Our crew was completely divided on Santa Cruz’s flagship DH machine. With back to back World Championship pedigree, and an equally impressive price tag, the biggest debate was on value. Be sure to pay attention when the testers mention fit, as this bike runs on the small side.
Final Take: A handsome downhill rig with all-mountain weight and maneuverability.
The auto industry uses the term "halo car" to describe a pinnacle model that may sell in smaller numbers, but showcases the brand's capabilities. The V10C is something of a halo bike for Santa Cruz.
This year, it has a new carbon front triangle and swingarm and a stiffer carbon upper link. It has thoughtful touches like molded protectors on both chainstays as well as on the downtube, a threaded bottom bracket, and fork stops with integrated cable routing on both sides of the headtube. The front triangle uses a monocoque construction and has been slimmed down by 300 grams. Take off another 400 grams for the new rear end and you've got a sub-8-pound DH frame.
With a cost of more than $10,000, our test bike is really a dream build, all the way down to the Enve wheels. There was some discussion as to whether carbon wheels belong on a downhill bike, but they are stiff and help an already nippy bike accelerate even faster.
If there were an all-out pedal drag race between all the downhill bikes we tested, the V10C would handily show them its seat rails; it exceled at finding speed, especially in places where other bikes got bogged down. It also drew high marks for versatility, as the rear suspension is adjustable from 8.5 to 10 inches.
Our testers had pretty strong opinions when it came to fit and some handling aspects. Riders reported that it felt cramped in the front, resulting in an odd position that left you either standing high with short triangulation or low with your backside over the rear and elbows down. It felt a little high and steep, not necessarily due to the angles, but because of a relatively long back end and short front end.
With a full trophy case, there's no denying the V10's racing pedigree. It's expensive, but drop the carbon wheels and it's in line with its competition, albeit with one final trick up its sleeve—a bombproof, class-leading warranty. –SIMON STEWART