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Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV Coil review

Santa Cruz increases the versatility of its burly Nomad with mixed-wheel sizes, plus suspension and geometry changes

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £8,999.00 RRP | USD $9,799.00 | EUR €9,199.00
Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV Coil full suspension mountain bike

Our review

The new Nomad is ready for whatever you can throw at it
Pros: Can tackle any trail confidently; Glovebox is well-designed; tool pouches are useful
Cons: Price is steep; flip chip makes little difference to the geometry
Skip to view product specifications

This review has been republished as part of our Headline Bikes test, where we put eight trend-setting mountain bikes for 2023 through their paces. Read more about the bikes setting the trend for the year ahead. 

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The Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV is designed to tackle everything from big bike-park lines to enduro racing.

This latest sixth-generation version of the Nomad is slack, rugged and ready to rip.

With a mullet-wheel setup, the gravity-focused bike is intended to be more versatile than previous incarnations.

Changes to the suspension kinematics and geometry are intended to deliver a balance between long-travel bike stability and the kind of agility Nomad riders have come to expect.

Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV Coil frame

The carbon frame is available in Santa Cruz’s C or CC construction.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Available in carbon fibre only – with the choice of Santa Cruz’s C or lighter CC construction – each frame size has a specific layup that influences its stiffness.

A Glovebox storage port is built into the down tube, containing two tool bags.

Maxxis provides an Assegai for the front and a Minion at the rear.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media

The new mullet wheel setup (29in front, 27.5in rear) improves rollover and traction.

This is combined with lower anti-squat, to minimise harshness over square-edged hits (at the sacrifice of a little pedalling efficiency) and a lower starting leverage rate. This is intended to better support body-weight movements and maintain geometry stability.

Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV Coil geometry

All sizes share the same 63.8-degree head angle. In the ‘low’ setting, our large frame has a 472mm reach, 77.6-degree effective seat tube angle, 343mm bottom bracket height and 444mm (size-specific) chainstays.

A flip chip on the lower link of the VPP suspension enables you to steepen the head angle by 0.3 degrees and the seat tube angle by between 0.2 and 0.3 degrees. You can also add 3mm to the bottom bracket height and reach, and lop 1mm off the rear centre.

SMLXLXL
Hi / LoHi / LoHi / LoHi / LoHi / Lo
Seat angle (degrees)77.2 / 7777.4 / 77.277.9 / 77.677.8 / 77.577.7 / 77.5
Head angle (degrees)63.8 / 63.563.8 / 63.563.8 / 63.563.8 / 63.563.8 / 63.5
Rear centre (mm)439 / 440440 / 441443 / 444446 / 447450 / 451
Seat tube (mm)380 / 380405 / 405430 / 430460 / 460500 / 500
Top tube (mm)570 / 571594 / 594612 / 613637 / 638666 / 667
Head tube (mm)90 / 90100 / 100115 / 115135 / 135150 / 150
Bottom bracket drop (mm)27 / 3027 / 3027 / 3027 / 3027 / 30
Bottom bracket height (mm)346 / 343346 / 343346 / 343346 / 343346 / 343
Wheelbase (mm)1,209 / 1,2091,239 / 1,2401,269 / 1,2701,301 / 1,3021,336 / 1,337
Standover (mm)709 / 705716 / 713723 / 719722 / 717725 / 720
Stack (mm)616 / 618625 / 627638 / 640656 / 658670 / 672
Reach (mm)430 / 427455 / 452475 / 472495 / 492520 / 517

Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV Coil specifications

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The GX AXS RSV Coil is one of the pricier builds in the new Nomad range, coming with SRAM’s GX Eagle AXS wireless shifting and Santa Cruz’s Reserve carbon wheels.

You also get a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork and a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ Coil shock. SRAM Code R brakes control your speed, while DoubleDown-casing Maxxis rubber is there to ward off punctures.

Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV Coil ride impressions

The Nomad was given a thorough workout at the bike park and on some gnarly trails.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media

I put the Nomad through its paces at Bike Park Wales and around the wilder off-piste trails of the UK’s South West region.

For my 75kg weight, I set the forks up with 88psi, two volume spacers and high- and-low speed compression fully open. Low-speed rebound was at nine clicks from closed and high-speed rebound at six clicks from closed.

The rear shock came fitted with a 450lb/in spring. Rebound damping was set to 15 clicks from closed, and hydraulic bottom-out was set to position three of five.

I ran tyre pressures at 25psi rear and 21psi front. The only difficulty I found setting up the bike was reaching the shock’s rebound dial tucked away in the lower linkage.

