First Rides – Santa Cruz Bronson and 5010 – Big Smiles the Whole Ride

We loaded the van a few weeks ago, and headed down to Brevard, NC to meet up with a couple of blokes from Santa Cruz and ride a pair of new bikes, the Bronson and 5010. The Bike Farm was our base camp and guide, with support from the Hub bike shop. We rode in the Pisgah and Dupont, sometimes both in the same day.

Here’s some more in-depth reporting on the bikes and how they ride.

Santa Cruz Bronson and 5010 – Big Smiles the Whole Ride

Santa Cruz Bronson V3

The most obvious change is to the Bronson, which now uses the lower link to drive the shock, similar to the V10 and Nomad. The lower link allows Santa Cruz to create a more linear rate to the suspension, without the “hammock” produced by using the upper link to drive the shock. That hammock created the famous mid-stroke wallow, an area of the travel where the suspension wasn’t in as much control as some riders would like. Other riders liked it, as it could be used to create traction in corners and generally kinda smear around in a zone of suspension. Sounds weird, but anyone with some time on the older version of the Bronson or Nomad will get what I mean.


That wallow made it harder to control repeated impacts, making it difficult to tune the suspension to be both plush and handle successive hits. The new suspension design eliminates that issue. Obviously, moving the shock to the lower part of the frame creates a lot more problems to be dealt with, but at least the front derailleur is no longer one of them.

Both the 5010 and the Bronson get dual-rear uprights, creating a stiffer and more consistent rear end. The old single upright made it very hard to get the stiffness consistent from side to side.

There is room for 27.5×2.8 tires on both bikes, and there will be a new 2.6 tire option mounted to Reserve carbon wheels with 37mm internal width. The Bronson and 5010 will be the only plus (or almost plus?) tired full suspension bikes from Santa Cruz going forward. The Hightower and Tallboy will be 29er-only from the factory, no more 27.5×2.8 option. I think this makes much more sense. Tune the ride by tire volume, not wheel size.

Geometry gets a little longer in reach, slacker in head tube and steeper in seat tube, but none of those numbers are trying to be the most extreme in its class. I’d call them all conservatively modern. The Bronson now comes stock with a 160mm fork, because why not? Really though, the new rear end makes this bike so much more capable; more travel up front is welcome.

On the trail, the new Bronson is easy to get along with. For riders used to modern geometry, it feels right at home, and an increase in anti-squat helps to make it pedal and climb as well as anything I’ve ridden with similar travel numbers. More than once I figured I should take some air out of the shock as it was pedaling too well going up the hill, only to find it perfectly plush and controlled on the way back down. Modern suspension is almost magic.

Following other riders on the new 5010, the Bronson was much more happy taking smashy, straight lines rather than slicing and dicing, but wasn’t opposed to following those tighter lines either. The more I rode, the more I figured this bike was for those riders lusting after the Nomad but were honest enough with skill assessment to know the Nomad was more bike than needed.


    Want the best cycling experience?
    Sign up for the latest bikes, gear, and accessories reviews out there.

    By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy
    and European users agree to the data transfer policy

    If I move onto a boat, will I ride more like Ratboy ?

    5010 V3

    The 5010 retains the upper-link driven rear shock but gets all of the other upgrades. With less travel (130 mm vs the Bronson’s 150) the 5010 has less mid-stroke to deal with, transitioning quickly between beginning and end stroke. In other words, the small benefit of moving the shock to the lower link was far out-weighed by weight and complexity. This means the 5010 is both lighter and less expensive than the Bronson.

    Geometry gets longer (445 to 457 reach in a large), slacker (67 to 66.2 head angle) and steeper (73.8 to 74.9 seat angle). This is all in the “low” setting. Both the 5010 and Bronson get a flip chip, although it has more to do with adjusting bottom bracket height for different tire widths than angle adjustments.

    I only spent a little time on the 5010, and immediately sent it off a little kicker and burped the tire on a rock I was hoping to clear. And then I did it again. And that, in a nutshell, is the 5010. It is light and fast, and but it has the heart of trail bike and invites you to pop it off anything resembling a lip.

    Will it send?

    Yes, Seb Kemp says the 5010 will send.

    This is a final production proto of the aluminum version of the 5010. The Bronson and 5010 have aluminum options for both complete bikes and frame-only. Cheers, Santa Cruz! They still are real money, but it is nice to see aluminum roll out with the carbon frames. Not everyone wants or can afford plastic bikes.

    This picture highlights one of the other changes to both bikes, the lower link in now sandwiched by the frame. The lack of front derailleur also allows for this lighter/stronger/stiffer change. It also massively complicates the production of aluminum frames, but Santa Cruz figured it out.

    We took a 5010 back to  HQ at the end of the trip, so expect a full review soon.

    We had four Dirt Raggers down there in North Carolina, all who would probably claim to be more comfortable on 29-inch wheels, but even after a few days of chunk, not a single one of us were bellyaching about the smaller wheels on both these bikes. All the locals were on 29ers, but with these bikes’ long front centers and well-sorted suspension, we charged at the Pisgah gnar with smiles that only occasionally turned into grimaces of pure terror as well dealt some poor line choices and general skillsets that couldn’t always cash the checks our brains were writing.

    Get all the details and prices for the 5010 and Bronson the Santa Cruz website

    About the author
    First Rides – Santa Cruz Bronson and 5010 - Big Smiles the Whole Ride — Bike Hacks