Bronson Carbon R Mountain Bike
The Bronson is one of the first bikes we think about when we envision the perfect all-mountain machine, seeing it's equally as happy exploring smooth, flowy trails as it is tackling a steep and rocky enduro stage. The first generation captured the hearts of riders back in 2013 right as enduro was gaining some real traction. Now in its third generation, the Bronson is more capable than ever thanks to 6-inches of VPP travel and totally refined geometry. That being said, it's still a bike that's happy to sweat out the climbs for hours at a time when you've really gotta earn your turns to get to the fun part. And that's what makes this bike so great—these traits combined with the responsiveness and playfulness of the 27.5in wheels make for a solid helping of pure fun.
The third-generation Bronson is longer and slacker than the previous generation for added stability on steep, fast trails. That being said, 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. This lower-link driven VPP suspension platform is something that's now widespread across Santa Cruz's lineup, seeing the need for increased bump compliance, better support, and higher levels of traction demanded by modern trail riders. 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 ability to clear tires up to a whopping 2.8 inches wide, thanks to increased space in the rear triangle for the needs of modern wide trail tires. We've personally found the newly spec'd 2.5-inch Minion DHF up front and 2.4-inch Minion DHR II out back provide the best balance of all-out grip and plow-anything confidence, all without losing much in terms of rolling efficiency when you have to climb back uphill or accelerate from a dead stop. Running traditional plus-sized tires in the realm of 2.8 inches tends to have a negative effect with all the added weight, as well as having a tendency to feel squirmish under hard braking and cornering. 2.6in tires, on the other hand, offer a perfect balance between the two without feeling squirmy or bouncy.
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.
- Santa Cruz's best-selling 27.5 bike makes any trail a blast
- 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 tames steep, rocky descents and big hits
- Lower-link driven shock provides better traction and support
- Impressively stiff Carbon C frame makes for precise handling
- One inch shorter seat tube for running longer dropper posts
- Equipped with a workhorse build kit that won't break the bank