Go on a behind-the-scenes tour with Santa Cruz Bicycles

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Last month Santa Cruz Bicycles took the wrappers off the all-new, third generation Blur. This was a big deal for Santa Cruz, given that it’s been quite a few years since we last saw the Blur – a bike that has been well loved by many riders for well over a decade since its inception. And so for the new one, Santa Cruz pulled out all the stops to create the lightest full suspension bike it has ever made, returning the Blur to its roots as a purpose-built XC bike.

During the same launch Santa Cruz revealed the third generation Highball too – a superlight hardtail that represents the lightest hardtail frame that the Californian company has ever made. Wanna know how they ride? Then make sure you read all about the new Blur here, and the Highball here.

For the Blurball launch, Santa Cruz invited a bunch of us journo types out to its Californian headquarters to get some hands-on experience with the new bikes, along with a tour of the factory to see exactly how the frames are prepped and assembled. As part of the tour, each journo got to build their own set of Reserve carbon wheels with the help of some crazy expensive semi-automated spoke lacing and truing machines. If you like wheel building, then make sure you check out the separate article – it is fascinating stuff!

As you can imagine, my arm was heavily twisted into going to the launch in the first place. It was a particularly difficult decision given the amazing British winter we’d been having in the lead up to travelling to California…

To document the launch and my travels, I took along a couple of cameras to film the trip to give you a bit of a look at what goes on behind the scenes at a Santa Cruz press launch. Join me in Part 1 and Part 2 as we go along on a test ride on the new Blur and Highball, and check out some of the action that goes on in the Santa Cruz factory.

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santa cruz factory tour
Full suspension mainframes and swingarms arrive from the factory in separate boxes. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
Santa Cruz not only stocks pivot hardware and small parts for bikes it’s building, but also legacy models too. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
This man is literally a human bearing press. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour bearing tool
Every bearing, for every frame, is pressed into each link, by hand, in the Santa Cruz factory. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
Pivots are assembled and checked for correct torque – also by hand. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
Prepped Blur frame waiting for the next stage. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
During peak season, Santa Cruz pre-empts demand for certain models and stocks up on those frames and bikes. Otherwise everything is built to order. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
The wheel and rotor prep station. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
This funky tool cuts fork steerer tubes to the correct length. And it does it ever so neatly! Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
For complete bikes, Santa Cruz partially assembles the whole bike before it’s packed up into its special cardboard box. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour
Each bike is QC’d and documented along every step of the process. Photo: Gary Perkin.
santa cruz factory tour blur
The finished product on opening night of the Blurball launch. Photo: Gary Perkin.
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