The New Bronson Is So Good It Might Kill Its Sibling, the 5010

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After a too-short afternoon on both bikes, Chipps gives us his Santa Cruz 2019 5010 and Bronson first impressions…


A week or so ago, I got a brief chance to ride the new 5010 and the Bronson on a visit to Santa Cruz UK. There in the Jungle warehouse was a small selection of the new 2019 bikes, hastily flown in before the official launch date for the likes of us to catch a sneaky test ride on.

My guide would be Rob, from Jungle, who lives over in nearby Ilkley, so that’s where we went to get an hour or two on the bikes and to take a few action photos. My experience of the bikes was therefore a little limited, being on ‘foreign’ trails and riding size Large bikes when I’d usually (just) be on a Medium. However, there were a few things that really stood out…

Dropping into the roots on the new 5010

Santa Cruz 5010 Features

  • Short-travel 27.5in trail bike
  • Alloy, Carbon C and Carbon CC frame options
  • VPP suspension design w/forged alloy links & sealed bearings
  • 130mm rear travel
  • 130mm travel fork
  • 66.5° head angle
  • 75.2° seat angle
  • 425mm chainstay length
  • 73mm English threaded bottom bracket
  • Clearance for up to 2.8in wide tyres
  • DT Swiss 148x12mm thru-axle
  • Available sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • Frame RRP: £1,799 (Alloy), £3,099 (Carbon CC)
  • Complete bike RRP: £2,699 – £7,999

The 5010 is Santa Cruz Bikes’ mid-travel trail bike. It’s an all round, medium travel, medium sized wheel trail machine. Calling it a Jack of all trades would be doing it a bit of a disservice, but that’s also exactly what it is. It’s the one-bike-to-rule them all, assuming you want 27.5in wheels and not 29in ones. The angles are neither steep nor slack, though they have gotten slightly slacker at the front with this new model, while the seat tube is pitched forward a degree for better weight over the front wheel when seated.

Purple? Lilac? We like it, though there’s a black option for those who are shy. Or ninjas.

One thing I remember from the previous 5010 launch (which was the last time I rode one) was that both the Bronson and 5010 had a tendency to understeer on climbing corners unless you really sat on the nose of the saddle. This wasn’t evident on either of the new bikes, despite the gravelly uphill turns we were making; the weight balance feels pretty spot on with both of the bikes.

Santa Cruz has aimed to define the 5010 as a little burlier than the previous model, perhaps to attract riders who look on it as ‘just’ a cross country bike. There’s now a piggyback shock on all models from S-spec level and up and aggressive tyres come as standard, with room for bigger rubber if the mood takes you. And let’s not forget that it’s Danny MacAskill’s choice for his wee days out.

The climbing ability of the 5010 is impressive, with no need to reach for shock (or fork) lockouts and even grip on out of the saddle efforts was good up to the point the rear wheel spat gravel. There’s no hint of flex thanks to the beefy BB ‘box’ and the stiffened back end – not that the last one was at all flexy, mind.

Once on the alongs and the downs, the 5010 is a great and predictable machine, made more confidence inspiring as you shift your weight more to the bars to weight the front end and get the bike moving. Rollercoaster trails that need constant weight shifts are great fun, though the limits of the bike can be felt when you start getting carried away. I didn’t get much of a ‘bottomless’ feel to the bike, it felt more active and sprung than that, and when pushed hard, started to get pushed out of shape unless you kept on top of it. It seemed that the 5010’s happy place was similar to my own in terms of speed and terrain. Under Rob, though, it found more speed and pep, showing what a good rider can get out of it.

Works well in the air too. Ask Bryceland or MacAskill for details.
The Bronson. Such a different bike from what’s gone before.

