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When one Santa Cruz bike in the line gets an update or new features, it has become expected the rest of the line will follow suit one at a time. Though that much can be virtually relied upon, what always remains a mystery is which bike will get the treatment. This April, we saw the Megatower get a host of updates, including the Glovebox (in-frame storage). Next up was the Hightower with its foreshadowed changes. Today, it is the Nomad's turn but with quite a bit more to it than just a hole in the frame for your Twinkies. Let's dig into the new mixed-wheeled monster's finer points.

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Highlights

  • Mixed wheel only - 29-inch/27.5-inch wheels
  • 170mm (6.6-inches) travel front and rear
  • Carbon frame - C and CC level construction
  • In-frame storage (Glovebox)
  • Size-specific geometry and carbon layup
  • Threaded bottom bracket with ISCG05 mounts
  • Universal derailleur hanger
  • Boost 148 hub spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Lifetime frame warranty
  • Lifetime bearing replacement
  • Coil shock options with DoubleDown tires on most builds
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The biggest news with the Nomad is about 1.5-inches. Namely the front wheel. Just as we saw with the Bronson, the new Nomad is now a dedicated mixed-wheel bike. This is perhaps not massively surprising but it is a departure for the Nomad lineage. It does maintain the same 170mm of travel front and rear. As we are seeing with other models from Santa Cruz, the Nomad now features the Glove Box, an in-frame storage option to house various sundries.

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Updated Suspension

High-level details aside, Santa Cruz did some tinkering with the Nomad's suspension characteristics. Uncharacteristically, they've even shared some graphs and curves and such. Santa Cruz lowered the anti-squat value of the Nomad 6 when compared to the V5. The V6 also has a reduced leverage rate and progressivity. 

Straight from Santa Cruz:

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Anti-Squat: Like most of our recent projects, a big part of increasing suspension sensitivity lay in the anti-squat and pedal kickback values. By having lower anti-squat, we were able to remove suspension harshness triggered by square-edge hits while descending. The reduction of anti-squat also allows the rear wheel to maintain better traction while climbing. 

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Leverage: Our goal was to make the suspension platform consistent throughout the stroke. We found that by reducing the starting leverage we were able to improve body-weight influenced geometry stability, while reducing progression allowed the suspension to have consistently better tracking qualities throughout the stroke.

Geometry Changes

Sure, the new Nomad is predictably longer in the reach department, but only slightly so. The same can be said of the slacker head angle and size-specific seat angles. What is noteworthy, however, is the longer, size-specific chain stay lengths. Size small Nomads have a 439.8mm chain stay in the "Lo" position and that number grows with each size all the way to 450.9mm with the XXL frame. On the topic of size-specific frame qualities, Santa Cruz is calling out its unique carbon layup for each size to offer everyone a similar ride quality.

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The Lineup

There are essentially five parts kits available for the 2023 Santa Cruz Nomad. Things kick off with the R and S builds that feature SRAM NX or GX (respectively). From here, things get a little tedious - The GX AXS build comes with a Reserve wheel option as well as an air or coil shock option. The coil option nets you Maxxis DoubleDown tires. The X01 build can be kitted with the same coil option but is not delineated with a Reserve option. At the top of the heap is the X01 AXS RSV (only with Reserve wheels) in an air or coil option.

Santa Cruz Nomad R - $5,649

The Nomad C R uses a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and SRAM G2 RE brakes with 200mm rotors. It comes with a RockShox Zeb R fork and RockShox Super Deluxe Select rear shock. There is an SDG Tellis dropper in 125-175mm drop lengths depending on frame size. RaceFace AR 30 wheels and a Maxxis Assegai and DHRII tire combination round out the kit.

Nomad C S - $6,799

Next up is the Nomad C S build. A SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and SRAM Code R brakes make the Nomad go and stop. The fork is a FOX 38 Performance mated with a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock. The seatpost bumps to the RockShox Reverb with 125mm-200mm of drop depending on frame size. The wheels are still RaceFace AR30 hoops with an upgrade to the hubs.

Nomad C GX AXS - $8,499

The Nomad C GX AXS is the top offering of the C frame line. As the name indicates, it uses SRAM's wireless GX AXS drivetrain with SRAM Code RS brakes. The fork bumps to a FOX Performance Elite 38 with a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock. Wheels move to the RaceFace ARC hoops with i9 hubs. At this level, riders can select the Reserve wheel upgrade ($9,799, 30HD) as well as choose air or coil (RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ coil.) As noted earlier, the move to coil does net riders Maxxis Double Down tires (Assegai front, DHRII rear.)

Nomad CC X01 - $9,299

The Nomad CC X01 build gets the obvious upgrade to the lighter frame but runs cables to shift its gears in the form of SRAM's X01 drivetrain with SRAM Code RSC brakes. FOX's factory 38 and X2 rear shock handle the suspension. Wheels are RaceFace ARC with Industry Nine 1/1 hubs. Santa Cruz is evidently not offering the Reserve 30HD upgrade package at this level. Riders can still opt for either an air or coil (FOX DHX2) rear shock.

Nomad CC X01 AXS RSV - $11,199

Lastly, is our test bike, the Nomad CC X01 AXS RSV Air (coil option in Gypsum color shown above). The name pretty much outlines the parts selection on the bike - X01 AXS Eagle drivetrain with SRAM Code RSC brakes. This particular build kit is only available with the Reserve 30HD wheels with Industry Nine 1/1 hubs but comes with either a FOX X2 (tested) or DHX2 coil shock.

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First Impressions

Vital very recently took possession of our test bike and have only had it on a few outings. Our tester immediately gelled with the bike and found it easy to ride. His initial impressions were summed up in the first mile of downhill, "This bike rips." Coming from a full 29er, the ability to create sharper turns in steep or loose scenarios was appreciated given the very blown conditions of a heated summer in the Sierras. Vital will be racking up the miles and chairlift rides with our test bike for a full review later this year.

To learn more about the new Nomad, head to SantaCruzBicycles.com


View key specs, compare bikes, and rate the new Santa Cruz Nomad in the Vital MTB Product Guide.

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BHowell BHowell 8/2/2022 12:01 AM

11 comments newest first

What's the point of the high and low settings being so incredibly close? 3mm bb change and .3 degree HA change doesn't seem like a noticeable enough difference to bother including the feature. I really like the stack and CS sizes on the XXL being built for XXL riders. Aside from the pricing I am quite intrigued in this bike.

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I have the new megatower, with exactly the same geometry adjustment. You don't really need notice the HA difference, but the major change is the leverage ratio of the rear shock. It ramps up a lot harder towards the end in the low setting - I like this for bike park laps, but more proper enduro style riding the suspension feels much better in the high setting.

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$11.2k bike and they give you 1/1 hubs (not that they’re bad by any means) and a standard reverb post instead of AXS on the “AXS” build?

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If it is anything like the Megatower then there will be no need for a different link. MT has the best suspension feel I have ridden to date even in comparison to my CC linked bikes.

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It is funny to see companies going the exact opposite way for suspension kinematics as Cascade Components. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

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There's definitely not a one size fits all for kinematics. For an average rider making it harder to bottom out might make it so they never use the last 10mm of travel or have to run excessive amounts of sag. For a more aggressive rider the kinematics that work for the average rider lead to over springing the bike and running less sag, slapping bottom often and hard, or running an excessively stiff damping tune. Finding a bike with a leverage curve that gets you the balance of spring rate and damping that you want is important. I don't think there's a point in stuff having less than 20% progression these days, but anything over that will have riders that it works well for.

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“Different strokes for different folks” should just be CC’s slogan

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