Santa Cruz 5010 | 2015 Bible of Bike Tests

"Poppy and playful and fun and slidey"

SANTA CRUZ 5010 CARBON S | $4700 | SANTACRUZBICYCLES.COM

It's not every day that our test crew rides a bike that sparks an impassioned debate over the vagaries of punk rock in an increasingly corporate world. But that's exactly what happened after we took the 5010 Carbon S on some hot laps around our drop-filled test loop.

We agreed that this bike's essence embodies everything we've embraced about punk rock's irreverent, rowdy roots: It is playful yet principled, upbeat yet always on the verge of speeding up the tempo, cranking up the distortion and sliding into corners with the reckless abandon of a 1980s skinhead slamming into the mosh pit at a Black Flag show.

Add to this its underground status as the third-generation, 650b version of Santa Cruz's old Blur Trail, now living in the shadows of its more commercially popular brethren: the Tallboy, the Bronson and the Nomad. Riding the new 5010–whose very name is a clever route-around to its previous 'SOLO' moniker, which Santa Cruz jettisoned under legal pressure–felt as liberating as blasting the Dead Kennedys' "Plastic Surgery Disasters" album after being subjected to hours of sugar-coated, corporate 'post-punk.'

If our reactions on the trail were any indication, everyone felt the same way. Each of us was spotted screaming up climbs, out of the saddle, in eager anticipation of sending the 5010 off the drops on the descent in a maniacal effort to be the first to the bottom.

One tester attributed the fun factor to Santa Cruz's resistance to the "mullet-schlong" trend of transforming 120-millimeter-travel bikes into 140-mil bikes just to keep up with the Joneses. By equipping this 5010 with a 130-mil RockShox Pike RC Solo Air fork and a 125-mil Fox Float CTD Evolution shock, Santa Cruz kept the bike light and snappy in the front end, and the 68-degree head angle struck a fair compromise between climbing and descending.

While one tester vehemently complained about the inability to upgrade the stock 2×10 drivetrain to a SRAM one-speed without having to spend almost $2,000 more, it didn't stop him from kicking all of our asses up and down our test loop. – Brice Minnigh

santa cruz 5010

Q & A with Josh Kissner, Product Manager – Santa Cruz Bicycles

We had questions about the new bikes before we even got our test rigs, so we sent out a few queries—the kind of things we thought you might be asking yourself when you're looking at this bike. Then we sent out another round of asks if any major questions or issues came up during testing. Here's the feedback we received from Santa Cruz product manager, Josh Kissner.

Consider this a bonus feature—just a little something extra to chew on if you're still hungry for information after you've watched our video reviews and flipped through the Bible of Bike Tests.
—Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator

VERNON FELTON: People often assume that travel alone dictates a bike's ride quality. Thus, they might look at the 5010 and think it's like every other trail bike, but that's not really the case is it? Like the Blur TRc before it and the original Blur 4X before that, the 5010 runs a lower bottom bracket and a slacker head angle than a lot of bikes in this travel niche. What was Santa Cruz's overriding goal when they designed this bike?

JOSH KISSNER: Like the Blur TRc, the 5010 is a 125-millimeter bike that is designed to be ridden hard. We really designed this bike for our home trails in Santa Cruz, which are fast- sometimes steep, and a bit too smooth to really take advantage of a long travel bike. We want something nimble and playful, but still stiff and stable enough to encourage aggressive all day riding.

VF: What engineering and design tweaks were made to the 5010 to make those goals (or riding traits) a reality?

JK: Our carbon technology makes it easy to make a frame that is stiff and strong enough for hard riding. We don’t have lower standards for this bike than it’s bigger brother the Bronson. The playfulness comes from its amount of travel, shorter chainstays, and progressive shock rate. The stability comes from the low bottom bracket and slack-ish head angle.

VF: Who is the ideal rider (or the ideal riding conditions) for the 5010? How does that rider differ, for example, from a Bronson rider?

JK: The 5010 is great for a wide variety of riders–it just depends on preference. Plenty of riders will be happy with the 5010 in the same terrain that other riders would choose a Nomad for, but want to be on a more nimble, responsive bike. The 5010 is as at-home in Santa Cruz, as it is in Sedona or the Midwest.

VF: What sets the 5010 apart from other bikes in the trail bike category?

JK: The 5010 has an incredible stiffness-to-weight ratio, thanks to our state of the art carbon manufacturing and one-piece design. The VPP suspension is fine-tuned from years of development, and offers excellent pedaling performance.

Want to suss out the 5010’s competition? Check out our review of Rocky Mountain’s Thunderbolt.