The launch of the updated Santa Cruz Blur earlier this year marked the brand’s return to the sharp end of World Cup cross-country racing, with its htSQD team jumping on this brand-new bike.
The Blur XC retains a traditional 100mm of travel at each end, but has all the hallmarks of a truly up-to-date race rig. There’s also a Blur TR, with 115mm/120mm of travel.
Where the Blur differs from some in its category is the rear suspension’s efforts to keep pedal bob at bay. Rather than relying on anti-squat, Santa Cruz’s engineers have lowered the leverage curve to give stability and keep the chain’s influence on the suspension’s freedom low.
Santa Cruz Blur C X01 RSV frame details
Made from Santa Cruz’s ‘CC’ grade carbon fibre, the new Blur XC is claimed to weigh nearly 300g less than the previous iteration, and my size large weighs a competitive 10.45kg. A lower grade ‘C’ carbon model is also available, with bikes priced from £5,099 to £5,999.
Keen linkage spotters will notice that this Santa Cruz doesn’t use its VPP linkage system and there’s no rear pivot – instead, the brand has built a linkage actuated single-pivot system, with flex built into the sculpted rear stays, which drive the shock via an alloy rocker link. This system is claimed to save 289g over the previous generation Blur.
The main pivot sits just behind the stock 34t chainring, with the chainstays and seatstays having various forms molded into them to aid with tyre clearance and control flex.
To keep the bike calm under pedalling power, Santa Cruz’s linkage has a lower leverage ratio, rather than bumping up the anti-squat. It says this keeps the suspension more active and means less pedal kickback.
The pivots, as well as the Reserve wheels and frame triangles, come with Santa Cruz’s lifetime warranty.
As we’ve come to expect from Santa Cruz, finishing details are all spot on and there’s space in the front triangle for two water bottles, with more bosses below the down tube.
Two colours are available: black paint, which saves a few grams of weight, and this ‘Sockeye Sal’ colour here. The matt paint looks great but holds on to dirt, so if you like your bikes to look showroom clean all the time it’ll take some committed cleaning.
Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV geometry
The geometry is contemporary and, much like the Specialized Epic, its numbers don’t look too far away from what we would have seen on a trail bike not so long ago.
The head angle on my size large sits at a reasonably slack for XC 68 degrees and the effective seat-tube angle measures 76 degrees – moderately steep for a shorter travel bike.
The reach is an impressive 470mm in a large and is matched with a 470mm seat tube. The bottom bracket sits at 330mm from the ground, while the rear centre is 435mm. This changes with bike size too, so the small has a correspondingly shorter rear centre than the XL – good for maintaining front to rear length ratios.
|Seat angle (degrees)||76.5||76.3||75.8||75.7|
|Head angle (degrees)||68.3||68.3||68.3||68.3|
|Rear center (mm)||430||432.5||435||437.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||405||430||470||520|
|Top tube (mm)||563.9||592.8||616.9||647.2|
|Head tube (mm)||90||100||110||125|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||42||42||42||42|
|Bottom bracket height (mm)||330.5||330.5||330.5||330.5|
Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV specification
The Blur is available in five builds, this is the second-from-top model and for £8,099 you’d expect top-end kit, and Santa Cruz mostly delivers.
As well as that top-end CC frame, it boasts SRAM’s wireless X01 Eagle AXS drivetrain, although cheekily there’s a lower-spec GX AXS shifter under the right-hand SRAM Level TLM brake lever.
Suspension is RockShox Ultimate-level – a SID SL fork and SIDLuxe shock, both paired with a TwistLoc lockout on the carbon bar to firm up fork and shock.
Maxxis’s 2.4in Aspen tyres barely have any tread, and wrap around Santa Cruz’s new Reserve 28|XC carbon rims, built on fancy Industry Nine hubs.
The cockpit includes a Santa Cruz carbon bar and Syntace LiteForce stem, with ESI silicone grips.
Finally, there’s a 100mm travel Fox Transfer SL dropper post with just two positions – up or down – that holds a WTB saddle.
The build has no frustrating proprietary parts, which is handy if you get a mechanical in the middle of the Cape Epic, for example
Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV ride performance
The Blur is designed to be a head-down, ass-up, go-fast machine, and it delivers on those goals.
Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV climbing performance
On rough, bumpy climbs the suspension, being relatively free of anti-squat, lets the rear wheel move over trail features easily and avoid hooking up on square edges, thus maintaining traction. This enables you to stay seated and pedal efficiently, maintaining your speed and cadence up more technical climbs
With a fairly steep seat-tube angle and geometry that puts you in an aggressive stance over the bike, it’s easy to keep the front wheel planted and your weight nicely balanced between the wheels to further aid grip and directional control on the steepest climbs.
