Living eight miles away from Santa Cruz Bicycles owner Rob Roskopp has its advantages – especially when he asked me if I'd like to join him on a ride around his favourite trails in
When he added that I'd get to ride the new Santa Cruz Carbon Blur XC, I cleared my calendar immediately.
I got the lowdown from
But the real proof is always found in the ride, so spending two hours in the saddle with Roskopp on his home turf allowed me to get to know the carbon Blur intimately. Read my first impressions below, and scroll down to the bottom of the page for some video footage.
Any maiden voyage typically requires some fiddling around, but Roskopp had dialled the bike in to a tee. All I needed to do was raise the saddle a couple of centimetres and we were off.
The Fremont-Older trail system requires lots of climbing and its tight singletrack, with several dozen hairpin turns and pockets of mud, kept the pace moderate.
The biggest concern I had was how a light carbon full-susser would treat my lower back, and would a spanking new bike deliver me up the tortuous climbs?
All fears were laid aside two hours later. Roskopp, also in his 40s, has the same concerns, and it was apparent he didn't suffer anything on his carbon Blur either.
I found the ride to be free of twitchiness on the descents and corners, with none of the pinging typically found on aluminium bikes.
Nor did I need to lock out the suspension on the climbs, something somewhat attributable to the new shocks, but also a testament to the larger diameter pivot axles and enhanced shock rates.
No knocking, no flex, no squirreliness. Nothing to do but pedal and push through the turns, chasing a happy-go-lucky ex-pro skateboarder.
The cockpit felt right at home, and the just-out-of-the-box Shimano XTR performed flawlessly. The only part about the ride that made me nervous was riding past park rangers with radar guns – imagine a 15mph speed limit on your favourite trail!
The 22.3lb large test bike was built with Shimano's XTR groupset, M975 RT97 centre-lock 160mm front/140mm rear disc rotors, a RockShox 105mm SID Dual Team Air fork and Monarch 3.3 rear shock.
Finishing kit came in the form of a 685mm-wide Easton Monkeylite carbon bars and EA90 stem; LizardSkins Charger grips; Crankbrothers Cobalt Directset headset; WTB Rocket V saddle; Thomson Masterpiece 31.6 seatpost; DT Swiss XR4.2D wheelset; Kenda Small Block Eight 26 x 2.10 tyres.
Retail for my test bike is US$6,281 (approx £4,350). Other kit options include SPX (primarily Shimano XT), SRAM XO and SRAM X9.