Santa Cruz Nomad GX AXS RSC Coil climbing performance

The tyre choice contributes to climbing being a big effort.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Getting the Nomad GX AXS RSV Coil to the top of the hill isn’t a breeze, but that’s not because of poor pedalling performance or geometry, quite the opposite in fact.

Those aspects of the bike are good for a variety of climbs. However, the Maxxis MaxxGrip DoubleDown tyres stick to the floor like glue, adding resistance when winching up.

The steep effective seat tube angle enables you to drive a strong pedal stroke, which can be needed when the climbs reach double-figure percentages.

However, at those gradients the longer 443mm chainstays and moderate 472mm reach meant my body weight was well balanced between the wheels. Rear-wheel traction and front-wheel tracking were impressive, without having to move around the bike.

On mellower climbs, the seated position was comfortable without loading the hands. It’s a relaxed position that should enable you to pedal for repeated climbs without aches or pains in your upper body.

I flicked the climb switch for most climbs to help keep the bike’s more efficient climbing geometry.

The Nomad doesn’t suffer from poor pedalling when seated, but its bobs a little when out of the saddle, and the climb switch just keeps the suspension more taught.

Santa Cruz Nomad GX AXS RSV Coil descending performance

Rough descents are the Nomad’s bread and butter.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media

On the flip side, the tyres are brilliant when gravity is on your side. The Nomad, as you’d expect, shines more the gnarlier the terrain gets. Steep, rough and loose is where it’s most happy, and the 170mm of travel is excellent at smoothing out the bumps and maintaining momentum.

The suspension helps those sticky tyres eke out even more grip by having minimal breakaway force. This helps the Nomad settle into its travel and thunder along whatever you put in front of it without a second thought, or consideration for your safety.

It needs some gradient to really come alive. But that’s not to say it can’t handle more flowing terrain, and the suspension isn’t so plush that you can’t push and pop your way down the trail. It’s versatile for a long-travel bike.

The coil shock helps prop the suspension up in its mid-stroke, and gives a supportive platform to push against when pumping through jump lines to maintain speed.

Stability and speed combine to underline the Nomad’s versatility.

It also gives a stable and predictable feel when railing high-speed berms that helps prevent the shock blowing through its travel and changing bike geometry mid-turn.

Through high-speed turns, its wheelbase is stable enough to hit them at full chat. This is great for the bike park laps where this bike is likely to spend most of its time.

Handling-wise, the Nomad is quick on its wheels. It can be dropped easily into turns and flicked from side to side. You’re not going to feel sluggish on the Nomad, considering its intensions. Still though, it’s got stability bred in with its slack head tube and 170mm travel.

In the rough, the bike remains composed. Big square-edge hits are absorbed without transferring too much sting to the hands and feet. This means the bike isn’t too fatiguing on the trail.

Santa Cruz Nomad GX AXS RSV Coil bottom line

The sixth-generation Nomad is a compelling choice.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media

If you’re spending most of your riding time hunting thrills turned up to 11, then the Nomad will be a good companion. Whether that’s steep lines, the rowdiest rocks or pro jump lines, it’ll have your back.

While nothing is groundbreaking in terms of tech and geometry, years of refinement have made the Nomad a worthy bike. It shows that getting the essentials dialled is just as important as unique design features.

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The price may be prohibitive for some, but the new Nomad will be a confident and competent companion on any trail it encounters.

Product Specifications

Product

Price EUR €9199.00GBP £8999.00USD $9799.00
Weight 16.75kg (L) – without pedals
Brand Santa cruz

Features

Available sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL
Rear derailleur SRAM GX AXS Eagle, 12spd
Tyres Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip DD 29×2.5in WT (f) & Minion DHR II 3C MaxxTerra DD 27.5×2.4in WT (r)
Stem Burgtec Enduro Mk3, 42mm
Shifter SRAM GX AXS Controller
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper
Saddle WTB Silverado Medium CroMo
Rear Shocks RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ Coil
Handlebar Santa Cruz Carbon 35, 800mm
Bottom bracket SRAM DUB 68/73mm Threaded BB
Frame ‘C’ carbon fibre, 170mm travel
Fork Fox 38 Performance Elite GRIP2, 170mm travel
Cranks SRAM GX Eagle 148 DUB, 32t
Chain SRAM GX Eagle, 12spd
Cassette SRAM XG1275 Eagle, 12spd, 10-50t
Brakes SRAM Code RS, 200mm rotors
Wheels Santa Cruz Reserve 30|HD rims on Industry Nine 1/1 hubs