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A carbon Santa Cruz is sure to figure on the wishlist of many an aficionado of the fantastic plastic, but it's also no secret that the carbon frames and associated builds available from the Californians have always been on the pricey side. Well that is all about to change, with the introduction of a new carbon manufacturing technique that allows Santa Cruz to offer the Bronson, Tallboy, and the 5010 in a significantly cheaper carbon version. Dubbed simply "Carbon", the new frames are identical in shape and geometry to the higher end "Carbon C" versions, but a different grade of carbon material sees the frame weight increase by about 250 to 280 grams. Santa Cruz says it has managed to do all this without sacrificing strength or stiffness compared to the Carbon C versions.

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To make the most of the new frames, Santa Cruz is also introducing a whole new build level for 2015, called "S". On a Bronson or 5010 for example, S gets you a Rockshox Pike RC Solo Air fork and a Reverb Stealth dropper post, at $4699 list price. That is only a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than last year's "R" (entry level) build, which makes this a very competitive package. The entry level R builds now start at $3599 for the Carbon Bronson, a $700 reduction compared to 2014 prices. The Carbon C builds now start at XT/X01 level only, from $6399 and up for a Bronson. Frame-only options are limited to aluminum or the Carbon-C version, at $2899 for a Bronson frame with a Fox Float CTDK.

Full build options and a simplified bike builder interface are now available on www.santacruzbicycles.com.

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Santa Cruz Carbon Handlebars

Rob Roskopp railing the Carbon 800 Bar on his Nomad - photo Gary Perkin.

“It’s been impossible to keep our engineers away from bars” said Rob Roskopp, owner of Santa Cruz Bicycles. “Having mastered complex projects such as the carbon V10 swingarm, it was inevitable we started looking at where carbon know-how could improve other areas of our products. The key thing for me was that if it was going to carry the Santa Cruz name then everything had to be designed, tested and made by us to the same high standards as our bicycles.”

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Santa Cruz started things off with an 800mm DH bar, but soon took it further with several other widths and applications. Interestingly, both the 800mm DH bar and the 760mm risers are built on the new 35mm clamp standard, whilst the 760 and 720 flat models still feature the classic 31.8mm standard.

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Each bar has a specific amount of dialed-in stiffness which Santa Cruz says keeps vibrations in check to help minimize arm fatigue. Discrete markers take the pain out of set-up alignments and stealthy-looking branding helps keep your builds classy. The new carbon bars are specced on the new 2015 XT/X01 builds and upwards, and will soon be available as stand-alone aftermarket items too.

Santa Cruz Palmdale Grip

Josh Kissner putting the new grips through the wringer during the 2014 Andes-Pacifico race - photo Gary Perkin.

“What started as a simple question between a few of us about “what makes a good grip?”, quickly blew up into a mass debate” explains Josh Kissner, Product Manager at Santa Cruz Bicycles. “Before we knew it, everyone from Sven Martin (World Cup photographer and ham-fisted product wrecker) to Kiran MacKinnon (our tech guy and ProGRT racer) were wading in with their 2 cents.”

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So Santa Cruz created a whole bunch of different designs for people to ride and report back on, and finally drew up the Grip Manifesto:

1. Single lock-ring design with the staying power of dual lock-ring.
A taper-lock core uses an internal sleeve that narrows towards the last 38mm (1.5”) of the grip, effectively clamping onto the end of the bar to eliminate twisting.

2. Closed end with flared edge for comfort, feel and security.
8mm (0.3”) of rubber with a subtle mushroom profile on the tip resists scuffing, provides comfort and adds an intuitive feel for the bar end. (We also found it adds a healthy dose of forgiveness when clipping trees on tight trails!)

3. Long grip length and waffle knurl for maximum control.
A generous 125mm (4.9”) grip length (excluding lock-ring) allows plenty of room to reposition hands on differing terrain and long rides. The moto-knurl pattern gives just the right balance of feel and grip in all conditions.

As of now, the new Palmdale Grips are specced on all 2015 bikes. They’ll soon be available aftermarket in a slew of coordinated colors too.

For more on the 2015 Santa Cruz line-up, cruise on over to: www.santacruzbicycles.com.

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