Tested: Santa Cruz V10CC
Review by Fred Robinson // Photos by Fred Robinson and Matt Puzel/Brandon Turman (action)
With the 2014 World Cup overall title in the bag and only half a second away from winning World Champs, had Josh Bryceland just SLOWED DOWN before that final jump, the new Santa Cruz V10 already has a reputation that speaks pretty loudly for itself. So what else could we find to say about it? Plenty. Check out how well, or sometimes maybe not so well, we got on with the brand new Santa Cruz V10CC.
For 2015 Santa Cruz introduces the 6th generation of it's highly successful V10 platform. While maintaining the look and lines of the previous year's V10, the new version is a further refinement of the bike and has seen a few big updates in regards to wheel-size, front-end length and rear travel. Based on feedback from the Santa Cruz Syndicate, the V10 lost the adjustable travel options in favor of a single, 8.5-inch setting and now offers adjustable geometry with high and low options. Between the two settings a few numbers change: at 63.5-degrees the head-angle is half a degree slacker in the low setting, the bottom bracket drops a quarter-inch from 14.17” to 13.92” and the reach sees about a fifth of an inch reduction in the low setting. Chain-stay length stays consistent regardless of which setting the rider chooses. Wheel size was also updated to 27.5-inch, which Santa Cruz had been testing on the bike since around early 2013 eventually leading to the new bike being unveiled partway through the 2014 World Cup season.
Also new for 2015 is the option of two different carbon V10 frames, the V10CC and the V10C. Santa Cruz uses two different types of carbon for these two different models. For the V10C, a less expensive carbon is employed to lower the overall cost of the bike. While stiffness and strength remain the same between the two frames, the benefit of the V10CC is a weight-savings of 280g, which is over half a pound for the non-metric minded.
Santa Cruz V10 CC Highlights
- Full carbon frame and swingarm
- Carbon C and Carbon CC frame options
- 216mm (8.5") VPP suspension
- 27.5-inch wheels
- Adjustable geometry with HIGH & LOW settings
- Double-sealed pivots for long bearing life
- Dual grease ports on lower link for easy maintenance
- Integrated fork bumpers with cable guide
- Molded clip-on chainstay and upright protector
- Full carbon dropouts and disk mounts
- Angular contact bearings maximize stiffness
- Collet axle pivots lock in place without pinch bolts
- Molded rubber swingarm and downtube protection
- 157mm rear axle spacing
- Threaded BB for creak-free riding and easy installation
- ISCG-05 tabs for chainguide compatibility
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL (with rumors of a XXL in the works)
Santa Cruz put us on the V10CC X01 build, complete with ENVE wheels and a SRAM X01 DH 7-spd drive train. Santa Cruz really spared no expense when putting this bike together and everywhere you look is a high-end component. From the FOX suspension, ENVE hoops, Race Face SIXC carbon bars and cranks, DT 240 hubs... right down to the Thomson Elite seatpost, no corners were cut. But if you want a build of this caliber it doesn't come cheap. This beaut' goes for $10,799 and is one of the most expensive complete downhill bikes available.
When deciding on what size frame to go with, our decision was based mostly on reach. Although Santa Cruz lengthened the front-end for 2015, we still found ourselves favoring the reach numbers of the XL as opposed to a large (what we normally find suitable for this 6'1” tester) at 445.9mm in low and 450.8mm in high. While setting up the bike and getting all our contact points and controls where we like them, it was confirmed the cockpit length was what we expected and put us right where we like to be in terms of body position. Although the cockpit sizing was what we're used to, one thing that stood out immediately was how long the bike felt. This was confirmed when we checked the numbers. Sure enough, the reach of the XL V10 is comparable to the reach of some other size large frames on the market, while the wheel-base is in the range of some other XL bikes. This comes with a few handling characteristics that we'll get into later.
On The Trail
Right off the bat we noticed how well the V10CC reacts to rider input. Santa Cruz did a good job of picking parts that offer excellent stiffness with little weight penalty. The ENVE rims, FOX 40 Float, Race Face SIXC carbon bits and the V10CC frame itself all really help make this bike stiff, light and extremely responsive. That stiffness is really felt while all-out sprinting, in the rocks and in corners, contributing to a super responsive feeling in general.
