and subtle over the small bumps, but I feel when climbing it simple runs into a ledge then decides it wants climb up and over. The DW link on the HD4 feels like it will climb over the edges better. If you are to ride both bikes down the road and pedal over a bunch of 2x4’s the Bronson will feel a bit smoother if you like to stay seated in the saddle and just smash over it.
Overall this is a great ride, that you can spend the day pedaling around just keep in mind that it’s more suited for pointing it down the mountain rather than up it.
Lifetime frame warranty
Crushes the downhill
While standing in the climb it feels like it sacks out the rear end
Limited aftermarket shock options
Pedal efficiency climbing square edges and rocks
5’9” 32” inseam / 172 lbs
Size Ridden Large