The fourth-generation 5010 builds the lower linkage VPP suspension of all the other Santa Cruz trail bikes into a longer, slacker chassis. The result is more capable than ever but detail changes and dynamic ride feel mean it’s still as much of a hell-raiser than ever, even at higher speeds in bigger terrain.
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Design and geometry
The big change for version four of the 5010 is that the shock is now driven via the lower linkage. That’s the same basic set up as all the other Santa Cruz trail, enduro and downhill bikes have already switched to. It drops the centre of gravity and it also makes it easier for Santa Cruz to work on the kinematic and leverage ratios. For the 5010 they’ve pegged the anti-squat/pedal reaction as aggressively as the Tallboy XC/Trail 29er but used a linearly progressive shock rate closer to the longer travel Hightower and Bronson. The new kinematic, a wide, angular stance for the arch that straddles the shock and a flatter broader down tube belly under the shock mean you can fit any damper you want - including coil shocks.
The chiselled ‘cheek bones’ of the seat tube arch are mirrored in the rear swingarm uprights, with the offside strut moved forwards for easier access to the geometry change flip-chip. This offset shock bolt mount alters the head angle between 65.7-and 65.4-degrees with seat angle changing from 77.2 to 76.8-degrees and bottom bracket drop from 16 to 20mm. That’s less than the current model, but complete builds now come with 27.5 x 2.4in tyres rather than either 2.6 or 2.3in so actual ride heights are essentially the same. Tyre clearance now tops out at 2.6in (previously 2.8in) but by manipulating the lower linkage effective chainstay lengths grow 3mm per size from the XS and S at 324 to the XL at 333, with the large sitting at 329mm.
Reach is extended to 475/473mm giving it the longest cockpit stretch of any Santa Cruz to date. At a degree slacker in the head and 2-degrees steeper in the seat tube its noticeably more progressive than the previous 5010 and fork travel also increases to 140mm.
It still runs on 27.5-inch wheels though and rear travel is the same at 130mm. You get Santa Cruz’s usual very high levels of user-friendly features too. Internal cable/house routing runs through internal pipes for easy installation and neat blister exit ports on the head tube mean no chance of paint rub. The bottom bracket is screw-in with ISCG chain guide points and there’s a ‘fender’ over the otherwise exposed rear end of the shock. The bearings are all self-serviceable and you still get an injection nipple in the linkage for flushing them through with fresh grease in between strip downs. A thick ribbed rubber sleeve protects the chainstay and there’s more rubber armour under the down tube and a tailgate protector panel, too. The frame also introduces a new ‘design language’ which includes those drop-dead gorgeous ‘cheekbones’ on the swingarm/seat tube as well as short, fat webs in the angles of the head tube and swingarm that give a more organic look as well as increasing strength. There’s a new ‘universal’ gear hanger which is designed to pivot slightly on impact, potentially saving your rear mech from injury. Our only gripe is that while the bolt end of the flip-chip is easy to access, the drive side end is still hidden so you’ll either need very thin fingers or narrow pliers to rotate and then reposition the chip. The straddled shock design also makes it more awkward to check sag/travel levels but all control levers and dials are easy to hand.
The frame is available in CC (tested) and more affordable C versions which use different fibre grades and weigh in at 2,91 and 3,04kg respectively, but all features and the choice of Raspberry Sorbet or Loosely Blue colours are the same. The Juliana Furtado model They’re all covered by the same ‘no quibble’ lifetime warranty too which potentially makes the C look the smarter buy.
Components and build
The C frame is only available on more affordable complete builds: £4,099 R based on SRAM NX with Fox 34 Rhythm fork and Float DPS rear shock, £4,999 S with SRAM GX, Fox 34 performance fork and RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ rear damper and £5,999 XT with RockShox Pike Select+ and Super Deluxe Select+ rear damper. The £6,499 CC bike (tested) comes with SRAM’s new Eagle Expanded X01 group, RockShox Pike Ultimate fork and Super Deluxe Ultimate damper, plus Reverb, G2 brakes, Santa Cruz carbon bars and a new Burgtec forged stem. You can also add the latest V2 version of Santa Cruz’s Reserve 30 wheels to either the XT or X01 bikes for an extra £1,100. All bikes use Maxxis DHR 27.5x2.4in WT tyres in trail weight EXO carcass with Maxxgrip front and Maxterra rear rubber compounds. The same frames and kits are used (with different saddles) for the Juliana Furtado bikes but in and colourways.
