Every time I sit down to talk about a new 27.5-inch bike, it’s a struggle not to open with a conversation about wheel size. A struggle I have just failed, evidently. But it’s not my fault. The ingenious, hysterical and oddly thrilling video that Santa Cruz released alongside the brand new fourth-generation 5010 already pulled the wheel-size card. It leans into the novelty of a moderate-travel bike with 27.5-inch wheels. It’s a bike with a specific purpose in mind. It’s a bike meant for goofing off.
I’m in the final months of mending a broken leg, so even though goofing off is my specialty, I couldn’t do testing this bike any justice. But we’ve got first-ride impressions on the 5010’s identical twin sister, the Juliana Furtado from Bike’s editor-in-chief, Nicole Formosa. She’s ridden every previous generation Furtado, and you can read her review here. It’s got a lighter shock tune and neater colors, but the same geometry, same updates and the same fun factor.
Of course, fun has been the 5010’s modus operandi ever since 29-inch wheels staged their coup of the 120-to-130-millimeter category. If you want a “normal” Santa Cruz, you get a Tallboy. If you’re Danny Macaskill, you get a 5010. The bike hasn’t changed what it wants to do, but it’s changed how it does it.
Most obviously, the 5010 went to the lower-link VPP setup first seen on the V10 and now seen on everything but the Blur. That platform had been on the Nomad for almost a year when the previous generation 5010 came out, and the lower-link Bronson launched alongside it. So, we knew it worked on a trail bike, but Santa Cruz was still figuring out the limits of that platform. It has the unique benefit of straightening the leverage curve, making for more supportive rear suspension throughout more of its stroke. You get better efficiency while pedaling and more pop while popping.
But it involves some unique engineering puzzles. It’s harder to keep the weight down, harder to route the dropper cable, harder to maximize seat post insertion and just plain harder to produce. Santa Cruz decided at the time that, because the nuances of a straighter leverage curve were more noticeable and more significant on longer-travel bikes, the 5010 would be better served with the simpler, more classic design. Since then, lower-link VPP has evolved, and it’s finally come to the 5010.
And along with it, of course, comes all the other stuff I’ve run out of new and unique ways to say. The reach got between 7 and 15 millimeters longer, the head angle got about 0.8 degrees slacker and the seat tube angle got around two degrees steeper. Stack heights went up a bit, but that’s thanks mostly to the extra 10 millimeters of front travel. The new 5010 is still 130 millimeters in the rear, but now 140 up front. That and the extra two degrees in the seat angle are the most drastic of the new numbers. Most of the differences are rather subtle. The standover dropped a few millimeters and the bottom bracket actually went up a tad. But that’s only because the 5010 is no longer specced with 2.6-inch tires, so on the trail that ends up being a wash.
Another subtle difference in numbers is not so subtle on the trail. The Santa Cruz 5010 now has size-specific chainstays. Among the 5010’s five sizes (which go from XL all the way down to XS, by the way) there are four unique chainstay lengths. I was nervous when I heard this, because the hallmark of a play bike is short chainstays. I ride an XL, but that doesn’t mean I want XL chainstays. But they don’t get longer than 433 millimeters, and get as short as 423. It doesn’t have the chainstay flip chips we see on the Megatower, but it does have the same geo flip chips of other lower-link-VPP bikes.
Of course, it’s still got fully guided internal cable routing, and of course it still fits a full-size bottle inside the front triangle. We’ve come to expect details like that from Santa Cruz. But a more surprising detail is the use of the SRAM “universal” derailleur hanger. It made news a couple years ago when it was introduced as an open standard for any brand to adopt, in hopes that we could thin the herd of derailleur hanger standards, which has not gotten much better in the thru-axle era. When I first heard of it, I thought of a cartoon I saw once.
At the moment, the joke is ringing true, but that may change in time. Hopefully, as more brands make the switch, more shops will carry them. And eventually, more of your buddies will start carrying them too so you can help each other out if somebody kills a hanger on the trail. Also, they’re just $15, which is far better than the $40 you can easily pay for a proprietary hanger. On top of that, it has the ability to rotate backwards in an impact, so it may save your derailleur. Time will tell, but there’s word that more brands will be using them in the future.
Other things bolted to the 5010 are pretty cool too, though we don’t have complete spec yet. For example, coil shocks. Though they’re not specced on any complete bikes, the leverage curve will work for them. Same goes for the rather linear Fox Float X2. And for a bit of boutique cachet, a few of the higher-end builds get Burgtec stems. I mean, a stem is a stem, but that’s all the more reason to choose one with some style. There’s also an even new, larger replaceable shuttle pad under the downtube and a bash plate just in front of the bottom bracket.
Otherwise, the builds are relatively straightforward. The forks are RockShox Pikes at the top-end and Fox Performance or Fox Rhythm 34s in the entry range. Rear shocks are Super Deluxe all around except for the DPS on the basic C R build. SRAM G2 brakes are on all but the XT builds. Shimano is also in low attendance given that there are no SLX or Deore drivetrains, arguably the best bang for the buck you can get in gears. But then, the Santa Cruz 5010 is aimed at the higher-end. At least for now, there is no aluminum version. But you can get a Reserve 30 wheel option in the lower-priced C build, which is nice to see. And that’s the new Reserve V2. Same shape, but a new layup, a trick Santa Cruz probably learned in their in-house carbon development lab.
We’ll get our hands on a 5010 soon enough. But right now I know what I really want to get my hands on…
You can find all the details at santacruzbicycles.com