With the new 2024 V10.8, Santa Cruz introduce the latest iteration of a true downhill classic, which has already secured 3 victories and 13 podiums in the Downhill World Cup. As the name suggests, this is the 8th generation of the V10, which retains the distinctive frame silhouette and proven VPP rear suspension of its predecessor, but relies on a more modern geometry and improved kinematics – and also allows for countless customization options. But how does the V10.8 fare on the trail?
The V10 has been the flagship model in Santa Cruz’s downhill portfolio since 2002, and it has been ridden to victory at countless World Cup races since, helping downhill icons like Steve Peat and Greg Minnaar to secure their world championship titles. Twenty-one years after the launch of the very first V10 model, the Californian cult brand is introducing the 8th generation of their legendary downhill bruiser, which still relies on the same VPP rear suspension as its predecessors. The latest descendant of the V10 relies on a mixed wheel setup, with a big 29″ wheel at the front and smaller 27.5″ wheel at the rear, except for the biggest XL frame, which rolls on two 29″ wheels. For 2024, Santa Cruz sent the full 27.5″ model into a well-deserved retirement. Like its predecessors, the V10.8 relies on their classic VPP rear suspension system, which generates a whopping 208 mm of travel. As a result, Santa Cruz’s engineers didn’t bother changing the frame silhouette too much, focusing on small practical improvements instead. To achieve this, they tuned the suspension kinematics to ensure a more sensitive response, and at the same time provide more support. In addition, they optimised the frame’s stiffness and modernised the geometry, above all by increasing the bike’s reach. The new V10.8 frame also offers countless adjustment options, allowing you to alter the chainstay length, bottom bracket height, reach and head angle in three settings.
New 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8 – Frame details
Needless to say, Santa Cruz didn’t just tweak the geometry, but also made some refinements to the design of the new 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8, integrating them seamlessly and beautifully into the new bike. For starters, they adapted the shape and position of the bump stops, integrating them neatly into the frame at the intersection between the head tube, top tube and down tube. These are meant to protect the frame from impacts and allow you to dispose of the annoying rubber lumps on the fork. A generously sized seat- and chainstay protector wraps far around the swingarm, preventing paint chips and annoying chain slap on the trail. On the down tube, a massive TPU plate guard protects the frame from stray rocks and nasty impacts, while an additional shuttle guard prevents you from scratching the paint when throwing your bike on the back of a pick-up truck.
To protect the shock and suspension linkage, Santa Cruz rely on a small mudguard and an additional plastic flap, preventing flying mud and debris from damaging crucial parts. All cables are routed internally and only reappear briefly at the transition between the main frame and swingarm. Here they’re guided through small metal brackets, which hold them in place securely but still allow them to move when the rear suspension compresses. The cables aren’t clamped at the ports, but the tight routing sleeves inside the frame prevent them from rattling.
Spec variants of the new 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8
For the new 2024 V10.8, Santa Cruz exclusively use their high-end CC carbon layup, which relies on a larger proportion of higher strength fibres, providing the same degree of stiffness at a lower weight compared to its more affordable C counterpart. With most bike models, Santa Cruz also offer a more affordable C carbon variant and sometimes even an aluminium option. The V10.8, however, is available just in the high-end CC carbon variant and in just one colour for the time being – the gloss red finish you see in the pictures below. As far as the spec variants go, you can choose between the € 7,699 S build or the € 9,699 X01 build. If you want to build your own V10, you can buy a frame set with FOX DHX2 Factory shock for € 4,299.
Both spec variants come equipped with FOX suspension, including the highly adjustable GRIP2 damper in the fork. With the S-build you’ll only have to renounce the fancy Kashima coating, but this doesn’t affect the bike’s performance on the trail. For the shock, Santa Cruz employ a FOX DHX2 coil model on both spec variants, whereby the more affordable Performance Elite model of the S-build only offers externally adjustable low-speed compression and rebound settings. The flagship X01 model comes equipped with a 7-speed X01 DH drivetrain, while the S-variant features SRAM’s mid-range GX DH model, which might be cheaper and slightly heavier, but doesn’t compromise on shifting performance. The S-build doesn’t compromise on the brakes either, employing SRAM’s CODE Bronze stoppers, which omit only the tool-free bite point adjustment compared to the CODE Silver model of the V10.8 X01 flagship model. Both the CODE Bronze and Silver brake versions are from SRAM’s new Stealth model range, which position the hoses closer to the handlebars, preventing them from forming a massive arc in front of the cockpit. However, in our experience this also causes the hoses to rattle loudly against the frame – we just use a small zip tie to prevent this from happening. On both models, the brakes are paired with SRAM’s thicker HS2 rotors, with a big 220 mm disc at the front and 200 mm disc at the rear. Both spec variants of the V10.8 roll on Santa Cruz’s in-house Reserve 30 HD DH alloy wheelset with MAXXIS ASSEGAI tires in the robust DH casing front and rear. Santa Cruz also offer a lifetime warranty on their frames and wheelsets, as well as free replacement bearings.
