Santa Cruz Bronson Mountain Bike Review

Santa Cruz Bronson Full Frame Review



Design, versatility, fast


Requires aggressive handling at times


It’s challenging to find faults with the bike since it performs so consistently. It’s an all-arounder that gets you where you want to go, and it’s never out of its element on any trail.

Our Rating



One of the most popular Santa Cruz bikes to date is the current Santa Cruz Bronson.

Riders from all areas of cycling have positive things to say about this ride because it can do it all.

Let’s take a closer look at what sets this trail bike apart.

Tech Specs

FRAME SIZE: S (5’ to 5’5”), M (5’5” to 5’10”), L (5’10” to 6’1”), and XL (6’1” to 6’6”).
BRAKE TYPE: SRAM Guide RSC with 180mm centerline rotors
TIRES AND WHEELS: 2.3” Maxxis Minion DHR2 and DHF
PRICE RANGE: $3,299 to $8,099

The first-gen Bronson was introduced about five years ago.

At the time, it transformed the industry and redefined what riders could expect from a 150mm trail bike. Santa Cruz designed it to be at home along the Cuillin Ridgeline (in fact, the Bronson was used in the breathtaking “The Ridge” video) as well as the Trans-Provence.

And, most of the bike magazines can agree that Santa Cruz has only continued to improve the specs.

To meet the demands for trail riders, the Bronson’s geometry has evolved with the newest generation. The rider is now positioned well to lay down power with the steepened seat tube angle right above the cranks.

And compared to its predecessor, it’s much more rally-ready with a shorter chainstay length, a 20-25mm longer top tube, and a 66-degree head tube angle.

Frame Size

There are four frame sizes: S (5’ to 5’5”), M (5’5” to 5’10”), L (5’10” to 6’1”), and XL (6’1” to 6’6”). The reach ranges from 15.9” to 18.7” with a wheelbase between 44.9” and 48.2”. Santa Cruz has further specs readily viewable on their site.

While we’re talking about the frame, we should note that the Bronson has Santa Cruz’s patented Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension (150mm/6”.) The bike responds less to the ride and more to the trail thanks to the suspension design’s isolation of braking and pedaling forces.

Santa Cruz Bronson Frame Review

The latest Bronson has a totally new VPP link arrangement. The upper link enhances lateral stiffness by cleanly mounting to the tube.

The lower link is protected from impacts and fully-recessed as it’s tucked above the bottom bracket. In the process, they also refined the shock rate to give a more progressive mid-stroke and to produce better bump sensitivity.

The frame comes with a lifetime warranty.

Brake Type

The braking system for the Santa Cruz Bronson is an IS-mount disc brake. Specifically, it is the SRAM Guide RSC with 180mm centerline rotors. Riders report that it performs perfectly on the trail.

Santa Cruz Bronson Suspension Review
Santa Cruz Bronson


We are fans of the fact that the Bronson has threaded bottom brackets. And, you can always expect crisp shifting from the virtually flawless SRAM X01 Eagle.

There are reports of trouble with the master link of the chain and recommend upgrading to a better-quality chain.

Tires and Wheels

The tires and wheels of the Bronson are not incredibly impressive for a high-end bike. The tires are 2.3” Maxxis Minion DHR2 and DHF, which work great for most purposes. However, the tires are fairly dated and are not enough for confident descending. The tires are mounted to the Race Face ARC rim, which weighs more than it needs to but gets the job done.

Price Range

Since Santa Cruz bicycles are only available from authorized dealers, it’s hard for us to give you a precise price for the Bronson.

Different dealers will have different pricing points. Yet, we can tell you how much the different build kit and frame options retail for.

Of course, if you rely on a shop to build your bike for you, you can expect it to cost more. Here are some MSRPs:

  • Bronson Aluminum Frame – starting at $3299
  • Bronson Carbon C Frame – starting at $3899
  • Bronson Carbon CC Frame (two pounds lighter than the Carbon C) – starting at $6799

The reason we list the “starting at” price is that Santa Cruz offers kits with performance parts.

For instance, the XX1 kit has an MSRP of $8099 and with all of its top-of-the-line add-ons, it weighs in at a svelte 27.13 pounds.

What We Like

What sets the Bronson apart from other mountain bikes in its price range is its versatility.​

As we’ve pointed out above and will touch on again, you can bring this bike with you anywhere and have a good time.


  • Quite fast on most climbs
  • You can take it anywhere and expect excellent performance
  • Does not sacrifice agility for speed

What We Don’t Like

It is hard to find areas where the Bronson truly stands out.

So, while versatility is its biggest strength, it’s also a weakness. The Bronson can’t hand you glory like today’s big-wheeled or modern enduro rides can. For race success, you’ll need aggressive handling.


  • Not as innovative as some of the top options in its class
  • When going downhill at speed, the Bronson requires aggressive handling.
  • Not as good at handling rock gardens as Santa Cruz’s Nomad

Buying Advice

The Santa Cruz Bronson really is one of those bikes that can take you on long, mountain-ranging days; up technical trails and back down again; and just about anywhere else you want to go.

It’s challenging to find faults with the bike since it performs so consistently. It’s an all-arounder that gets you where you want to go, and it’s never out of its element on any trail.

With all of this in mind, we recommend the Bronson to riders who want one bike that does it all. If you enjoy the precision and lighter feel of 27.5-inch wheels and want an all-arounder that can regularly tackle bigger descents, buy the Bronson.


The Bronson is kind of like the Renaissance man of bikes, though it is no da Vinci.

In the winter months, it’s a good downhill racing tool. You can race dual slalom on it. You can race it in XC events. You can even take it to the park for downhill laps. It can handle any terrain. And, its agile and nimble personality make it hard not to have a good time.

That said, you may have trouble keeping up with your downhill bike riding friends on the Bronson. But, if you want a bike that can do it all and are interested in having fun on the trails, then you should seriously consider buying the Santa Cruz Bronson.

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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