Review: With a 120mm fork, the Santa Cruz Blur is a pocket rocket trail bike

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As far as contemporary XC bikes go, the latest generation Blur from Santa Cruz Bicycles ticks a lot of boxes.

Plugging an important gap that the Tallboy left behind as it steadily morphed into a trail bike, the new Blur (also known as the ‘Blur 3’) heralds a spectacular return to its cross-country roots. This is a bike that has been fully engineered from the ground-up as a lightweight full suspension race bike.

To that end the Blur is equipped with a high-tech carbon fibre frame, 100mm of travel, fast-rolling 29in wheels, and geometry that aims to combine an aggressive head-down-bum-up racing position with sure-footed handling. The frame is dropper-ready and 1x specific, and thirsty riders need not worry – it’ll still take a water bottle inside the mainframe, and you can fit a second underneath the downtube.

santa cruz blur
Santa Cruz has brought back the Blur. All photos by Brent MacKenzie.

Like other Santa Cruz models, the Blur frame is available in both C and CC carbon fibre grades. We’ve got the higher-end CC frame here, which Santa Cruz states is the lightest full suspension frame it has ever produced at 2060g. I recently found out this is quoted without the rear shock though, which explains why this Medium-sized test frame came out at 2250g (5.58lb) with the rear shock, thru-axle, hanger and seat collar.

Respectable, but a little ways off an equivalent Scott Spark RC (1779g claimed) or Canyon Lux SLX (2053g claimed).

santa cruz blur
This is the Blur CC, which uses a lighter and more expensive grade of carbon fibre.

I travelled to California earlier this year to test out the new Blur on some of the trails local to Santa Cruz HQ, where the Blur had been prototyped, tested and refined into the production version you see here. I got along with the Blur very well, but I did find the Fox 32 Step-Cast forks felt a little twangy compared to the stout frame, and the Maxxis Aspens it came with weren’t exactly the grippiest of tyres. Sure it’s a pretty dialled race setup out of the box, but to me the speedy Blur felt like it was being held back – at least for my limited riding skills anyway.

To explore the outer realms of the Blur’s capabilities, and to see whether it could be more than just a skinny XC whippet, we got in a standalone frameset and built it up from a blank canvas. Here’s a closer look at how we took this thoroughbred XC race whippet and gave it a steroid injection.

santa cruz blur fox 34 step-cast
We built up the frame from scratch with a full custom build.



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If you’d like to read more, check out all the details on the Santa Cruz Blur in our launch story here. You can also read my first ride review of the new Blur here, and if you need a good laugh, then see how the bike came together in this build video (hint: very slowly).

And if you’ve been inspired by this review to ‘trail-ify’ your own XC bike, then make sure you check out our feature article “Ditch The Twitch – 14 Ways To Turn Your XC Bike Into A Confidence-Inspiring Rad Machine!

As always, we’d love to hear what you think of the Blur and how I’ve got it setup here – let us know your thoughts, and shoot me any questions you’ve got in the comments section below!

santa cruz blur fox 34 step-cast
The Blur is meant to be a pure XC race bike. But with a bigger fork and burlier spec, it becomes a whole lot more fun and approachable than that.

Santa Cruz Blur CC Specifications

  • Frame // Blur CC Carbon Fibre, 100mm Travel
  • Fork // Fox 34 Step-Cast Factory Series, 120mm Travel, 51mm Offset
  • Shock // Fox Float DPS EVOL, Performance Series, 170x35mm
  • Hubs // DT Swiss 340, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
  • Rims // Santa Cruz Reserve 27, 27mm Internal Width, 28h, Tubeless Ready
  • Tyres // Bontrager XR5 Team Issue, 2.3in Front & Rear
  • Crankset // SRAM X01 Eagle DUB, 32t X-Sync 2 Chainring
  • Rear Mech // SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-Speed
  • Shifters // SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM XG1295 Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Speed
  • Brakes // SRAM Level Ultimate, 180mm Centreline Rotors
  • Stem // Renthal Apex 35, 50mm Length
  • Bars // Renthal Fatbar Lite Carbon 35, 10mm Rise, 760mm Wide
  • Grips // Ergon GE1 EVO Factory, Slim
  • Seatpost // Race Face Turbine R, 150mm Travel, 31.6mm
  • Saddle // Ergon SM Pro, S/M
  • Size Tested // Medium
  • Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Weight // 11.64 kg / 25.74 lbs

Review Info

Brand:Santa Cruz Bicycles
Product:Blur CC
From:Santa Cruz Bicycles,
Price:£2,999 (frame only with Fox Float DPS Kashima shock), $4,999 AUD
Tested:by Wil Barrett for 3 months

Comments (17)

    That looks a fantastc fun trail bike.

