The Santa Cruz V10 is a bike with incredible pedigree – 64 UCI World Cup podiums, 14 wins and two overall titles. It was also the first carbon fibre DH bike to win a World Champs too.
Now the Californian-based brand have released the V10 Carbon to the public. Complete with a top-flight spec from the likes of the Santa Cruz Syndicate race team’s sponsors, it’s pretty much the World Cup race bike piloted by Steve Peat, Greg Minnaar and Josh Bryceland.
Ride & handling: Race ready but stable DH bike
We had a play and preferred leaving the V10 in its 8.5in travel mode (it can be run at a whopping 10in too). The racing genes are obvious right from the very first run – the overwhelming feel is ‘forward’. Whether it’s deftly hopping a rock section with trail bike ease or cannoning down steep, loose straights, the V10 Carbon just accelerates.
Through faster sections it feels incredibly planted, and we’d struggle to justify the longer travel setting. Small bump sensitivity is superb, without feeling that it’s holding up the forward momentum. When things do go a bit wrong, thwacking into square-edged hits just unleashes an achingly smooth mid-stroke.
In corners, the bike again stays nice and taught without ever feeling skittish – you simply hit the turn, grip and accelerate. The Saint brakes really are in their element on a big bike at this weight, and the clutch-equipped rear mech provides swift, silent shifting.
The only real flies in the ointment were a slight rattle from the Fox 40 fork and overly stiff 35mm bars. They robbed the front end of some of the back end’s superb initial feel, and we’d swap them if we had longer on the bike.
The V10 Carbon is a stunning machine that has racing pedigree oozing from every molecule. The way it carries speed needs to be experienced to be believed – you can pick it up and set it down with the ease and feel of a trail bike but know that it will get on with dispatching everything from pebbles to boulders. It’s by far one of the best DH bikes we’ve ever ridden.
Frame & equipment: Carbon fibre beauty with incredible spec
The frame now features both a front and rear end manufactured in the same plant, with a revised layup and slightly tweaked geometry. It’s available with a Fox Racing Shox DHX RC4 or RockShox Vivid Air shock. With the latter in place, our medium test frame weighed in at a scant 3.15kg (6.9lb).
Santa Cruz are so confident in their carbon fibre technology that they’re prepared to offer a five year warranty. That’s backed up by a lifetime warranty on bearings, and a crash replacement scheme.
The front triangle is a one-piece monocoque, with Santa Cruz’ engineers shaving 0.7lb from last year’s bike by making adjustments to the external shape and internal reinforcements.
The back end now features 157mm of spacing, too, for easier installation. The cable routing has been left external on the behest of the Syndicate race mechanics.
There is also some tidy armouring and heel protection padding, and fork bumpers/cable routers are built into the frame. Santa Cruz feel strongly that you shouldn’t need to add or stick anything to such a good looking, light bike.
The alloy lower VPP link features recessed grease ports, while the upper is manufactured from carbon fibre and the collet axle pivots lock in place without the need for pinch bolts. We also liked the tidy, direct mount rear mech hanger.
The Fox 40 RC2 fork takes care of things up front, while a Shimano Saint drivetrain (bar SRAM Descendant cranks) get the power down. The Saint brakes are in their element, with the bike’s scant mass allowing them to operate at an insane level. They’re as fade-free as you can get, and add to the consistent feel of the V10.
The wheels are more than a bit special too, comprising ENVE carbon rims on DT Swiss hubs. They are insanely light and accelerate incredibly well, but feel stiff and direct through even the most chattery of rocks. Maxxis Minion rubber is always a class act and was more than man enough for our Tuscan test tracks.
The Easton Haven Carbon 35mm bars and stem are an acquired taste, but at this sort of price point we’re sure they’d be easily sorted if not to your liking. The frame will be priced at £3,399 (US$3,499) with DHX and £3,469 (US$3,599) with Vivid Air.
We’ll have a full BikeRadar star rating up as soon as we’ve spent a bit more time on the bike.