Tag Archives | 29er

Santa Cruz Superlight 29 frame and shock – First ride review

The Superlight has always been an unsung hero in the Santa Cruz line, offering way more trail toughness and playful interaction than its weight-focused name suggests. The new SL 29 keeps the simple format but upscales wheel size and technical terrain tenacity in a surprisingly effective way.

Okay, perhaps “surprising” is a little harsh, but when almost everyone else (besides Orange) has moved to a full linkage suspension system for short-travel 29ers we weren’t sure how well the simple swingarm setup would work. Chatting to Santa Cruz’s engineers it seems they shared the same worries, but after blasting it round Sedona’s twisting, drifting, rock-and-drop slickrock singletrack we can see why they pressed the ‘go’ button.

The asymmetric back end certainly isn’t as stiff in wheel-twist terms as the company’s VPP Tallboy 29ers. But it smeared plenty of climbing and turning traction onto the red rock trails and flexed predictably under pressure, rather than loading up and suddenly unleashing like some over-whippy tails can do.

The ‘stiffens under power’ suspension character puts useful pep into pedalling to offset increased wheel mass and inertia. The big-wheel roll-over bonus is obvious as a speed sustaining, grip increasing helpful hand on the back over rough ground, too. The 200mm-long, 50mm-stroke rear shock means the back end also copes with square edges pretty well for a 100mm bike.

Santa cruz superlight 29: santa cruz superlight 29

Unsurprisingly the bigger chunks of Sedona geology did stretch the Superlight to the limit. There’s definitely more sense of unsprung wheel and swingarm weight slowing down suspension response compared to a 26in-wheeled or linkage-driven bike. This translates into it slapping into rather than sucking up bigger hits when things get fast and choppy.

The steep head angle means you’ll be climbing off the back to keep right side up if you’re descending/braking hard enough to start bending the fork back towards you. Then again, if your ride profiles are more Etch A Sketch than sine curve you should probably be looking at the newly announced Tallboy LT and a 34mm-legged fork anyway.

Easy pop-and-drop handling makes the Superlight more engaging and naturally playful than locked-to-the-trail linkage bikes, though. We spent a lot more time with the front wheel lifted than we generally do on short-travel 29ers, and this turned the grin/gritted-teeth ratio in its favour on more technical terrain. Like the 26in version it’s perfectly happy with a 120mm fork plugged in for a more relaxed feel, too.

Santa cruz superlight 29: santa cruz superlight 29

A 2.67kg/5.9lb frame and shock weight creates a 12.75kg/28.12lb complete bike for the RXC29 spec option we tested, despite heavyweight tubeless 2.25in Maxxis Ardent tyres. If you stick with the stock 2.1in Maxxis CrossMarks you’ll really unleash its ability to turn miles into kilometres in terms of the consequences for your legs.

The lack of linkages brings the back wheel in closer and shortens the wheelbase compared to Santa Cruz’s VPP bikes. Add fast, cross-country based handling templated off the very popular Tallboy model and anchored firmly in the tapered-head front end, and it’s eager to hit the singletrack as fast as possible.

The same 15mm-axled, user serviceable collet bearings, decent tyre room and a conventional bottom bracket shell for easy spares sourcing means it should cope with epic mileage well too. Santa Cruz build kits (from £1,899/$1,850) are now exclusively Shimano than SRAM based too, trading increased weight for reduced maintenance time and smoother long-term performance.

Add a small frame size with better standover than most XS bikes and a shorter shock to give a broader rebound range, plus black and orange paint as standard or the full new custom colour palette, and you’re looking at a very appealing fast trail/cross-country bike.

Santa cruz superlight 29: santa cruz superlight 29

(Via BikeRadar.com.)

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Where did 2010 go?….