    Red and orange though…

    Santa Cruz, rode many models for 12 years, now, seems to be a one trick marketing pony, going down, V10, enduro, Nomad, going rad, Bronson, X country, Blur, so where’s the SC X Country team, Scott etc will muller this bike for fun, seems they produce too many itterations of a bike for the dollar only, the Syndicate that many.of us bought into is, in my opinion, no longer relevant, there are new kids in town beating what many thought a benchmark, work to do Santa Cruz.

    Agreed @Tim black fork all day long

    I noticed 27mm internal rims, I think it’s time for hope to rename their 23mm “Enduro” wheels ;0)

    Doesn’t look like the bottle cage mounts inside the main frame are much use with that cable routing…

    I think there is something wrong with the orientation of your dropper Post’ Head?

    Awesome write up. I look forward to following the progress with the Blur’s build. Good luck with the race prep too!

    Thanks for the great write up. Have you done the fork swap yet (with different offsets)?

    Did you by any chance measure the stack and reach with the 120mm fork on? Adding those extra 20mm of front travel certainly change the head angle and seat tube angle, like you talked about. But the reach and stack should change as well. SC has the ‘straight up’ Blur listed as 460mm in size large and the Blur TR (110mm fork) listed at 455, so I’m guessing the reach on your rig is around 450. Can you confirm?

    I’m also wondering if the reach ‘feels’ different with the bigger fork. I mean, yeah, technically it measures shorter, but the top tube is the same, so it may just be that your hands are in a slightly different place.

    @edd – It does look like there’d be a clearance problem, but I’ve recently fitted a side-entry cage, and the cables simply bypass the bottle around the outside. So far no issues.

    @guigui – Nope, that’s pretty normal for a Fox Transfer dropper when running a nose-heavy saddle position. The front bolt tightens a long way, to the point where it can almost bottom out. I’ve been experiencing it a bit more lately, and it’s something that I’d like to see Fox address to provide a greater range of adjustment from the clamp head.

    @ccftri – Sure have mate! Been swapping the 44/51mm offset forks around over the past few weeks. A little more back-to-back testing to be done, but so far I’ve been pretty surprised how much of a difference I could feel. I’ll have a feature article and video coming on this soon.

    As for stack/reach, I haven’t measured either of them, though you’re absolutely right that they’re both affected by fitting a longer travel fork. For trail riding, the extra height at the front of the bike has been a positive change, particularly with the slightly taller BB height and slacker front end. I think the general ‘feel’ of the cockpit can also be adjusted quite a lot with a different bar and/or stem, as well as raising or lowering the bar height via spacers on the steerer tube. In my case, I’ve been really happy with the 760/50mm combo that’s on there at the moment. I’ve got a couple of changes in mind for the bike, including a move towards a 740/60mm bar & stem soon to provide a more racy position.

    Hope that helps!

    ST Wil.

    When is the offset review coming???

    @heathwb – Not long now! Had a few delays, as I’ve been waiting on some input from a few different bike manufacturers with very different opinions, which I’ll be including in the feature. I’ve also been doing some additional offset testing with several other 130mm travel trail bikes, which has been pretty interesting.

    Filming some video this week, so once I get all that edited, I’ll be publishing the full video feature on our YouTube channel;

    [ST Wil]

    Any update on the offset testing???

    @bigwheelsxc – Yes! There’ll be a two part feature on fork offset coming shortly, with the second part focussing on my experience with the Blur. Stay tuned on our YouTube and Facebook channels for the video too.

    [ST Wil]

    @singletrackwil Any update on offset?

    @jshardwick41 – There is! I’ve already submitted the articles and video, so they should hopefully be getting proofed and published in the very near future. Both articles are pretty chunky – I’ve been doing quite a bit of cross-testing and research on the topic, so hopefully that comes across in the finished article and you enjoy the read 🙂

    [ST Wil]

    I bought the TR version with the CC frame and XX1 groupset and reserve wheels and then swopped out the 110mm fork internals for 120mm – used in anger at Lanzarote stage race and this year’s Cape Epic and I’ve got to say it’s been spot on – light enough to race on, climbs great and will take some abuse on the descents too. I agree that it doesn’t need the lock out – too many cables which is the only gripe I have with the bike plus the lock out limits grip choice somewhat. Can well recommend !!!

    Hi Wil, thanks for the Blur build videos and great information included! Any chance you could show us how a setup would look with both the lockouts and dropper installed? I know from one of the videos that you chose not to install the lockouts such as those in the complete bikes at least in part to not clutter up the cockpit, so I’m wondering if it’s even functionally practical to expect to be able to operate both? I’m interested in installing a dropper, but not sure I want to lose the lockout functionality. Thank you!

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