The Santa Cruz V10 is one of the most successful bikes on the DH circuit, having won multiple World Cup and World Champs titles under the Syndicate team. We took the cheapest version out to the hills to see just how the winning pedigree measures up.
Adjustable geo and workhorse build
While the C frame is full-carbon, it’s cheaper than the CC version and roughly 250g heavier. Santa Cruz’s twin-link VPP layout delivers 216mm (8.5in) of rear travel. Details include 157mm rear axle spacing, dual-sealed pivots, integrated fork bump stops, grease ports in the lower link and a threaded bottom bracket (our preferred choice).
Cables are routed externally for easier maintenance. ‘High’ and ‘low’ geometry settings alter the head angle by 0.5 degrees (from 64 to 63.5 degrees) and the BB by 6.5mm (360-353.5mm). The choice of five sizes is unusual for a DH rig.
The Performance series Fox shock offers a super-supple, controlled stroke
A carbon frame and race-winning pedigree don’t come cheap, but a build based on Shimano's second-tier Zee group keeps this complete bike respectable as far as downhill rigs go. It’s not the flashiest kit but all works well together.
The fork and shock are from Fox’s Performance series – a coil-sprung 40 up front and a DHX2 at the rear, which only has low-speed compression and rebound damping adjustment.
At 5ft 8in / 173cm I fell between sizes on Santa Cruz’s chart and in hindsight should have gone for the large frame rather than my usual medium, which felt a touch cramped. Sizing aside, the first thing I noticed when setting up the V10 was just how supple the rear end felt. This thing sags under its own weight!
Combined with the aggressive Maxxis tyres, this means grip is seriously impressive, even when tackling slimy cambers or loose, rutted corners. Commit to a line and you’re rewarded with control, traction and precision.
The V10 is a playful, flickable ride
When it comes to the harder-hitting stuff, the rear end does just what you ask of it. It’ll take a massive thump or heavy landing thanks to the smooth ramp-up towards the end of its travel, and there’s more than enough support when loading the bike hard, with things feeling nicely predictable.
The V10 carries speed seriously well, trucking through the ugliest of sections at an eye-watering pace. The fork and shock may not be the fanciest, but together they feel balanced and capable. When you do need to reign in the pace, SRAM’s Guide RS brakes are consistently powerful.
On jumpier trails I was able to loft the V10 up and over obstacles with very little effort, and enjoyed its playful nature when it came to flicking it through tighter sections. My only niggles are around the relatively high BB (even in the ‘low’ setting) and some transmission clatter through rough sections.