In April 2011, Santa Cruz Bicycles began developing carbon swingarms as part of a test project in conjunction with ENVE Composites.
A few months later, Greg Minnaar and the Santa Cruz Syndicate raced the full carbon frames for the first time at Val di Sole and Champery. The project included lighter prototype front triangles as well.
One year, several podiums, and a World Cup win later, Minnaar piloted the bike to the 2012 World Championship title. Today, the knowledge, techniques, and material benefits gained through the project are now available to everyone.
Introducing the 2013 Santa Cruz V10c - "The lightest, strongest, and (counting the previous generations) most successful production downhill frame to date."
Class is in session, and Santa Cruz mechanical engineer Nick Anderson is at the helm. It's time to get your learn on, so listen up.
It's still the V10 you know and love. Geometry and travel adjustments remain the same, but it went on a diet and came out leaner than ever before.
Having learned a tremendous amount from the ENVE project, Santa Cruz has now moved the swing arm production to their own facilities. Weight savings in the rear are an incredible 1.2 pounds (0.53kg) over the aluminum version.
That's not all! The front triangle has also lost 0.7 pounds (0.3kg). Total frame weight is just 6.97 pounds with a Rock Shox Vivid air, or 7.9 pounds with a Fox DHX RC4 shock.
Using 2+ years of experience and data collection, Santa Cruz was able to take considerable weight out of the downtube and lower seat tube area. Weight was saved through small changes to the external shape and greater optimization of the layup.
Full carbon 12x157mm dropouts complement the advanced rear end and bring it up to the latest standards. Color-matched ENVE rims and fork decals are just icing on the cake.
Very slick, very clean. Just the way we like it. In addition to the rubber guards, a custom rear axle and the new Shimano direct mount hanger keep things tidy.
The fender area between the tire and shock is now a molded part of the swingarm, adding to the overall stiffness.
Pivots are now integrated into the layup, eliminating the bonding process.
By co-molding the pivots and then machining them, tolerances are closer to perfect than ever before, ensuring the bike rides exactly as it was designed to.
Nothing to hide here. Santa Cruz uses a proprietary carbon monocoque construction technique. The front triangle is just one piece, something very few companies are able to achieve. No filler materials, no foam, just the good stuff.
Internally, the carbon is very smooth, which is related to how well the layers of carbon are compacted together during the curing process. Evenly tensioned fibers are key to carbon's strength.
Ease of maintenance is always a design goal at Santa Cruz, as evidenced by this slick grease port in the forged aluminum lower link.
The new carbon upper link adds to the increased stiffness and strength of the rear end. During all of Santa Cruz's lab tests, the results of which we saw, the V10 performed the best by far.
What's tested? Just about everything you can image. Rest assured these carbon brake mounts will hold.
The incredibly resilient headtube is paired up with new integrated fork bumpers that eliminate cable pinching and rubbing. External routing remains for ease of maintenance at races.
Sexy and strong, the 2013 V10c will be backed by a 5 year warranty, an increase from 2 years and further proof that they've done their homework.
Like kids in a candy store, we eagerly crowded around when the came time to ride it. Thanks for setting us up, Marshy!
Tuscany's testing grounds. From tight turns to techy rock sections and a few wide open bits, the terrain was a suitable place to see what the new bike's made of.
Right off the bat, it was clear that the bike is markedly more nimble. It feels more lively than the previous generation, especially in the 8.5-inch travel mode.
As Greg puts it, the bike feels light but dense. It's a sure-footed, stable feeling without the sluggishness of a heavier bike.
If you had told Greg that he'd be racing a full carbon rig to a World Champs win a few years ago, he would have chuckled. Today, it's a reality.
One of the main benefits of the weight loss is less unsprung weight, allowing the suspension to behave better and react quicker. The difference was noticeable, especially in chatter.
A roost capture this good could only come from one person. The talented Gary Perkin hard at work as Peaty whizzes by.
Santa Cruz marketing whiz and Mr. Bean doppelganger, Will Ockelton, rips the same production frame that the Syndicate will race in 2013.
So, what does a race bike weigh? Peaty's 20th Anniversary World Championship V10 was right around 35 pounds.
Cedric Gracia is back! Following a five-month recovery process, the legend joined us for his first run on a DH bike since the injury.
What does zee Frenchie think of the carbon rear end? If his hoots and hollers all day were any indication, he was in love again.
Incredibly, Cedric says that he can now feel a difference in his spoke tension in corners. Wow.
We hear you on that one, CG!
Dozens of laps later, we were left with a great impression of the new steed. Bottom line - this bike rips. It's a substantial improvement to an already impressive platform.
Ahh... the good life.
Cheers for the experience, boys. Have another Grappa on us. Mi sono divertito. A presto!