Stigmata Carbon CC GRX Gravel Bike
Back in 2015, we applauded Santa Cruz's revival of its Stigmata. With carbon fiber layups matching the brand's most elite mountain bikes, and beefy thru-axles that gave the bike more versatility when we reached the end of the tarmac and pushed out onto country roads, gravel, and dirt, the Stigmata symbolized all that freed us from restrictions that both road cycling and mountain biking put on us. And here we are once again with a bit of Déjà Vu, as Santa Cruz launches yet another iteration of the Stigmata that proves the brand's commitment to deepening the adventure, or building the ultimate rallycat CX rig. While in 2015 Santa Cruz set the Stiggy apart from its competitors with technology that was new to the all-road scene, like internally routed cables and disc-brakes, these days you don't have to look hard to find other steeds that feature the same tech, so Santa Cruz looked to riders to see what else might be missing from the dream ride, and modernized the Stigmata to keep it at the top of the game — regardless of whether that game is bikepacking adventures, cross season, or endless miles of gravel racing. This particular build marries the Stigmata's off-road versatility with the shifting comfort of Shimano's new off-road specific GRX groupset that's built to improve chain retention and shift feel through rowdy gravel rides.
All of the new Stigmata frames sport Santa Cruz's top-shelf CC carbon lay-up, which delivers robust strength and stiffness alongside lightweight efficiency. The significantly revised carbon layup borrows knowledge gained from the mountain-going hardtail, the Highball, and knowledge gained when building Danny MacAskill’s trials bike, to produce a ride yielding more compliance helping to smooth out the ride. Up front, the new Stigmata CC Fork uses the same high-end carbon for uncompromising stiffness and strength when you need it most and substitutes the old 15mm thru-axle for a more road and gravel appropriate 12mm one which also helps improve the ride quality.
It receives some modern geometry tweaks that place it solidly in contention with the herd of high-end all-road and gravel bike options, with a 71.5-degree head angle, 74-degree seat angle (based on a 54cm model), and lower bottom bracket height that varies by frame size to account for the crank length spec. You'll also find improved fits for smaller riders with the introduction of a size 49cm, two fork offsets to improve trail geo numbers at the extreme ends of the size spectrums as well as less toe overlap, and improved standover of 10-30mm depending on tire choice. These changes improve confidence and composure while grinding over gravel back roads or exploring light-duty singletrack, yet doesn't detract from its versatility on the 'cross course.
Speaking of 'cross, UCI pro races place limitations on tire width with a maximum of 33mm, however, when venturing off the course, that's hardly our idea of plush. Santa Cruz designed the new Stigmata to accept tires up to 45mm wide in this 700c guise and up to 2.1 inches in 27.5in guise (yep, it now does 700c and 650b!), allowing you to drop the pressure of the tubeless tires for a more comfortable ride through rougher terrain. Conversely, you can toss on a set of skinny road tires to throw down on the local group ride or noodle through the city on a Sunday social.
Thru-axles at the front and rear add poise and confidence for better tracking across rutted-out straightaway and gravel-strewn corners. The new flat-mount brake standard accommodates 140 and 160mm rotors with bikes coming spec'd with 160mm to slow you down in a hurry when you need to, no matter how mucky or wet the conditions. Internal cable routing cleans things up by running the brake and shift housing through the frame and fork, providing a bit of added cable protection and improved aesthetics over frames with external routing. And for riders worried about future compatibility, the Stigmata's ability to run both mechanical and electronic drivetrains keeps it relevant in today's ever-shifting landscape of technology.
Final new frame details extend to three water bottle cage mounts for really getting out there and staying hydrated and stealth routing should you decide to run a dropper post. The frame and fork also get fender mounts so you and the bike stay cleaner and a move away from the PressFit30 bottom bracket to the easier to install and maintain and less likely to creak and pop 68mm English threaded shell.
- Santa Cruz's go anywhere, ride anything, multi-surface drop-bar bike
- CC-grade carbon is ultra-light, stiff, and reliable
- Shimano's GRX gravel group shifts smooth, boosts chain retention
- Three bottle cage mounts keep you hydrated for longer
- Accommodates up to 27.5 x 2.1in or 700x45mm tires
- Improved frame and fork compliance keeps the ride smooth
- 68mm threaded bottom bracket shell eliminates creaks
- Fender mounts keep you and the bike clean in unfavorable weather