The Santa Cruz Bronson has already won a prize for the best release video of the year! But is the bike really as much fun as Josh “Ratboy” Bryceland suggests in the clip?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best trail bike you can buy

Santa Cruz Bronson CC | 160/150 mm (f/r) | 13.58 kg | € 8,599

“Huh, this bike isn’t new?” some people probably thought when Santa Cruz introduced the new evolutionary stage of the Bronson. At first glance, the bike looks very similar to the Nomad enduro bike and the geometry differs only very slightly. But it’s the details that make the difference because the new Bronson relies on 150 mm of rear travel and a 160 mm fork. In the case of our € 8,599 test bike, this is a FOX 36 Performance Elite with a GRIP2 cartridge. The bike is completed by Santa Cruz’s high-end Reserve carbon wheels, SRAM CODE RSC brakes, an X01 drivetrain and a 170 mm RockShox Reverb dropper seatpost. The Bronson can be ridden with tires up to 2.8″ wide thanks to ample tire clearance at the rear, but Santa Cruz offers the bike with either 2.4″ or 2.6″ wide tires as standard – we decided on the narrower version. As with the Nomad, the geometry of the Bronson can be adjusted via a flip-chip. While we always preferred the high setting with its big brother, we mainly rode the Bronson in the slack setting.

  „YOLO!“ is the motto – not only because of the handling but also because of the price.

The Santa Cruz Bronson CC in detail

Fork FOX 36 FLOAT Performance Elite 160 mm
Schock RockShox Super Deluxe Air RCT 150 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 200/180
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 170 mm
Stem Race Face Aeffect R 50 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz AM Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Santa Cruz Reserve 30
Tires MAXXIS Minon DHF/DHR II
Weight 13.58 kg
Price € 8,599

Extra long
The chainstay protector on the Bronson is extra long to make the bike as quiet as possible – with success!
As good as it gets
The SRAM CODE RSC brake is the best in the test field. It convinced us with excellent power, modulation and ergonomics.
Just right
The Santa Cruz carbon wheels offer the perfect mix of stiffness and flex for a comfortable ride. Their low weight make the Bronson very lively.
Practical
Santa Cruz continues to rely on a threaded BSA BB, making it much easier to replace the bottom bracket for those who like to work on their own bikes. It’s a pity that the brake line of the Bronson is now routed internally.

Geometry of the Santa Cruz Bronson

Size XS S M L XL
Seat tube 370 mm 380 mm 405 mm 430 mm 460 mm
Top tube 541 mm 574 mm 598 mm 621 mm 656 mm
Head tube 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm 145 mm
Head angle 65.4° 65.4° 65.4° 65.4° 65.4°
Seat angle 75.3° 75.3° 75.3° 75.3° 75.3°
Chainstay 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm
BB Height 344 mm 344 mm 344 mm 344 mm 344 mm
Wheelbase 1134 mm 1167 mm 1191 mm 1215 mm 1252 mm
Reach 389 mm 419 mm 436 mm 459 mm 489 mm
Stack 584 mm 593 mm 602 mm 611 mm 625 mm
Helmet Specialized Ambush | Glasses Smith Barra | Backpack EVOC STAGE 12L | Jersey Specialized Enduro Jersey | Short Specialized Enduro Shorts | Shoes Specialized 2FO Flat

The Santa Cruz Bronson CC on the trail

If you’re in the market for a Bronson, you’re probably not the kind to put a lot of emphasis on uphill performance, seeing as Santa Cruz has better bikes for that kind of thing in its portfolio. Still, the Bronson doesn’t climb badly. The sitting position is central and the rear end remains unaffected by pedalling forces. In combination with the lightweight wheels, the bike is quick to accelerate. The long front triangle ensures that the front end stays on the ground no matter how steep the climb. But where the Bronson really shines is on the downhills. After only a few meters you will clearly feel the difference to its big brother, the Nomad: the bike is whole lot more poppy, feeling much more lively and direct in its handling, proving how much the suspension influences the handling. The most impressive thing is how the bike stays planted on the ground as you pick up speed. The faster you ride and the rougher the trail gets, the more the rear end shines. It feels like the rear soaks up everything without lacking mid-stroke support. The Bronson’s limits are generally hard to reach, so you shouldn’t have any problems racing enduro with it. Through corners, it convinced us with its agility. However, you can only realise the bike’s full potential if you put in the work yourself. The Bronson wants to be ridden actively, it demands it. Otherwise, the front wheel might lose grip and understeer through corners.

Tuning tip: none!

Conclusion

The Santa Cruz Bronson is the best bike for those who value direct handling and lots of agility. It impressed us with its excellent rear linkage, great spec and high-quality workmanship. If you’re looking for maximum fun on flow-trails, but you would also like to take part in an enduro race or two, this is the perfect companion for you. But beware: the Bronson is only able to unfold its full potential with an active riding style.

Tops

  • you're guaranteed to have fun
  • superb rear linkage
  • excellent workmanship

Flops

  • requires an active riding style
  • chain comes off due to lack of a guide

Uphill

Downhill

Stability

Agility

Value for money


More info at: santacruzbicycles.com

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best trail bike you can buy

All bikes in test: Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 LTD | Evil Offering X01 | Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 | Ibis Ripmo | Pivot Mach 5.5 Pro XT | Propain Hugene Highend | Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt BC Edition | Santa Cruz Bronson CC X01+ | Scott Genius 900 Ultimate | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29 | Transition Sentinel X01 | Trek Remedy 9.9 | YT Jeffsy 29 CF Pro Race

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.