XC ON THE LIMIT

THE SANTA CRUZ BLUR CC

Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested - PHO­TOG­RA­PHER: TIM BARD­S­LEY-SMITH TESTER: RYAN WALSCH

Santa Cruz brought 29 inched wheels to the cur­rent World Cup DH scene so it is only fit­ting that this for­ward think­ing com­pany would try some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent on this new school XC rig. It shares technology shared straight from the V10, has a dual lock out and chal­lenges what we could think to be nor­mal about an XC whip, some­times harsh and very down to busi­ness. The Santa Cruz Blur is the 100mm cross­coun­try race bike that hails from a long line of finely crafted bikes that use Vir­tual Pivot Point (VPP) sus­pen­sion. There are 4 build kits avail­able in Aus­tralia and the CC frame set sells for $4749. The two lower mod­els come with the C car­bon, and start at $7999 and top­ping out at our ex­tremely light XX1 Re­serve model at $12749.

Santa Cruz claims that the Blur is go­ing to ruf­fle feath­ers amongst the XC crowd, let’s see if it can be pulled off. The Blur is go­ing up against some stuff com­pe­ti­tion such as the Spe­cial­ized Epic, Trek Top Fuel, Gi­ant An­them, Yeti SB100 and more.

INI­TIAL IM­PRES­SIONS

With a dis­tinctly Santa Cruz VVP look about it, you could be mis­taken that the all new Blur was a Tall­boy or even a High Tower. That is un­til you gaze upon the scant and highly ma­chined links, slen­der tubes and Fox 32 SC Fac­tory fork. When the Blur started its life in 2002 it was equipped with 115mm of travel on an all al­loy frame with disc brakes and V-brake op­tions, matched to a steep 71 de­gree head an­gle and a do-itall at­ti­tude. Up un­til 2013 the Blur saw many it­er­a­tions, such as the 135mm LT (Long Travel) model, a 4X model and even a XC race model. With the trail mar­ket grow­ing the longer travel Blur fiz­zled out and be­came the Tall­boy and Hightower leav­ing the Blur to get back to its roots of a ca­pa­ble XC bike. De­spite all the ab­sence of ma­te­rial and ex­cess girth the rear tri­an­gle does gain a sim­i­lar ap­proach as the big­ger bikes Santa Cruz of­fer such as the V10. The one piece rear has par­al­lel ver­ti­cal struts on both sides join­ing seat­stays and chain­stays to­gether which is no doubt there to keep the 2060g frame/shock track­ing like a dream on the trail. How all this is packed into the Blur’s slen­der chas­sis is a mys­tery and some­thing the Tall­boy is ab­sent of. With the fa­mil­iar VPP con­fig­u­ra­tion of two small links hold­ing a one piece mas­ter­piece to the again one piece car­bon main­frame, the shock runs neatly on the un­der­side of the top tube leav­ing am­ple room for a full 800ml bot­tle. The top tier XX1 Re­serve model is an XC fan’s wet dream. With the all new SRAM XX1 DUB cranks, XX1 Ea­gle 12-speed, SRAM Level Ul­ti­mate brakes and Re­serve 25mm Santa Cruz rims rolling on DT Swiss 240 hubs, there wasn’t any­thing to re­ally hold the bike back in any re­gard. Unique to the Blur is a push to un­lock dual lock­out sys­tem from Fox, the ca­ble rout­ing is in­ter­nal for the sys­tem and very neat. We do ques­tion Fox’s de­ci­sion to build this sys­tem around a push to un­lock rather than the push to lock we are more com­monly used to. If a ca­ble stretches, fouls or snaps we would rather the sys­tem to be “un­locked” rather then stuck in a teeth rat­tling locked po­si­tion, we will watch this closely over the course of the test. With this 100mm XC weapon, we went with Santa Cruz’s 25% rec­om­men­da­tion of a 20-25% sug­gested sag range and found this to be bang on. With the VPP sys­tem, even stomp­ing down on the ped­als hard out of the sad­dle does not up­set or bog down the sus­pen­sion and we found lit­tle need for the dual lock out save for a fire road sprint or two. Setup the sag cor­rectly and you can have a bike that ped­als like a dream with trac­tion ga­lore, so sim­ple. We were tempted to in­stall a drop­per post for the test, we stopped our­selves as while we have grown lazy and ac­cus­tomed to the beloved drop­per it was a re­fresh­ing ab­sence of bar junk and a chance to re­learn to ride a bike in the purist form and we liked it. Santa Cruz has equipped the Blur with an in­ter­nal rout­ing port es­pe­cially for

a stealth drop­per, and if you cast your eye across the top 10 of World Cup XCO races, there are plenty of drop­pers be­ing used. The Blur CC XX1 Re­serve we had on re­view was a feath­ery 9.94kgs and while there are lighter dual sus­pen­sion rigs out there, Santa Cruz has added some­thing a bit spe­cial to this one, a bike that not only goes up but comes down with com­po­sure and con­fi­dence.

