To understand the Blur TR you need to go back to 2006, when Santa Cruz launched a quietly, perhaps unexpectedly, visionary bike. The Blur 4X was designed (as its name suggested) as a machine to do battle with full face-helmeted foes amidst berms and rollers, but turned out to be a slice of the future.
With 115mm (4.5in) of travel it was short in the bounce department yet offered one of the most entertaining geometry tables ever spliced together. It had a 68.5-degree head angle (extremely slack at the time), a low-slung 320mm (12.6in) bottom bracket and a lengthy cockpit and wheelbase. It became an instant hit with those acute enough to spot its trail-scorching genes.
The Blur 4X was one of those bikes that made every ride fun, and that was all you ever wanted it to do. Fast-forward seven years and the new Blur TR is the 4X’s heir apparent.
Ride & handling: True ‘getting away with it’ character
Straight away, the Blur TR feels fast. The lengthy wheelbase and low-slung bottom bracket instantly translate into high-speed stability and grins of approval. Thanks in part to the 142x12mm rear axle, initial flickabouts result in a tremendously stiff-feeling back end, while the heavily dipped top tube keeps the frame well out of the way and adds to the ‘pocket hooligan’ feel.
Our bike came with Fox CTD shocks front and rear and, as always, they were both easy to set up and simple to adjust on the trail. In Climb mode, the TR schleps up just about anything, though it wanders a touch on steeper stuff. The benefits of the stubby 50mm stem easily outweigh this everywhere else.
The santa cruz blur tr’s dropped top tube helps make the cockpit feel roomy: Russell Burton/Future Publishing
The Santa Cruz Blur TR’s dropped top tube helps make the cockpit feel roomy
When it comes to descending, and just about everything else, the TR carries speed exceptionally well. As with the hallowed 4X, it’s easy to get carried away. That low bottom bracket can result in pedal strikes if you’re not careful around rocks and ruts, while on fast-flowing natural descents it occasionally felt like the front end was struggling to keep up; the flexy chatter inherent in Fox’s 32mm-legged fork can make itself a little too obvious.
Although you might suffer slightly on climbs, to unlock the Blur’s full potential we feel that upping things to 140mm (5.5in) would help, as would knocking the head angle back towards the magic 67-degrees. It’s a shame the markedly stiffer Fox 34 can’t be dropped lower than 150mm; the superb BOS Deville would be the perfect match, however.
Our bike survived a few hefty impacts to the low-hanging VPP link from nastier rocks and roots; it sits just 254mm (10in) high when sagged. To be honest, this is more as a result of ragging the TR through what would normally be considered big bike territory than a design fault.
Yes, you have to be more calculated and precise with line choices, but there’s very little the wee Cruzer can’t deal with. It’s a bike begging for 1×10 and a chain device; it works fantastically like this. The fact the easy-to-service bearings of the 4X remain helps alleviate any guilt of exposing a ‘trail’ bike to such abuse.
And that’s probably our favourite thing about the Blur TR. It’s uncomplicated, fun and effective. Santa Cruz have taken the 4X’s ‘fun everywhere’ feel, along with easy servicing enthusiastic riders will love, dialled in some fresher angles and come up with the sort of feisty, giggle-inducing bike we’ve always wanted to own.
Whether you’re meeting your mates for an evening skills/pump track session, heading for an afternoon bombing downhill runs or spending the morning ripping up cross-country singletrack, the Blur TR is simply up for it.
Frame & equipment: Aluminium chassis with trusty suspension
The TR’s alloy construction (as opposed to the carbon of its older brother, the Santa Cruz Blur TRc) takes up the 4X’s mantle as the everyman hero.
Angles-wise, you get the same, fun-inducing package of the TRc with a 68-degree head angle, a 130mm fork, a lengthy 1,155mm (45.5in) wheelbase (for our XL) and a snail-scraping 332mm (13.1in) BB. The dropped top tube, with its 635mm (25in) stretch, makes for a roomy cockpit too.
Santa cruz blur tr: Russell Burton/Future Publishing
Santa Cruz Blur TR
The 125mm (4.9in) of rear wheel travel comes courtesy of Santa Cruz’s Virtual Pivot Point suspension platform and a trusty Fox Float Adjust CTD Kashima-coated shock. The front end is designed to work around anything from 120mm (4.7in) to 140mm (5.5in) travel, so you have plenty of options.
The TR will also endear itself to the home mechanic, or those who like to keep their bikes running as smoothly as possible, thanks to a threaded external bottom bracket, under-top tube routing for a dropper post and handy grease ports on the lower VPP link. As with all bikes from Santa Cruz, you now get a five-year frame warranty too.
Wheels: Nukeproof Generator AM
Tyres: Maxxis High Roller 2.35in (F), Maxxis Crossmark 2.1in (R)
Fork: Fox 32 Float Factory CTD
Shock: Fox Float Factory CTD with boost valve
Cranks: e*thirteen TRS-R
Gears: Shimano SLX 10-speed
Brakes: Avid Elixir 5
Seatpost: Fox DOSS
Saddle: PRO Turnix
Weight: 14.4kg (34lb)
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.