If you've spent time pedaling on any trail system in the past few years, chances are good you've seen your fair share of Santa Cruz Bronsons out there. The Bronson is everywhere, and it largely owes its omnipresence to its geometry, which is slack and long but shows flashes of a trail bike's nimble responsiveness when the situation demands. With the all-new Bronson 2.1 Carbon CC Mountain Bike Frame, Santa Cruz took that all-mountain geometry and pushed it even further in both directions. The current Bronson is slacker, longer, and lower to stick lines across everything from rock gardens to steps, and it's also got a steeper seat tube and more aggressive, dexterous back end, which translates to deft maneuvering and spirited trail manners. In short, the Bronson is an even more all-mountain version of what many already consider the all-mountain standard.
While the list of changes is long, the headline is definitely the head tube, which slacks out by an extra tick on the protractor compared to the previous Bronson, dropping from 67 to 66 degrees. This change is complemented with a corresponding increase in top tube length, 150mm of dropper range, and a lower bottom bracket, a combination that allows for short-stemmed, point-and-click confidence while traversing lines that would cause even the previous Bronson to hesitate. The latest Bronson's lines are bigger, its steps are droppier, and it effectively erases the rooty terrain that trail and XC bikes have to pick through with delicate care.
The Bronson's seat tube moves in the opposite direction of the head tube, getting steeper by almost a full degree in order to position the engine (read: your hips) up over the cranks. The revised geometry keeps you on top of the pedal stroke, and relocated links allow for a shorter chainstay, which makes for more power transferring efficiency. The back end is finished with the new 12 x 148mm axle standard, ensuring that the extra watts produced by the improved pedaling position and shorter chainstays aren't lost to wheel flex. Despite its slacker head tube and longer geometry, the back end changes help the Bronson pop over cruxes and maintain diesel speed across hard pack.
The new VPP suspension incorporates some changes first debuted in the pure-enduro Nomad, the most notable of which being that the lower link now shelters above the bottom bracket, increasing clearance and decreasing the chance of rock strikes while traversing the kind of terrain favored by the longer, slacker Bronson. The upper link has also wandered up and forward, which makes for a more accommodating standover and ultimately stiffens the back end.
VPP's changes aren't just physical, though, the system's tuning has also been tweaked. Where the old suspension curve described a deep "U," the new VPP's curve resembles a flattened check mark, with less dramatic ramping on either end of the arc. The results are that, during the initial stroke, VPP now boasts increased small bump compliance to keep the tires glued to the trail for more traction across lumpy trails and root lattices. It also maintains its predecessor's firm feel during accelerations while jockeying for position in a mass start or a finishing sprint. When paired with FOX's Evol air can, the a ramp-up arc doesn't dramatically alter as the shock compresses, so the pedaling platform stays consistent across travel, with less wallowing, bob, and bottom-outs—even while the axle's path turns rearward to absorb big hits as travel increases.
For all the changes to its shape, the Bronson Carbon CC's construction remains unchanged. As with previous Carbon CC frames, it requires less material to hit Santa Cruz's stiffness targets without sacrificing any of the responsiveness of the less expensive, heavier Carbon C models. Both triangles are constructed as whole, monocoque pieces, which also contributes to keeping weight low because the carbon can be wrapped through junctures and around joints. This eliminates the artificial weak points of bonded frames and actually requires less material in the process. While it's being cured, the frame is compacted from inside and out. This final step virtually eliminates any excess material and resin pooling, resulting in more structural integrity and, of course, additional weight savings.
- An enduro frame for ambitious competition
- 6in of climb-happy, enduro-tuned VPP suspension
- Longer reach shifts weight forward for better traction
- 74-degree seat tube angle optimizes pedaling efficiency
- Carbon construction drops grams and bumps up stiffness
- Santa Cruz Bicycles has long defined the direction of enduro cycling