It likes to go fast.
The Santa Cruz Nomad has always been a bike for the aggressive rider who seeks every opportunity to get airborne, charges downhill at ridiculous rates of speed, and prefers technical lines to dumbed-down options. It's also been a bike that could climb back uphill after the blistering descent is finished, giving it a bit more balance than many bikes in the long-travel category. Building on this legacy for the 2018 model year, the Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon C S Complete Mountain Bike dives deeper into the gravity spectrum with its lower-link mounted shock and flip-chip with high/low geometry settings. This redesigned platform takes inspiration from the downhill-crushing V10, yet like all previous Nomads, it retains the ability to pedal back up for one last heart-pumping descent.
Although the previous generation Nomad was aimed squarely at enduro domination, the newest generation is less of a dedicated race bike and more of a gravity rig that you can actually pedal uphill without struggling like other long-travel sleds. Think of it as a freeride bike for riders seeking one that's versatile enough to lap the resort park and shuttle downhill laps, then pedal along backcountry epics the very next day. The 65-degree head tube angle (in high setting) and longer reach keep things calm and comfortable on wicked descents, yet the steeper 75-degree seat tube angle puts you in an optimal pedaling position without struggling to shift your weight forward on steep climbs.
The flip-chip integrated into the swingarm provides the ability to fine-tune its geometry to your exact riding preferences and local terrain. Keep it in the high setting for a more efficient pedaling platform on rides with a mix of blistering descents and steep climbs. Conversely, you can switch it to the low setting for an even slacker geometry (head tube of 64.6 degrees) that's purely aimed on downhill laps at the resort and shuttle runs up the pass where climbing isn't an issue. Ultimately, its adjustable geometry lends the ability to push the bike to the absolute limit on lift-accessed days or retain more balance for earning your turns across large and imposing alpine terrain.
Moving to the revised shock placement, the engineers at Santa Cruz sought to achieve a more linear shock rate with the fourth-gen Nomad, much like you'd find with the V10. The VPP suspension is driven by a lower-link mounted shock, marking a radical departure from the likes of Bronson and Hightower. This revised shock placement eliminates the Nomad's previous tendencies to settle in the middle of its travel, meaning it feels more active and tracks to the ground noticeably better across steep descents and rugged terrain. And even though its shock rate is more linear, it doesn't sacrifice support deep into the travel, meaning it never feels harsh on bigger hits and downhill runs.
This C build boasts a Carbon C frame, which retains the legendary stiffness and strength that first placed Santa Cruz on the map as leaders in carbon frame construction. It's decked out with SRAM's newest GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, which gives you the largest 1x gear range on the market. You'll find RockShox's Lyrik RC 170-millimeter fork paired with a RockShox Super Deluxe R air shock in the rear for an optimal balance of big-hit composure and small-bump suppleness. This rear shock gets metric sizing, which makes it all the more futureproof, should you decide to upgrade to a coil option down the road. Besides its impressive component spec, you'll be impressed with Santa Cruz's placement of protective bits—mainly with the shuttle guard that keeps your frame scratch-free, but also with the mud-blocking shuttle guard and aluminum ear cover that prevents dropped chains from damaging the rear swingarm.
- Aggressive redesign pushes deeper into gravity realms
- V10-inspired chassis with lower-link mounted shock
- Adjustable flip-chip with high and low geometry settings
- 75-degree seat tube angle optimizes pedaling efficiency
- Longer reach shifts weight forward for better traction
- Carbon C frame is impressively stiff and reliably strong
- Protective details: shuttle guard, shock fender, aluminum ear cover
- SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain + RockShox Super Deluxe R air shock