Santa Cruz V10 29er Review

When Santa Cruz's first V10 29er prototype was first released, it immediately had all other bike manufacturers on the back foot. Now the market for 29er downhill bikes is a competitive one with brands like Santa Cruz, Commencal, Intense, Specialized, and Trek all bringing something different to the table. The concept frame that we first saw piloted by the Santa Cruz Syndicate at the Lourdes World Cup in 2017 is now in production for 2019. When Santa Cruz launched the V10.7, their 7th generation premier downhill bike, with it came the option of either 27.5 or 29 inch wheels. Our in house professional rider, Max Morgan, has been racing the V10 29 all season across the UCI World Cup series and here are his thoughts on the ins and outs of this wicked bike. 

Santa Cruz V10 29 Review - Worldwide Cyclery

Bike Specifications

The parts you decide to use to build up your bike certainly have an affect on both the bikes ride characteristics and your overall experience out on the trail. Be sure to check out the full build breakdown below to get a better idea of the exact bike Max has been riding. Without even thinking about the particular build, there are multiple different ways to set up your bike to better suit your preferences and to better suit the terrain you are riding. Whether that is as simple as brake lever position, or as complex as reach adjust headset cups, every detail plays a role in how the bike performs for you. 

One interesting feature on the V10 is its chain stay length adjustment. On the size large frame that Max is riding, you are able to adjust the chainstay length from 445 to 455mm. On Max's particular setup, he is using a reach adjust headset made by Works Components to shorten the reach of the frame by 6mm. In conjunction with running the frame in the long chainstay setting, this helps move your body weight rearward farther behind the bottom bracket. This is just one of the many ways you can utilize different setup tricks to tailor your bike's fit.

Santa Cruz V10 Review - Worldwide Cyclery

Santa Cruz V10 29 - Size Large - Highland Blue and Desert
Rear Shock
250mm x 75mm, 500lb SLS Spring
2011 SRAM Code
Brake Rotors and Pads
Galfer 223mm Disc Wave Front, 203mm Rear - Galfer Advanced Metallic Pads
Work Components Offset Headset
Bottom Bracket
Rear Shifter
Rear Derailleur
Truvativ Descendant DH - 36 Tooth
Deity Retina I-Beam - 31.6mm
Tire Inserts
Front Tire
Maxxis Minion DHR II, 29 x 2.5 WT, DH, 3C MaxxGrip
Rear Tire

Frame Geometry 

When a new bike launches, it's easy to immediately jump at the numbers and make an assumption about how that bike might perform. We do want to look at the numbers but also want to remember that these numbers won't tell you everything. On paper, the V10 isn't too radical, but it is pretty big. A size large frame is intended for riders from 5'10" to 6'1" (175cm to 185cm) and features a 460mm reach. An extra large frame uses a 490mm reach. Having a longer bike gives you more high speed stability, something that definitely comes in handy when riding the V10. Max is about 5'11" tall and rides a size large frame. In the low setting, the V10 29 utilizes a 63.3 degree head tube angle. In the high setting, you'll find a 63.7 degree head tube angle. Check out the full geometry chart below while the bike is in the low setting.  

Santa Cruz V10 29 Review - Worldwide Cyclery

Santa Cruz V10 29 Review - Worldwide Cyclery

Riding and Performance

Max is based out of Brevard, North Carolina and does most of his offseason training at Windrock Bike Park just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. The race season for a lot of the U.S. based riders started at the U.S. ProGRT at Windrock before the first World Cup of the year in Maribor, Slovenia. Max followed the full World Cup circuit for 2019 on this Santa Cruz V10 along with U.S. National Championships and Crankworx Whistler. 

Construction, Fit and Finish

The quality you come to expect from a top of the line mountain bike is that everything is well thought out and the construction and finish is top notch. Santa Cruz is no exception there.

Just like all Santa Cruz bikes, all of the small details that add up to a finished product are all in the right place. Everything from cable routing, fork bumpers, linkage grease ports, and chainstay protection are all very well thought out. The V10, unlike most of Santa Cruz's other bikes, only utilizes internal routing for the shifter cable. Because brakes see more abuse on downhill bikes and have to be serviced or swapped more often than on trail bikes, the rear brake cable is run externally on the frame. The fork bumpers are wide enough to accommodate the Fox 40, which is very wide, as well as the Rockshox Boxxer, which is considerably narrower. The grease port on the lower link of the V10 allows you to pack the bearings full of grease when the bike is completely assembled. This keeps water out and bearings running more smoothly for longer. The chainstay protector on the latest generation V10 is ribbed to cut down on noise and is held in place with one small set screw. All of these small details together make the V10 feel like a well thought threw bike where no stone was left unturned. 

Max Morgan Santa Cruz V10

Suspension Performance

Now let's get to the meat and potatoes of this bike. On the previous generation V10, the suspension platform was characterized by a very high starting leverage ratio. The positive to the high starting leverage ratio was the bike was very sensitive to small bumps and chatter. The negative was that if you didn't run a heavy enough spring rate, the bike would go too deep in to its travel and squat too much in the rear. Right off the bat this is something Santa Cruz addressed with the V10.7. The new bike uses a slightly lower leverage ratio while retaining that same small bump compliance. This means on the new bike you can run a slightly softer spring rate and still have the bike sit up higher in its travel. As you run in to repetitive hits, the bike's rear suspension is then in a better place to absorb those impacts. This was accomplished by of course altering the leverage curve but also with the help of a longer metric shock, 250mm x 75mm to be exact. It's much easier to manage 215mm of travel using a longer shock than it was with the 8.75" shock on the old bike. 

This bike is truly impressive. It's eye opening what terrain you can take the V10 through. As the trail gets more and more rough, the bike really comes alive and begins to shine. The VPP suspension platform and 29 inch wheels in combination with the overall size and stature of the bike has proven to be a lethal combination. For me, the V10 29er has allowed me ride faster than I ever have before at an even more controlled pace. No matter if you aiming to race World Cup downhill races or just go out with you friends for a weekend at the bike park, the Santa Cruz V10 29 won't ever be holding you back. Instead it will be begging you to ride harder and more aggressively. 

One of the few negatives with the V10 29 I have found is its slack seat tube angle. With 29 inch wheels and 215mm of travel, packaging is tough. Luckily for me, I prefer to run my seat relatively high and so I don't have a problem with my seat buzzing, but for shorter riders, getting the seat out of the way of the rear tire could be more challenging. 

Santa Cruz V10 29 Review - Worldwide Cyclery

What's the Bottom Line? 

The latest Santa Cruz V10 29er is a well oiled machine. Now on its 7th iteration, the V10 is very refined and truly an eye opening bike. The slightly modified VPP suspension platform allows the bike to sit up higher in the travel without sacrificing on small bump sensitivity. From cable routing, paint quality, chainstay protection, to integrated fork bumpers, the latest V10 gives off the impression that this isn't Santa Cruz's first rodeo. This is a bike that doesn't seem to have a speed limit and is certainly Santa Cruz's fastest bike to date

About Me

Max Morgan - Worldwide CycleryMax Morgan is 27 years old, and lives in Brevard, North Carolina. Max grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. He has now been racing professionally for the last 9 years, competing in the UCI World Cup series and U.S. Pro GRT series. To learn more about Max, check out Max's rider spotlight here! 
Instagram: @mxmorgan77 

October 24, 2019

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