You might guess from the 4X name that this burly Blur is designed for 4X and dual slalom race domination. It's also a great choice for hardcore riders who want strength and stability without excess weight and travel.
Santa Cruz reckons this bike is as strong and stiff as their freeride and DH monsters and it's certainly well buttressed. The head tube is heavily, externally reinforced, the massive down tube is braced against the top tube with twin junction plates and both top and down tube have big gussets to help hold the head on.
While the frame is as long as standard 'trail' Blur, the top tube slopes straight down to give loads of standover but still allowing a decent saddle height for pedalling.
The VPP suspension is controlled by one big CNC lower link and two upper link plates with a long stroke shock managing the 115mm of rear wheel travel. The rear swingarm is the same beefy asymmetric disc specific design as the Blur LT with completely replaceable driveside dropout and enough space to cope with a clarty 2.3in tyre.
The 4X is about unstrapping the pads off your CamelBak at the top of a long climb and going absolutely ape down the other side.
With a 140mm Pike fork plugged in the front steering is choppered out to around 66/67 degrees, for proper downhill bike style stability, and it'll front down or float off anything you've got the nerve to tackle on the trails.
There's obviously more kick on landing than longer travel bikes, so skill and placing are crucial. It sucks up enough to keep you on line, though, and more importantly the linear shock feel means consistent and predictable rear response. Add 'point and shoot' boulder eating from the bolt through fork up front and it's a sick descent-killing machine.
The kit here is the usual mongrel mix you'll find on a long term test bike, but the Pike 454 forks are key. They're £450 separately but UK Santa Cruz importer Jungle will bundle them with a 4X frame for an extra £390 and we can't think of a better match.
Maxle bolt-thru adds serious stiffness and the 140mm stroke just gets better and better the more you ride them.
Other recommends include the Hope Pro II hubs on big Mavic DH rims for a sturdy, tyre fattening but not over-heavy wheelset.
What sets the 4X apart from the increasingly busy 'flatten it all' 6in travel category is the level of vitality and feedback. It keeps you involved at all times, whether you're braking on stepped descents, kicking out of a corner or muscling up a technical climb.
The ride position has plenty of breathing room for climbing, plus while whole bike weight isn't excessive, and even with full kilo weight DH tyres on it'll endure long days out. While if you want a stiffer, stronger but still hard charging XC bike, 27/28lb build ups with 5in travel forks are easily possible.