Pedals like stink and is fun to ride
Hard not to love the Santa Cruz Nomad CC. It looks drop dead gorgeous, pedals better than most 140mm bikes but you have 170mm to get you out of trouble.
Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01 review
The forth generation Nomad looks very different to the original all mountain slayer. With the shock now being driven by the lower link and anchored to the downtube, rather than the upper link actuating the shock, the Nomad V4 share more of its DNA with the Santa Cruz V10 downhill bike than any of its predecessors.
Rear travel on the new Nomad is fixed at 170mm, but it has a flip chip on the lower link for adjusting the geometry. The two setting are marked High and Low, but a more accurate description would be Low and Extra Low, the lowest setting reserved for bike park riding where pedalling up isn’t an issue.
And it’s not just a choice of geometry that Santa Cruz is offering; the Nomad frame comes in aluminium and two grades of carbon; C and CC, the latter being the top-end version tested here.
The frame now has a Boost rear end but it’s not heel-rubbing wide because rather than routing the seat stays around the 2.4in rear tyres, Santa Cruz has put two recesses in the stays to increase tyre clearance. Sure, it looks like an afterthought on a frame costing £3,199, but its effective and combined with the low-slung top tube the bike just disappears beneath you.
One of the benefits of the new Metric size RockShox Super Deluxe RCT shock is the addition of a cartridge bearing in the lower shock eyelet to reduce breakaway friction. Even with that however, the 170mm rear suspension on the Nomad doesn’t track the terrain as smoothly as the Giant Reign Advanced. The flip side it that it pedals better, in part due to the smaller 32t chaining generating more anti-squat. Given how efficient the new Nomad is, we’d probably go up to a 34t ring and trade some of that pedalling efficiency for suspension stability on the roughest terrain.
Like Giant, Santa Cruz sticks with RockShox for suspension fork, matching travel at 170mm. Our test bike had a the original Charger damped Lyrik RCT3 and it’s not quite as slick as the newer Charger II version on the Giant. Yes, the 35mm chassis is identical and it has the same adjustments, but it didn’t feel as smooth or provide the same level of support. Something that was even more evident on the Nomad, as it is the shortest bike in test.
With the improved standover clearance and a shorter seat tube, Santa Cruz makes it easy to take full advantage of a 170mm dropper, and there are none better than the RockShox Reverb. Combined with the WTB Volt saddle and relatively steep seat angle the Nomad puts you in the perfect position for climbing.
It’s the brakes on the Nomad that really stood out though. SRAM’s Codes have less lever travel than the Guides fitted to the Mondraker Dune XR Carbon and Giant, and their firmer lever feel and improved heat management make them our first choice for enduro racing.
For a big travel rig, it’s really fun and flickable too, but as an out-and-out race bike it has limitations.
The sizing isn’t the most generous, even though it’s available in five options, and the suspension isn’t as forgiving as the Giant, something that you really notice when fatigue sets in and you’re hanging on rather than attacking.
That’s not to say that the latest Nomad isn’t a great bike though. But you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you’re going to use it for. If the answer is blasting around your regular trails and going to Bikepark Wales a couple of times a year and possibly a riding holiday with your mates, then it’s the perfect companion as it covers all the bases well.
If however, you just want an enduro bike for bombing DH tracks as fast as possible the Giant Reign is a better option.
Do-it-all bikes that deliver the goods are few and far between but Santa Cruz has nailed it with the latest Nomad. It strikes a perfect balance between fun, speed and versatility, so if you’re looking for one bike to cover every occasion the Nomad really should be top of your list. Sizing comes up short by modern standards though, but the frame has stacks of standover clearance so upsizing to gain some extra reach isn’t an issue proving you not over 6ft 2in tall, and shorter riders are well catered for too with the air shock option being ideal for anyone of slight build. All things considered, the Nomad V4 is the best Santa Cruz suspension bike to date.