Wandering back to freeride.
Though the Nomad has come to be celebrated as enduro royalty, we always thought of it as a throw-down party bike. After all, it's original iterations were built for sessioning more than racing, and it was only the third generation that went all-in on enduro. For the fourth generation, Santa Cruz pushes back on this trend, resituating the Nomad Carbon C XE Complete Mountain Bike as a mini-DH freeride bike that's a few mm of travel and a dual-crown fork away from being a proper gravity sled. That's not to say it doesn't like to pedal—quite the opposite, actually. The Nomad won't rocket up risers like a Highball, but it settles into a good rhythm on long climbs, so you'll be able to pedal out when sidecountry singletrack lures you away from the chair lift.
The swingarm features a flip-chip, an increasingly common addition across Santa Cruz's line that gives you the ability to fine-tune the geometry to your exact riding preferences and local terrain. It raises or lowers the bottom bracket, shifting the head tube between 65 and 64.6 degrees. Combined with a longer reach, that slack front end keeps things calm and comfortable on wicked descents, yet the 75-degree seat tube angle puts you in an optimal pedaling position, so you're never struggling to shift your weight forward on climbs. In fact, the Nomad makes you feel like you don't have to worry about your weight at all; it feels centered and stable, no doubt the result of the long, slack geometry and short chainstays.
Moving to the revised shock placement, the engineers at Santa Cruz sought to achieve a more linear shock rate with the fourth generation Nomad, much like you'd find with the V10. The VPP suspension is driven by a lower-link mounted coil shock, marking a radical departure from the likes of Bronson and Hightower. This revised shock location 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. It doesn't sacrifice support deep into the travel, either, meaning it stays pillowy, never feeling harsh on bigger hits and downhill sections.
Santa Cruz's Carbon C frame construction remains unchanged, so the latest Nomad enjoys the same durability and stiffness of previous generations. Santa Cruz uses a single layup for both triangles instead of a jigsaw puzzle of individually cured carbon tubes, allowing the engineers to wrap the fibers continuously around structurally important junctures like the head tube and bottom bracket. This continuous wrapping strengthens the frame, dissipates the force from impacts, and more efficiently channels pedal input. Efficiency, durability, and even a touch of weight loss compared to building with individual tubes — the advantages of Santa Cruz's construction methods go some way toward eliding the differences between Carbon C and Carbon CC while also setting the Nomad even further apart from its peers.
Any Santa Cruz bike is an investment, and the California-based brand protects that investment with some thoughtful additions to the bike's sensitive regions—mainly the cleanly integrated shuttle guard, but also the mud-blocking shock fender and aluminum ear cover that protects the swingarm from dropped chains. Like most SC frames, the Nomad is a well-functioning beauty, so these little details are especially welcome because they help it stay that way. One final detail proven the "well-functioning" point is SC's insistence on sticking with a threaded bottom bracket, which increases frame longevity compared to PressFit models and—much more importantly—reduces creaks and pops.
- A freeride sled for flow sessions and enduro racing
- V10-inspired chassis with lower-link mounted coil shock
- Adjustable flip-chip with high and low geometry settings
- Seat tube angle keeps climbing steady and
- Longer reach shifts weight forward for better traction
- Protective elements maintain pristine form and function
- Build kit blend targets everything from adventure to racing
- Carbon frame and threaded BB combines the best of new and old tech