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Few remember the first aluminum Stigmata that graced Santa Cruz's lineup for just four seasons starting in 2007. The Bay Area has always been a hotbed for 'cross in the US and, in much of the same spirit of the early days of mountain biking, local builders fabricated frames with more progressive 'cross geometry then what was the norm of the day. Many of the angles and tube lengths seen on those California barrier hopping bikes are reflected in the geometry of CX bikes that we see today. We were quite surprised when Santa Cruz dropped the bike from the line but figured with Santa Cruz moving many of their mountain bike frames to carbon fiber and the influx of disc brakes on CX bikes, it must have a Stigmata redux on their hands. After sitting out five cross seasons, the release of the new Stigmata represented just what we expected in a new drop bar bike from Santa Cruz: carbon fiber construction, disc brakes, and geometry versatile enough to tackle tarmac, mud bogs, and the burgeoning gravel scene.
We often think of the Stigmata as the mountain biker's road bike. It's plenty capable of hanging with the shaved leg set when pedaling perfect circles and racking up base miles, but if the idea of linking up endless forest service roads while looking at a topo map, or pinning a number to a skinsuit in the fall tickles your fancy, all you need is a simple tire swap and the Stigmata is happy to oblige. Even though most of the road bikes kicking around here at Competitive Cyclist have rim brakes, we can see the benefits of disc brakes on the road and we can't fathom riding 'cross or gravel without discs. The fork's 15mm thru-axle and 12 x 142mm rear dropouts keep the axles anchored in the dropouts whether we were blurry eyed in braking bumps or shooting for the holeshot off the line.
The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and Ultegra drivetrain provide miles of trouble free use. The group is elegant and beautiful enough for road use but not afraid to kick up a little dust or get covered in mud. Internal routing, carbon dropouts and disc mounts, a tapered headtube, and electronic drivetrain compatibility help futureproof the frame and were made possible with the frame's carbon construction. The bottom bracket is pressfit 30, a first for Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz doesn't hide its favoritism for threaded bottom bracket shells, but in order to get the frame to work with more road bike cranks and the ability to increase the diameter of the downtube, a pressfit shell was needed. Clearance for tires up to 41mm with room for mud makes the Stigmata perfect for racing and off season riding.
- A bike that handles road, gravel, CX, and trails with aplomb
- Santa Cruz's CC construction with modern, verstile geometry
- Internal cable routing prevent contamination and ensure clean lines
- Accommodates 41mm wide tires with room for mud
- Shimano's Ultegra build and disc brakes are at home on road and dirt
- Pressfit shell, thru-axles, and tapered headtube establish a responsive ride
- Item #SNZ00EP
- Q & A
Changing it up
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Review written about 2017 version of the frame; the only difference between 2017 & 2018 frames is the paint.
I'm an old-school roadie. That means that I tend to favor lugged steel frames, Campagnolo components, and tubular wheels ... so it's going to take something special to get me to make a change.
The Stigmata is my first carbon bike, my first disc brake bike, my first tubeless wheels, and my first Shimano (I got mine built with an Ultegra 2x group) bike in over 20 years.
Initial impressions? Oh my freaking heck (that's a Utah-ism for those who don't know), this is going to be an amazing bike to ride ... on road, and especially on gravel once the snow melts. Gotta prep for the Crusher this July ... my hope is to finally finish as a rider, not as a writer.
So why only 4 stars you ask? Because I don't have enough experience on the bike to definitively give it 5 stars, but I'm pretty sure that once I've got some more miles on it, that rating will go up.
If you have any questions about this item or any other gravel/cyclocross bikes, please feel free to reach out to me directly at 801-736-6396 ext. 2422, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Update 4/15/17 - Five Stars
Yup ... this bike is a potential quiver killer for me. If I had to limit myself to just ONE bike, well ... umm ... the Campy-equipped Richard Sachs would win out (I am never getting rid of that bike); but if I got to keep TWO bikes, the Stigmata would definitely be the second one, full stop. Don't even need to think about that one.
I even like the Shimano Ultegra components, which is hard to admit as a Campy guy. Shifting is spot-on, and in many ways I'm a disc brake believer now. I was worried about the disc brakes being grabby compared to all my rim brakes, but so far, I feel like I still have good modulation when I'm just trying to control my speed going into a bend, but have all the stopping power I need when I need to grab the brakes.
I did get a second set of wheels to mount with road tires and a road cassette, so it's a lot easier when I want to switch it up from 40mm on gravel to 25mm on pavement; the bike does indeed perform just as well on pavement as any of my dedicated road bikes.
TL;DR -- New bike, new tech, love it.