If you don’t want to ride big mountain terrain the 5010 offers the most fun
The Santa Cruz 5010 is the cult offering in Santa Cruz’s range. The 5010 remains a fun-focussed 130mm travel bike designed solely for 27.5in wheels.
Santa Cruz 5010 need to know
- 27.5in trail bike with VPP suspension and 130mm fork
- Plus size tyre option, up to 2.8in wide rubber, and wide rims to match
- Adjustable geometry via a flip chip to fit the big tyres
- No expense spared carbon CC build and light weight wheels
Recently I rode the also-new Santa Cruz Bronson, with its ‘chunnel’ suspension design, lower-link driven shock and phenomenal pedalling performance.So when it came time to ride the equally fresh 5010, I was concerned for its identity. If a 150mm travel bike can climb hills as well as the Bronson, then what use is there for the 5010?
I was still worried when I pedalled up the first climb of my usual loop – a brutally steep but smooth bridleway. The 5010 pedals well, but with my sag set at 25% it was still dipping way into its travel. But by the time I’d made my way down the same hill again, on flowing singletrack, my mind had been put at ease, because Santa Cruz has injected the new 5010 with an overdose of speed.
Let’s backup though and I’ll tell you what’s changed. What it hasn’t done is followed the Santa Cruz Nomad, Santa Cruz V10 and Bronson with a lower-link driven shock. This is because Santa Cruz maintains that a short travel bike doesn’t need the extra mid-stroke support this brings, so it has stuck with the top-link driven shock. That saves a chunk of weight, which is important on a bike like this.
It’s still uses the same VPP suspension platform with 130mm travel then, but the frame has had a total redesign and moved away from the single swingarm upright of old to a symmetrical wishbone shape and a stunning new forged then machined link. The BB area is bigger and more muscular and the internal routing now looks far cleaner without the entry and exit bungs at the head tube.
Santa Cruz has moved towards fatter tyres, so the frame can now accommodate 2.8in or 2.6in tyres if you spec the Reserve 37 wheels, but the bike I rode came with Reserve 27 carbon wheels and 2.3in tyres. To accommodate the different tyre diameters that will adjust the ride height. Overall the bike is 15mm longer in reach and half a degree slacker than the old machine.
All these changes build on what was already a good bike, and one that’s just about the right size thanks to the modest growth in reach. On flowing singletrack the 5010 is an absolute hoot to ride; it’s so playful I found myself popping off every root or rise I came across on the trail, having fun as well as covering ground with effortless speed. The mix of progression through the rear suspension and incredibly low weight of the wheels and frame make it an easy bike to get off the ground or loft the front wheel, helped by the super-short chainstays in relation to the front of the bike. It’s stiff, purposeful and the Fox 34 fork and DPX2 shock feel perfectly balanced.
Dropping the bike into its low position, even without the bigger rubber, makes total sense and the bike feels more stable because of it. Is there a reason to buy the 5010 over the Bronson then? I think so; the Bronson is more capable still, but if you don’t want to ride big mountain terrain the 5010 is probably offers the most fun.