Achieve Your Dream Ride Through Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, a staple in the biking world, solely specialized in mountain bike manufacture, with innovation and experience that span over 25 years, amazing patented suspension technologies, as well as sturdy frames of carbon fiber and aluminum.
Let’s delve further into Santa Cruz’s know-how and you can be the judge!
Santa Cruz: A Brief History Of Time
Santa Cruz put its shoulder to the wheel from day one, here’s the story of the road that it paved to its own success.
All this glory started as a small boutique brand, founded in 1993. Each of the founders had something special to add to the business. Rob Roskopp, is a professional skateboarder and also the founder of Santa Cruz Skateboards.
Also, Rich Novak, as well as bike engineer Mike Marquez had profound experience in bike suspension. Finally, designer Tom Morris who built prototypes.
It was set up in a teeny tiny space that’s part of the Seabright cannery building located in Santa Cruz, California.
Time-skip to only a year apart, 1994, the company produced its very first bike, the Tazmon. This model encompassed an innovative full-suspension which is also called dual-suspension design.
A suspension is simply the linkage that connects the wheel to the vehicle. One of the most vital components of the suspension is the shock absorber, and the better it is, the better is the overall efficiency of the suspension.
Seriously, imagine if the shock absorber of a particular suspension is absolutely dreadful, the vehicle would keep vibrating like some horse carriage for no end. Keep in mind that we’re talking about mountain bikes that are specially designed for rough terrain, so a good quality suspension is a must.
A full-suspension bike is simply, a bike that has front and rear suspensions. A suspension-less bike is called a rigid bike, a bike with only one front suspension is called a hardtail bike.
So what exactly was so special in Tazmon?
It was a bike that encompassed the features of a ‘cross-country cycling’ bike and that of a ‘downhill cycling’ bike; these cycling disciplines are distinctly different. Roskopp and his partners wanted to revolutionize the biking industry and break the boundaries separating the two categories thus blurring and mixing them.
The Virtual Point Suspension
They then came up with the patented VPP - Virtual Point Suspension - in 2001. The Virtual Point Suspension includes a shock absorber like any other suspension.
The shock absorber is made out of heavy-duty springs that chomp up the strength of bumps and vibrations affecting the wheel and ultimately the vehicle itself.
However, what’s different is that the VPP is also designed to cancel out spring compression that happens due to the downward force created by pedaling.
It uses a patented wheel-suspension linkage configuration to take advantage of the pre-existing pulling force from the bike’s chains to counteract that force caused by pedaling. This enables VPP equipped bikes to absorb shocks and bumps efficiently while pedaling, enabling riders to pedal with more confidence even in the worst of terrains.
The VPP was such a ground-breaking trail-blazing technology that it remains constant in all of Santa Cruz’s lineup to come, only being refined twice. The VPP is compliant and flexible enough to lend itself in every biking discipline, not being restrained to a certain bike type, as opposed to other companies who need to redesign their suspension systems for every single type of bike.
Carbon Fiber Usage in Frames
Santa Cruz is also known for pioneering advanced Carbon Fiber frame production methods and implementing them in their bike manufacturing industry, bike frames in particular.
Carbon fiber is, in essence, a group of filaments extraneously thinner than human hair, each filament is comprised of crystal-shaped carbon atom formations vertically aligned. These filaments are either woven together forming fabrics or mixed with a plastic resin to form a composite.
Carbon fiber is 3 times stronger than steel and 4 times lighter than it! It remains indefinitely stable and can theoretically last forever unless it’s misused. In fact, steel and aluminum can only last so long before they start to fatigue, which makes them unsafe to use after extended periods.
It’s also extremely difficult to bend but may crack easily if exposed to a direct concentrated force such as a blow of a hammer and such. However; it’s easily repaired no matter how severe the damage may be. Repairs add no measurable weight and they do not affect the feel of the bike at all.
Carbon fiber can be easily shaped into far more complex shapes than steel and aluminum, but building bike frames out of carbon fibers is an extremely sophisticated, laborious process, hence its expensiveness.
Building anything out of carbon fiber boils down to how you layer carbon fiber pieces, how you manipulate and orientate them to provide you with the desired stiffness and compliance. These pieces are layered on a latex mold the shape of a bike frame, thermally treated, released and then the finishing processes take place.
Santa Cruz owns an actual carbon laboratory in CA where they research, test and improve their carbon manufacturing techniques and procedures. On top of that, they have their own exclusive carbon fiber bike frame factory called Skybox.
With the help of Skybox and their carbon labs, they’ve managed to create a lesser expensive carbon frame all while maintaining the tremendous strength carbon is known for. This type of frame product is denoted by ‘C’, with the other high-end carbon frame products denoted by ‘’CC’’.
Bonus, their carbon fiber bike frames are always issued with a lifetime warranty.
In 1999, Santa Cruz partnered with Juli Furtado who won 5 National Titles, 3 World Cup titles and has also represented her country at the Olympics. Together, they built a bike specifically designed for women.
It wasn't just painting the bike pink and slapping some girly name on it, the designs tackled down modifications to suit the female physique for optimum performance.
These modifications ranged from adjusting the top tube length; which is the horizontal distance from the seat tube and the head tube, handle grip size and finally suspension performance.
This partnership has evolved to the creation of the Juliana brand, which has become an entirely separate entity from the Santa Cruz brand. Juliana designs bikes that are truly comfortable for female riders not merely marketed at them.
Most Popular Bikes
Below are some of the Santa Cruz models that have created history in their own right.
It’d only suffice to learn that this V10 was the first carbon bike to win a downhill world cup, ridden by many prominent figures as Steve Peat and Greg Minaar and has more world cup wins than any other bike.
The V10 is available in ‘C’ and ‘CC’ providing the exact top-notch performance to amateurs and professional riders at different price ranges.
The V10 has six iterates, with Santa Cruz’s policy of discontinuing the previous iterate before releasing a new one, the company guarantees excellent quality and constant originality.
By designing the Nomad, Santa Cruz acquired some of the credit for the creation of Enduro racing. Enduro racing combines both the technical difficulty of downhill mountain biking as well as the physical endurance of cross-country biking.
Nomad’s geometry enables riders to catch up almost terrifying raw speed levels on the trail. Some amateurs have even quoted that they’re happy they get off the bike in one piece; it’s because the bike pushes you to reckless abandon regarding speed. It’s also extremely steady in rough terrain, making it perfect for enduro racing.
I’ve mentioned earlier how Santa Cruz’s philosophy was blurring biking disciplines and categories. Stigmata is yet another physical application of this philosophy.
Stigmata’s geometry speaks for itself, it’s a racing bike. However, its gear and tire structure also suggest that you can take it out of the race-course and far beyond.
A single pivot cross-country bike first launched in 2002. It’s effectively rendered everyone else in the industry scrambling to catch up for a decade.
After its disappearance from the market for 4 years, it was brought back in 2018 with multiple outstanding renovations resulting in a speedy, full-suspension race bike with a VPP rear suspension that enhances pedaling power.
The Highball 29 features one of the fastest mountain bikes Santa Cruz makes. With 29 inch wheels, disc brakes and carbon frames, the bike can withstand any climb or decent without worry of space, maneuverability or compromise. Hence Santa Cruz has secured a place in the world's top mountain bike brands.
Do one thing and do it well. Santa Cruz bikes are built for top end riders that need a special bike. They have proven to be pretty much the real deal when it comes to groundbreaking, out of the ordinary mountain bikes!