The current Santa Cruz Bronson has been one of the most popular Santa Cruz bikes to date. It is a favorite among riders from all disciplines of cycling, because it is a “do it all” kind of bike. The Bronson would be in the same category of trail bikes as the Evil Insurgent, Devinci Troy, and Yeti SB5c. Here in this review, our trail slaying buddy Max Morgan will be talking about his custom built Bronson and how it handles on the trail.
This latest version of the Santa Cruz Bronson received a one degree slacker 66° head angle and 20-25mm longer top tube length than its predecessor. The Bronson 2.0 also received a redesigned VPP linkage design, where the VPP link mounts tucked into the frame, keeping it away from impacts below. The seat tube was also steepened in order to get the rider’s weight directly over the cranks when climbing.
The frame used in this review is a size large. I am about 5 foot 10 inches tall (178cm) and feel like the large fits me just right. Below is the geometry and frame sizing for the size large.
The build kit on my Bronson is set up as a miniature downhill bike. Without thinking much about weight when piecing together this build, the complete Bronson still manages to weigh just less than 28 lbs without pedals.
After spending some time getting comfortable with the suspension on the Bronson, I found when using the Float X2 2-position lever, the Bronson was very efficient climbing. The Bronson does not bob much up and down like some other bikes in the same category. I found this to be somewhat of a surprise at first. Keep in mind, your 29er hardtail XC race bike will out climb the Bronson all day. But with the perspective of what this bike is capable of going downhill, its climbing capabilities are spot on with other 150mm trail bikes on the market.
I also found that keeping your weight balanced front to back on the Bronson was key in getting through technical climbs. While this may be true with most bikes, the Bronson’s 66° head angle and longer top tube means the front wheel is way out in front and that maintaining traction with both tires while climbing is even more important.
This thing is a beast descending on fast and rough trails! The harder I pushed on this bike descending, the happier it seemed to be. In my experience, every trail bike has a limit to where the rider still feels comfortable. I found this threshold to be very high on the Bronson -- meaning I was able to push hard and attack rough terrain without feeling like the bike was going to eject me at any second.
On the contrary, I found that the Bronson wasn’t as fun to ride at slower trail speed. On tighter trails with lots of small bumps, the Bronson seemed to hesitate a bit more. I think that for beginner riders, the Bronson may not feel as responsive or snappy as some other comparable bikes.
For me, the Bronson is my do it all bike. I use it as a training tool in the winter months for downhill racing. I’ve raced dual slalom on it before. I’ve entered a few XC races on it for fun, as well as taken it to the bike park and ridden downhill laps. The Bronson is ready for just about any terrain. The sizing on the size large Bronson fits me great which makes the bike even more comfortable to ride. For someone with a budget that only allows for one bike, I think the Bronson is a great candidate. The Santa Cruz Bronson does a little bit of everything and that is what I love about it.
My name is Max Morgan and I am 24 years old, and I currently live in Brevard, North Carolina. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. I have now been racing professionally for the last 6 years, competing in the U.S. Pro GRT series and UCI World Cup series.