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Billy Thackray Billy Thackray

Dirt magazine has been given exclusive access to Santa Cruz’s testing session for their all–new Carbon V10.4 downhill frame. Steve Jones is our man on the ground, and here is what he had to tell us:

Photos:Gary Perkin/SantaCruzBicycles.

6th May. Lousa, Portugal. 8.30am

The entire Santa Cruz Syndicate team are here in Portugal to begin testing on the new carbon V10 bikes. Company owner/founder Rob Roskopp is here, Chief Engineer Joe Graney, Product Manager Josh Kissner. Yup the full Syndicate…Team Manager Kathy Sessler, spanner men Doug Hadfield, Rick Clarkson, Peaty, Minnaar and Bryceland, photo man Gary Perkin, and Sram BlackBox manager John Cancellier. Not only that but Cedric Gracia is providing his inimitable presence. It’s only breakfast time but the place is buzzing. It’s no wonder really, the bikes look amazing.


Up ahead is Lousa downhill track on which they have been conducting the first testing. That’s after a few hectic days. Rick and Doug have been building the bikes flat out and they are now one day into riding. First thoughts from Steve Peat, “It looks amazing and it’s awesome. For sure I will be riding it at Maribor. Didn’t know how they could make the V10 better than it was but this is my new race bike for sure.”


Greg Minnaar is equally upbeat. “It’s a bit longer than the bike I rode last year, it’s definitely different, it outperforms on physical tests, subtle but different. More than anything it’s been the whole process. The bike has been in the pipeline for two years, the first carbon XC that was such a nice change from aluminium, then the Blur LT which was also amazing. They’ve brought V10 out after a lot of testing. I’ve ridden all those shorter travel bikes, so knowing the process it is what I expected and it’s definitely an improvement.”

And Bryceland, he’s just got up. “Carbon. It has been tricky knowing whether to use 8.5″ travel or the 10″ setting. Top and bottom of this track are quite different. Top section is rad with short setting, but the bottom is faster so you are more tired, I couldn’t get that part as fast as with the longer setting. Then swapped around then I couldn’t get top section quite right, but bottom was way quicker. Been timing and I am now on the longer setting.”

After massive anticipation the new downhill bike looks very much on its way to full production. I asked Rob Roskopp how long they had been waiting to get ridden. “Made up medium first and got lab testing done in March. We had to do away with any doubts, they are well over–built. Greg rode in Santa Cruz last week.”



Visually it’s very different, loads lower than previous. Sleeker and no doubt faster. The weight difference is obviously up there on the list of changes.

It can be swapped between 8.5″ and 10″ and a range of settings and geometry. Headtube in 10″ setting can go between 64 and 66 degrees and IN half degree increments. IN THE 8.5″ setting 63 and 65 degrees. It’s a full degree slacker. But you can do whatever you want.

“The front triangle has 125mm headtube with 1.5″, about the same as last year’s custom frames for the Syndicate. The team have very unique set ups, each thought they were on frames totally different but really they were the same. Production wise large is longer. Reach and stack is what people discuss mostly – about 20mm longer on large than it was, and the medium is longer as well” says Joe Graney



Why with adjustability? “People have difficulty knowing the advantage of a ten–inch bike. Different people have different preferences depending on where they ride. You need the adjustability of adjustable travel.”

Bottom bracket has stayed the same between last years. 14.75″ in long travel, and in 8.5″ mode its 14″


Top link. BMC (bulk moulding compound) carbon link. The previous had a foam centre, this process is now the same on other bikes. Directional material inside. Solid carbon link now.
Lower link. Bearing is now housed inside lower link. Rubber lip seal, double seal bearing and larger diameter axle. Same style as all VPP bikes now.




Tweaked shock rate slightly, now running 9.5″ x 3.0″ shock, which was what they were racing on aluminium bikes last year. Things might change on testing but they will be pretty invisible. Major difference is that in the 8.5″ setting it now feels like there’s not as much suppleness on the beginning of the stroke compared to the longer bike.


900g less than what they raced on last year. Production weights to be determined.

Standover way lower. “Way the hell down”.


Half inch of carbon up front. “We couldn’t break it in test lab. Casing a jump? Forget it, the jump will break first!”

The swingarm is identical to the Driver 8. Maxle rear end. The crucial point is that it’s made of aluminium.





Santa Cruz are keen to point out that this is not an official bike launch as such. Joe Graney continues the story before we head off up the hill. “We’ve still got some way to go. It’s not signed off yet. If it was all done the guys would just go and be racing it. That’s why we are all here to work through things and get some quality testing done. Everyone seems pretty stoked though even after just a day.”

