Nomad Carbon R Complete Mountain Bike
If you follow trends in the bike industry you've probably noticed that mountain bikes are evolving in the direction of lower, longer, and slacker geometry as riders demand bikes capable of tackling terrain that would've only been possible on dual-crown downhill sleds just a few years ago. In our minds the Nomad Carbon R Complete Mountain Bike from Santa Cruz is the closest you can get to downhill bike handling while still being able to tackle big rides with plenty of vertical gain. Call it a modern freeride bike if you will, but even though the fourth-gen Nomad is more aggressive and gravity-focused than ever, it never strays far from the original Nomad's roots, namely its ability to pedal back up for another wicked descent to keep the stoke going all day long. For the 2020 model year Santa Cruz gave the bike fresh new colorways, and changed the tires to ultra-grippy Maxxis Assegai for a boost of traction on any trail surface. Otherwise this "R" build kit remains about the same, featuring a value-packed set of components that gives up very little in the way of performance compared to the more expensive build kits.
Although the previous generation Nomad 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 head tube of 64.6 degrees 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 swaths of 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 Santa Cruz's trail bikes with an upper-link driven design. 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. Although 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 Carbon R 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 NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, which gives you one of the largest 1x gear ranges at a rather attractive price, when compared to costlier GX and XO1 Eagle drivetrains. You'll find RockShox's Yari RC 170-millimeter fork paired with a RockShox Super Deluxe Select air shock in the rear for an optimal balance of big-hit composure and small-bump suppleness. This rear shock is 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 shock guard and aluminum chainstay cover that prevents dropped chains from damaging the rear swingarm.
- Downhill bike handling with the versatility of a trail bike
- Long wheelbase and slack geometry for impressive stability at speed
- 170mm of plush yet supportive VPP travel inspires you to go big
- Flip-chip lets you tune the geometry DH days or pedally rides
- 75-degree seat tube angle optimizes pedaling efficiency
- Carbon C frame is strong, stiff, and backed by lifetime warranty
- Protective details: shuttle guard, shock fender, downtube protector
- SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain offers a massive range at affordable price