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We’ve been spoiled by the ever-evolving capabilities of suspension designs, and the proliferation of pedal-able party bikes has gotten us to the point where we want to have our climbing cake and shred it on the DH side, too. That may sound like a lot to ask, but Santa Cruz Bicycles has pushed the new Nomad even further off the DH cliff while maintaining a pedaling platform that doesn't hamstring you on the climbs. The Nomad S Complete Mountain Bike feels like a DH tank when you drop in, but it's just as happy to detour into the sidecountry for a little brow-sweat R&R. Whether you live the lift life or prefer to earn your laps, the latest Nomad's blend of trail pedaling and DH aggression—combined with the impressive gear range of SRAM's GX Eagle drivetrain—lets it straddle the line between what goes up and what comes down.
Although the previous generation Nomad was aimed squarely at enduro domination, the newest generation is less of a dedicated race bike and more of a gravity rig that you can actually pedal uphill without struggling like other long-travel sleds. Think of it as a freeride bike for riders seeking one that's versatile enough to lap the resort park and shuttle downhill laps, then pedal along backcountry epics the very next day. The 65-degree head tube angle (in high setting) and longer reach keep things calm and comfortable on wicked descents, yet the steeper 75-degree seat tube angle puts you in an optimal pedaling position without struggling to shift your weight forward on steep climbs.
The flip-chip integrated into the swingarm provides the ability to fine-tune its geometry to your exact riding preferences and local terrain. Keep it in the high setting for a more efficient pedaling platform on rides with a mix of blistering descents and steep climbs. Conversely, you can switch it to the low setting for an even slacker geometry (head tube of 64.6 degrees) that's purely aimed on downhill laps at the resort and shuttle runs up the pass where climbing isn't an issue. Ultimately, its adjustable geometry lends the ability to push the bike to the absolute limit on lift-accessed days or retain more balance for earning your turns across large and imposing alpine terrain.
Moving to the revised shock placement, the engineers at Santa Cruz sought to achieve a more linear shock rate with the fourth-gen Nomad, much like you'd find with the V10. The VPP suspension is driven by a lower-link mounted shock, marking a radical departure from the likes of Bronson and Hightower. This revised shock placement eliminates the Nomad's previous tendencies to settle in the middle of its travel, meaning it feels more active and tracks to the ground noticeably better across steep descents and rugged terrain. And even though its shock rate is more linear, it doesn't sacrifice support deep into the travel, meaning it never feels harsh on bigger hits and downhill runs. The Nomad's VPP pedals well, but it really loves dabbling in bad decisions on the ragged edge.
The bike's aluminum frame is also well-suited to exploring that edge, giving you a bit more confidence that an unplanned, unsupervised trip down a talus slope won't spell the end of its usefulness. The frame's tubes are hydroformed in order to reduce weight while maintaining strength at key junctures, a technology that's been proven in applications ranging from the aerospace industry to the past three decades of mountain biking. We know it, we trust it, and we've never felt held back by it.
- A full-on party bike that pedals out after dropping in
- 6.7in VPP suspension eats terrain and pedals on-point
- V10-inspired chassis with lower-link mounted shock
- Adjustable flip-chip with high and low geometry settings
- 75-degree seat tube angle optimizes pedaling efficiency
- Longer reach shifts weight forward for better traction
- GX Eagle drivetrain boasts the ultimate bailout gear
- Frame adorned with protective details to preserve your investment
- Item #SNZ00EM