2018 Santa Cruz Blur CC XX1 Reserve 29

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Santa Cruz Blur CC XX1 Reserve 29
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How Much Fun Can the New Santa Cruz Blur XC Bike Be? Vital's First Ride

Turns out cross-country bikes are getting pretty freaking awesome.

Rating: Vital Review
How Much Fun Can the New Santa Cruz Blur XC Bike Be? Vital's First Ride

"What the hell do I pack for XC camp?" I wondered to myself the night before my flight to Santa Cruz, California, to check out the all-new Blur.

"It's all perhaps a little shorter travel than the typical Vital faire," hinted Santa Cruz's Don Palermini in an email leading up to the event, "but I still I think are some angles of interest to your readers."

It's no secret that the focus is on the aggressive end of the mountain bike spectrum here at Vital, and the last time I threw a leg over a proper cross-country whip was several years ago.

"XC" flats? Haha. Check.
Knee pads? Why not. I never ride without them.
Shorts? Baggy is all I've got.

Needless to say, my collection of riding gear is far from what most would call XC.

Arriving at Santa Cruz headquarters, the new Blur was front and center to

"What the hell do I pack for XC camp?" I wondered to myself the night before my flight to Santa Cruz, California, to check out the all-new Blur.

"It's all perhaps a little shorter travel than the typical Vital faire," hinted Santa Cruz's Don Palermini in an email leading up to the event, "but I still I think are some angles of interest to your readers."

It's no secret that the focus is on the aggressive end of the mountain bike spectrum here at Vital, and the last time I threw a leg over a proper cross-country whip was several years ago.

"XC" flats? Haha. Check.
Knee pads? Why not. I never ride without them.
Shorts? Baggy is all I've got.

Needless to say, my collection of riding gear is far from what most would call XC.

Arriving at Santa Cruz headquarters, the new Blur was front and center to gawk over. Apprehensive comments ensued. After adding a bonus volume spacer to the fork, cranking up the tire pressure so I wouldn't pinch flat on the first rock I came across, and bedding in the brakes, I quickly texted a photo of the cockpit, fork, and front tire to my colleagues: "If you don't hear from me again, blame these tires and little baby XC fork. [Insert crying smiley face here]"

With that, the group was off...

Santa Cruz Blur Highlights

  • Designed for endurance, XC and marathon use
  • 29-inch wheels with Reserve carbon wheel option
  • 100mm (3.9-inches) of front and rear wheel travel (up to 120mm fork compatibility)
  • VPP suspension design with 170x35mm shock
  • Full carbon C and CC frames
  • Dual remote lockouts (most kits)
  • Internal dropper compatibility
  • Two bottle cage mounts
  • Bolt-on downtube protector
  • 1x drivetrain-specific design
  • Internal cable routing
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Boost axle spacing
  • 2.4-inch max tire size
  • Sunset or Matte Carbon colors
  • Sizes: S, M, L, and XL
  • Complete Weight: 9.94kg / 21.92lbs (claimed, XX1 Reserve build)
  • Lifetime frame, bearing, and Reserve wheel warranty


Light enough to scorch hot laps and tough enough to endure a long-distance beating, the Blur bowls into the Cross Country Club like Rodney Dangerfield at Bushwood.

On The Trail

Going from a world filled with long-travel trail, enduro, and DH bikes to a full-on XC ripper would be quite the transition. Or so I thought. My worries quickly faded as I watched Allan Cooke and Seb Kemp, shredders on all things with two-wheels, rip a pair of massive manuals out of the trailhead and then bunnyhop over an awkward gate to start off the ride. "What are we in for?" I wondered. At least I'd be in good company. We blasted up a fireroad and the fun began.

Seb Kemp in full XC mode.

For riders like Kemp, and indeed all of us, the moment when you find the edge of a bike's limits is a big part of what makes riding really enjoyable. The thing is, you have to push harder and harder on today's bigger bikes to find that shining example of two-wheeled bliss. Thanks to a conscious effort to keep the new Blur very much XC, it's easier to flitter with the limits of the bike and the edge of traction. As a result, trails we'd previously deem as being "chill" turn into playgrounds.

That's not to say the bike doesn't handle incredibly well. In fact, the opposite is true. "The one-piece carbon VPP rear triangle shares a similar twin upright architecture to our World Cup-winning downhill bikes," says Santa Cruz. "Paired with a one-piece carbon front end it delivers a lateral stiffness and tracking ability you just don’t see on featherweight bikes of this genre." As I hurled my way down multiple descents while chasing Cooke's back wheel, the Blur's ability to slice and dice its way through corners, roots, and rocks proved this statement time and time again. The bike handles so well that Cooke is considering racing it in the upcoming Sea Otter dual slalom with only minor component modifications – a wild idea Vital fully endorses.

Allan Cooke coming in hot...
...and exiting with speed.

At just 22 pounds the bike is an absolute rocket, and its pump and jump-ability comes through in the same millisecond you push into the terrain. Bunnyhops are also a breeze, opening up new lines and fun of a different sort. The micro shock out back has great bottom-out control, and the quick addition of a volume spacer up front balances the bike out well. What the fast-rolling tires lack in outright traction, the suspension almost makes up for with its smooth feel.

Never before have I viewed uphills as pumptracks. Efforts both up and downhill result in a LOT of speed, and that's absolutely fantastic from a guy-who-likes-to-go-fast standpoint.