This is an important bike for Santa Cruz. It comes at a key time when a few other companies have been lowering the weight. It’s crazy how many new bikes have been coming out of Santa Cruz recently. Just before we head onto hill I grabbed Roskopp again and asked him how the riders were feeling. “Changing direction appears to be different, it’s quicker. The bike is more predictable at the front end. The guys have been commenting on how much easier it feels to be manualling through sections, changing lines quickly. Stiffness and weight. Some of the guys said I was like a kid in a candy shop when they first arrived. We’ve launched a lot of stuff in last six weeks, but it is great to be here going through performance stuff with the riders.”

Finally how come the move to carbon? “We are all impatient and want to improve stuff. The learning curve in carbon has become extremely quick. Carbon wheels, weight and stiffness improvements. I’m all into performance. I can’t see myself riding aluminium again. But I’m lucky and can choose, the carbon is just that much better.”

OK, more later on the day’s testing. Check out full spec sheet to follow.

Steven Jones

Photos: Gary Perkin/Santa Cruz Bicycles

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  1. ben

    wow, looks sleek.

  2. Paul

    Oh My I can only imagine what this thins is going to cost! But you can be assured of one thing and thats ill be getting a loan out, once they hit the shops

  3. Matt

    holy shit santacruz have lost the plot! theyve gone carbon crazy!

  4. Hancock

    So Carbon DH bikes are finally about to take off, good.

    Question is what will the lifespan be like? It won’t be any worse than alloy dh bikes, but will it be as indestructible as the GT seems to be. SC certainly have gone for a bigger weight drop than GT did.

    Guess we won’t know any of that until it’s out in the hands of us plebs…

  5. olly

    The angle’s look sweet, way better than the current steep h/a offerings. But yeah, with Saracen about drop sweet cheap bikes others seem to be going in the other direction, how much would one of those cost with the crazy carbon wheels??? Nice tho!

  6. MuSkA

    Sick Bike, sick Team and sick Trails (Portugal rullez btw!)

  7. Joe

    That is an utterly gorgeous bike.

  8. pedalhead

    Great scoop, lovely looking thing. Got a Blur LTc and the stiffness is mental. The V10 must be off the scale!

  9. afrothunder88

    Nice, definately prefer it over last years bike, despite the fact that I can’t see half of it in the photos.

  10. TomH

    Man I’d cruz my way to a sweet carbon footprint with that thing, must ask Santa for one…

  11. DIRT Editor

    A Blur LT ali is £1700, and a carbon one is £2400. So if our maths is right that is about 40% more for the carbon. So if a V10 is £2600, the carbon one might be around £3600, or something like that, but we are just guessing!

  12. WAKi

    Just compare to alu Yeti 303DH… or Turner. Turners alu Am bike is actualy 100$ more expensive than Blur LTc. I know handmade USA nostalgy but that’s a bit over the edge isn’t it?

  13. James


    That is hands down the nicest looking downhill bike i have ever seen….for some strange reason it reminds me of an atx 1. ITs completely LUSH

  14. Christiaan

    Lookgin good, I like it, but I am guessing the Intense M9 will be cheaper?

  15. Luis

    Ugly… but sick! Good work, SC!

  16. oliver

    ugly!!!! its one of the hottest dh bikes ive seen.

  17. James Russell

    Well, If anyone was wondering what to get me for Christmas…

  18. Bill

    Not as pretty as the curves, not that it matters! Travel adjust looks mint + easy to do, assuming an alu one will come out for less £££, the original seems such a far cry away now!

  19. DIRT Editor

    Ahh yes, as ‘somebody’ just pointed out to me, the back end is ali, so you will only be paying for the carbon front. The ali swingarm is from an existing model (i.e tooling etc already done and accounted for). It may not work out as expensive as I first thought. So it shouldn’t be 40% more expensive. I guess we will have to wait and see.

  20. el capitan

    Looks amazing.. Don’t think SC will have to spend much on marketing for this thing, the looks/angles sell itself.

  21. SA Springbok

    Seat tube is definitely longer. I never thought the V10 was the best looking rig on the track but with such talented riders on them I think its going to be getting them to the podium regardless if its made from carbon or aluminum.

  22. LYTHY

    Has it go an air shock?

  23. LYTHY


  24. WAKi

    Huh I guess they might attempt to make a CF swingarm afterwards… I don’t even dare to think about 10″ of travel with such light swingarm. Add superlight Edge wheel and… daaamn! I got my self wet…

  25. mtnbikej

    Price will probably not be too much higher…..only the front end is carbon….the rear swingarm is the same as the Driver 8.

  26. treehuggergraeme

    Santacruz SIGN ME UP
    I’m sold, that bike looks flippin awesome. That’ll be a loan for me too when it comes out, I cannot wait to see that in the shops.

  27. matt

    So, 900g less for the frame plus about 100g less per rim with the carbon there too. Are we going to see them coming in under 34lbs? My Nomad is only just less than that!

    Want one lots

  28. alberto

    love it! bring home the silverware! viva saffa!

