Santa Cruz Nomad Mountain Bike Review

Santa Cruz Nomad Buy Now

Price

Pros​​​​

Full shock compatibility, lightweight, durable, handling at high speeds

Cons

​Weight difference based on price, limited sizing

Summary

​The Nomad like it's name implies is an ​​unique bike,  ​amazing on DH rides it retains excelent handing at high speeds while giving you the stability and durability of a much ​heavier bike.

Our Rating

79/100

Manufacturer

Now on its fourth generation of innovative design, the Santa Cruz Nomad focuses on style but doesn’t sacrifice performance.

This trail bike mimics some of the features of the Santa Cruz V10, especially when it comes to the shock configuration. With the Nomad, the result is a smooth ride that’s close to becoming a complete downhill model.

Tech Specs

​FRAME: ​XS to XL
​BREAK TYPE: ​SRAM Guide and SRAM Code Brakes
​SHIFTER: ​SRAM NX, SRAM GX Eagle or Shimano XT M8000
​RIMS: ​E13 TRS or WTB ST i25 TCS
​TIRES: ​Maxxis Minion 27.5x2.50 tires
PRICE: ​ $3,599 - $9,399

Since the goal is to incorporate DH mountain biking qualities into a versatile trail bike, the Nomad is similar in design to the V10. A lightweight bike with a comfortable gravity, the Santa Cruz Nomad is full of tech features that are practically an artistic statement.

Super sensitive shocks and a supportive midstroke mean a comfortable ride, but you can choose custom shocks to suit individual riding preferences. The bottom bracket area allows for shock compatibility while maintaining the light weight and low profile of the bike.

A long, low trail bike with brand-new carbon wheels rolling out in 2018, the Nomad is changing the game when it comes to the merger between responsive DH and trail riding. Plus, with a ton of options for your frame and build kit, you can get the exact bike you want.

Frame choices with the Nomad cover carbon and aluminum:

  • R Aluminum
  • S Aluminum
  • R Carbon C
  • XE Carbon C
  • X01 Carbon CC
  • XX1 Carbon CC

Frame Size

With both aluminum and carbon frame options, the Nomad accommodates all sizes of riders. The carbon frames come in every size from XS to XL, while the aluminum frame ranges from small to extra-large only.

Even the limited size range can accommodate every rider from 5’0” to 6’6” tall.

Santa Cruz Nomad Buy Now

Brake Type

With Avid Centerline brake rotors in both 180mm and 200mm sizes, the Nomad line encompasses both SRAM Guide and SRAM Code brakes.

Santa Cruz Nomad Breaks

Shifter

Even within the aluminum and carbon frame categories, there are differences in the shifters for each frame variation. The aluminum bikes have either SRAM NX (the R) or SRAM GX Eagle (the S) shifters, and the carbon C frames use SRAM NX (the R), SRAM GX Eagle (the S), and the Shimano XT M8000 (the XE).

Santa Cruz Nomad Breaks

The carbon CC frames use SRAM X01 Eagle (the X01) and SRAM XX1 Eagle (the XX1).

Rims

All frame variations of the Nomad feature 27.5” rims in either E13 TRS or WTB ST i25 TCS models. If you choose a carbon CC frame, you’ll also have the option of Santa Cruz Reserve 30 Carbon Rims.

Tires

The aluminum frame Nomads include Maxxis Minion 27.5x2.50 tires on the front and rear, making sure your ride is cushy and nimble.

Price Range

An aluminum Nomad S starts at $3599 with the carbon CC Nomad XX1 topping out the line at around $8199. However, if you look at other non-manufacturer sites online, you may be able to pick up a used Nomad for a lower price.

Then again, if you have a personal preference for much of your equipment, you can go the frame-only route with a Nomad A with Super Deluxe R starting at $1999. Similarly, frame-only Nomad CCs with Super Deluxe RCT or Super Deluxe Coil RCT run around $3299.

What We Like

With each version of this bike, it gets longer and leaner. Its sensitivity and responsiveness are unmatched, and the ability to choose standard metric coil shocks or lighter air models lets you customize your ride.

Adaptable stability through the low-slung frame, along with new carbon wheels, make this the ideal ride for many riders.

Pros:

  • Full shock compatibility
  • Flip-chip feature on the lower link
  • Downtube protectors and shuttle guards
  • Integrated shock fender

What We Don’t Like

There’s not a whole lot to dislike about the Nomad unless you’re antsy about the initial investment in price. Then again, you’re getting a premium bike, so the amount is warranted. That said, even at the lowest price point, you are investing in the complete package when it comes to suspension and smooth riding.

Cons:

  • 5-pound weight difference between the lowest-cost model and highest-cost model
  • Limited sizing for the aluminum Nomad (no XS)
  • New carbon rims aren’t an option for all selections

Buying Advice

The Santa Cruz Nomad is an excellent choice if you’re willing to sink a substantial amount of cash into your bike purchase. With its nimble performance and cushy ride, you won’t find a more comfortable or responsive bike that crosses the boundary between downhill and trail riding and does it as well as this bike.

Compatibility with a variety of add-ons, including shock compatibility and adjustable seat post options, position the Santa Cruz Nomad as a game-changer in both their aluminum and carbon frame rides. However, color choices are severely limited, if looks are a priority in that arena.

Currently, the color options include gloss tan and black or gloss ink and gold, so you’re looking at either a mostly-black or mostly-tan bike. That said, if performance is your focus, it won’t really matter what color your frame is when you’re on the trail.

Advanced features like a shuttle guard, downtube protector, and double sealed pivots contribute to your bike’s long life and hassle-free upkeep. You’ll also appreciate the internal carbon tubes that make routing the derailleur and seat post cables easier.

Depending on what build kit and frame you decide on, your bike’s weight will fall somewhere in the 28 to 33-pound range, but the addition of Santa Cruz’s new carbon rims will affect the weight as well. Further, if you’re looking for an adjustable seat post or a tire upgrade, you’ll have to purchase those separately.

Conclusion

For a quality bike at a mid- to high-price point, the Santa Cruz Nomad is a strong contender

Its blend of responsive features from both trail and DH bike categories mean the best of both worlds for riders who are focused on performance first. 

If you’re a rider who needs an agile ride that can tackle obstacles with ease, consider the Santa Cruz Nomad for your next cycling upgrade.

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 BikesReviewed.com. 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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