ON THE TRAIL

The new Blur is of­fered in small, medium, large and ex­tra large and we chose the large for our 178cm (5ft 10) test rider. The 460mm reach and 621mm top tube is longer in reach than the more trail ori­ented and 27.5+ com­pat­i­ble Tall­boy. This did aid in the abil­ity to get for­ward and open up the lungs on longer climbs with a roomy reel­ing rather than feel­ing cramped. The Syn­tace stem and post were nicely matched with the Santa Cruz in house 750mm car­bon flat bar which gave us heaps of con­trol and maybe a lit­tle too much lever­age for the pe­tite Fox 32 SC forks. Bars come stock wide but re­mem­ber to get your Santa Cruz dealer to get your fit spot on. Wider isn’t al­ways bet­ter.

AMB What sets the Blur apart from other 100mm XC rigs is just how planted and com­posed it sits on the trail, with a 69 de­gree head an­gle, longer front tri­an­gle, short 432mm rear stays and dialled VPP kine­mat­ics the Blur does feel like it’s a big­ger travel bike with a sur­pris­ingly bot­tom­less feel­ing. Find­ing your­self at the bot­tom of a de­scent and scan­ning up the next climb is very pleas­ant, was it the XX1 or the light and re­spon­sive 25mm SC Re­serve wheels? Sure they helped, but the com­bi­na­tion of the 750mm sweep­ing bar, long reach, a su­per planted feel and bob re­sis­tant VVP rear end had us find­ing trac­tion over the rough and keep­ing a smile on our dial. The Blur is ap­pro­pri­ately matched with the Fox 32 SC fork, how­ever the frame is just that bit more ca­pa­ble and com­posed than the fork, we would have loved to try the Fox 34 SC Fac­tory fork on as a com­par­i­son to re­ally open it up on the Blur and push the bound­aries of what it is ca­pa­ble of. Santa Cruz own­ers and their friends might be fa­mil­iar with the VPP creak. The VPP de­sign does add more bear­ings and like any bike and sus­pen­sion sys­tem they need main­te­nance. Santa Cruz have one of the best cus­tomer sup­port pro­grams out there. Orig­i­nal own­ers get life­time

bear­ing war­ranty, life­time frame war­ranty and yes you read cor­rectly: Santa Cruz Re­serve wheels have a life­time rim war­ranty! There is no doubt that the Blur is well suited to XC and ex­cels on the as­cents but how it achieves that is not what we would say is the norm. The Blur is not the light­est, and it’s not the steep­est ge­om­e­try with you sit­ting right on top of the BB. Rather, it is a tried, tested and highly tune­able VPP plat­form and a “new school” ge­om­e­try that keeps the bike com­posed giv­ing you trac­tion. And it is via this trac­tion and well-man­nered na­ture that just makes climb­ing eas­ier. I found my­self try­ing tech lines that made lit­tle sense for the sake of it and with out the typ­i­cal bounce and buck just kept on truck­ing through. With all that com­po­sure there is a down­side, I found that this lead to get­ting a bit over zeal­ous into sections and be­ing re­minded by the Fox 32 SC and lack of drop­per that this was in fact not a trail bike, but a cross-coun­try race bike that will bring the best out in you rac­ing or on all day rides. And sure, a 34 SC and drop­per might just ex­tend it’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. But as it is this thing is all about XC. Over­all the lat­est it­er­a­tion has lived up to Santa Cruz’s claim of an A-line tak­ing XC race bike, dip­ping its toe into the realm of the Tall­boy with­out get­ting too rowdy. There aren’t many race whip­pets quite like this.

OUR TAKE

The Blur isn’t just a cross-coun­try race bike, it is far more new school if you let it be. The push to un­lock dual lock out is far from a deal breaker but some­thing you need to watch. Stay on top of your ca­ble main­te­nance as if that ca­ble fouls or jams it is go­ing to be a bumpy ride. What re­ally sets the Blur apart is the Santa Cruz build qual­ity. It is re­ally hard to top, the fin­ish is top notch and no mat­ter how much abuse they take, they al­ways roll out from a ser­vice feel­ing great, they are a real plea­sure to work on from a me­chanic’s point of view. The Blur re­ally suits cross-coun­try rac­ers, marathon rid­ers and rid­ers look­ing at stage races like the Cape Epic, The Pioneer, Sin­gle­track 6 or other multi-day events. The Blur suits rid­ers want­ing a ver­sa­tile light­weight moun­tain bike. It prob­a­bly isn’t the bike for the trail crowd – Santa Cruz have plenty of other op­tions for that. Same if you’re after all the fea­tures for the low­est price – that’s just not what the Blur CC de­liv­ers on. But if you are look­ing for a truly ca­pa­ble and high qual­ity bike for cross-coun­try, marathons, fast days out and multi-day events – then Santa Cruz have built the bike you want.

“WHAT SETS THE BL UR APART FROM O THER 100MM X C RIGS IS JUST HO W PLANTED AND COM­POSED IT SITS ON THE TRAIL, WITH A 69 DE­GREE HEAD AN­GLE, L ONGER FRONT TRI­AN­GLE, SHORT 432MM REAR ST AYS AND DIALLED VPP KINEMA TICS.”

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