Santa Cruz 5010 R1 AM review

Metal middleweight that’s big on full-gas trail attitude

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £3,299.00 RRP

Our review

A seriously muscular and addictively fun trail animal that punches above its weight
Buy if, You want a top dollar name at an affordable price without compromising performance or punchy fun
Pros: Super-stiff frame and cockpit with addictive rider-reactive suspension; excellent-value components punch way above their price
Cons: Slightly short on reach for really ripping the turns; pedal kickback will irritate some riders
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Can’t possibly afford a carbon Santa Cruz 5010 CC at £2,899 for just the frame? Don’t worry, its alloy sibling does a brilliant job of delivering the same sort of trail-dominating, grin-propagating performance at a much more attainable price, and at first glance you won’t even be able to tell the difference.

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Up close, the weld seams and up-and-over lower linkage plates make it obvious this isn’t a composite with its cunning ‘pizza oven’ recess for the lower linkage. Colours and geometry are exactly the same, though, and as a frame it’s £1,200 cheaper than the CC. The R1 AM bike is an excellent example of cost-effective kit at its best.

The bike has 780mm bars and a 50mm stem
The bike has 780mm bars and a 50mm stem
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

The Fox 34 Rhythm fork punches way above its price and SRAM’s NX 1×11 transmission is the relentlessly real-world reliable transmission equivalent of an AK47. SC has even saved a ton of weight and restored a full 10-42t ratio range by upgrading to a GX-spec cassette and matching XD driver.

The excellent Maxxis Minion DHF and CrossMark 2 tyre pairing come set up tubeless as standard; the RaceFace Aeffect crank uses a direct mount Cinch ring; and the 780mm bars and 50mm stem are 35mm in diameter to make the most of the accuracy and authority of the muscular frame. Long-term reliability is enhanced by grease-injection ports into the fully adjustable and serviceable collet bearings and a conventional screw-in bottom bracket.

RaceFace Aeffect crank and a direct mount Cinch ring
RaceFace Aeffect crank and a direct mount Cinch ring
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

And it’s a good job it’s designed to survive a ton of hard riding, as that’s exactly what the 5010 doesn’t so much encourage as flat-out demands. A fast but grippy front tyre, a smooth fork action and a sturdy, wide-span cockpit give clear and confident communication on what’s happening at the far end of the naturally self-correcting, but not stubborn to turn, 67-degree head angle. The forged linkages and Boost rear axle mean equally clear feedback from the rear wheel, too.

This bike is seriously fun on the trails
This bike is seriously fun on the trails
Russell Burton
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What really brings the 5010 alive, though, is the instinctively rider-responsive VPP3 suspension. By stiffening and steepening under power but smoothing out and slackening if you relax or smack into serious trouble, it naturally mimics the reaction you want. And while not everyone will like the occasionally obvious pedal kick-back or power spin, its ability to pop and hop off every opportunity and power out of corners or up climbs gives it an inspirationally visceral character that aggressive riders will love.

Product Specifications

Product

Name 5010 R1 AM
Brand Santa Cruz

Brakes SRAM Level T 180mm
Cassette 10-42t
Chain RaceFace Aeffect 32t
Fork Fox Rhythm 130mm travel
Frame Material Alloy Boost
Front Tyre Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 27.5x2.3
Head Angle 67
Rear Derailleur SRAM NX
Rear Shock Float Performance EVOL DPS 130mm travel
Rear Tyre CrossMark 2 EXO TR rear 27.5x2.25in
Seat Angle 74
Shifters SRAM NX
Weight (kg) 13.8
Wheelset WTB STP i23 rims on Novatec Boost hubs
Frame size tested L