Tearing full-gas down the trail with my eyes fixed ahead. Then a sneaky left snaps into view. I grab a handful of brake but it’s not enough. I overshoot the corner, taking an impromptu nature lesson. As I lie in the bushes, I think to myself: F§%&, the new Santa Cruz Nomad 4 is quick – dangerously quick!

Next level of speed – the new Santa Cruz Nomad 4 with 170 mm of travel is a serious weapon!

A dose of V10 genes – a new behind for the Santa Cruz Nomad

While the previous three generations of the Santa Cruz Nomad all shared the same distinctive rear shock linkage design, the new Nomad borrows the low mounted linkage design made famous by the potent V10 downhill bike. This is purported to lend the bike a spring rate that’s as progressive as possible as well as delivering masses of feedback in the mid-stroke. The VPP rear end on the new Nomad is compatible with either an air or coil spring rear shock and has 170 mm of travel.

The rear shock is mounted above the bottom bracket and linked to the rocker arm underneath.
The seatstays control the upper rocker.
Typical for Santa Cruz, the Nomad also relies on a VPP rear end.

The frame of the Santa Cruz Nomad keeps the stoke

The new Nomad is first dropping in the two familiar C and CC carbon models, with both bikes sporting identical geometry and comparable stiffness. As the more expensive CC relies on a different carbon layup and fibers, Santa Cruz have been able to shave off more weight. By autumn, Santa Cruz plan to drop an aluminium Nomad too. Both the carbon-framed Nomads have the brand’s familiar features like a threaded bottom bracket, wisely chosen internal cable routing (in at the front, out where needed), and a lifetime guarantee (bearings included).

For pick-up owners: the downtube’s Shuttle Pad is there to protect your frame. No mishandling.
Always good to see there’s room for a bottle cage!
With a brake cable running externally along the top tube, it’s not only easier to service but also less stressful to install.
The threaded bottom bracket is easy to replace when needed.
The Nomad’s rear suspension design has space for all the current major rear shocks.
This flip chip basically offers low or lower – neither setting can really be classed as high!

Size Up – the geometry of the new Santa Cruz Nomad

The new Santa Cruz Nomad has been seriously elongated. Compared to the previous generation, the reach is now, on average, a full frame size longer, seeing today’s M as the equivalent of a former L. Thanks to the short seat tube and long and low top tube, there’s both a lot of space to throw your body around as well as give you the freedom to choose between two frame sizes so you get the size that you like best. This is a bike where body position definitely keeps the ride under control.

There’s also adjustable geometry on the new Nomad with two positions – although even the high position is still mega low and slack. The head angle can be either 65° or 64.6°, the seat angle at either 74.5° or 74.1°, and the BB drop at 10 or 15 mm. The Nomad drops in five frame sizes from XS to XL and two colourways. There’s also the Strega, which is a women’s-specific Juliana Bike with identical geometry.

Size XS S M L XL
Seat Tube 375 mm 390 mm 420 mm 450 mm 480
Top Tube 541 mm – 540 mmm 574 mm – 573 mm 598 mm – 596 mm 621 mm – 619 mm 654 mm – 653 mm
Head Tupe 90 mm 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm
Head Angle 64,6° – 65° 64,6° – 65° 64,6° – 65° 64,6° – 65° 64,6° – 65°
Seat Angle 74,1° – 74,5° 74,1° – 74,5° 74,1° – 74,5° 74,1° – 74,5° 74,1° – 74,5°
Chainstays 431 mm – 430 mm 431 mm – 430 mm 431 mm – 430 mm 431 mm – 430 mm 431 mm – 430 mm
BB High 339 mm – 344 mm 339 mm – 344 mm 339 mm – 344 mm 339 mm – 344 mm 339 mm – 344 mm
Wheel Base 1135 mm – 1134 mm 1169 mm – 1168 mm 1194 mm – 1192 mm 1218 mm – 1217 mm 1252 mm – 1251 mm
Reach 386 mm – 390 mm 416 mm – 420 mm 436 mm – 440 mm 456 mm – 460 mm 486 mm – 490 mm
Stack 587 mm – 584 mm 596 mm – 593 mm 605 mm – 602 mm 614 mm – 611 mm 623 mm – 620 mm

Picking is the hard part – the Santa Cruz Nomad’s spec

Going beyond the two carbon layups and the option of an air or steel shock, Santa Cruz are also wielding another weapon: the many build specs on offer. Surprisingly they’ve veered away from the classic ENVE wheel partnership used in the past, now fitting the Nomad with their own Reserve carbon wheels as an upgrade option.

The Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels have a 30 mm interior width and are designed to deliver a decent balance of flex and stiffness.
All of the Nomads (excluding the entry-level model) are kitted with SRAM Code brakes.
RockShox forks are standard on the Nomad models, with a Yari on the entry-level and Lyrik featuring on the rest of the line-up.

