Hailing from Santa Cruz, California, Santa Cruz bicycles is one of the most famous names in the mountain bike sector. Since its founding in1993, Santa Cruz has taken the industry by storm. But are Santa Cruz bikes good?
Santa Cruz bikes are good because they employ innovative Virtual Pivot Point and superlight suspension, making them stiffer and more comfortable to ride. These bikes also come in a wide range of unisex choices and are generally quality in build with lifetime warranties.
I’ll discuss the arguments more in this post. I’ll also share the downsides as Santa Cruz is not a perfect brand. But first, let me take you through the brand history to help you understand the brand’s milestones.
In a hurry? Check out the hottest Santa Cruz bikes below:
6 Best Santa Cruz Bikes
1. Highball: Best Santa Cruz Cross Country Hardtail
2. Blur: Best Santa Cruz Cross Country Full Suspension
3. Chameleon: Best Santa Cruz Trail Hardtail
4. Bronson: Best Santa Cruz Trail Full Suspension
5. V1O: Best Santa Cruz Downhill Bike
6. Nomad: Best Santa Cruz Enduro Bike
Santa Cruz Bicycles History and Brand Success
Santa Cruz Bicycles was founded in 1993 by Rob Roskopp, a skateboarding legend, who is currently the company’s CEO. The company launched at a small garage space in Santa Cruz, only targeting the local market.
Santa Cruz made its first bike, Tazmon (a dual-suspension), in 1994. The following year, Santa Cruz made Hackler, a 100mm mountain bike that would discontinue in 2016 and re-launch as an e-bike line in 2020.
1999 saw the company acquire patents for the innovative Virtue Pivot Point (VPP), a 4 bar linkage suspension.
In 2013, the company launched a stand-alone women bike line, Juliana, named after the legendary pro mountain biker Juliana Furtado. So, now the name Santa Cruz refers to unisex models.
Not only has Santa Cruz been successful as a bike manufacturer but also as a sponsor. Currently, Santa Cruz sponsors the Andes Pacific enduro race, Downieville Classic Race, Breck Epic Race, and Ard Race Enduro.
Are Santa Cruz Bikes Good?
The Good (Santa Cruz Bikes Selling Points)
Here are the things that make Santa Cruz bicycles worth getting:
a) Frame Warranty
Santa Cruz Bicycles employs carbon and aluminum on its bike frames to promise lighter and more maneuverable bikes. But unlike most bike manufacturers, Santa Cruz carbon bike frames come in two versions: Santa Cruz Carbon CC vs C
Overall, Carbon-C is more affordable than carbon CC (the high-end version). Note that while c-level frames are cheaper, they weigh slightly more than their CC-level siblings.
So, while cc frames are costlier, they are super lightweight, thus worth the money. But according to Santa Cruz, both frames have the same stiffness, strength, and durability.
On the other hand, aluminum frames are lighter and cheaper though not as lightweight as carbon fiber.
b) The Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) and Superlight Suspension
Since obtaining the patent for Virtual Pivot Point Technology in 1999, much of Santa Cruz’s success circles around the technology.
VPP is a four-bar linkage suspension that creates a stiffer and more robust bike frame and a generally more efficient bike pedal bike. The other thing that VPP does is offer you an adjustable geometry to find your comfort level.
The other technology that Santa Cruz employs is the superlight suspension. The technology promises a lighter and comfortable frame.
c) Unisex Models
Initially, Santa Cruz made men’s and women’s bikes under the Santa Cruz brand name. But after launching Juliana bicycles, a woman dedicated line in 1999, all bikes with the name Santa Cruz are now unisex. So, they are good to have at home as anyone can ride them.
d) Size Variety
Santa Cruz doesn’t just make unisex models to prove its inclusivity, but it also makes its bikes in all frame sizes. So, whether you are five feet tall or six-foot-tall, there is a Santa Cruz bike to match you.
Below is a Santa Cruz mountain bike sizing chart you can use when shopping for a Santa Cruz MTB.
|Frame Height||Riders Height|
e) Lifetime Warranty
Lifetime Warranty is another top selling point by Santa Cruz which provides the quality of the bike. Santa Cruz bicycles come with a lifetime warranty for the following:
- Bottle cages
- Pivot bearing
- Carbon wheels
So, what does the lifetime warranty mean?
It means that the parts are covered for a lifetime against the manufacturing defects. Note, however, that the lifetime warranties only apply to the bike’s initial buyer.
f) Quality Build
Santa Cruz bicycles are quality bicycles for starters. Their aluminum C carbon and CC carbon are quality in build to guarantee durability and better performance.
The manufacturer also employs high-quality suspensions and components. The drivetrain, handlebar, brakes, and wheelsets are all high quality.
Overall, Santa Cruz researches and designs everything at their Santa Cruz headquarters to ensure quality standards.
Santa Cruz bicycles are feature-rich, there is no denying, and that makes it hard to fault the manufacturer. But if you look closely, the frame comes in different grades, which means some bikes are more high quality than others.