Here we are, January has just about come and went, and my head is still spinning.  I am the new guy; my name is Geoff, and I am the lucky bloke on the eastern part of the USA getting to ride and write about all things Specialized.  Well that isn’t entirely true; SBC has pretty much given zero guidance/direction on what to write, they know that mountain bikers have an ultra sensitive BS meter, and if they directed us what to write about, said BS meter would be red lined, and our happy readers would procrastinate elsewhere.  Not true here, full disclosure, I promise you to tell it like it is, and, I encourage a dialogue.  If you have questions, send them my way, if they can benefit others, heck ya, I will post it.  It is going to be that kind of warm, fuzzy, feel good kind of place.  Tan, the man with a plan, Specialized’s very own Community & Social Media Specialist asked that I “flesh out” myself as a Trail Crew member.  Future blogs will be much more exciting I promise, but I think Tan is spot on.  I think it would make for a better read if you knew a little bit about me, where I have come from, and where I am going.

I am a 31 year old mechanical engineer, married, and father of two incredible kids.  I work full time and then some.  The last  decade has been a whirl wind.  I studied engineering at the University of Nebraska.  Growing up I always loved bikes but college was my first introduction to competitive cycling.  I found out I didn’t like to lose, coupled to a work ethic that borderlines obsessive compulsive, a seed was planted.

podium ducktown-bergmark

After graduation I was commissioned into the active duty Army Aviation branch, and subsequently learned to fly helicopters.  In the Army I had a disposable income and most weekends free so I sought races within an 8 hour radius wherever I was, which was AL, NY, and WA.  The discipline didn’t matter, road racing, cyclocross, mountain biking, as long as I was turning myself inside out with a number plate pinned or zip-tied to something.  Racing kept me sane, my eyes always looking forward to the next event.  Mountain biking was hands down my favorite and with all my travels I fell in love with the mountains of North Carolina, fortunate for me, my future wife was from NC, and her grandfather had a vacation home smack-dab in the middle of some of the nation’s best trails.  I knew where I wanted to settle down once my military commitment was completed.  My commitment was cut short when my helicopter engine cut out, smacking the ground at 85 mph in 2006 turned my aircraft and world upside down.  The crew survived, there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think about it, forever grateful.  I got my bell rung, both legs broke, right ankle nearly torn off, but alive!  Arthritis was my ticket out, two years earlier than planned. I hung up the beret in January 2008 and moved to Western North Carolina. Feb 6, 2006

During my military tenure I coupled my passion for bikes and training with a masters degree in exercise science.  I coached full time with Carmichael Training Systems out of the Asheville, NC office.

A2 Wind Tunnel work

Two years passed, my family grew, and so did our bills, so I went back to engineering.  For the past year I have been the product manager and engineer for a start-up company in the area.  Since last May I have been working with partners in Asia for over four months.  I got rocked in 2010.

IMG00439-20100825-1209

Specialized contacted me about the Stumpjumper Trail Crew my life was pretty low.  I was just finishing up some plans and packing my suitcases for another month in China.  I was mentally fried, missed my family dearly, 10 pounds heavier than I have ever been, and frustrated because my training/racing season was on the fritz.  The great news was enough to help me wrap up another 30 days of work overseas, the grass on the side was certainly greener, and I was set up to jump the fence.  In my opinion, you the reader, are getting to chime in during an incredible state of flux for me.  I am switching careers so I can get back to doing the things I like:  working hard, keeping my butt in the USA, spending time with the people I love, and racing my mountain bike.  Specialized hooked me up with a GoBandit camera, www.gobandit.com, and I get to show off the incredible trails in the area.  I have perused the videos made by the other SJTC riders and they have certainly raised the bar.  I may not have the fanciest editing skills, but you will probably get to see me eat it sometime soon.

I am going to wait until the next entry to share my new bike with you.  I have about 7 hours on it so far and I LOVE IT.  I will pause for effect, staying perfectly ambiguous, so you have to check back in to see what I got.  There is a short track race this weekend in Charlotte, NC.  My goal is to get some footage with the new camera toy thing and let you see the bike and me at work.  Talking about myself is hard, so I am really pumped to get this one out of the way so we can get to the good stuff soon.  This blog is like my new bike, I am going to have to settle in, carry the multi-tool and shock pump for a while, make adjustments as I go.  The end goal is to have something that is an extension of myself, not just something I am on.

Pisgah the wonder mutt with my Camber Pro 29er

Pisgah says go out and pedal.

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