You're ready to take your XC race series a little more seriously, and hungry for quick and nimble geometry to conquer tight switchbacks and punchy climbs, which is why you've got your eye on the Santa Cruz Blur Carbon R Complete Mountain Bike. After a bit of a hiatus from Santa Cruz's lineup that left us on longer travel rides than we'd wanted for XC-race domination, we're eager to hop on the newly redesigned Blur to reestablish its cross-country prowess. Offering you steeper angles, and aggressive geometry, the new Blur quickly illustrates that it hasn't forgotten how to sprint up climbs, and its 4-inches of VPP suspension turn around quickly to gobble up rocks and roots in the way of your descent.
We may have a tendency to hesitate when we hear the words "rugged" and "cross-country race rocket" used in the same sentence, but with a one-piece carbon VPP rear triangle we can't help but spot the similarities between the Blur and Santa Cruz's burly DH rigs. Its twin upright architecture gives cues to inspiration from the Nomad and V10, promising a ride that's uncompromising and stiff, but without the bulk to follow. Keeping a good thing going, Santa Cruz carefully constructs a one-piece carbon front triangle to pack in lateral stiffness that provides tracking confidence through blown out, washboard switchbacks and root-latticed climbs. The VPP suspension in the new Blur is much like the VPP you'll find in other modern Santa Cruz bikes, which undoubtedly an upgrade from the previous generation, with smoother ramping mid-stroke to prevent a bottomed out feel as you soak into the suspension, and with the smooth FOX Float Factory shock you'll find that the short 100-millimeters of travel feel so much deeper.
Santa Cruz may have taken a bit of a divergence from the XC scene in the past few years, with the Tallboy being the closest to a cross-country offering in recent time, and geometry stretching to slacker angles year over year, so we're more than excited to not only see the Blur rejoin the lineup, but with geometry that takes a U-turn from the trends, and reverts to true race-ready steep angles. Even steeper than the previous generation, the new Blur features a 69-degree headtube angle, and 74-degree seat tube, perching you on top and in control of your steed while you barrel through miles of singletrack. The wheelbase is stretched slightly, with some help from a slightly stretched chainstay — another unusual stray from trends, but we'll get into that later. This longer wheelbase lends itself to confidence through rough terrain, enabling you to pick the gnarlier line, shaving seconds off of your time as you push towards the podium. The rear end is updated with Boost spacing, stretching things out and stiffening things up, and while we usually see this pairing with tucked-in wheels and extra-stubby chainstays, the chainstays on the Blur move out just under a quarter of an inch to 17-inches, so you can still comfortably get behind the saddle when you need to, without feeling like you're going to go over backwards.
This particular Blur is built using Santa Cruz's Carbon C construction, which provides all the benefits in lateral stiffness and unbelievable strength of its higher-end Carbon CC sibling, but with a slight weight penalty. We don't have specifics on the weight gain for this particular frame (we'll have to wait until Santa Cruz publishes their figures), but a typical Santa Cruz Carbon C weighs approximately eight to nine ounces heavier than its Carbon CC counterparts. The upside to the Carbon C construction is you save a good chunk of cash, which is always nice when you're a self-sponsored racer that's footing the bills for your own builds and racing fees. However, the bike is still incredibly lightweight in the arena of 24 pounds for this particular Carbon S build, meaning it's no slouch when it comes time to don a race plate and toe the starting line.
- The Blur emerges from its hiatus for total XC domination
- Steep head tube angle provides razor-sharp handling
- 4 inches of efficient, lively handling VPP travel
- Carbon C frame for torsional stiffness and strength
- Twin upright rear triangle inspired by downhill bikes
- SRAM NX Eagle 1x11 drivetrain keeps the price where you want it
- FOX suspension and fork with remote lock-out for racing