On bumpy traverses, the geometry positions you nicely over the cranks, giving your legs every chance to lay down power, while the rear wheel happily eats up the undulations as you go.
On rougher climbs, jabbing at the pedals or standing on them to sprint, results in sharp accelerations, no doubt thanks in some part to the incredibly skinny-treaded Aspen tyres.
The suspension is free to move under load, so I did find myself reaching for the two-position lockout on smooth tarmac or gravel climbs because the suspension can rob a little bit of zip. It gives a pretty solid lockout, which transforms the bike into almost a hardtail, which I like.
However, the TwistLoc is not as intuitive as a lever-based lockout, such as Scott’s TwinLock or Orbea’s Squidlock, even if it is tidier – I found I needed to twist it quite far around the bar to lock the shock, and it’s not the lightest thing out there either.
You’re sometimes left somewhere in the middle, though, having to choose between an efficiently firm back end or better traction on loose surfaces but slightly less pedalling efficiency – especially with those lightly treaded Aspens.
Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV descending performance
As you’d hope from a brand with gravity riding at its core, the Blur XC goes down the hills with plenty of competence.
Santa Cruz has got the frame shape just right – not so long and slack as to feel sluggish on an XC course twisting between trees, but stable enough that it’s not a white-knuckle ride down the other side.
That 470mm reach and 68-degree head angle put the front wheel far enough in front of the bar so you can weight the tyres through fast or loose corners, eking out grip where other XC bikes might feel tentative. Likewise, the Blur XC’s low-ish bottom bracket gives a great planted feel when you enter the middle of a berm, drop your heels and accelerate out of the exit.
Though the suspension’s leverage curve isn’t as progressive as it could be, I still found the back end’s late stroke to be pretty firm. It was only when I raced the bike and took some decidedly clumsy lines that I managed to get to the end of its travel.
During my usual XC test loops, even when pushing hard, I frequently only accessed around 75 per cent of travel, at pressures that kept the back end in check when pedalling without the lockout.
With the stock single volume token in the shock, it feels like the last 20 per cent of the travel is a get-out-of-jail-free card, rather than travel to be exploited.
The use of the GX Eagle AXS shifter feels a little cheeky, hidden under the brake lever, but the performance of the AXS drivetrain is second to none.
I’d like a slightly more positive up-shift, to know for sure when soft-pedalling into a descent that I’ve shifted, but otherwise, it provides utterly dependable, consistent performance all the time.
The Aspen tyres are definitely dry weather, hard-pack only. They can work in less grippy situations, but I found I was faster with a grippier tread fitted up front for UK riding.
They are, however, wickedly fast in the right conditions, with their super-slender tread. Fitted to the new Reserve 28|XC wheels, there’s plenty of volume too for lower pressure capabilities.
Droppers are now almost a given on XC bikes and the Transfer SL had an incredibly light feel with a reassuring clunk as it returned to full travel. However, I didn’t get on with its two-position, rather than infinite position operation.
If you hit the lever to return it to full height and your bum stops it just a touch too early, it returns to the lower setting when you properly weight it, which can be frustrating in a race situation. I’d prefer an infinitely adjustable post because there’s less room for user error.
Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV bottom line
The Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV is a very effective XC race machine, there’s no doubting that. From longer marathon-style rides and races to short blasts in the woods, I’ve found the bike to be comfortable, fast and reactive.
I’d prefer a lighter feel, with less twisting needed, lockout gripshift, or a lever based system. Even better would be an electronic system to match the excellent SRAM AXS gears. One day, perhaps!
The cost is high, but what do you expect from Santa Cruz? The payback is the top-quality kit and one of the best shaped, top-performing XC bikes on the market.
|Price||GBP £8099.00USD $9149.00|
|Weight||10.45g (L) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM X01 Eagle AXS, 12spd|
|Tyres||Maxxis Aspen 3C EXO 29x2.4in WT|
|Stem||Syntace LiteForce, 60mm|
|Shifter||SRAM GX AXS|
|Seatpost||Fox Transfer SL Performance, 100mm|
|Saddle||WTB Silverado Medium Ti Fusion|
|Rear Shocks||RockShox SidLuxe Ultimate|
|Handlebar||Santa Cruz Carbon Flat, 780mm|
|Bottom bracket||SRAM DUB|
|Frame||‘CC’ carbon fibre, 100mm (3.9in) travel|
|Fork||RockShox SID SL Ultimate, 100mm (3.9in) travel|
|Cranks||SRAM X1 Eagle Carbon 148 DUB, 34t|
|Chain||SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd|
|Cassette||SRAM XG1295 Eagle, 12spd, 10-50t|
|Brakes||SRAM Level TLM, 180/160mm rotors|
|Wheels||Santa Cruz Reserve 28|XC rims on Industry Nine 1/1 hubs|