The Santa Cruz 5010 turns parking lots into a funfair and the trails into a playground. If you’re after an agile bike with intuitive handling, you’re looking in the right direction. But what are the pros and cons of small 27.5” wheels and can the 5010 keep up with the competition when the going gets fast?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review

Santa Cruz 5010 X01 | 140/130 mm (f/r)
13.35 kg (size L) | € 8,399 | Manufacturer-website

Small but efficient! As the only bike to feature small 27.5” wheels front and rear, the Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 is a bit of an outsider in our 2021 group test. The bike delivers 140 mm of travel at the front and, like its little brother, the Tallboy, features Santa Cruz’s typical twin link suspension which generates 130 mm rear travel. The 5010 promises to handle anything you throw at it, from flowing singletracks to big jump lines. As the name suggests, the discreet and beautifully finished carbon frame of our 5010 CC X01 test bike comes in the top-end CC variant, which designates Santa Cruz’s high-grade carbon fibres. These frames are lighter but also more expensive than the more affordable C version. Our size L Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 hits the scales at 13.35 kg. The frame features a reasonably sized seat and chainstay protector which reduces chain slap and ensures a quiet ride. A generous TPU plate protects the bottom bracket area against impacts and stray rocks while the chunky shuttle pad on the down tube prevents scratches and paint chips when you throw the bike on the back of a pickup. A small mudguard shields the shock and link from dirt and mud. All cables run internally through guides and ensure a clean look. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop the cables from rattling on rough descents. Luckily, a few strips of electric tape do the trick to silence them!

The spec of our Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 test bike

Our € 8,399 Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 comes equipped with a RockShox Pike Ultimate fork and Super Deluxe Ultimate shock. While the design of recent Santa Cruz models with the shock hidden deep inside the frame makes it tricky to read the SAG, our 5010 has a big advantage over the Tallboy: the SAG gradient printed on the shaft of the Super Deluxe shock make it quicker and easier to set up than its FOX counterpart. The rest of the spec also consists of SRAM and RockShox components, including a shiny SRAM X01 12-speed drivetrain and 175 mm travel RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper (size L). The matching remote offers great ergonomics while the hydraulic system ensures smooth operation. Braking is taken care of by SRAM G2 RSC brakes with tool-free bite point and lever reach adjustment. However, with small 180 mm rotors front and rear, the brakes overheat quickly and require strong fingers, causing painful arm pump and stopping you from unlocking the full potential of the bike. The 5010 rolls on MAXXIS Minion DHR II tires in the EXO casing. There’s one difference between the tires: the front comes in the softer MaxxGrip while the rear features the harder MaxxTerra compound. This combination is actually very clever, combining excellent traction with decent rolling characteristics. Our test bike also includes the € 1,200 Santa Cruz Reserve wheelset upgrade with 30 mm carbon rims. If you decide to go with this expensive option, we recommend using a more robust rear tire to protect the carbon rim against impacts.

Flip it…
We can’t do backflips but we can flip the chip in the shock mount.
The cables aren’t clamped at the entry points, which causes them to rattle on rough descents. While a few strips of electrical tape might not be the most elegant solution, they get rid of the noise.

Santa Cruz 5010 X01

€ 8,399


Fork RockShox Pike Ultimate 140 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 130 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 175 mm
Brakes SRAM G2 RSC 180/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XO1 Eagle 1x12
Stem Burgtec Enduro MK3 42 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz Carbon Riser 800 mm
Wheelset Santa Cruz Reserve 30 Carbon 27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHRII EXO 3C MaxxTerra/DHRII EXO+ 3C MaxxTerra 2.4

Technical Data

Size XS S M L XL
Weight 13.35 kg

Sometimes more is better
A bigger brake rotor, at least at the front, would do justice to the potential of the bike and also ensure better safety.
Little reserves
With the weak EXO casing, punctures are inevitable and the expensive Santa Cruz Reserve carbon rims are under constant threat.
Not bad!
The sag markings printed on the shaft of the Super Deluxe shock makes it quicker and easier to set up than its FOX counterpart.

The geometry of the Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01

The Santa Cruz 5010 is available in five sizes from XS to XL, offering a suitable option for riders between 142 cm and 193 cm tall. The short 430 mm seat tube (size L) allows you to choose the bike based on your desired reach. The latter is 475 mm for a size L and increases in 25 mm increments as the frame size grows. The chainstays grow with the frame providing consistent handling across all sizes. Awesome! Compared to any of its 29” competitors (in any size), the 5010 has extremely short chainstays which ensure super agile handling, particularly in combination with the smaller 27.5″ wheels. In size L, the chainstay length is only 429 mm. A flip-chip in the shock mount allows you to select between high and low settings, changing the bottom bracket height and progression of the suspension. Needless to say, we spent most of the time in the low setting! This makes for a more progressive rear end and lowers the bottom bracket by 4 mm while slackening the head angle by 0.3°. If you want to optimise your 5010 uphill performance, you should run the high setting.

With its unmistakable silhouette and typical twin link rear end, the 5010 is instantly recognisable as a Santa Cruz.

