We tested the all-new Santa Cruz Nomad C at the Enduro World Series in Scotland
Hot on the heels of the Bronson, 5010 and Tallboy 2 comes the redesigned Nomad — a 165mm-travel, gravity-orientated shred sled designed to spank down the toughest trails and naughtiest enduro stages on the planet. What better arena to test its credentials, then, than the Tweedlove EWS?
To increase the differentiation between its new models, Santa Cruz decided to take the new Nomad deeper into downhill territory. That meant elongating the front triangle, slackening the head angle and lowering the bottom bracket. With a 65° head angle, 1,196mm wheelbase (size large) and 340mm bottom bracket, you’re looking at a bike that almost exactly mirrors the May issue enduro test-winning YT Capra. The seat angle has been steepened, too, giving a more efficient climbing position. And, despite a move to 650b wheels and the need to accommodate a lower link behind the bottom bracket, the chainstays have been kept reasonably short at 433mm.
With 1×11 drivetrains growing in popularity, Santa Cruz has seized the opportunity to make the new Nomad single-ring only. By eliminating any option of running a front derailleur, the seat tube and main pivot have been widened, improving stiffness. Take a close look behind the bottom bracket and you’ll see the lower link is now neatly cradled by the front triangle and swingarm. There are ISCG 05 tabs for mounting a chain-guide, but complete bikes will ship with naked chainrings.
Changes have been made to the suspension kinematics to improve sensitivity. VPP bikes have always been ruthlessly efficient when stomping on the pedals, but the new bike aims to give up a little zip in return for more grip. The links are now made from forged aluminium rather than the carbon of old, with no noticeable effect.
The internal cable-routing is neat and effective, and there are also moulded frame protectors for the down tubeand chainstay. The lower link gets greaseport lubrication.
“One turn of the cranks was enough to tell me the new Nomad still pedals obscenely well”
Despite the claims, one turn of the cranks was enough to tell me the new Nomad still pedals obscenely well. While it may not strain at the leash quite like a Scott Genius LT, there is still a definite firmness to the suspension and efficiency under power. However, as an enduro race bike, this means that it probably gains more speed than it loses over the course of an event. Indeed, given the distances involved in an EWS, I was constantly thankful for its stiffness, efficiency and minimal weight.
As the gradient increased, the new geometry inspired confidence, yet it never felt lethargic on flatter singletrack. For a 165mm-travel bike it proved to be impressively versatile. In fact, it’s so good at covering ground that, as an enduro race bike, it makes much more sense than the 150mm- travel Bronson.