The Santa Cruz V10 must surely be one of the longest-running bikes on the downhill scene that hasn’t had a complete overhaul of its linkage layout. Perhaps this is a testament to its original design. It has, however, seen many refinements and iterations over its lengthy lifespan.
All of this experience has been poured into the new 29er version, which was prototyped and tested under the Santa Cruz Syndicate – with great race results to back up its performance. But can this thoroughbred work so well for those not on a factory team?
Santa Cruz V10 CC 29 X01 frame
The V10 29 is an all-new frame, available in sizes M, L and XL, and made from Santa Cruz’s highest-quality CC-grade carbon fibre.
Updates include changes to the reach, leverage rate and cable protection. The former has been extended, as is the norm on modern bikes, and now ranges from 437mm on the medium to 492mm on the XL (‘high’ setting).
You also get 5mm longer chainstays on the XL, to help keep a good weight distribution between the wheels.
Each frame comes with a chainstay flip-chip that can be used to extend the rear end by 10mm (445 to 455mm on most sizes, 450 to 460mm on the XL).
A flip-chip lets you adjust the geometry, slackening the head angle and dropping the BB. Steve Behr
Santa Cruz has lowered the leverage rate, to get better performance from the frame’s 215mm of travel. New internal routing for the rear mech cable should mean it’s better protected from chain slap.
The frame also boasts a geometry flip-chip. In the ‘low’ setting, the bottom bracket drops 5mm, from 356mm to 351mm, the head angle slackens by 0.5 degrees, to 63.3 degrees, and the reach reduces by 2mm.
Santa Cruz V10 CC 29 X01 kit
The V10 29 tested here is the more expensive X01 build. As such, it’s World Cup race-ready straight out of the box.
Fox sorts out the suspension with its 49 Factory fork and DHX2 Factory SLS coil shock. A SRAM X01 DH drivetrain is paired with Race Face SIXc cranks. SRAM also provides its most powerful Code RSC brakes.
Santa Cruz looks after the cockpit with its AM carbon bar, Palmdale grips and direct-mount stem. Its Reserve wheels are reserved (sorry) for aftermarket sales only, meaning the V10 rolls on Race Face ARC HD 30 wheels – no bad thing – fitted with team rider Greg Minnaar’s signature tyre, the Maxxis Assegai.
Santa Cruz V10 CC 29 X01 ride impressions
I never found the low weight compromised its stability. Steve Behr
You can tell instantly that the V10 29 has years of refinement and development behind it, by the efficiency with which it covers ground. That’s something that stood out to me, which I put down to a combination of its excellent pedalling characteristics, well-supported rear end and sub-16kg weight.
All of this combines to make it feel much lighter to ride than its 215mm of bump-swallowing travel might suggest.
While the V10 29 doesn’t carry speed over flatter, rougher terrain as well as a high-pivot bike such as the Norco Aurum HSP, it’s certainly no slouch – and it’s easy to get back up to full throttle without much rider input, unlike the Aurum.
The geometry is very intuitive, and I found it an easy bike to get comfortable on, allowing me to push pretty hard from the get-go. I never found the low weight compromised its stability, and I thought the bike was slack enough in its high setting for the tight, twisty UK tracks I tested on.
However, it’s nice to have the option to ever-so-subtly change the geometry for steeper, faster courses, even though I feel many riders won’t tell the difference between the two settings.
The rear end offered great composure over bigger hits and repeated bumps, where the Fox DHX2 shock was well-matched to the 49 fork, giving the bike a balanced, composed ride.
There’s no denying the continued development of the V10 plays a big part in what makes this bike so good. I found it strikes a great balance between offering a light-and-lively ride, yet being able to swallow up bumps with ease and keep its composure, allowing you to concentrate on ripping as fast as possible – which this bike certainly loves to do.
Santa Cruz V10 CC 29 X01 geometry
Based on Medium with ‘High’ setting:
Head tube angle: 63.7 degrees
Chainstay: 17.52in / 44.5cm
Seat tube: 17.52in / 44.5cm
Head tube: 3.94in / 10cm
Bottom bracket drop: 0.63in / 1.6cm
Bottom bracket height: 14.02in / 35.6cm
Wheelbase: 49.25in / 1,251mm
Stack: 24.88in / 63.2cm
Reach: 17.2in / 43.7cm