The star of all-mountain action.
Like the '70s action star of the same name, the Santa Cruz Bronson 2.0 R Complete Mountain Bike steals the show with its stoic demeanor and unflappable composure, only instead of defeating bad guys, it demolishes aggressive alpine terrain peppered with sharp rocks and sheer drops. Packing 150 millimeters of VPP suspension, the Bronson 2.0 offers a greater margin for error on steep, demanding trails where its smaller 5010 sibling would be pushed beyond its capabilities. However, instead of being relegated to lift-accessed downhills and shuttle runs like many of its longer travel counterparts, the Bronson 2.0 pedals efficiently without wandering excessively on climbs where you'd normally struggle on a bike of this breed.
This particular version benefits from Santa Cruz's aluminum frame for dependable strength and commendable stiffness, and at a price that's hard to resist for those of us without stacked bank accounts. Its geometry stays consistent with the 2.0's update towards the longer, slacker, and lower side of the all-mountain spectrum, meaning you'll feel confident opening it up on steep descents where you approach high speeds. In fact, the Bronson 2.0 sports a 66-degree head tube angle for downhill composure without sacrificing much in the way of climbing prowess. Besides being more composed at high speeds, the redesign increased the reach for a roomier overall cockpit that's more comfortable. To balance out the longer front end, the chainstays are slammed at a mere 17 inches to ensure nimble handling around tight corners and sweeping berms. Furthermore, the 74-degree seat tube angle places you in an optimal pedaling position, so you don't sacrifice power while climbing.
The big story with the Bronson 2.0 is the VPP suspension, which features Santa Cruz's upper box-style link inspired by the previous generation Nomad. This upper link connects to the top tube, which creates a stiffer overall design with greater stand-over clearance for short riders. The lower link is neatly situated above the bottom bracket, tucked away from damaging rock strikes and flinging trail debris. These changes extend to the suspension's feel and performance, which is easier to initiate at the top of its stroke for small-bump sensitivity. It's also more linear throughout the mid-stroke, meaning it feels consistent tracking over trail imperfections and rocks. As always with VPP, you'll find it ramps up considerably at the end-stroke to prevent it from bottoming out on bigger hits or feeling overly harsh on steep descents.
This particular R kit offers a considerable value with the SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain providing crisp, reliable shifts without the need for a pesky front derailleur. The Fox Rhythm 34 fork handles bigger, aggressive terrain admirably with its stiff 34-millimeter chassis and 150 millimeters of plush travel. It's finished off with a Fox Float Performance DPS shock with an EVOL air sleeve for increased sensitivity and traction over small bumps.
Please note, because the alloy version of the Bronson uses an integrated headset, the headtube measurement is 10 millimeters longer than what's indicated on the geometry chart, as to match the same headtube measurement as the carbon frame with its external lower cup and internal upper cup installed. Other than this headtube measurement, everything indicated on the geometry chart is accurate.
- Santa Cruz's all-mountain masterpiece
- Aggressive geometry is slacker, longer, and lower
- Aluminum frame for dependable strength at affordable price
- Responsive VPP suspension with 150mm of plush travel
- SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain offers wide range of usable gears
- Fox Rhythm 34 fork performs admirably with its stiff chassis
- Fox Float Performance DPS shock with Open, Medium, and Firm modes