The other thing is that some bikes, especially aluminum options, are slightly heavier. They are not as maneuverable as the carbon fiber options.
The other concern is the Santa Cruz bikes price. Generally, Santa Cruz bikes are not cheaper since most retail at $5,000 or more. But given that you pay for quality and performance, they are worth it.
Santa Cruz Bike Range (Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Range)
Santa Cruz specializes primarily in mountain bikes, and here is their lineup:
- Cross country MTBs
- Trail MTBs
- Enduro MTBs
- Downhill MTBs
Are Santa Cruz Cross Country Bikes Good?
Santa Cruz cross-country bicycles are lighter than every other bike, owing to their superlight carbon frames. These frames are also stiffer for easy pedaling, and thanks to superlight suspension, these bikes are more responsive in handling.
Overall, they are best for cross country racing. With 100mm front travel, these bikes are not just lightweight, but they are also effective in taking on bumps.
They come in Hardtail and full suspension options.
One great Hardtail which is for entry-level cross country racing is Santa Cruz Highball. However, more experienced cross country racers can rely on the Santa Cruz Blur full-suspension bike for endurance, speed, and climbing power.
Are Santa Cruz Trail Bikes Good?
For those who are looking for all-rounder mountain bikes, Santa Cruz trial bicycles are worth checking out. These bikes can splint even though not as fast as XC bikes and take on the climbs and downhill, though not as downhill options.
So, you could quickly call them your jack of all trades, given their versatility. Overall, these trail bikes are best for those looking to tackle different trails for fun and thrill. Trail bikes also come in Hardtail and dual suspension options.
A Hardtail bike like the Santa Cruz Chameleon comes in a robust and lightweight aluminum frame with 130mm front travel, enough to take on most trails.
On the other hand, a full-suspension like Santa Cruz Bronson comes in a carbon C and Carbon CC frame with 160mm and 150mm travel for comfortable cycling on bumpy terrain.
Are Santa Cruz Enduro Bikes Good?
Santa Cruz enduro bikes are more aggressive than the other MTBs. For that reason, they are the best in enduro racing.
They also come with more suspension of at least 160mm on both wheels and are more stable. The only issue is that they are heavier.
Overall, Santa Cruz enduro bicycles are suitable for technical and steeper terrains, and of course, enduro races. The bikes come in carbon c and carbon cc frames. But unlike their trial and XC siblings, they only come in full suspension.
One excellent pick is the Santa Cruz Nomad. It comes with 170mm travel on both wheels and employs VPP suspension, making it stiffer and more robust.
The bikes also come with quality brakes, a powerful drivetrain, and a lighter carbon frame.
Are Santa Cruz Downhill Bikes Good?
When it comes to going downhill first, very few bikes can match Santa Cruz downhill bicycles. These bikes come in rugged and stable constructions, with lots of travel to comfortably ride downslopes.
The only issue is that they are not the best for climbing. If you want to take on the ascents, you should go for a trail bike.
Overall, these Santa Cruz bicycles have the most travel range of over 200mm on both wheels. So, yes, they are full-suspension bikes.
One fantastic Santa Cruz downhill bike for downhill racing and free riding is the Santa Cruz V1O. This downhiller comes in a lighter carbon cc frame than most and is available in 27.5 inches and 29-inch wheels.
Plus, it comes with 203mm front and 215mm rear travel.
Other Bicycles by Santa Cruz:
While Santa Cruz predominantly makes MTBs, they also make a few gravel bicycles and dirt jumpers. The two bike types are as high-quality as their MTB siblings and quite hardy to take on rugged terrains.
1. What Are Santa Cruz Bikes Known For?
Santa Cruz bikes are known for their full suspension and innovative Virtual Pivot Point frame design, making them stiffer and robust. Overall, Santa Cruz is historically a mountain bike brand, and so it’s known for high-end MTBs.
2. Are Santa Cruz Bikes Made In USA?
Santa Cruz bicycle frames are made in Taiwan and China. However, the assembly happens in Santa Cruz, California.
3. Are Santa Cruz Bikes Expensive?
Not all Santa Cruz bicycles are expensive. Santa Cruz bicycles with carbon c and aluminum frames are generally affordable. That’s unlike carbon cc options which are on the highest price point.
4. Are Santa Cruz Bikes Worth It?
Yes, Santa Cruz bicycles are worth it because they come in quality construction; enjoy a lifetime warranty on most parts. Moreover, the bikes come in various frame sizes and employ virtual pivot point technology, making them stiffer and robust.
4. Who Makes Santa Cruz Bikes?
Pon Bicycle Group makes both Santa Cruz and Juliana bikes lines.
5. Where Are Santa Cruz Bikes Made?
Santa Cruz bicycles are made in Taiwan and China, but they complete the assembly in Santa Cruz, California.
Are Santa Cruz Bikes Good? Closing Thought:
Given that Santa Cruz bicycles are quality, top-performing, and comfortable bikes, they are pretty good. Though you pay more for some of them, they promise value for money, and that’s what you want.