Bronson Carbon 27.5+ S Reserve Mountain Bike
Santa Cruz Bicycles' Bronson has undergone a few generations of changes since it first rolled out half a decade ago. It's now longer, slacker, and squishier than its original form, and it incorporates linkage inspiration from the big-hit Nomad to ensure that it's more enduro than trail. It's still a pedal-happy machine, too, so it strikes a fine balance between going up and coming down. The Bronson Carbon 27.5+ S Reserve Complete Mountain Bike is built up with 2.6in rubber and a GX Eagle drivetrain, which improves traction on climbs, cushion on terrain, and ensures you always have a spare gear to help you get up grueling climbs.
One of the biggest changes to the third-gen Bronson lies in a longer, slacker geometry that pushes it deeper into the gravity end of the riding spectrum. However, this redesign doesn't significantly alter its all-around versatility, meaning it's still great for the rider that desires the monster truck plushness of a slack, long-travel rig while having fun on trail systems with big climbs and high-speed descents. To be specific, Santa Cruz lengthened the reach by approximately 15 millimeters per size for a more confident, comfortable feel at higher speeds, plus a centimeter lower standover height for a better fit with shorter riders. The head tube angle drops from the previous generation's already slack 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 were numbers that you'd only see on a freeride or mini-DH bike 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.
Another significant change to the latest Bronson lies in a reconfigured VPP suspension platform. Instead of relying on 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 that's inspired by the latest Nomad. This lower-link driven VPP suspension platform is something that's reserved exclusively for the Bronson, Nomad, and V10, seeing the need for increased bump compliance, better support, and higher levels of traction for all-mountain, freeride, and downhill disciplines. To best match the increased performance capabilities of this lower-link driven VPP, Santa Cruz spec'd a Super Deluxe shock for a suppler feel that tracks to the ground noticeably better and resists heating up on those scintillating descents over thousands of vertical feet.
The last major change implemented on the third-gen Bronson is the ability to clear tires up to a whopping 2.8in wide, thanks to increased space in the rear triangle for the needs of modern wide trail tires. Santa Cruz shows more restraint on the spec, though—2.6in Minion DHF up front and 2.4in Minion DHR II on the rear—which blends plenty of traction and rollover ability without sacrificing too much in terms of rolling efficiency and heft. Additionally, it's less vague and bouncy than standard 2.8in plus tires. Santa Cruz is calling it the "new plus" and we feel like it offers the benefits of plus but rides more like traditional widths were used to. If you do feel the need to run traditional plus-sized tires and their 2.8in treads with even more traction and cush, the frames flip-chip is happy to accommodate.
Lucky for all of us, one thing that hasn't changed is Santa Cruz's carbon frames, which is a good thing if you're after the legendary strength and unwavering stiffness of their renowned carbon layups. This particular Bronson benefits from the Carbon C layup, which makes for a resoundingly stiff frame for swift acceleration and unflappable poise while pummeling across rough terrain. It's backed by Santa Cruz's excellent lifetime warranty, so you'll have extra peace of mind while riding particularly fast on your favorite stretch of trail and shuttling downhill laps on the mountain pass.
- A mountain bike that defines where enduro meets trail riding
- Aggressive geometry is slacker and longer than before
- 6in of Nomad-inspired VPP travel soaks out bigger hits
- Flip-chip slackens the head tube angle from 65.4° to 65.1°
- Carbon C frame balances weight, strength, and value
- 2.6in tires for plow-anything confidence that doesn't flop
- 1x Eagle drivetrain ensures you'll always have enough bailout gears on the climbs