After many years of admiring Santa Cruz bikes from afar I am finally a Bronson 2 owner!
This new breed of bike has so many features that haven’t been documented yet. Here we go..
Santa Cruz gave the VPP linkage a major overhaul for a number of reasons. Chainstay length, pedaling performance, stiffness and clearance to name a few.
Compared to the original link the box section shape also offers a massive increase of stiffness.
Both links are so much longer than before. This smooths out the shock rate and wheel path.
Santa Cruz doesn’t mess around when it comes to critical areas molded from carbon..extra thick link mounting holes prove that.
The “pizza oven” that houses the lower link.
Our boys by the beach try not to change things unless they feel they really need to. The Derailleur hanger did have to change a bit with Boost spacing. I’m not really sure why, perhaps the axle length was a factor? The old hanger fits in but the threaded tube is too long. It could be made to work in a pinch though.
SC came up with a new shock bolt. They recessed the head so a big ol’ 6mm allen can be used, but it sits inside the frame instead of sticking out. This allowed them to use more carbon and less aluminum in the frame and increase durability- even thought they haven’t had a broken shock bolt in years!
A brief history of VPP
First off, VPP bikes pedal great! We all know this. Gen 1 VPP bikes had perhaps too much pedal firmness (anti squat) from the linkage arrangement especially considering we all ran small granny rings back then. They ran through choppy terrain like mad though. The suspension was pretty soft off the top which contributed to more up and down movement when climbing. The V10 still uses this basic arrangement since it’s a DH bike and this system is excellent for fast and rough descending.
Gen 2 VPP saw the lower link moved behind and below the BB. This made pedaling in the granny gear more active, offering traction and solid pedaling in a wide range of gears. Part of the pedaling firmness was also due to the shock rate, which was firmer at the beginning of the travel.
Gen 3 VPP (the current Nomad) melded older generations with a new flavor largely due to the fact that it was designed around a single ring drivetrain. Pedal feedback is a non issue with the 1x drivetrain so they were able to move the lower link back up closer to where it was with Gen 1 to optimize performance with a 30-32t ring.
Bronson and 5010 2 have evolved even more to pedal great, cope with a front derailleur and have room to shorten the chainstays.
Nice T shirt Josh…
I was lucky enough to be invited to Downieville to ride the Bronson and 5010 at the launch. Chasing Josh Bryceland, Steve Peat and Greg Minnaar was quite a special experience. Now that I have my own bike, I’ve had a week of riding on the Bronson. A few hour long climbs followed by some solid descents. A full day in the Canyons Bike Park of total thrashing and abuse was particularly informative of this new bike’s personality.
A ride on the 5010 on the Mills Peak trail proved the bikes prowess despite a little less travel than the Bronson.
NOW ONTO THE RIDE
I’ve been riding Giant’s Maestro suspension for quite a few years. The Reign, Reign X and Trance have all been good to me, good pedaling and really plush. Niner’s CVA suspension on the Rip and Jet have also made me happy. I’m a big fan of the DW link’s ride as well, although I’ve never owned one. I borrowed a 5010 from our demo fleet for a few weeks this summer so I do have some experience with VPP as well.
First off, this bike is freaky solid!! So stiff! Those massive links and extra thick carbon do their job. The precision while climbing and when pinning it through a narrow line seems easier, like my balance is on point.
Santa Cruz seems to put pedaling and a solid feel when hitting corners high up on the priority list when it comes to the ride. There are some aggressive riders out there that have been vocal about the firm ride off the top and how easily the bikes can bottom out. This can be referred to as a falling rate. The new suspension is quite plush and has some progressiveness to it compared to the older Bronson/5010s. They now fall off slightly early, then rise steadily to ramp up and resist bottoming. After annoying the engineers long enough I learned that they experimented with a steady rising rate throughout the travel, but it was a tad soft initially. This, combined with the latest generation of air shocks with their large volume cans and super soft feel prompted them to firm up the feel slightly at the first bit of travel. Overall it is now a rising rate but in a linear way, which means it raises steadily but not in a sharp curve so it feels really smooth throughout the travel. They boys succeeded in drinking me under the table after divulging this info but i did still remember most it, however foggy.
I’m they type of guy who likes to get the wheels off the ground wherever and whenever possible. I find the stock setup to bottom with a “clack” when overshooting-or coming up short on bigger jumps. For most riders though, the rear suspension gobbles up rough terrain and erases braking bumps without any unwanted harshness.
These are the Fox volume spacers for the rear shock. The larger the spacer, the firmer the end of the travel.
I removed the spacer for the next size up (missing from pic). This improved bottoming control but still gobbled up rough terrain and feels settled in corners. I’ll try the next larger spacer next.
On from here I’ll try out some other shocks to get a better feel of the new frame layout. I’m a fan of the Cane Creek Double Barrel coil because of it’s vast tune-ability. It shows a bike’s true colors that can be masked by a certain shock tune. I’m pretty happy with the Fox, and it’s a great setup for most riders.
A lot has been said about this subject already but I’ll add to it- long reach and short stems are here to stay- as long as you set your dials to SHRED. i’m all about it! My last bike the 2015 Reign had a crazy long reach, 65deg HA and custom offset in the Rockshox Pike fork. It was simply amazing at full speed, scary drops, and DH courses as well, general trail riding? Not so much. The Bronson isn’t quite as long, and the HA is a degree steeper. The Nomad might be a better comparison, but the Bronson is closer in reach. The 66deg HA is more user friendly at slower speeds, carves inside corners and is more playful but still rips the scary stuff. No bike is ideal everywhere, but as an all rounder that has Park capability, the Bronson 2 can do it all and do it well. – Krispy