Ride, handling and performance
With tyres that emphasis grip over rolling speed fitted to the new, deliberately more compliant Reserve wheels the 5010 immediately feels glued down rather than a flighty trail skimmer. The slacker, more stretched front end is controlled through big bars held noticeably stiffer by the new chunkier Burgtec stem. Even by Santa Cruz’s usually hench standards the 5010 definitely feels like it’s been a bit more focused in its gym sessions and added the extra reps most other bikes skip. The wheels also add a more damped, connected feel to the tyres, as though you’re using a heavier, enduro casing.
Add the same pedalling dynamic of the Tallboy and lower rotating weight of the smaller wheels and while it sulks a bit on extended climbs it absolutely explodes out of corners or whenever you need to accelerate hard. That ‘need’ to accelerate hard soon becomes more and more pressing as you realise how hard this bike can hit stuff and carry speed. Part of that is down to the new lower linkage architecture but the Super Deluxe also gets a new high volume shaft valve and other unique tweaks from a close RockShox Santa Cruz collaboration. That lets it suck up serious flat face rock or big root slams far better than you’d expect from a smaller wheeled 130mm travel bike. If you’re off the power the high flow rates also make it super easy to adjust the angle of the bike despite the increased length. Add the proportionate length back end and the flow and pump over rock features or other rollers is as addictive as the acceleration when you do punch the power down.
While it can sometimes hesitate when you stamp the pedals the relatively large gaps in the pick up of the DT Swiss 350 hubs also means less chance of chain choke getting in the way of shock smoothness. It will still happen occasionally though and you’ll always feel connected to the trail rather than isolated and indifferent to it. That connection, plus the easy shock movement and steep seat angle give it impressive rock crawler ability when you’re making the most of the 52T lowest gear of the new SRAM Eagle on super steep/slow tech climbs, too.
While the slacker angles and extra overall length add significant stability at speed the smaller wheels are still super agile and quick to change direction. That can lead to some scary understeer moments for 29er riders until they re-adjust. Last second, tyre scrabbling saves soon become not just second nature but exactly why you’d choose this bike over more boring bigger wheeled, longer travel bikes. The fact it’s faster and more controlled through the rowdiest sections gives you even more kinetic energy to be dynamic with so you can send it, flick it and flare it more wildly. Added stability, maximum control kit selection and the outstanding shock performance mean you’ll get away with a lot more on landing too so the upward spiral rapidly gets just out of hand enough whether you’re blasting twisty woodland trails or upsetting bigger bikes on boulder infested black runs. The default shock tune is also spot on from the start so you don’t need to start pulling it apart to add volume spacers or worrying about where the travel ring is. Throw in the background reassurance of a lifetime warranty on both frame and wheels
New 27.5-inch bikes are an increasingly rare thing and with mid-sized wheels, the 5010 is never going to be as fast or smooth as a 29er. Even with the exceptionally good suspension performance, you’ll still need to work with the bike more through big or repeated impact sections. That means it’s not the right bike for enduro racers or Strava straight liners.
However, if you’re the kind of rider who hunts for every turn to hook, loamy corner to explode sideways out of or slight lip to hip then the 5010 is an absolute riot. The fact it’s more stable and sucks up way more trouble fires you along the trail with more flow than before. It hasn't lost its killer kick and precision agility meaning you’ve got even more speed to play with, too.
Add a host of practical ‘easy life’ features plus a lifetime warranty on the frame and wheels and, while it’s undoubtedly expensive, if you want to play harder than ever it’s an investment worth making if you can. With the C frame coming in at only 130g heavier, the more affordable bikes are relatively good value, too.
Temperature: 9-21 degrees
Surface: Mixed dirty woods, red and black grade rocky trail centres, feral old-school DH courses
Tech Specs: Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 RSV
- Discipline: Trail
- Price: £7,599
- Head angle: 66-degrees
- Frame material: Carbon
- Size: Large
- Weight: 13.3kg
- Wheel size: 27.5in
- Suspension (front/rear): RockShox Pike Ultimate 140mm travel fork and RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 130mm travel shock
- Components: SRAM X01 Eagle 10-52T 12 speed gearing and shifter. SRAM X01 carbon 32T chainset. SRAM G2 RSC brakes with 180mm rotors. Santa Cruz Reserve 30 V2 rims on DT Swiss 350 hubs. Maxxis DHR 27.5 x 2.4 WT EXO 3C MaxxGrip front and 3C MaxxTerra rear tyres. Santa Cruz 800mm carbon bar and Palmdale grips, Burgtec forged 40mm stem, Rock Shox Reverb 175mm dropper post, WTB saddle.