Upon introduction in 2013, the Bronson defined the all-mountain segment with 150-millimeters of VPP travel paired with aggressive geometry that screamed of high-speed stability, yet never let you down when it was time to pedal back uphill for another grin-inducing decent. As good as the original Bronson was, it benefited from geometry updates in 2016 that pushed it to slacker, longer, and lower realms. Carrying over these second gen updates, the Santa Cruz Bronson 2.1 Carbon CC XO1 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike smashes across chunky rock gardens, rails around corners, and drops into steep alpine terrain with unflappable stability and long-travel composure.
The second gen Bronson features aggressive geometry, dropping the head tube to 66 degrees versus the original version's 67-degree head tube angle. This slacker geometry makes it all the more stable and confident pointing downhill at high speeds and dissecting chunky rock gardens. The bottom bracket is much lower as well, dropping down to 13.4 inches, which strikes the right balance between stability and confident cornering—all without being rock-strikingly low like much of the competition's bikes. Chainstays shrink down to 17 inches for snappier handling and cornering precision, as well as making it easier to lift the front over trail obstacles standing in your way. Another geometry update is the longer reach and wheelbase, both of which increase stability at high speeds while making the cockpit roomier, so you don't have to upsize or run a longer stem if you're on the upper end of the sizing chart.
Besides aggressive geometry updates, the big story with the Bronson 2.1 is the VPP suspension, which features Santa Cruz's upper box-style linkage inspired by the previous generation of Nomad. The upper link connects to the top tube, which creates a stiffer design with greater stand-over clearance for short riders. Additionally, the lower link neatly sits above the bottom bracket, tucked away from damaging strikes when you're rallying over chunder and rock gardens. These changes extend to the suspension's feel and performance, which is easier to initiate at the top of its stroke for a supple feel with better sensitivity to small bumps. Furthermore, it's more linear through the mid-stroke, meaning it's more supportive as you pusher deeper into the bike's travel. As you'd expect from this VPP suspension lay-out, you'll find it ramps up considerably at the end stroke to prevent you from harshly bottoming out on bigger hits.
Delving into this particular Bronson's frame, you'll reap the benefits of a Carbon CC frame for lightweight efficiency and spirited handling on the trail. This carbon is lighter, stronger, and more expensive than cheaper Carbon C frames, shaving approximately 280 grams without sacrificing one bit of strength or stiffness. As for the XO1 kit, it's one of the nicest build kits offered by Santa Cruz for lightning-quick shifts across a wide range of usable gears—all without dealing with a pesky front derailleur. Moreover, it benefits from the stiff 36-millimeter chassis of a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork, which tracks precisely across rugged terrain without the excess flex of cheaper forks.
- Rally-ready machine smashes every line on the mountain
- 150mm of VPP suspension smooths out big hits and rocky descents
- Carbon CC frame drops 280 grams for greater climbing efficiency
- Aggressive all-mountain geometry is slacker, lower, and longer
- Fox 36 Performance Elite fork with burly 36-millimeter chassis
- SRAM XO1 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain provides massive gear range
- SRAM Guide RSC disc brakes for powerful stopping force
- 800mm Santa Cruz AM Carbon bars for high-speed stability