Bronson 2.1 Carbon CC XX1 Eagle Reserve Complete Mountain Bike
As trails evolve and riders continue to progress, tackling more technical terrain at higher speeds, so too have the demands placed on equipment and the need for more capable bikes. One machine that's defined the all-mountain genre as a backcountry brawler since its beginning, one that won't hold you back on the climbs or while pedaling on all-day epics and doesn't back down to a lift access weekend or that post ride shuttle is Santa Cruz's Bronson. So, we were slightly apprehensive when Santa Cruz announced a complete redesign of the Bronson Carbon CC 27.5 XX1 Eagle Reserve Complete Mountain Bike and feared that it would in some way detract from its amazing versatility. After a few rides, our reservations were cast aside and we now know better than to question Santa Cruz's motives. Those new features include clearance for plus-sized tires, longer, slacker geometry, and a lower-link driven shock inspired by its big brother the Nomad. These revisions are a godsend for the modern trail rider and they allow the Bronson and its pilot the ability to attack gnarly singletrack and park lines with more speed and confidence than ever before without sacrificing a lightweight and efficient pedaling rig for new trail network exploration.
Glancing over the geo chart reveals a third-gen Bronson that's longer and slacker, pushing it deeper into the gravity end of the riding spectrum. Amazingly, this redesign doesn't alter its all-around versatility, so it's still ideal for the rider that desires the trophy truck plushness of a supple, long-travel rig on rugged trails while still remaining nimble and playful on tamer ones or those with big climbs and more pedaling. Santa Cruz lengthened the reach by approximately 15 millimeters across all sizes for a more confident and comfortable position at higher speeds. Additionally, it trimmed a centimeter from the standover height offering better clearance for smaller riders and the opportunity to run longer travel dropper posts. The head tube gets kicked back from the previous generation's 66 degrees to an even slacker 65.4 degrees in its highest setting, complete with a flip-chip that slackens it out even further to a bike park-friendly 65.1 degrees. These numbers were commonplace on freeride or mini-DH bikes just a few years ago, meaning you'll have tons of confidence bombing those technical descents littered with steep drop-offs and nasty rock sections.
The other significant change to the latest Bronson lies in a reconfigured VPP suspension platform. Instead of relying on an upper-link driven design, the third generation Bronson enjoys the increased bump compliance and glued-to-the-trail traction you'll experience with a VPP suspension driven by a lower-link mounted shock seen on the latest Nomad and V10. This lower-link driven VPP suspension platform is something that's reserved exclusively for its gravity-fueled models, seeing that the need for increased bump compliance, better support, and higher levels of traction for all-mountain, freeride, and downhill disciplines are greatly appreciated. To better match the increased performance capabilities of this lower-link driven VPP, Santa Cruz spec'd a Super Deluxe shock for a super-supple stroke that tracks to the ground noticeably better and stays cooler up on those exhilarating descents over thousands of vertical feet for more consistent performance.
The last major change implemented on the third-gen Bronson is the clearance for plus-sized tires adding increases in traction over loose terrain and better bump compliance over rougher terrain. The wider rubber simply adds extraordinary levels of plow over anything confidence. The addition of a flip-chip in the shock's linkage allows the rider to tune in the ride feel and preferred geo numbers to suit the 2.5/2.4in tires featured here, 2.6in which Santa Cruz is calling the "new" plus, or full-on 2.8in treads.
Thankfully, one thing that hasn't changed is Santa Cruz's carbon frame construction, which is a good thing as the legendary strength and unwavering stiffness of their renowned carbon layups is highly prized. This particular Bronson benefits from the top-shelf Carbon CC layup, which drops weight as it uses a higher-end carbon in the manufacturing process, without sacrificing one bit of stiffness or strength. You can count on this lighter Carbon CC version to save anywhere from 250 to 280 grams over the lower-spec Carbon C model, so it's worth upgrading if you'd prefer a lighter build, especially seeing how the Bronson has grown in length and travel figures for this generation.
It's worth noting that this particular Bronson Carbon CC 27.5 bike is upgraded with Santa Cruz's Reserve 30 Carbon Wheels, which provide all the strength, weight savings, and stiffness benefits of carbon hoops, with a 30-millimeter internal width to properly accommodate its spec'd tires. This means you'll be able to properly run tires in the 2.4 to 2.6-inch range without creating an overly bulbous, lightbulb shape that doesn't maximize the tire's tread and leads to squirming while ridden hard and subjected to cornering at high speeds. To bolster additional strength at the spoke face, these Reserve Carbon Wheels are reinforced along the spoke nipple interface to prevent them from pulling through at high spoke tensions and during aggressive riding. Additionally, they're even backed by an amazing lifetime warranty for added peace of mind while pushing this Bronson to the absolute limit. As one of its premium builds, this bike gets all the bells and whistles including a plush Fox Factory 36 Fork and RockShox Super Deluxe shock. Shifting and braking duties are handled by SRAM with its top-tier XX1 group providing plenty of range for those days with plenty of climbing on the docket and the downhill World Cup-level, 4-pot Code RSC brakes scrub speed on the way back down.
- Santa Cruz's all-mountain bike is back and more capable than ever
- Aggressive geometry is slacker and longer than before
- A flip-chip provide headtube manipulation from 65.4° to 65.1°
- VPP with lower-link driven shock improves small bump compliance
- 6in of VPP travel smooths out jumps, drops, and rock gardens
- Carbon CC frame reduces weight without sacrificing stiffness
- Reserve 30 Carbon Wheels provide direct handling and strength