Previewed: Santa Cruz Blur LT 2

There are plenty of people willing to claim that the existing Blur LT is the best bike ever made. But none of them work at Santa Cruz. As soon as the current model was released in 2005, engineers went to work picking it apart, dissecting it, and concocting an even better machine.

The agent of this change was a giant whiteboard hanging in Santa Cruz's offices. Engineers, product managers and marketers listed their complaints with the old model. They held no punches and their list of grievances was long: creaky pivots, saggy suspension, hard to get full travel, lack of tire clearance…. In all, they listed more than a dozen personal gripes, selected the ones that really matter and overhauled the bike.

After two years of development, Santa Cruz finally trotted out the latest Blur LT. So what did all the nitpicking accomplish? Quite a bit, actually. The new bike has new links. It pedals better. It's plusher. It has a smidge more travel. And a ton more standover clearance. New tubes, new dropouts. And a bottle opener. And it weighs the same as last year's model.

One of the most significant updates is the least noticeable. The new bike sports redesigned linkages (carbon upper and aluminum lower) and new pivots, which—among other things—should increase stiffness and eradicate the creaking of older Blurs. To do this, Santa Cruz employed angular contact bearings that are preloaded with an axle that threads into one side of the link. A tapered washer keeps everything in place and new labyrinth seals keep grease in and gunk out. Speaking of grease, all pivots now feature grease ports to keep things spinning smoothly.

The other major change occurs in the suspension. Older Blur's feature a relatively high shock rate. In other words, the bikes sagged pretty quickly into the their travel, but ramped up harshly at the end. On the trail, some riders complained that this created a somewhat sluggish bike that rode like it had less than a full 135 millimeters of travel.