May 1, 2017

By Evan

Test riding the 2017 Santa Cruz Bronson C S

Since 1993, Santa Cruz has been developing a brand that communicates experience and innovation with whomever is manning the controls. They’ve continuously sought out new methods to make bikes for your average rider while not making you feel like the average rider. When Santa Cruz updates a bike they seem to create a new culture. The Bronson is one of many end products of that philosophy.

THE DETAILS

  • 150mm travel front/rear
  • 66 degree head angle
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket
  • Boost 110/148 hub spacing
  • Wheel size: 27.5”
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL

THE BIKE

Santa Cruz offers many versions of their bikes to suit the varying budgets in the marketplace. Along with aluminum frames they offer two models of carbon, Carbon C and Carbon CC, with about 280 grams separating the two. Although if you choose the Carbon CC builds you get more than just a carbon frame. The builds include Shimano XT (2x11) and SRAM X01 and XX1 Eagle drivetrains, - XT and Guide RSC/Ultimate brakes and a Pike RCT3 paired with a Monarch Plus RC3.

In this review I rode the Bronson C S build, which has the Pike RC paired with a Monarch RT, Guide R brakeset, GX 1x11 drivetrain, and a Rockshox Reverb 150mm dropper post. For the price tag it’s a great option for a rider who wants a solid carbon setup without shelling out the ~$2000 price hike for a bike with all the extra bells and whistles. The S build includes 27mm internal width rims from Race Face and Maxxis DHF/DHR II 2.3s creating nice stability with room to go larger (up to a 2.4”) if needed.  All models are now equipped with boost hubs spacing for some extra stiffness/stability and durability.

THE RIDE

For the riding tests I rode about 12 miles at Alderfer / Three Sisters in Evergreen, Colorado, followed by a descent of Enchanted Forest in the Apex Park trail system in Golden, Colorado. The next morning, to beat the incoming rain, I rode a quick lap around North Table Mountain, a ride that just about everyone in the Denver area is familiar with. The riding ranged from the smoothest of sections to some of the roughest, and the Bronson had a charismatic response to everything I put it through. 

CLIMBING

To some, the Bronson looks like too much bike; a 70:30 (descending: climbing) bike, but in reality, it rides like a 60:40 bike. The VPP suspension design aids well on the climbs, giving you traction and acceleration at all times. On the grinders it just rolls, rolls, and rolls; on the technical, rocky hairpins it finds space easily with a good amount of rollover for a 27.5, provided you put some effort into it.

A nice advantage with the VPP that I noticed was that if I did stop on the climbs, I didn’t worry about where I restarted, I could just jump back on the bike and the bike would accelerate immediately - even on the steeper sections.

DESCENDING

The harder you push this bike the better it performs, straight up. The responses it gave made me feel like I was riding a very intelligent machine.

Coming across high speed rollers the bike felt like it read my thoughts on whether I wanted to lift up earlier in the lip - allowing me to just barely clear the peak, creating a satisfying pump of speed - or boost the take-off and sail further down trail begging me to hoot and holler in excitement.

The Bronson has its own personality that truly communicates with you. Forget about how much travel the bike has for a second and focus on the wheels and frame design.  If you find yourself in a rock garden or small cluster of rocks at high speeds, the Bronson gives you a plethora of entrances/exits to choose from. Once you choose your line the bike just says “ok” and does what you want, no questions asked, which is a very rewarding feeling.

If you feel the need to just soak up whatever rock hits you want in attempt to plow through the gardens then the 150mm travel front and rear is there for you and works. Make a mistake and it helps you back on your feet without feeling unbalanced or actually falling; something that really contributes to the development of the rider.   

CONCLUSION

The Bronson is a bike that allows you to take your riding to the next level. For a rider that is willing to manage the climbs a lot better than other 6” travel bikes, so that you get to develop new skill-sets on the descents, then I really can’t think of a better bike. If it isn’t quite as “flickable” as you want it to be or you find yourself wanting a more playful 50:50 bike then the 5010 will fulfill your desire a little more. However, if you want to fly down the trail with plenty of stability and do things you never thought you could do on a bike, then the Bronson is your ticket.   

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