The 10th generation Santa Cruz Blur XC bike has landed at Singletrack Towers, and before we could get a good look it raced off to its keen temporary owner, who’s already entered several races for the ultimate test…
The original Santa Cruz Blur was introduced back in 2002 with the brands high tech new-fangled Virtual Pivot Point suspension design. It was aimed at the trail riding sector of the market with the possibility of using it as an XC race bike as well as your daily driver. Remembering that back then, a hardtail was considered the lightest fastest thing to take to the podium on the short track.
A Bit of History
Taking a short evolutionary trip up the spectrum with models such as the iconic (in my opinion) Blur 4X for tackling the gnarliest World Cup 4X courses of the mid-noughties and technical trail devouring Blur LT we find ourselves with the latest 2022 generation of the XC bike.
After all these years Santa Cruz has swapped out the VPP suspension and introduced a single pivot flex-seat-stay design and called it the Superlight suspension design. Hold on, Superlight? That’s right, Santa Cruz’ long lost (as of 2016) single-pivot super-light XC machine. So in summary, the 2022 Blur is a serious XC race machine with a nostalgically named but all-new suspension design.
“Instead of relying on a high anti-squat figure to resist excessive bobbing from a progressive, high leverage shock curve, we looked to the leverage curve to provide more of the support and control, resulting in a lower and more consistent leverage curve which enabled us to reduce anti-squat, and therefore chain influence on the suspension. This allows the rear tire to have more traction and sensitivity in both climbing and descending scenarios but also produces a much more efficient forward drive because less pedaling input, from anti-squat, is utilized to overcome the rider’s body weight influence on the suspension. The overall package results in a lower demand on the shock to finesse the performance through specific internals or custom sizes.”Santa Cruz
So how does the new Santa Cruz Blur stack up at a glance with one soggy ride under my belt? This XC bike frame is slender and purposeful in the Sockeye Salmon paint with a blue downtube logo. The Sid SL Ultimate fork and SidLuxe Ultimate shock are pleasing on the eye with their totally gloss black exterior emblazoned with chrome naming decals – it’s a good look. Overall, the bike setup and assembly is well thought out with neat cable and hose routing. Electrical shrink wrap keeps the front end clean by combining the rear brake hose and dropper cable before they enter the frame at the headtube and reappear at their chosen components.
The full XC version we have here has a double-ended twist grip lockout for the fork and shock, not something I usually make use of. However on the Santa Cruz Blur, it’s so easy to use and effective on smooth gravel or tarmac surfaces I found myself using it quite frequently. The action of the twist grip is a pleasure to use and doesn’t interfere with bike control at all.
Taking a look at the cockpit on the entire Santa Cruz Blur range, they all come with Santa Cruz’ own flat carbon XC bar at 760mm width. Obviously, you could cut this down but I plan to use it out on the trails as well as on the race track, so 760mm feels like a great compromise. The 60mm Syntace stem gives me the perfect seated reach on this medium size bike.
The Fox Transfer SL seatpost in 100mm Performance Elite flavour is the perfect choice for this bike in my opinion. It offers 100mm of travel in the lightest configuration dropper on the market. Fox has achieved this by reducing the complexity of the internals. This does mean that you can only have the post fully up or fully down; given the travel and expected usage, this seems like an acceptable trade-off.
XO1 AXS Reserve spec gets you a predictable SRAM XO1 AXS drivetrain and SRAM Level TLM twin-piston brakes. This is all excellent specification and well suited to the Blur’s speedy trail chomping nature. The XO1 drivetrain makes cute mouse noises when you change gear and the brand new brake pads make sad noises when it rains. The thirty-four tooth chainring means business and indicates that the top gear spin out tuck should happen at an even faster speed than usual.
Santa Cruz Reserve 28 XC rims shod with Maxxis Aspen 2.4 tyres are laced (by no other than Danny MacAskill according to Chipps…) onto DT Swiss 350 hubs to make up the key rolling components of the Blur. The top-end DT Swiss hubs are a reliable staple component and create a very light, high-performance wheelset when combined with the Reserve 28mm carbon rims. 2.4 Aspen tyres are of the new breed of high volume XC race tyres and are designed to be lightning-fast on dry dusty singletrack and fire roads, presumably in Colorado. In sloppy summer Yorkshire moorland, they appear to lack sufficient tread depth and side knobble bite to offer real confidence but the experience wasn’t terrifying once I’d settled into the movement. I can’t argue that on gravel roads and tarmac they’re lightning fast.
All specs and initial impressions considered I’m super excited to get to grips with this bike, take it as far from my house as I can pedal it, race it on short track XC courses, do some XC endurance racing and generally pedal and pump the nuts off it over the next few months.
Santa Cruz Blur Carbon CC – XO1 AXS Reserve Kit Specification:
- Fork // RockShox Sid SL Ultimate, 100mm, 29″ w/Remote
- Shock // RockShox SidLuxe Ultimate
- Rear Derailleur // SRAM X01 Eagle AXS, 12spd
- Shifter // SRAM GX AXS Shifter
- Crankset // SRAM X1 Eagle Carbon 148 DUB 34t
- Cassette // SRAM XG1295 Eagle, 12spd, 10-50t
- Chain // SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
- Brakes // SRAM Level TLM
- Rotors // SRAM CLX Centerlock Rotors, 160mm
- Handlebars // Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Flat Bar
- Stem // Syntace LiteForce
- Grips // SRAM Twistlock
- Headset // Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated Headset
- Seatpost // FOX Transfer SL Performance Elite, 100mm, 31.6
- Saddle // WTB Silverado Medium Ti Fusion Saddle or WTB Volt
- Tyres // Maxxis Aspen, 29″ x 2.4WT, 3C, EXO, TR Front & Rear
- Front Hub // DT Swiss 350
- Rear Hub // DT Swiss 350
- Rims // Santa Cruz Reserve 28 XC 29″ Carbon Rims
- Spokes // Sapim D-Light
- As built // £8,099.00