Of all 34 bikes in the 2014 Bible of Bike Tests, the Santa Cruz Bronson C was definitely one of the most talked-about. Each of our testers was fired up to see how the new 650b bike would compare with the company’s tried-and-true Blur LT.
Watch this video to find out what we discovered. Be sure to make it to minute marker 6.21 to hear what our gear editor really thinks about press-fit bottom brackets. You’ll be glad you did.
Final Take: Believe the hype—this 650b reboot of the Blur LT is an impressive all-around bike.
The Santa Cruz Bronson has attracted intense buzz since it debuted, and it's easy to understand why. The frame is beautiful. All swooping tubes and classic lines, the Bronson is industrial design porn of the highest order.
The carbon frame weighs a mere 5.3 pounds, yet has been pummeled on the Enduro World Series by the likes of Greg Minnaar, Steve Peat and Cédric Gracia. Santa Cruz bikes are well known for their brisk pedaling traits—that's the premise of the Virtual Pivot Point design. Chain tension—i.e., stomping on the pedals—causes the rear shock to extend slightly, which helps counteract the suspension bob that you'd otherwise experience while pedaling. Put the hammer down and the Bronson responds like it was shot out of a gun. It's something all of our testers noted. This isn't a bike that requires a lot of flipping of switches. In fact, most of our test riders never switched the Fox rear shock out of Descend mode.
The tradeoff here is that the Bronson's rear end didn't feel as supple under power as some of the other bikes in this test.
On descents, the Bronson leapt out as one of the better-balanced bikes, with a supremely neutral feel. Not too slack. Not twitchy in the least. It was the rare bike that testers immediately felt at home aboard. It is also incredibly stout and stiff. Santa Cruz has a well-deserved reputation for building carbon bikes that are brick shithouse strong.
Of course, at 10 grand, the Bronson better be this good. You can also get into the Bronson for considerably less. Complete aluminum bikes begin at $3,400 so you don't have to be a Rockefeller to own one. That's a good thing because this 650b reboot of the Blur LT deserves all the buzz it's been getting. –Vernon Felton