Santa Cruz 5010 Alloy R+ review

Fun-to-ride trail bike but its components don't match the price tag

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £3,499.00 RRP | USD $3,399.00

Our review

4.5 for fun, 2.5 for value — we’ve gotta average it out
Pros: Poppy, fun and cheeky trail bike
Cons: Poor value; rather heavy for a 130mm bike
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Santa Cruz updated the 130mm travel 5010 in late 2018, and while it didn’t get the lower-link VPP system of the bigger-travel Bronson, it did get a slightly tweaked upper-link VPP arrangement and a few extras on the frame — you can read more on our launch story for the 5010 here.

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With its 130mm of suspension and middle-of-the-road geometry, it’s a true trail bike in every sense of the word.

  • The Santa Cruz 5010 Alloy R+ is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.

The 5010 comes with 27.5 and 27.5+ options, with a flip-chip to maintain the same feel between the two wheel sizes. I had the bigger model with the larger tyres, and mainly ran it in the low setting, with a 457mm reach, 66-degree head angle, 24mm bottom bracket drop and short 426mm chainstays — fairly regular for a bike of this type and certainly in no way radical.

Pick your trail and the 5010 is flat-out fun
Pick your trail and the 5010 is flat-out fun
Dan Milner / Immediate Media

What makes the 5010 stand out is the fun on offer: it thrives on fast, flowing trails and ekes out every little detail that can be popped and played off.

While the large alloy version with 2.6in rubber is no lightweight (15.18kg), the progression on offer from the rear suspension, the smooth-running Fox Rhythm 34 fork and the fast-rolling Maxxis Rekon rear tyre mean the bike doesn’t feel heavy.

On climbs, the 5010 just gets on with the job. There’s a little bob from the suspension during more spirited efforts but, thanks to the anti-squat from the VPP linkage, if you keep the pedals spinning it’s stable enough.

Santa Cruz has long used a VPP linkage — here it's neatly squeezed in and around the rear and front triangles
Santa Cruz has long used a VPP linkage — here it’s neatly squeezed in and around the rear and front triangles
Dan Milner / Immediate Media

The large volume on offer from the Maxxis Minion/Rekon pairing, mounted on 35mm internal width WTB rims, also gives a feeling of stability and control when the trail perhaps surpasses what the 5010 was really designed for.

Thanks to its 2.6in volume, the Minion up front delivers a lot of confidence-boosting grip. This voluminous benefit is seen again when the 5010 surfs over smaller bumps, which do little to shake it.

Wide tyres are mounted to wide rims for plenty of volume
Wide tyres are mounted to wide rims for plenty of volume
Dan Milner / Immediate Media

The VPP suspension does a good job on bigger impacts. It’s fairly progressive, though you can definitely find the limits of the 5010’s travel, and there’s only a mild amount of pedal kickback from the chain growth.

With the big wheels trundling along, the 5010 seems to maintain a fair speed through more rolling terrain, and the non-radical shape means it’s easy to sling it from corner to corner.

Santa Cruz spec'd a great pair of tyres, so there's plenty of grip to play with
Santa Cruz spec’d a great pair of tyres, so there’s plenty of grip to play with
Dan Milner / Immediate Media

It’s the concept of value which caused the most debate in the BikeRadar office, though. When you look at it objectively, the 5010 is poor value for money: the drivetrain, brakes and forks are all budget components for a very non-budget price.

Santa Cruz has picked fairly wisely from the bargain bucket. The Rhythm 34 is a decent fork, beating the Revelation in my opinion. It’s not got the stiffest chassis, but as long as you don’t push it too far it does a decent job.

The NX Eagle might not be fancy, but with an 11-50t range from the 12-speed cassette there’s plenty of options to get you up and down hills. The weakest link in terms of spec is the SRAM Guide T brakes (180mm rotors), which are very much lacking here in the power stakes.

SRAM Guide Level T brakes are cheap and low in power
SRAM Guide Level T brakes are cheap and low in power
Dan Milner / Immediate Media

I thoroughly enjoyed riding the 5010 around our woodland testing tracks, and were it £700 to £800 cheaper, it’d be right up there as one of the best trail bikes on the market. However, I have to consider the damage to your pocket, so it doesn’t quite make the grade.

That said, it’s one of the few bikes on test that doesn’t err towards the enduro end of the trail spectrum, so if you’re looking for a fun-loving bike — and you’re not too worried about how much you spend — the 5010 is worth considering.

Santa Cruz 5010 Alloy R+ specifications

Santa Cruz might not offer great value for money, but its 5010 is still a great bike
Santa Cruz might not offer great value for money, but the 5010 is still a great bike
Dan Milner / Immediate Media
  • Sizes (*tested): XS, S, M, L*, XL
  • Weight: 15.18kg
  • Frame: Alloy 130m 650b
  • Fork: Fox Rhythm 34 130mm
  • Shock: Fox Float Performance DPS
  • Shifters: SRAM NX Eagle
  • Mech: SRAM NX Eagle
  • Wheelset: SRAM hubs, WTB ST i35 rims
  • Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 650×2.6in, Maxxis Rekon 650×2.6in
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide T 180/180
  • Bar: RaceFace Ride 780mm
  • Stem: RaceFace Ride 50mm
  • Seatpost: RaceFace Aeffect 150
  • Saddle: WTB Silverade Race
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Santa Cruz 5010 Alloy R+ geometry (low setting)

  • Seat angle: 74.9 degrees
  • Head angle: 66.2 degrees
  • Chainstay: 42.6cm / 16.77in
  • Seat tube: 43cm / 16.93in
  • Top tube: 62.1cm / 24.45in
  • Head tube: 14cm /  5.51in
  • Bottom bracket drop: 2.4cm / 0.94in
  • Bottom bracket height: 33cm / 12.99in
  • Wheelbase: 1,191mm / 46.89in
  • Stack: 60.9cm / 23.98in
  • Reach: 45.7cm / 17.99in

BikeRadar would like to thank 661 Protection, Northwave, Effetto Mariposa and Finale Ligure for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.

Product Specifications

Product

Name 5010 Alloy R+
Brand Santa Cruz

Available Sizes XS S M L XL
Seatpost RaceFace Aeffect 150
Wheelbase (in) 46.89
Top Tube (in) 24.45
Seat Tube (in) 16.93
Chainstays (in) 16.77
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 12.99
Wheelset SRAM hubs, WTB ST i35 rims
Weight (kg) 15.18
Stem RaceFace Ride 50mm
Shifters SRAM NX Eagle
Seat Angle 74.9
Brakes SRAM Guide T 180/180
Saddle WTB Silverade Race
Rear Tyre Maxxis Rekon 650x2.6"
Rear Shock Fox Float Performance DPS
Rear Derailleur SRAM NX Eagle
Head Angle 66.2
Handlebar RaceFace Ride 780mm
Front Tyre Maxxis Minion DHF 650x2.6"
Frame Material Alloy 130m 650b
Fork Fox Rhythm 34 130mm
Frame size tested L