Size XS S M L XL
Seat tube 370 mm 380 mm 405 mm 430 mm 460 mm
Top tube 524 mm 555 mm 585 mm 616 mm 646 mm
Head tube 100 mm 120 mm 135 mm 150 mm 165 mm
Head angle 65.5° 65.7° 65.7° 65.7° 65.7°
Seat angle 77.9° 77.6° 77.4° 77.2° 77.0°
Chainstays 423 mm 423 mm 426 mm 429 mm 432 mm
BB Drop 16 mm 16 mm 16 mm 16 mm 16 mm
Wheelbase 1,128 mm 1,162 mm 1,193 mm 1,224 mm 1,255 mm
Reach 400 mm 425 mm 450 mm 475 mm 500 mm
Stack 572 mm 590 mm 604 mm 618 mm 631 mm
Helmet Fox Speedframe | Glasses 100% Speedcraft | Hippack Bontrager Rapid | Shirt Fox Ranger Jersey
Pants Fox Flexair | Kneepads AMPLIFI MKX | Shoes Five Ten Kestrel Lace MTB SPD

Trail to playground – The Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 on the trail

Uphill, the pedalling position is upright and comfortable, whereby the steeper seat tube angle of the 5010 positioning the rider more centrally on the bike than the Tallboy. As a result, the shock sits high in its travel and the efficient rear end allows you to climb without having to activate the climb switch while always generating good traction. Nonetheless, with its small wheels, the 5010 tends to get caught up more easily on rough terrain than its competitors with big 29″ wheels, meaning you have to work harder to lift the bike over obstacles or avoid them. Here, similarly playful bikes like the RAAW Jibb outperform the 5010.

The Santa Cruz 5010 conveys a BMX-like feel on 27.5″ wheels, turning the most boring trail into a playground.

Tuning-tips: 200 mm rotor at the front | clamp the cables at the entrance points

However, if you stick to fire roads to get to the trailhead, the 5010 can keep up with its competitors, even on steeper ramps. Downhill, the 5010 knows how to use the advantage of its small 27.5″ wheels, delivering an unmatched BMX-like feel! The bike is incredibly agile, very playful and really loves to be thrown around tight corners and pulled into manuals. It’s easy and intuitive to control and encourages you to play with the features of the trail, regardless of your riding skills. Bikes like the Yeti SB115 could take a masterclass in creative lines from the 5010, which encourages you to explore your limits and go higher, further and more sideways with its agile and precise handling. The rear end feels like it offers more travel than it says on the tin yet still manages to provide enough support and traction to pull off edges and blast through root carpets in a controlled fashion. Here the two siblings are worlds apart. Wherever the Tallboy requires you to work hard, the 5010 seems to ride by itself. On technical terrain with large obstacles, the drawbacks of small 27.5” wheels quickly become evident and if you’re not careful, you could end up flying over the wide and stiff 800 mm carbon bars and dive into the dirt head first. Together with the Santa Cruz Reserve wheelset, the carbon bars are crucial to the extremely precise and direct steering of the 5010. However, in combination with the weak brakes, they also lead to arm pump and fatigue. Similarly intuitive bikes like the Nukeproof Reactor, which come equipped with more compliant and thus more comfortable components, don’t drain your energy as quickly, providing an overall smoother ride and better rolling characteristics. On the other hand, no other bike in this test shralps through fast berms as fast and loud as the 5010.

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










With the 5010 CC X01, Santa Cruz honour their ambitious marketing promises and enter the race with a super agile and playful bike for everyone. The small wheels, lively handling and great suspension convert every trail into a playground and the smallest obstacle into airtime. Downhill, the 5010 feels at home on fast flow trails and bold jump lines, while on rough descents and technical climbs it prefers to step aside and let the competition lead the way. Nevertheless, the small-wheeled American still manages to put a reasonably-sized grin on your face and sets the benchmark in terms of nimbleness.


  • very high fun factor and super agile handling
  • good-natured and intuitive
  • very comfortable on long rides


  • tiring and demanding on rough sections
  • brakes overheat quickly

Find more information here:

The testfield

Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review

All Bikes in this group test: Canyon Neuron CF SLX 9 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral 29 LTD (Click for review) | Canyon Stoic 4 (Click for review) | FOCUS THRON 6.9 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | MERIDA NINETY-SIX 8000 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Reactor 290C (Click for review) | Orbea Rise M-Team (Click for review) | Propain Hugene (Click for review) | RAAW Jibb XTR Build (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz 5010 X01 | Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 (Click for review) | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned AXS (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 9.8 GX (Click for review) | Trek Top Fuel 9.9 X01 (Click for review) | Yeti SB115 TURQ3 (Click for review) | YT IZZO BLAZE 29 (Click for review)

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Words: Peter Walker Photos: various

About the author

Peter Walker

As editor-in-chief, Peter is as much a man of action as he is of words. This expert, screw-driver-flexing two wheeled-whizz has many envy-inducing characteristics, including a background in motocross, several EWS race plates to his name, and more than 150 recorded days at Whistler Bike Park. However complex the bike and however steep the trail, he’s probably already nailed it, twice. Oh, and he can do it all on skinny tyres too. When it comes to guiding consumers, Peter cut his teeth at Vancouver’s oldest bike shop and now puts pen to paper on the daily translating this know-how into our editorial plan. When not tearing up Stuttgart’s local trails while testing bikes, he loves nothing more than loading up his self-renovated VW T5 and hitting the road. The fact that he’s a trained paramedic gives his colleagues reassurance out on the trails. So far we haven’t had to call him by his alias ‘Sani Peter’, so here’s hoping he keeps it right side up for the rest of his time here!