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Santa Cruz Blur XC X01 AXS RSV review

The US brand’s lightest full-suspension XC bike yet

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £8,099.00 RRP | USD $9,149.00
Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV

Our review

A couple of spec niggles can’t stop this being one of the best cross-country rigs out there – an object of desire for any XC racer
Pros: Great geometry gives fast yet dependable handling; active, comfortable suspension eats up trail chatter with ease; overall, an impressive spec list
Cons: You’ll be using the TwistLoc a fair bit on smooth-surfaced climbs; Fox’s Transfer SL dropper isn’t quite to my taste
Skip to view product specifications

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.

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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.

Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 RSV
Despite wireless shifting, there are still plenty of cables to route up-front. Bring on wireless suspension controls!
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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.

There’s a small chainguide to keep everything secure and both the down tube and chainstays get rubberised protection.

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.

SMLXL
Seat angle (degrees)76.576.375.875.7
Head angle (degrees)68.368.368.368.3
Rear center (mm)430432.5435437.5
Seat tube (mm)405430470520
Top tube (mm)563.9592.8616.9647.2
Head tube (mm)90100110125
Bottom bracket drop (mm)42424242
Bottom bracket height (mm)330.5330.5330.5330.5
Wheelbase (mm)1115.811471173.21206.2
Standover (mm)736.6740.1739.2745.1
Stack (mm)578.3587.6596.9610.8
Reach (mm)425450470495

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.

Santa Cruz Blur TwistLoc
The TwistLoc locks out both shock and fork in one go. It’s a smart, svelte package.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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.

Santa Cruz Blur SID SL
The SID SL is a fantastic XC race fork – light, controlled and smooth.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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

Santa Cruz Blur climbing
The back end helps generate plenty of traction on climbs.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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.

Santa Cruz Blur Reserve wheels
Santa Cruz’s Reserve 28 wheels feel great on the trail and give the tyres plenty of volume.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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.

Santa Cruz Blur climbing
There’s a bit of a trade-off between all-out pedalling efficiency and traction in some off-road climbing situations.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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

Santa Cruz Blur pop off root
The Blur is an absolute hoot to ride.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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.

RockShox SidLuxe Ultimate rear shock
RockShox’ SidLuxe Ultimate shock is super-smooth.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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.

Santa Cruz Blur GX AXS Shifter
While operationally the GX shifter is identical to the X01 option, it feels a little cheeky hiding the lower-priced component here.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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.

Santa Cruz Blur Fox Transfer SL
Fox’s Transfer SL is light, but I wasn’t enamoured by its performance.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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

Pack shot of the Santa Cruz Blur XC X01 AXS RSV full suspension mountain bike
The new Blur XC is ridiculously light and blisteringly fast with active suspension that maximises traction.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

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!

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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.

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £8099.00USD $9149.00
Weight 10.45g (L) – without pedals
Brand Santa cruz

Features

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