We'd like to believe the original Bronson was instrumental in swaying the preconceived notions of riders skeptical of the so-called "tweener" 27.5-inch wheel size back in 2013, seeing just how damn capable the bike was everywhere from lengthy rides in the mountains to enduro race courses and even blasting a few laps at the local bike park. So when Santa Cruz announced they completely redesigned the Bronson Carbon CC 27.5+ XO1 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike with their "new" plus-sized tires, a longer, more aggressive geometry for the ever-increasing capabilities demanded by riders, and a lower-link driven shock inspired
by the latest Nomad, we gladly listened and took note, seeing their
expertise and foresight in designing mountain bikes far surpasses the
skeptical attitudes prevalent in much of the mountain bike world.
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 one 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 more supple 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 introduction of Santa Cruz's "new" plus-sized tire, which is simply adding a slightly larger 2.6-inch tire for all the benefits in traction, bump compliance, and support afforded by plus-sized rubber, but without the major downsides of running wider 2.8 and 3.0-inch tires. By redefining the usability of plus-sized tires, Santa Cruz offers levels of plow-anything confidence to the masses without the negative attributes of traditional plus-sized tires, namely being the added rotational weight on climbs, overly vague handling feel, and tendency to squirm while cornering and braking hard. If you'd like to run a true plus-sized tire, the newest version of the Bronson will gladly accept 2.8-inch tires with its flip-chip accommodating this wider rubber.
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 top-shelf Carbon CC layup, which drops weight due to using a higher-end carbon in the manufacturing process, but without sacrificing one bit of stiffness or strength. Although we don't have any definitive figures on hand, the lighter, more expensive Carbon CC saves anywhere from 250 to 280 grams from lower-spec Carbon C on many of Santa Cruz's popular models, so it's worth upgrading if you'd like a lighter build, especially seeing how the Bronson has grown in length and travel figures for this generation.
- Santa Cruz redefines their all-mountain masterpiece
- Aggressive geometry is slacker and longer than before
- Flip-chip slackens the head tube angle from 65.4° to 65.1°
- 6in of VPP travel absorbs big hits and rugged rock gardens
- VPP with lower-link driven air shock inspired by the Nomad
- Carbon CC frame reduces weight while retaining stiffness
- "New" plus-sized 2.6in tires for plow-anything confidence
- One inch shorter seat tube for running longer dropper posts