Perhaps both the worst kept secret in cross-country and one of the biggest go-fast launches of 2021, the Blur from Santa Cruz and Wilder from Juliana are designed to be the fastest bikes the Californian brands have built.
Between them, three families of bikes have launched: the Blur XC, Blur TR and Wilder.
The XC version of the Blur gets 100mm of XC-focused suspension at either end, while the TR and Wilder get 115mm at the back with 120mm forks plugged into the head tube, along with marginally chunkier components.
While the XC bike’s intentions are abundantly clear, the TR and Wilder bikes seem to be aimed more at the burgeoning downcountry and marathon market. Santa Cruz says: “the TR is not a trail bike, it’s a XC bike for certain courses.”
Santa Cruz Blur and Juliana Wilder frames
All three families of bikes use the same frame, the only difference between them is the stroke of the shock to give 100mm or 115mm of travel.
As we’ve come to expect, both ‘C’ and ‘CC’ level carbon frames will be available, with the ‘CC’ frames getting a higher modulus carbon – basically, stiffer for the weight or lighter for the stiffness, depending on how you look at it.
Santa Cruz is claiming that it’s cut significant weight (289g ) from the previous version of the Blur via the suspension linkage described below and a couple of other tricks.
For example, the use of different paints makes a difference. There’s a Salmon version but also a Dark Matter option. This darker paint is a claimed 48g lighter on a size Large frame than its brighter Salmon cousin.
The size Large frame, with a 235g RockShox SIDLuxe shock and hardware (excluding axle) weighs 1,933g. Santa Cruz says no funny tricks have been used to get to this weight either. Once we get one in, perhaps we’ll strip it down to confirm!
The frame itself has space for two bottle cages inside the frame, as well as one under the down tube, and comes with rubberised chainstay protection, SRAM’s universal derailleur hanger (UDH), a lifetime warranty on bearings, as well as a down tube protector and mini chainguide.
Santa Cruz says there are no proprietary parts either, which should make fixing the bike away from home a bit easier.
Santa Cruz Blur and Juliana Wilder suspension
Those who’ve followed the Santa Cruz and Juliana brands over the years will be aware of their extensive use of the VPP (or Virtual Pivot Point) suspension linkage, whereby the front and rear triangles are joined with a pair of rotating links.
However, these bikes eschew the slightly more complex and heavier system in favour of a linkage-driven single pivot design, with flex stays to give additional control over the bike’s suspension kinematic.
By eliminating a rear pivot and relying on the characteristics of the carbon layup, Santa Cruz says that it’s cut 289g out of the frame, compared to the Blur 3 that came before it.
When it comes to XC-focused bikes, pedalling characteristics are obviously vital. The Blur and Wilder approach this slightly differently to many other bikes by using a lower shock leverage curve to provide the support and control rather than focusing on increasing anti-squat (the resistance to the suspension compressing under pedalling forces).
This lower leverage curve means the anti-squat figure can be dropped for less interference between the pedals and rear suspension, especially on bigger hits.
This, in theory, means a smoother riding feel over rough terrain, as well as more traction and sensitivity both up and downhill.
Santa Cruz is also claiming that it’s a more efficient system overall because less of your energy is used by the anti-squat to counter pedalling and body weight impacts on the suspension.
Santa Cruz Blur and Juliana Wilder geometry
XC bikes aren’t immune to modern mountain bike geometry trends, with the Blur and Wilder getting the longer, lower, slacker treatment.
It’s also given each size its own chainstay lengths, to keep front and rear ends in proportion across sizes. This is increasingly common on mountain bikes, but still not overly common itself, and certainly not on XC bikes. Santa Cruz’s chainstays vary from 430mm (S) to 438mm (XL).
The theory goes that a fixed chainstay length of (say) 440mm on an XS bike with a reach of 430mm is going to feel wildly different in terms of front/rear balance if that same 440mm chainstay is used on an XL version of the same bike with, say, a 510mm reach.
Santa Cruz is altering the rear chainstay length by adjusting its relatively fixed points in the front triangle, thus avoiding having to open a new set of molds for each rear triangle.
Compared to the previous generation of bikes, head angles are said to be 0.7 degrees slacker on the Blur XC and 1.4 degrees slacker on the Blur TR, and they’re now designed to run a 60mm stem.
When it comes to the Wilder, three sizes are available: S, M and L.
Here are the key numbers for a Large Blur (non-TR/TR)
- Reach: 470mm / 458mm
- Stack: 597mm / 607mm
- Head angle: 68.3 degrees / 67.1 degrees
- Seat tube length: 470mm
- Bottom bracket height: 331mm / 340mm
- Wheelbase: 1,173mm / 1,183mm
- Seat tube angle: 75.8 degrees / 74.9 degrees
Santa Cruz Blur and Juliana Wilder models
Santa Cruz Blur XC builds
The Blur XC gets 100mm of travel at both ends of the bike, with a RockShox suspension package of a SID SL fork and SIDLuxe shock.
They come with fast-rolling Maxxis Aspen tyres and lightweight dropper posts. As with all its models, an ‘RSV’ or Reserve option is there.
Reserve is Santa Cruz’s wheel brand and to go with the latest bike is a new Reserve 28 carbon wheelset, with a 28mm internal width. There’s a £1,000 up-charge for these hoops.
The range starts with the Blur C S at £5,099 / $5,199. It uses Select+ suspension, a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and ‘C’ level carbon.
Via other builds with Shimano’s XT groupset, SRAM’s X01 drivetrains and plus Reserve wheel options, the Blur XC range tops out with the Blur CC XX1 AXS RSV at £9,899 / $11,299.
This features Ultimate level SID and SIDLuxe suspension, a SRAM XX1 AXS drivetrain and Reserve 28 wheels built into the CC carbon frame.
Santa Cruz Blur TR and Juliana Wilder builds
There will be seven Blur TR builds and five Wilder builds available.
Largely they share the same components, save for a couple of details, such as saddles and grips.
The entry-level build in both ranges is the ‘C R TR build’. These cost £4,499 / $4,599 and come with a RockShox SID RL fork with 120mm travel and a Fox Performance DPS shock at the back. They’re driven by a SRAM NX drivetrain.
Builds then progress up the price range, with GX Eagle, Shimano XT and X01 Eagle specs, along with Fox 34 Step Cast forks from the second-tier C S TR (£5,399 / $5,499) up.
The Wilder range tops out at £8,299 / $9,449 with the CC X01 AXS TR RSV (the name describes it pretty well!), while the Blur TR peaks with the CC XX1 AXS TR RSV model at £10,099 / $11,599.