Tailor-made for trail riders everywhere.
As aficionados of all things dirt, we've been inundated with endless acronyms and marketing-driven product specialization. However, what most of us really want is a mountain bike for mountain biking, which is why we're so excited about the Santa Cruz 5010 R AM Complete Mountain Bike. With its 27.5-inch wheels, proven FOX suspension and reliable Shimano build kit, this version of the 5010 platform is built for the trails, plain and simple. And while it lacks a bit of the flash of its carbon fiber counterpart, the aluminum framed version is ready for seasons of action. It's the perfect companion for those who ride hard, instead of just talking about it.
While there's no denying the drool-factor of the carbon fiber 5010, aluminum remains the material of choice for the value-conscious among us. Luckily for you, Santa Cruz's decades of experience with the material are on full display. Through thoughtful selection of butted tubing, and artfully minimized machined bits, the 5010's frame is kept to a very reasonable 6.8 pounds for a medium frame with a rear shock. And while it sacrifices roughly a pound and a half to its carbon fiber counterpart, it stacks up admirably both in terms of strength and stiffness. That's thanks in part to the oversize 15mm collet-style hardware, which is further aided by the 12x142mm through axle out back.
With a bike this versatile, it's important to have a suspension platform that pedals as well as it descends. And with the latest version of VPP handling the terrain, that's not a concern. It uses two counter-rotating links to achieve an optimal balance of firm pedaling and a smooth ride. Basically, the beginning stroke is controlled by the upper link, which starts the stroke in a high-leverage position for a supple ride over stutter bumps. As the suspension settles into the sag point, the lower link takes over control of the suspension, enabling the rear wheel to travel backwards, out of the way of impacts. The upshot to all of this is when the suspension is at the resting sag point, it harnesses your pedaling forces to neutralize suspension movement, giving you a firm, efficient feel at the pedals. So, whether you're climbing for two hours at a time, or rallying aggressive descents, your suspension works with you, not against you.
The mid-sized 27.5-inch wheels found on the 5010 have been surrounded by a whirlwind of attention as of late, and with good reason. The geometry of 26-inch bikes has become thoroughly refined over the past few years, but many riders find that the improved rolling characteristics of a 29-inch wheel make them an appealing alternative. However, stuffing a 29- inch wheel into a frame with moderate travel can produce some undesirable side effects, most notably long, unwieldy chainstays. By designing the 5010 around 27.5-inch wheels, Santa Cruz has harnessed the improved rolling ability of larger wheels, while dropping nearly three quarters of an inch off the chainstay length of the Tallboy. And that translates into faster turns and a more responsive ride. The chainstays grow roughly a quarter inch as compared to the Blur TR, allowing it to maintain the snappy handling of its smaller wheeled sibling. And like the Blur TR, the head angle remains at 68 degrees. What that means for you is that the steering feel is nearly identical to the notoriously fun TR. Instead of thinking of the 5010 as a downsized Tallboy, consider it a beefed up Blur TR that retains the flickability, and adds a heaping spoonful of out-and-out speed to the equation.
While the R AM build is the value-oriented package in the lineup, Santa Cruz made sure to spec it with components that are up to the task in every regard. FOX handles the suspension duties, with a FOX FLOAT CTD Evolution series rear shock, and a 32 FIT CTD Evolution series fork. Both feature FOX's CTD adjustment scheme, which makes dialing in your suspension settings a breeze. The fork employs FOX's FIT sealed damper, for consistent damper performance, even on the longest descents. And while both units forgo the gold-colored Kashima coating, in our experience, the difference in suspension feel is somewhere between negligible and non-existent. The drivetrain is a Shimano affair, blending Deore level cranks and front derailleur with SLX shifters and Shadow Plus rear derailleur. The resulting drivetrain has a proven track record for durability, and the Shadow Plus clutch technology replaces the chain slap of yesteryear with blissful silence, even on rocky terrain. The brakes are Shimano's excellent Deore model, which are renowned for their reliability and fantastic stopping power. The cockpit is comprised of Raceface Ride components, and the seating is taken care of by a WTB Volt. Rounding out the package is a set of tubeless-compatible WTB i23 rims laced with DT spokes to SRAM hubs. And they're wrapped in Maxxis High Roller II tubeless compatible tires, which roll fast and provide tons of grip even on the hairiest terrain you'll encounter.
The Santa Cruz 5010 R AM Complete Mountain Bike is available in four sizes from Small to X-Large, and in the colors Orange/blue, and White/grey.