Carbon Santa Cruz Nomad-c first look

By BikeRadar.com | Thursday, April 1, 2010 10.00am

Despite the date, this is no joke: Santa Cruz will offer their Nomad all-mountain bike in carbon fibre from this summer.

The last revision to the Nomad came less than two years ago and focused almost solely on the bike’s suspension design. That bike went on to garner acclaim from the industry as well as scoring an excellent 4.5/5 stars on BikeRadar.

The mk2 bike will remain in the line but Santa Cruz will add a new version, the Nomad-c, that takes all they have learned building the new Blur XC, LT and Tallboy in carbon.

Carbon fibre frame

The new carbon chassis chops a whopping 1.25lb off the weight of the aluminium model, while at the same time, according to Santa Cruz, increasing strength and stiffness by large margins. Keep in mind, the aluminium Nomad isn't exactly a porker and has proven its strength for the past year-and-a-half. Early production Nomad-c frames are weighing in at a claimed 6.1lb with RockShox Monarch 3.3 shock.

“Before anyone calls foul about using a light shock like a Monarch for a hard hitting bike like the Nomad, add a third of a pound for a Fox DHX air or just over a pound for a DHX RC4 coil,” said Michael Ferrentino, the brand’s marketing manager. “Then go compare ...”

Yes, that's titanium hardware accenting the in-moulded shock mounts.: yes, that's titanium hardware accenting the in-moulded shock mounts.

VPP suspension

The suspension on the Nomad-c is the same found on the aluminium Nomad. It features Santa Cruz’s latest generation Virtual Pivot Point design with 160mm of travel. VPP is defined by a pair of counter-rotating links that offer a falling to rising shock rate, along with instant centre migration traits that minimise chain growth and maintain lively pedalling with a designed-in degree of anti-squat.

The shock rate allows for plush, compliant suspension behaviour in the early part of travel, letting the shock react quickly to trail debris and smaller impacts. Then, as the shock rate flips to a rising rate later in the travel, it offers progression to resist bottom-out near the end of the stroke. 

The carbon version uses the same vpp design and links as the aluminium model.: the carbon version uses the same vpp design and links as the aluminium model.

Santa Cruz pay special attention to the hardware they use within their VPP suspension system. The lower link is aluminium and equipped with a pair of grease ports to ease maintenance. The upper link is moulded carbon fibre. The pivot axles are 15mm diameter aluminium rods that thread into the frame on one side, with locking collet heads on the other. This allows them to tighten down and correctly preload the angular contact pivot bearings.

By threading into one side of the frame and then locking into the other, the pivot hardware plays an important part in maintaining the stiffness produced by the carbon front and rear ends. The axles are designed to allow for easy removal for service and there isn’t a need to remove the cranks or disassemble the bike around the pivot hardware.

The upper link is compression moulded carbon fibre, again, mounted with titanium hardware.: the upper link is compression moulded carbon fibre, again, mounted with titanium hardware.

Frame construction

Santa Cruz say that by laying up and curing the entire front triangle as a single piece, instead of assembling or bonding pieces together during the process, less material can be used to achieve the same end. Suspension pivots, disc mounts and ISCG05 tabs are all moulded into the frame in this process.

“We overbuilt things in critical areas,” said Ferrentino. The underside of the down tube features five layers of uni-directional fibre, two of Aramid fibre and one layer of 3k weave. This is all in an effort to ward off all things sharp and pointy. The chainstays have extra layers of material for the same purpose.

Extra protection against all things sharp and pointy: extra protection against all things sharp and pointy

The one-piece layup and moulding allows the use of continuous fibres throughout the frame, which is said to allow the structure to more widely distribute loads and absorb impact energy. A proprietary manufacturing process allows Santa Cruz to precisely control both the outside and inside frame shape while compacting the laminate layers, which in turn results in superior stiffness and strength while eliminating excess material.

“We don't have any fancy acronyms for this, but it is unique – nobody else is making carbon fibre mountain bikes this way at this time,” said Ferrentino. “And, while we don't have the selling power of a carefully focus-grouped nickname behind the process, the results are pretty enough that we are proud to show off what the insides of our frames look like. You'd be surprised what you might find inside some of the other frames out there.”

Santa cruz is as proud of the inside as it is the outside.: santa cruz is as proud of the inside as it is the outside.

Details, and stuff

Alongside the carbon fibre makeover, the VPP suspension and solid pivot hardware, Santa Cruz have added an impact absorbent protection strip underneath the down tube and along the drive side chain- and seatstays. There's a metal plate to protect from chainsuck and you'll find cable stops for telescopic seatposts integrated into the frame.

An ISCG05 chainguide mount is moulded into the bottom bracket area during layup, as are the disc brake tabs and dropouts. Up front, there's a 1.5in head tube since Santa Cruz believe this bike can take more abuse than most tapered-steerer forks are intended to see. “You can have it any colour you want, so long as it's white with black decals or a matt carbon colour with gold pinstripey decals,” said Ferrentino.

The Nomad-c will be available for delivery from mid-June, in all the usual build options per the Santa Cruz website. A Nomad-c page is still in the works. Prices start at US$2,499 for a frame and Monarch 3.3 shock. UK RRP has yet to be confirmed but is expected to be around £2,499 by the time shipping costs, import duty and VAT have been added.

Or the evil version in black.: or the evil version in black.

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