Back to the party.
In its last iteration Santa Cruz's Nomad moved away from party bike status and became synonymous with enduro aggression. For its fourth iteration—unveiled in mid-2017—the Nomad Carbon CC Mountain Bike Frame moved back toward freeride. Or as SC's senior designer puts it, the new Nomad is an "adventure-duro" frame, which we understand as a bike that's just as happy to veer off into backcountry singletrack from the chairlift. And then pedal out. Regardless of how you describe them, those changes are rolling over into 2018, and they mean the latest Nomad is the most climb-happy mini-DH bike that Santa Cruz has produced to date.
The previous generation Nomad went whole hog in the direction of the burgeoning enduro discipline, but our time with the latest Nomad tells us that it's less of a dedicated race bike and more of a gravity/freeride rig that you can pedal uphill without unruly rear suspension gumming up the works. It's not in any danger of being mistaken for the 5010 or Tallboy on punchy risers, but the Nomad settles into a steady climbing rhythm with grace.
The swingarm features a flip-chip, which 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.
For all the changes listed above, the Nomad's Carbon CC construction remains the same. As with previous Carbon CC frames, this Nomad requires less material to hit Santa Cruz's stiffness targets without sacrificing any of the responsiveness of the less expensive, heavier Carbon C models. Both triangles are constructed as whole, monocoque pieces, eliminating the artificial weak points of bonded frames while keeping weight low because the carbon can be wrapped through junctures and around joints in order to reinforce the structure without piling on additional material. While it's being cured, the frame is compacted from inside and out. This final step eliminates excess material and resin pooling, resulting in more structural integrity and, of course, additional weight savings.
Those benefits don't come cheap, though, making the Carbon CC Nomad an investment. Santa Cruz 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.
- A party bike that pedals out almost as well as it drops in
- 6+ inches of V10-inspired VPP suspension
- Adjustable flip-chip with high and low geometry settings
- Seat tube angle keeps climbing steady and
- Longer reach shifts weight forward for better traction
- Carbon CC frame saves weight without sacrificing strength
- Protective elements maintain pristine form and function
- Santa Cruz pushes the Nomad back into freeride territory