Santa Cruz may be renowned for their virtual pivot bikes, but how about a more cost-effective version? Enter the Butcher and Nickel – two bikes built around a single pivot with a linkage activated shock. We took the Butcher for a spin.
Ride & handling: Tough, stable and ideal for aggressive riders
Rolling into the hills and winding on the power, it’s clear the Butcher is more than happy to be pedalled hard. Beneath your feet lies a ﬁrm platform to push against, and getting the power down was never a problem. Flick the ProPedal platform damping lever on the Fox Float R rear shock and things stabilise even more.
Size-wise, our medium – with 70mm stem – was just about right for our 5ft 8in test pilot, but you may ﬁnd it slightly on the short side if you prefer a more stretched-out climbing position.
The APP suspension system (more on this below) produced a supple beginning stroke that traced the ground’s contours as the rear wheel took on smaller bumps and obstacles. As the hits get harder, you can feel the bike working beneath you and doing a good job of eating up the terrain – you can feel the full 150mm (5.9in) of travel.
However, we did feel there could have been a little more support in the mid-stroke of the shock. We bottomed-out the bike on a few occasions, but there was no harsh clunk, thanks to the progressive ramp-up toward the end of the stroke.
Aggressive riding is what the Butcher loves best, and the 66.4-degree head angle on our test rig made for a nicely stable ride and a bike that could really be pummelled hard.
Frame & equipment: Well matched suspension, plus your pick of kit
Santa Cruz’s APP (Actual Pivot Point) is designed to produce a variable shock rate similar to that of their more expensive virtual pivot designs. This means that at the beginning of the stroke the shock rate falls slightly, making it supple and sensitive, in the middle it ﬂattens out, and towards the end it rises to produce a more progressive, big-hit eater.
The hydroformed top and down tube meet with one solid weld before plugging into the tapered head tube, ensuring the steering department remains ﬂex-free and looking good to boot. The main pivot and APP swing link pivots rotate on 15mm aluminium axles with angular contact bearings. Santa Cruz claim that their bearing and axle design is not only super-stiff but also easily maintainable.
The Butcher frame costs £1,299 with a Fox Float R shock or £1,409 with an RP23. Our total build, including pedals, weighed in at 13.7kg (30.1lb), which is pretty impressive considering how much travel this rig has.
Easton’s carbon MonkeyLite bar and Truvativ’s Noir cranks no doubt played their part in keeping the scales happy. The RockShox Lyrik Solo Air fork offers 160mm (6.3in) of travel and complements the rear end well. The Avid Elixir CR brakes were dependable and Panaracer’s CG 4X/AM 2.35in tyres rolled surprisingly fast.