Santa Cruz 5010 Mountain Bike Review

Santa Cruz 5010 Review


Components, suspension, frame


Pedal kickback, not for competitive racing


The bottom line is that the 5010 should be at the top of your list of bikes to consider if you have your heart set on 27.5” wheels and are looking for a middle-of-the-road, semi-ambiguous trail bike.

Our Rating



Santa Cruz

In 2013, Santa Cruz first launched the 5010, and it quickly became popular among the short-travel trail bike crowd.

It was lauded for being a capable and fun bike despite its lack of travel length and slackness.

In the five years since its first release, Santa Cruz has done a lot to address rider concerns with the 5010. And, the latest generation is sure to impress.

Technical Specifications

FRAME SIZE: Small to Extra-LargeBRAKE TYPE: SRAM Guide BrakesSHIFTER: Shimano XT M8000RIMS: WTB ST RimsTIRES: Maxxis Ardent (or Cross mark II for lower-end kits)

The 5010 is designed for bike handlers. It loves to pop and jib, corners on rails, and is essentially an agile, laser sharp backcountry trail whip.

It is both unique and playful while still being able to negotiate technical, steep climbs. The 130mm-travel 5010 also features a low BB height and a short chainstay length.

Frame Size

The frame of the 5010 is available in aluminum, carbon, and carbon CC, which is a lighter, high-end alternative. There are four sizes: small (for riders 5’ to 5’5”), medium (5’5” to 5’10”), large (5’10” to 6’1”), and extra-large (6’1” to 6’6”). The reaches are 15.94”, 16.73”, 17.52”, and 18.7” respectively.

And, the wheelbase ranges from about 44” to 47.2”. The Santa Cruz website has further specs for the different sizes.

As with all of Santa Cruz’s full-suspension trail bikes, the 5010 has the company’s patented VPP (meaning “Virtual Pivot Point”) suspension (130mm.) The suspension isolates pedaling and braking forces so the bike responds more to the trail and less to the ride.

There is an entirely new VPP link arrangement on the latest 5010. The upper link of the box-section cleanly mounts to top tubes to improve lateral stiffness. And, the lower link is tucked above the BB and is fully-recessed to protect it from impacts. The refined shock rate delivers better sensitivity on small bumps and allows for a better mid-stroke.

You get a lifetime warranty on the 5010’s frame.

Brake Type

The 5010 uses a disc brake. The exact setup will depend on the type of kit you choose.

Most come standard with SRAM Guide brakes, but there are also SRAM Level brakes found on the lower-end kits and a Shimano XT M8000 brake on the midrange XE kit.

Santa Cruz 5010 Breaks ReviewSanta Cruz 5010 Cabeling Review


As with the brakes, the shifters vary by the kit, though they are all top-quality. All of the shifters come from SRAM, except the XE kit, which uses the Shimano XT M8000.

The SRAM NX is the most commonly used shifter. Riders note that while the NX is much more affordable than the performance SRAM Eagle, it still provides smooth, reliable, and quiet shifting.

Santa Cruz 5010 GearsSanta Cruz 5010 Gear Shifter Review


The lower-end kits come with the WTB ST rims, midrange kits have the Race Face AR, and the high-end kits have the Race Face ARC. All three options are celebrated for their strength-to-weight ratios.


Santa Cruz always goes out of their way to make sure their bikes have excellent tires. This is especially true with the 5010. It comes standard with Maxxis Ardent (or Crossmark II for lower-end kits) tires on the rear and Minion DHF on the front.

Price Range

Santa Cruz bikes are high-end bikes that range anywhere from around $2000 to upwards of $8000 and more. The Santa Cruz 5010 is on the lower end of this price tag at $2,699.00

What We Like

First of all, we like that the Santa Cruz 5010 is offered at an affordable price for the all-around XC mountain biker. The bike just encourages a more playful approach to the trails with its wheel-friendly design. 

And, though it is lightweight, the 5010 has excellent capabilities on harder, faster downhill lines.


  • Excellent components that perform higher than their pricing point
  • Addictive rider-reactive suspension
  • Super-stiff cockpit and frame

What We Don’t Like

As with the Santa Cruz Bronson, the 5010 is good in plenty of categories but the master of none. For riders who are interested in winning competitive races, this is a big weakness.

For those of us looking for a single tool to use in a variety of ways, the 5010 does a lot really well.


  • The kickback from the pedal might irritate some riders
  • For really ripping the turns, this is slightly short on reach
  • Won’t keep up with the high-end XC race bikes on the climb

Buying Advice

If you are looking for a mini-DH bike or a long-travel XC race bike, the 5010 probably isn’t your best option.

Santa Cruz has stayed true to the 5010’s intentions since it was first released (and known as the SOLO.) Instead of falling into either of the above categories, the 5010 falls in the middle.

The 5010 is not for the weak of heart. This is not a beginner’s bike. This is not a bike you want to buy for your teen to tool around campus (although if you do, get an amazing bike lock or even security detail.)

Instead, the 5010 is meant for hobbyists that want a ride that they can use for a broad range of off-road activities.


The 5010 was designed to be an excellent all-around mountain bike for big backcountry adventures. And, on the whole, it fills this role.

Though it can be used on just about any terrain, it is most at home on backcountry treks.

The bottom line is that the 5010 should be at the top of your list of bikes to consider if you have your heart set on 27.5” wheels and are looking for a middle-of-the-road, semi-ambiguous trail bike.

Scroll to Top