The spec of our 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8 text bike
For this first ride review, we rode a custom-spec Santa Cruz V10.8 with an unpainted pre-production frame. However, most of the frame details and features were already in the final development stage.
Our test bike was equipped with RockShox suspension consisting of a BoXXer Ultimate fork and a matching Vivid Ultimate air shock. The latter was specifically tuned for the V10’s suspension kinematics. The drivetrain consists of a SRAM X01 DH 7-speed rear derailleur with matching shifter and 155 mm HOPE Tech EVO cranks. Powerful SRAM CODE RSC four-piston brakes with big rotors do stopping duties. Furthermore, our test bike was delivered with a Reserve 31 DH carbon wheelset and MAXXIS tires. On our test bike in size L, we paired a long reach setting with a small 27.5″ rear wheel.
The geometry of the 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8
The new Santa Cruz V10.8 2024 is available in four sizes, S to XL, with mullet wheel setup in sizes S to L, and full 29 for the biggest XL size. Reach values range between 409 mm and 508 mm, which is made possible thanks to the many different adjustment options. The reach can be adjusted by +/- 8 mm using special headset cups.
There’s also a flip chip on the shock mount, which allows you to switch between three different settings and affects primarily the bottom bracket height and head angle. Furthermore, the chainstay length can be increased or decreased by 5 mm, meaning that you have three settings to choose from. What we find particularly exciting is that all parts needed for the geometry tweaks are included in the box, whether you buy a full build or the frame kit.
The geometry of the 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8 (0 mm Reach / Low / 0 mm Chainstay)
|Seat tube||435 mm||445 mm||455 mm||465 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||110 mm||115 mm||120 mm|
|Chainstay||445 mm||450 mm||456 mm||461 mm|
|BB Height||351 mm||351 mm||351 mm||351 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,231 mm||1,276 mm||1,303 mm||1,335 mm|
|Reach||417 mm||452 mm||472 mm||499 mm|
|Stack||626 mm||625 mm||639 mm||644 mm|
The new 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8 on the trail
For this first ride review, we were able to ride a custom-build model of the 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8, which we put through the wringer on the trails of Whistler Bike Park, where we also had a chance to compare it with a few other downhill rigs, like the new RAAW Yalla! and ROSE SCRUB. The first thing we’ve noticed is that the V10.8’s rear suspension reacts very sensitively to different air pressures in the shock, and that even the smallest rebound adjustment has a relatively big effect on the rebound speed, resulting in a completely different ride feeling even with just one click difference. We recommend playing around with different settings – which is exactly what we did. For example, we worked our way down from the Vivid Ultimate’s recommended 30% sag, ending up at around 25%.
When you drop into a trail with the V10.8, you’ll immediately notice the high front end, which integrates you deep into the bike, inspiring huge amounts of confidence in all situations. Despite the height, there’s still plenty of pressure on the handlebars, meaning that you don’t have to actively weight your hands to keep it tracking, even in open, flat corners and nasty off-camber sections. In other words, the Santa Cruz is intuitive, easy to ride and implements steering input directly and precisely.
The suspension – and especially the rear suspension – offers excellent small bump sensitivity and generates plenty of traction, whether you’re ploughing through nasty root carpets or gliding over braking bumps. At the same time, the V10.8 bursts with mid-stroke support, making it easy to pop off ledges and bailing you out of botched landings, and making you feel as if you had endless amounts of travel at your disposal. The rear suspension takes even hard hits with stoic composure, and during this test it never blew through its travel too abruptly. Moreover, when pumping through rollers and berms, the V10.8 rewards you with plenty of speed – the harder you push, the faster you ride!
The new Santa Cruz V10.8 makes you feel as if you had endless amounts of travel at your disposal, but at the same time offers excellent small-bump sensitivity, generating huge amounts of traction in the process.
The central riding position, direct handling and excellent mid-stroke support also make for a very lively character, making it easy to pull manuals and throw the V10.8 from one berm into another, allowing you to spontaneously change your line without feeling like you’re stuck to the ground. As a result, the Santa Cruz cuts a fine figure both on steep, gnarly natural trails and fast jump lines on a day out at the Whistler bike park.
Our conclusions about the new 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8
Despite maintaining the old V10 silhouette and proven VPP rear suspension, the new 2024 Santa Cruz V10.8 is a successful further development of a true classic. The frame features are beautifully integrated into the bike, while the countless adjustment options allow you to fine tune the V10’s geometry to suit your needs and riding style. On the trail, the latest descendant of the V10 dynasty delivers a tremendous performance, rewarding an active riding style with plenty of speed. The supple rear suspension works extremely sensitively, ensuring a top performance on the trail together with the agile yet composed handling.
- Beautiful, well-integrated detail solutions
- Countless geometry adjustments allow you to fine tune your ride
- Unbelievably sensitive rear suspension generates tons of traction
- Inspires huge amounts of confidence, even on the wildest trails
- A black frame option is a must for the V10!
For more info, visit Santa Cruz Bicycles
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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Robin Schmitt, Peter Walker