Granted, you're not going to hop on the new Blur and have the same level of control through chundery sections that the latest Nomad brings, but by pairing the Blur with trails it's suited to you'll have a comparably fun ride. What was once mundane becomes more fun thanks to a greater number of those oh-my-god-that-was-awesome moments and saves. There's no denying that bombing fire roads at 30+ miles per hour and hucking water bars is a very good time. The Blur provides the ability to do that and more.

Of course, this wouldn't be an XC feature without a discussion about efficiency and how the bike pedals. I won't pretend to compare it to other new-school XC rigs as I don't have the experience yet. What I will say is that this bike redefined what the word "efficient" means for me. Provided you're putting some power down and working the bike through transitions, it's amazing how quickly you can cover some serious ground. Never before have I viewed uphills as pumptracks. Efforts both up and downhill result in a LOT of speed, and that's absolutely fantastic from a guy-who-likes-to-go-fast standpoint.

The Blur gives mountain bikers the ability to go further or crush more miles in less time. As a result, the average speed of our large group of riders was far quicker with less waiting around.

'You don’t need more power, you need the right bike for the trails you ride. Riding a 22-pound bike, even while doing duties as the pack mule, felt like I had motor assist.' - Seb Kemp

On techy, steep climbs you're able to pause, still standing on the pedals, and set up for the next move while hopping around a bit or giving some quarter cranks – motions that are often lost on longer-travel steeds.

Geometry

Build Kits, Pricing & Weights

Blur R build
Blur S build
Blur XE build
Blur X01 build

CC frame only - $2,999 USD - 2.06kg // 4.54lbs (claimed, size medium with shock)

What's The Bottom Line?

Preconceptions be damned. By combining excellent carbon frame design, a touch of modern trail bike influence, and suspension that works really well, the new Santa Cruz Blur proves that XC bikes can be a blast. In a time when many riders have lost sight of what it truly means to be efficient in favor of having improved control in testing trail situations, the Blur will change your perception of XC rigs by achieving a magic balance of both efficiency and control. Throw a dropper post on this bad boy and go explore some new types of trails. Regardless of your riding background, you're sure to have a blast.

Visit www.santacruzbicycles.com for more details.

Vital MTB First Ride Rating: 4.5 Stars - Outstanding


About The Reviewer

Brandon Turman - Age: 31 // Years Riding: 16 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 175-pounds (79.4kg)

"I like to have fun, pop off the bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when I feel in tune with a bike, and really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill." Formerly a mechanical engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past several years and a really good feel for what’s what.

Photos by Forrest Arakawa and Gary Perkin

Specifications

Product Santa Cruz Blur CC XX1 Reserve 29
Model Year 2018
Riding Type Cross Country
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 575mm 597mm 621mm 656mm
Head Tube Angle 69° 69° 69° 69°
Head Tube Length 90mm 100mm 110mm 125mm
Seat Tube Angle 74° 74° 74° 74°
Seat Tube Length 405mm 430mm 470mm 520mm
Bottom Bracket Height 328mm 328mm 328mm 328mm
Chainstay Length 432mm 432mm 432mm 432mm
Wheelbase 1113mm 1136mm 1160mm 1195mm
Standover 722mm 722mm 723mm 730mm
Reach 420mm 440mm 460mm 490mm
Stack 579mm 588mm 598mm 612mm
* Additional Info 42mm bottom bracket drop
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details Full CC carbon, engineered in Santa Cruz, USA
Bolt-on downtube protector
Rear Travel 100mm
Rear Shock FOX Float Factory DPS Kashima Remote
Fork FOX Step-Cast 32 Factory 100 Remote
Fork Travel 100mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset Cane Creek AER IS Integrated
Handlebar SCB XC Carbon Flat Bar, 31.8mm x 750mm
Stem Syntace LiteForce
Grips ESI Chunky
Brakes SRAM Level Ultimate with SRAM CLX Centerlock 160mm rotors
Brake Levers SRAM Level Ultimate
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed
ISCG Tabs
Chainguide N/A
Cranks SRAM XX1 Eagle DUB, 170mm (S), 175mm (M-XL)
Chainrings 34 tooth
Bottom Bracket Threaded
Pedals N/A
Chain SRAM X01 Eagle 12-speed
Cassette SRAM XG-1295 Eagle, 12-speed, 10-50 tooth
Rims Santa Cruz Reserve 25 Carbon, 28 hole
Hubs Front: DT Swiss 240, 15mm x 110mm, 28 hole
Rear: DT Swiss 240, 12mm x 148mm, XD, 28 hole
Spokes DT Competition Race
Tires Maxxis Aspen TR, 29"x2.25", with Stan’s Sealant
Saddle WTB Silverado Carbon
Seatpost Syntace P6 Carbon HiFlex
Seatpost Diameter 31.6mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions Boost 12mm x 148mm
Max. Tire Size 29" x 2.4"
Bottle Cage Mounts Two mounts
Colors Black, Red
Warranty Lifetime frame and bearing warranty
Lifetime Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels warranty
Weight 21 lb 14.6 oz (9,940 g)
Miscellaneous VPP suspension
Dual remote lockouts
Internal cable routing and dropper compatibility
1x drivetrain-specific design
Price $8,999
More Info

​Santa Cruz website