Even though the bike rolls on bigger wheels, it's still quick to get up to speed. When pedaling out of corners or mashing across the flats no effort is wasted and the bike picks up very well. While we're on the topic of suspension, the combination of the 27.5 wheels with the VPP linkage makes for excellent small bump and chatter handling. Cornering traction was also great. The big wheels, Maxxis Minion DHRII tires, and the FOX suspension offer plenty of support and grip allowing the bike to really rail wide-open turns like no other bike we've ridden.
It should be noted we are running the bike slightly over-sprung with only 24% sag where as Santa Cruz recommends the bike be run between 28.6 and 35.8%. This is mostly down to rider preference.
Our FOX DHX RC4 settings from full closed:
Air Assist full open at 135PSI // Rebound 7-clicks // HCS 8-clicks // LSC 7-clicks
FOX 40 Float Fit settings from full closed:
Spring: 85PSI // Rebound 9-clicks // HSC 16-clicks // LSC 10-clicks
Accessing the shock, the adjustment knobs, and the mounting bolts on the V10 frame is easy.
The bike tracks exceedingly well in the rough. Despite the big wheels, quick line adjustments were easy and the bike responded quickly and predictably to rider input. The light weight of the bike undoubtedly played a role in this as well. While the bike never deflected nor displayed any weird behavior in the rough, we did notice when speeds picked up through extremely nasty sections that the bike was a bit harsh and although square-edge hits didn't feel like they really slowed the bike down, the roughness of the trail was definitely transmitted to the rider more than with some other bikes we've ridden. That said, the V10CC's excellent response to rider input and predictable handling makes the bike one of the fastest downhill bikes we've laid our hands on so far in terms of going all-out over abusive terrain.
We tested the V10CC mostly in the low setting for a couple of reasons. While the high setting should (at least on paper) make the bike feel a bit more playful with a steeper head-angle, there wasn't a huge difference on the purely DH oriented trails we mostly rode the bike on. The high setting would be ideal for a bike park but unfortunately we tested the V10 during winter. Where we did notice a difference between the two settings was in fast corners and mega-steep terrain, and in those situations we preferred the lower BB height and slacker HA of the lower setting.
Now there are a couple trade-off's in the low setting worth mentioning and this is where the wheel-base and the associated handling characteristics we alluded to earlier come in. The V10 is long, actually the longest DH bike we've ridden to date. In that low setting you only gain about 1-mm of wheel-base length, which isn't a big deal at all, but the one place this bike suffers in is through tight corners and when you slack the bike out another half a degree (low setting), tight corner handling suffers even more. Either way, in either high or low, the V10 takes some muscling around in the tighter corners due to the long wheel-base and this was really the only place we found the bike fighting against us a bit. On the flip side, the long wheel-base really works on your side when things get faster. In wide-open, high-speed sections of trail the V10 was one of the most balanced and stable bikes we've ever ridden, its rider-in-the-center feeling letting us open it up more than we were willing to with any other bike. Speed is clearly what the bike was built for. And when things got steep we were still able to push the bike plenty as we could get over the back of the bike while keeping enough weight on that front wheel to keep it pointed where we wanted.
- Size: XL
- Frame Material: Carbon CC
- Fork: Fox 40 Float 27.5 FIT RC2 Kashima
- Shock: Fox DHX RC4 Kashima
- Chainguide: E13 LG1
- Rear Derailleur: SRAM X01 DH 7-speed
- Shifter: SRAM X01 DH 7-speed
- Crankset: Raceface SIXC Carbon 165mm 36t
- Cassette: SRAM X01 DH 7-speed
- Chain: SRAM XX1 11-speed
- Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC w/ Avid G2CS Rotors, 203mm front 200mm rear
- Headset: Cane Creek 40
- Bars: Raceface SIXC Carbon 35, 800mm wide
- Stem: Easton Havoc 35 direct mount adjustable between 45 and 50mm
- Grips: Santa Cruz Palmdale lock-on
- Front Hub: DT Swiss 240 110x20
- Rear Hub: DT Swiss 240 157x12
- Rims: ENVE M90 Ten
- Spokes: DT Swiss Competition 2.0
- Tires: Maxxis Minion DHRII, DH casing, 27.5x2.4
- Seatpost: Thomson Elite
- Saddle: WTB Silverado
- Weight: 33.49lbs w/o pedals (tested)
In terms of shifting, SRAM's X01 DH drivetrain always ran smooth and it works exactly like a proper drivetrain should. With usable steps between each gear, less shifts were needed to find the proper gear for whatever situation we were in. Even in rough bits, the shifting was always precise and never jumped gears nor did we ever drop a chain thanks to the E13 LG1 chainguide and Race Face 36t narrow-wide chainring.