An overview of the build specs


Nomad C R 27.5

Fork: RockShox Yari RC 170 mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe R 170 mm
Brakes: SRAM Guide R
Drivetrain: SRAM NX
Seatpost: Race Face Aeffect R
Stem: Race Face Ride
Handlebar: Race Face Aeffect R
Rims: WTB ST i29 TCS
Hubs: Novatec
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 3 / Maxxis Minion DHR II
Price: € 5,599

Nomad C S 27.5

Fork: RockShox Lyrik RC 170 mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe R 170 mm
Brakes: SRAM Code R
Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Race Face Aeffect R
Handlebar: Race Face Aeffect R
Rims: E13 TRS
Hubs: Novatec
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 3 / Maxxis Minion DHR II
Price: € 5,999


Nomad C XE 27.5

Fork: RockShox Lyrik RCT3 170 mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil / or Air RCT 170 mm
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain: Shimano XT
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Race Face Aeffect R
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Am Carbon
Rims: E13 TRS
Hubs: Novatec
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 3 / Maxxis Minion DHR II
Price: € 6,499

Nomad CC X01 27.5

Fork: RockShox Lyrik RCT3 170 mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil / or Air RCT 170 mm
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Race Face Aeffect R
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Am Carbon
Rims: E13 TRS +
Hubs: DT 350
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 3 / Maxxis Minion DHR II
Price: € 7,699


Nomad CC X01 27.5 Reserve

Fork: RockShox Lyrik RCT3 170 mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil / or Air RCT 170 mm
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Race Face Aeffect R
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Am Carbon
Rims: Santa Cruz Reserve 30 Carbon
Hubs: DT 350
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 3 / Maxxis Minion DHR II
Price: € 9,199

Nomad CC XX1 27.5

Fork: RockShox Lyrik RCT3 170 mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil / or Air RCT 170 mm
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Race Face Turbine R
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Am Carbon
Rims: E13 TRS +
Hubs: i9 Torch Classic
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 3 / Maxxis Minion DHR II
Price: € 8,999


Nomad CC XX1 27.5 Reserve

Fork: RockShox Lyrik RCT3 170 mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil / or Air RCT 170 mm
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Race Face Turbine R
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Am Carbon
Rims: Santa Cruz Reserve 30 Carbon
Hubs: i9 Torch Classic
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 3 / Maxxis Minion DHR II
Price: € 10,499


Sweaty palms and so much adrenaline – the Santa Cruz Nomad on the trails

Three days lay ahead of us with the Nomad, with hotly anticipated plans to tear up the trails in Sospel, France and Molini, Italy. Unfortunately, a crash on the first day put a premature end to the trip after six adrenaline-fuelled descents. But it was enough to know that if you’re looking for one word to sum up the new Nomad then it’s fast – seriously fast. It’s been built with such super potent suspension and aggressive geometry that this is a bike that’ll tease you to push your limits and enter dicey situations – but it’s also one that’ll have your back!

Go big or go home! No more excuses with the Nomad!

The rear end of the Nomad with the RockShox SuperDeluxe RCT keeps firmly planted over the fast, rocky trails, ironing out creases with more efficiency than a high-end hotelier. But the bike is also a dab hand at pumping out of fast g-out berms. The really central riding position is totally on point, and the bottom bracket seems super low even in the steep setting and with 30% sag. We rode with the rear shock damping fully open at the beginning, then later with 5 clicks of low-speed compression damping added and it rode higher in the travel. The long frame and slack front end takes some getting used to, and we felt like there was some pressure missing over the front wheel on the day’s first downhill run. But as the day wore on, we got more and more confident and willing to get loose on the Nomad. It’s a bike that seriously hones your skills as a rider, almost able to kindle your expertise and see you brake later but just as boldly. Those SRAM Code brakes have some muscle behind their performance, but the 180 mm rotors could deliver more staying power on long descents – upgrading to 200 mm rotors certainly makes sense here.

The Nomad is dangerously fast! Time to redefine when to pull the brakes!
It turns into a real corner killer once you’re used to this bike.
The Nomad embraces the nomadic spirit of cycling with the ability to climb as well – score!

Any naysayers will be stoked to hear that the Nomad fully embraces the nomadic spirit of cycling by displaying wily agility and decent climbing prowess. Once you’re used to the long and slack frame, those short 430 mm chainstays show just how meanly they can take tight corners. This is a bike for popping off lips and out of corners! The Nomad climbs with an impressively efficient nature given its 170 mm travel and plush rear suspension – in fact, so efficient that we didn’t feel the need to use the platform damping at all. That crash on the penultimate descent hampered our hopes to ride with the Nomad in the slacker setting, and we’d also planned on testing it with an air shock – these are two elements that we’re definitely going to put right and review in due course!

Braaap – Smooth, supple and stable down this rough terrain!

Conclusion

The new Santa Cruz Nomad 4 2017 has been built with speed in mind. Any riders that are hampering after an extremely potent bike with an ultra-efficient rear end, devastatingly good handling and high-end production, then this new Nomad will tick all the boxes. Team that with the lifetime guarantee and well-considered spec and there’s really no reason not to immediately dig deep for the Nomad. However, make sure you’ve got the trails to do it justice, and the finances to keep afloat with your new bike.

For more information head to the Santa Cruz-Website.

PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away an exclusive Trek Slash 2018 in top spec! Click here to take part now!

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Sven Martin, Christoph Bayer

About the author

Christoph Bayer

Christoph loves to be kept on his toes – both on the bike and in his role for ENDURO. He’s known as the guy in charge of the bi-monthly magazine and masquerades as both its editor and photographer. You’ll usually find him tearing up the mountains on his bike, soaking up the flow or tackling technical, narrow trails.