Santa Cruz 5010 C GX RSV first ride review. The playful Santa Cruz 5010 goes MX, with a kinematic update, but how will that big wheel affect the bike's legendary agility and liveliness?

Product Overview

Santa Cruz 5010 C GX RSV


  • Maintains the fun, flickable feel with extra plushness. Addition of the 29in front wheel boosts confidence. Glovebox adds usable internal storage. Six sizes all with size-specific rear centre measurements


  • MaxxGrip front tyre is sluggish on the climbs. SRAM G2 brakes and RockShox dropper both needed bleeding. Hardcore jibbers will mourn the loss of the 27.5in front wheel.


Santa Cruz 5010 C GX RSV first ride review


Price as reviewed:


The Santa Cruz 5010 has a reputation as the playful, capable bike in the stable that’s ready for fun times. Of course, it’s evolved over the years, and there are some big changes here, not least in the form of the mixed-wheel setup. So we get onboard to see how the updates play out on the trail, and guauge whether it could be a worthy addition to our best mountain bikes guide.

Need to know

  • 5010 ditches the small wheel up front, and moves to a mixed wheel setup: 29in front, 27.5in rear
  • Kinematics overhaul, Santa Cruz has reduced anti-squat and added progression, so it’s plusher with less risk of bottom out
  • Carbon-only frame choice, C or lighter CC grade, and all get size-specific chainstay lengths
  • Glovebox storage added, with space for a Tool Wallet and Tube Purse
  • Six sizes to pick from, bikes from £5,299 up to £9,599 for the AXS X01 build

Santa Cruz says this bike is for playful riders, riders who want to roll up a tree trunk and fakie out of it and grind their mechs off on stumps – big kids who won’t grow up. “It’s a trail bike that loves to play,” the brand says, and there’s even a little video from Handy MacAskill detailing all the mad skills you’re supposed to be aiming for on the 5010. Marketing crap, I thought.

Cut through that and the new 5010 really is a vivacious little scamp of a bike though. Santa Cruz hires ridiculously talented riders to show the world what its machines can do, and the 50to01 crew does tend to favour the 5010. But it doesn’t need to be that way. I’ve discovered that average Joes like me can have fun and rip on this bike… albeit in our own modest way.

The new 5010 really is a vivacious little scamp of a bike

Santa Cruz has accomplished this with a modest frame redesign and some tinkering here and there. There’s nothing like the big changes that went into the last redesign in 2020, when the bike adopted the brand’s now ubiquitous lower link-driven makeover with its shock running through a tunnel in the seat tube.

Instead it’s settled on a suspension kinematic update, the 5010 now has reduced anti-squat to keep it active and sensitive over the ground, and reduce the effects of pedal kickback. The leverage curve is more progressive too, which is great if you’re big into loading the bike round corners, hopping over stuff and generally larking about on the trail. It’ll also come in handy when you reach the end of the modest travel available, increasing support and bottom out resistance.

That travel remains the same, 130mm rear and 140mm up front, which makes sense on a short travel trail bike, not least because otherwise the 5010 would start wandering onto the 150mm-travel Bronson’s patch. There’s also now a little window cut into the shock tunnel so you can peer in and check you’re using all that travel and that the sag is correct.

Santa Cruz aficionados will no doubt be aware the Bronson is a mixed wheel size bike, and so too now is the 5010, with a 29er wheel up front.

This is a brave move from the Californians – moving away from the fun wheel size to the boring but fast 29in standard really is not what this bike has traditionally been about. I can’t claim to have ridden the previous generation bike, but mbr’s biggest complaint was that Santa Cruz had dumbed it down too far and made it fast but predictable. I also loved the bike that came before it, two bikes back if you like. It’s ride was effervescent, fun and lively, and I’m hoping the new version returns something of that feel to the bike.

The other big changes are that the 5010 now gets on board storage in the form of the Glovebox, inside you’ll find the delightfully named Tool Wallet and Tube Purse to stow essentials. And perhaps more importantly, the bike gets size-specific chainstay lengths and seat angles, hopefully making sure riders of all sizes get the optimum balance and fit on the bike.