  29. WAKi

    Matt I am pretty sure they are hitting the 30lbs with no probs now. My friends’ Trek Session 88 with Fox 40rc2 and DHX rc4 ti, ex721rims, is 34lbs now, and there’s no single nonsense in it. And my Nomad is 33… deeeemn!

  30. richard chapman

    please put da carbn v10 in2 production. it will destroy all other downhill bikes.

  31. Tim

    Is it just me or is it like a slimmed down M6?

  32. jonny

    it looks nice… however the seat tube looks pretty weak…

  33. Jontanamo

    This is sure to leave the carbon sceptic’s in the dark age’s now!
    carbon is the future and ‘Cruz’ have nailed it.

  34. yucksauce

    Everything else is now officially garbage. This bike looks amazing, definitely breaking the bank on this (although I’ve been surprised at how cheap sc is making carbon available). See you at the finish line!

  35. MadBikerRich

    Will the syndicate be using these this year???

  36. Jeans

    I like !

  37. nats

    sick as ferk, pure bike porn.

  38. moritz portugal

    sen the bike days before it was publisht here it is just fantastic….

  39. oknid

    i hate the look of the current v10 but don’t deny the quality and speed…
    this new iteration is just plain sick looking though, i think sc really nailed it with v10.4. lets just see what the price tag’s gonna read…

  40. MTB777

    This year will be a great year for Peaty, Minaar, Miami Brice, and now the Cedric, too!

  41. Simon_K

    Bike looks amazing! personaly i believe peaty and minaar will struggle this year, While they will still be at the top i have no doubt. I Think this years track dont play in there favour, Hopefully this year we will see some young guns and new faces blitz it up! Sik.

  42. Ryan Daugherty

    Peaty needs a slimmer saddle, that thing looks like a couch.

  43. Dave Lucas

    Jesus Titty F*cking Christ!
    The wife wants an A5 convertible….screw that, she can have a corsa! Where do I sign?

  44. jonesdirtmag

    Looks like the new V10 is going down well then. When you see this bike for real it’s an improvement visually over the old V10. More importantly its good to see a company developing a bike over many years. Any of the Syndicate will tell you that the V10 has steadily improved over the years…is it nine years now? This is no ‘bright idea’ as we have seen plenty of recently, this is a bike that works, and its fast as well as the pro’s that ride it. Weight wise Rick Clarkson (Peaty’s mechanic) tells me that it weighs in a shade under 37 on scales. Thats pretty god for a bike this size. One of the most telling things though is its quietness. Four years ago Peaty and his team had pretty noisy bikes, these though are something else…silent. as for comments on times….Greg, Gracia and Bryceland were all on 2.49sec at Lousa yesterday, Peaty 3 seconds up. Maribor is going to be interesting!

  45. billy

    Good reporting Jones, you got photos of Minnaar in a dress yet?

  46. Jack

    Any estimates on weight saving on the production frame? Surely can’t be as much as 900g due to durability, unless they bring it out with carbon back end too…
    As for Maribor; I’m predicting Athertons back on top.

  47. Rod kimble

    If that is the type of thing that floats your boat Billy check out Steve Peats twitter haha

  48. Messy


  49. matt

    A shade under 37lbs? Wasn’t Steve’s World Champs bike that with the old frame. Surely with a 2lb saving on the new frame plus another half pound in the rims it should be nearer 34lb. Unless they’re being a little coy of course

  50. pedro
  51. Aaron

    Can’t wait for this the hit the trails around NorthStar in Lake Tahoe!!

  52. Alfie Polax

    So how long until Specialized has Hill and Brendan on a carbon bike….?

  53. oknid

    saw them at lisbon downtown today. not a strong showing, but at least the bikes remained complete with all the sliding of the shore and moving stone houses with the front wheel…

  54. Velofello

    …was it just me, or did nobody even mention the air shock…?
    Granted, they might not go racing on it (time will tell) but still… thats got to be another 500g off the weight, no?

  55. jerome

    is this out in the market? man… i’m really proud of having santacruz as my last name…yeah!


    Vou participar do mundial de DOWN HILL em setembro de 2010,
    em Balneario Camburiu- Santa Catarina-Brasil. Na categoria master A 1
    Gostaria de testar e promover essa nova era de super-bike, SANTA CRUZ CARBON V10.
    Desde já agradeço a atenção dispensada.

  57. Jack Mackenzie

    OMG this looks awsome, gunna be expensive for sure. I dont like the air shock though, i think if i got one i’d put a fat dhx5.0 or an rc4 :)

  58. phil

    saw the guys at the santacruz tent at fort bill and they said it will definately not be more than 3 grand (gbp) and believe me, when this thing comes out around christmas time i’ll be one of the lucky ones.

  59. Kyle

    When will it come out for people to buy?

  60. DAN

    gt has already done it with there fury dh bike. i would like to see the damage to your wallet if you had one of these and came off or had to bail. stick with alloy its a waste of time and money


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