Santa Cruz Bronson Features

  • Mid-travel 27.5in trail bike
  • Alloy, Carbon C and Carbon CC frame options
  • VPP suspension design w/lower link shock mounting
  • 150mm rear travel
  • 160mm travel fork
  • 65.1° – 65.4° head angle
  • 75° – 75.3° seat angle
  • 430mm chainstay length
  • 73mm English threaded bottom bracket
  • Clearance for up to 2.8in wide tyres
  • DT Swiss 148x12mm thru-axle
  • Available sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • Frame RRP: £1,899 (Alloy), £3,299 (Carbon CC)
  • Complete bike RRP: £3,499 – £8,399

Shoot me now if you want, but I am happy to admit that, personally, I’ve never really liked the Bronson. I guess I’m just not enduro enough for it, but when I reviewed one for Singletrack Magazine, I commented that there seemed to be a minimum speed at which the Bronson started to work and started to feel alive. And this usually coincided with me hitting my maximum speed, so I rarely got to see it at its best. Below that minimum speed, the Bronson could feel choppy and overly stiff to me. Other, quicker, riders did love it, but it always felt that if you were just out for a fun day of riding trails, you weren’t getting the most out of the bike and were being punished for not going quick enough. It was a little like driving an eighties Ferrari with a heavy clutch through London streets.

The new Bronson, however, had me converted from the first trail. Taking with it a lot of the suspension design and tuning that has gone into the longer travel Nomad, I found that the suspension felt way more supple at all speeds and the bike felt very composed through the bumps, encouraging the kind of ‘line choice? What line choice?’ riding that I don’t normally do this side of a downhill bike.

Whooshing noise not pictured.

The Bronson even climbs well. Despite the 160/150mm travel suspension, there’s no great feeling of bob or wallow, despite the amount of travel, and the big and boxy BB shell keeps things stiff for out of the saddle moves. As on the 5010, there wasn’t the hint of understeer on gravelly switchbacks that I felt the old Bronson had.

On to the descents then. I immediately felt at home, much to my surprise, as the Bronson hoovered up the trail obstacles. The bike is very composed over the rough stuff and you can ride it in a far more ‘big picture’ way, where minor line deviations simply don’t matter as the bike just sucks it up. It’s confidence-inspiring for sure, but it rides very quietly too, so you can be going a lot faster than you think (until the scenery starts blurring a little and you realise you don’t know how to go round corners at that speed…)

Find a rut and steer with your hips

Overall

I’m now keen to get a lot more time on both bikes. I want to ride the 5010 because I thought it was quite good and then rode the Bronson and was blown away with the performance. And I want to ride the Bronson to make sure it’s as good as I think it is.

I reckon that both bikes are going to impress a lot of riders, but I do worry for the poor old 5010. It already had the issue that a lot of riders who should have bought a 5010 for their style of riding or terrain, ended up buying a Bronson because, hey, more travel. And now the new Bronson feels like a better bike at all speeds. It’s more flattering to the rider, whereas the 5010 is a great all-round trail bike that will excel at any terrain short of big, chunky mountains where it will start to feel a little out of sorts (though it’ll still cope fine). The Bronson, meanwhile, seems to work well on everything from loamy stuff up to big rocks and drops, so if you’re dropping a considerable amount of money on a frame, or complete bike, you’re probably going to go with the one that has the biggest amount of travel that you might use, rather than the bike that you’ll have a use for for a greater amount of the time.

Comments (4)

  1. This is my dilemma, i fancy buying a Santa Cruz but have no idea which to go for. I currently have a 160mm trail bike and never need all the travel. I was thinking i’d be better off with less travel, maybe a 29 er, with better angles on a bike that would be more fun to ride 90% of the time, as opposed to something i rarely need and is detrimental to most of my riding – climbing particularly. Maybe even the XC Blur? . But now the Bronson does both well, whats the point of spending similar cash for effectively lower specced suspension.

  2. id love to see a truthful comparison over the long term of a 5010 against the bronson on uphills and flat,
    i love my mk2 5010 leave it in peddle mode and it climbs anything and rolls fast, i thought my lefty f29er was fast cross country till my 5010 blew it out of the water..

    downhill it copes with everything i’ve thrown at it, maybe not as fast as the next guy on his 170mm FS Beast.

    the uk press love bigger travel bikes, the next purchase for me? maybe a fox36 140mm fork to go on the 5010, and a SC Blur for everyday riding.

  3. I don’t normally moan but I really think that you should be having a word with yourself for using the word ‘gotten’ in a British mag!

    Ta

  4. “id love to see a truthful comparison over the long term of a 5010 against the bronson on uphills and flat,”
    As we said, it was only a short ride on both bikes. We’re hoping to get both in together some time soon…

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