Not much has changed on the geometry chart from the generation four bike to this, the 5G. The bike is some 10mm longer in terms of reach by our tape measure, while the BB, head angle and effective seat tube angle haven’t budged. The proportional chainstays mean they’re 5mm longer on the size large I rode. Oh and I nearly forgot (you’ll see why), there’s a flip chip that’ll change the head angle by a third of a degree and the BB height by 3-4mm, all depending on the size. Honestly, we’ve no idea why they bothered.

The 5010 comes carbon only, with two different frames – the more modestly priced C, and the lighter CC grade. There are four 5010 C models, starting at £5,299 for the R with Fox Float DPS performance shock, Rockshox Pike Base fork and SRAM NX groupset: And topping out at this 5010 C GX RSV model, with GX AXS drivetrain, Reserve carbon wheels and Rockshox Select+ level suspension.

And if money is now object, the two CC carbon framed variants have RockShox Ultimate suspension, so you’ll basically pick between wired X01 for £8,299 with RaceFace ARC wheels and the wireless AXS X01 with Santa Cruz’s own Reserve hoops at £9,599.

How it rides

Remember that time before dropper posts, when we had to move the saddle up and down with an allen key? I’ve revisited 2008 on the 5010 because the Reverb Stealth was badly in need of a bleed, a grouse that seemed to get worse the colder the weather got. Same story with the SRAM G2 brakes; at best they lacked power and at worst proved inconsistent and pulled to the bar. Not the best start.

For a carbon-fibre, short travel trail bike the 5010 doesn’t exactly fly up the climbs either. This is because the suspension remains pretty active and leaching power as you’re cranking away, largely the result of the reduced anti-squat. The 5010 isn’t lightweight either, at 14.5kg, and together with the slow-rolling MaxxGrip front tyre it robs the bike of zip and acceleration. It’s an adroit climber all the same though. It’s balanced front to back so you’re unlikely to loop out, while the traction on slimy, rooty climbs is good too.

It’s to Santa Cruz’s credit that the 5010 comes in an extensive six sizes – XS to XXL – but it speaks to my misfortune that I fall perfectly between sizes large and XL. At least, according to the website, where at 185cm tall I’m eligible to have a good time on both. Usually I’d opt for the bigger size to gain more confidence and composure from a bike, but on one that’s designed to be the opposite – easy to break traction, pump and jump – I went the other way.

I’m glad I did. The 5010 is heavy on paper but not on the trails because there’s so much to push against, so much support in the shock. I think I go higher off jumps on this bike than any other in recent memory, and landing into chop off natural drops isn’t quite as scary as it used to be on the 3rd generation bike I remember. The balance is good when you’re descending and the move to a big front wheel and longer chainstay makes it easier to handle and more enduro-bike-like on steeper terrain.


The 5010 has grown up then, but I think moving to a mullet setup was inevitable and not unwelcome. That’s because most modern trails are too hectic for me with a smaller wheeled bike, while keeping one out the back taps into the heritage. Plenty will disagree, but for my money Santa Cruz has got the balance spot on.


Frame:C carbon, 130mm travel
Shock :RockShox Super Deluxe Select+
Fork:RockShox Pike Select+, 140mm travel
Wheels:Reserve 30 HD rims, Industry Nine 1/1 hubs, Maxxis DHR II 29/27.5x2.4in  EXO tyres
Drivetrain:SRAM GX AXS 32t, 170mm chainset, GX AXS derailleur and 12sp shifter,  SRAM GX 10-52t cassette
Brakes:SRAM G2 RS, 200/180mm rotors
Components:Santa Cruz 800mm carbon bar, Burgtec Enduro MK3 42.5mm stem, RockShox Reverb 175mm post, WTB Volt saddle
Sizes:XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Weight:14.5kg (32.0lb)
Size ridden:Large
Rider height:185cm (6ft 1in)
Head angle: 64.3º
Seat angle:69.2º
Effective SA:78.2º @730mm
BB height: 333mm
Chainstay :439mm
Front centre :807mm
Wheelbase :1,246mm
Seat tube :624mm
Downtube :746mm
Top tube :430mm
Reach :478mm