As mentioned early the V10CC was very quick to get up to pace. Corner exit speed was good and changing direction was easy. A lot of this comes down to the ENVE M90 Ten rims, which weigh only 563g (rim only) each. Despite their light weight, the M90 Ten's are very stiff laterally and have held up extremely well for the duration of this test. They've taken a couple good hits that had us cringing and convinced we were going to find a crack, but when the time came to check them over we were surprised to find them tip-top; they held true and round even under our 235lbs tester.
“Slow down you must, go fast you will.” - Yoda or Sam Hill
In terms of braking, SRAM had us covered with the Guide RSC brakes providing plenty of stopping power that is easy to control. With the V10, you got to be smart with that power though and laying off the brakes did seem to free up that rear-end a bit when the bike was starting to feel harsh in those fast rough sections we mentioned earlier.
In the control department of the V10CC build we tested, Santa Cruz decided to go with the 800-mm Race Face SIXC 35 bars and Santa Cruz Palmdale lock-on grips. While bar-length, rise and sweep are highly personal preferences, our tester was happy with the overall feel of the setup and the added stiffness and vibration damping characteristics of a carbon bar are definitely a plus in our book.
Things That Could Be Improved
Our only geometry gripe with the V10 was that wheel-base to reach ratio. While the Syndicate guys will certainly benefit from such extreme numbers, it would be a huge plus for many average riders if Santa Cruz could develop some kind of adjustable length system similar to a couple other bikes on the market.
Price too will be a bit of an obstacle for Santa Cruz with their lowest offering, the V10C still costing buyers $5,699 while other manufacturers now offer similarly spec'd carbon bikes in the $4500 range.
Long Term Durability
With a bit over 2 months on the V10CC we've seen zero signs of weakness. Should the angular contact bearings Santa Cruz uses need attention they've included grease ports to keep you running smooth, but during the time we had the bike there was never a need. We periodically checked the frame for loose pivot hardware but we came up empty-handed each time, a testament to those Collet pivot locks. With a 5-year frame warranty, lifetime bearing warranty, and a lifetime crash replacement program, even if you do manage to break this bike, Santa Cruz has you covered.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Santa Cruz V10CC with the X01 DH build with ENVE wheels is truly one of the nicest spec'd and fastest bikes we've ever ridden, hands down. Confidence inspiring in pretty much every situation, the bike is a blast to ride and we don't want to give it back. Best suited for race-minded riders with an aggressive riding style, the V10 is a purebred race-bike through and through. With complete bikes ranging from $6,599 to the $10,799 package we tested, the V10 is definitely a bit more expensive than other bikes out there, but for that price you get an extremely refined ride with an undeniable pedigree that can't be ignored. Whether or not that's enough for you to pull the trigger is entirely personal, but we can say with confidence that the V10CC hauls the mail and delivers in record time.
For more information, head on over to www.santacruzbicycles.com.
About The Reviewer
Fred Robinson, a.k.a. "Derf," has been on two wheels since he was two years old. He picked up a mountain bike in 2004 and started racing downhill in 2006. He has seen moderate success racing CAT 1 but focuses his efforts on building, maintaining and riding his local trails. He's deceptively quick for a bigger guy and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. As a SoCal native he mostly rides trails covered with loose, traction-less turns and sharp, immovable rocks. Besides downhill, he rides trail bikes, road, and also enjoys the occasional dirt jump session. He is currently a student at UCSD and a wrench at a local bike shop.