With the massive popularity of the previous generation Nomad, the engineers at Santa Cruz could have simply tweaked the geometry and slapped on a fancy new paint job and called it good. However, if you're aware of this Northern California company, you'd realize they're never content resting on previous acclaim, preferring to blaze their own trail by purposely designing bikes from the ground up. Symbolizing Santa Cruz's legacy as pioneers in the mountain bike world, the Nomad Carbon CC XO1 RCT Air Complete Mountain Bike is completely redesigned for 2018 with an aggressive stature and downhill-inspired chassis that pushes it further into gravity realms.
Taking inspiration from the downhill-crushing V10, the fourth generation Nomad sports a lower-link mounted shock and flip-chip with high/low geometry settings. This V10-inspired chassis makes it all the more worthy for the gnarliest descents you can find, whether it's lift-accessed downhills or chutes plunging down alpine terrain. Looking further into the fourth-gen Nomad's details, you'll be even more impressed with thoughtful additions to the bike's most sensitive regions—mainly with the cleanly integrated shuttle guard, but also with the mud-blocking shock fender and aluminum ear cover that protects the swingarm from dropped chains.
Although the previous Nomad was aimed squarely at enduro racing, 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 places 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 angle of 64.6 degrees) that's purely focused on lift-accessed downhills and shuttle runs 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 swaths of alpine terrain.
Delving into 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 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. Even though it's shock rate is more linear than ever, it doesn't sacrifice support deep into the travel, meaning it never feels harsh on bigger hits and downhill runs.
This particular build boasts Santa Cruz's Carbon CC frame, which shaves a healthy dose of weight from the cheaper Carbon C construction—all without sacrificing the legendary strength and stiffness you've become accustomed to from Santa Cruz. We don't have any real figures on hand for the weight savings, but a typical Carbon CC frame weighs about eight to nine ounces lighter than Carbon C versions. It's running SRAM's XO1 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, which gives you the largest gear range available with a 1x set-up, thanks in part to its massive 50-tooth bail-out cog for spinning up the steepest climbs.
Another detail to note, this Nomad Carbon CC comes with a RockShox Super Deluxe Air RCT shock, versus the coil shock available on other Carbon CC builds. This air shock not only shaves significant weight for greater efficiency, but it's also a solid choice for riders seeking greater tunability with a bit more end-stroke progression to prevent harshness. Ultimately, we think the air shock is best for a large majority of riders pedaling up before descending, versus those using the Nomad solely as a mini downhill bike.
- Aggressive redesign moves further into gravity realms
- V10-inspired chassis with lower-link mounted air 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 CC frame drops weight without sacrificing strength
- Protective details: shuttle guard, shock fender, aluminum ear cover
- XO1 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain + RockShox Super Deluxe Air RCT shock