Santa Cruz Butcher Review

Jun 11, 2012
by Richard Cunningham  
TESTED
SANTA CRUZ BUTCHER
BY Richard Cunningham
Chris Powell takes the Santa Cruz Butcher down the boulders at Ted Williams. Powell said he felt at home on the bike on his first DH run - a sentiment that was mirrored by all who rode it. Ian Hylands photo


The Santa Cruz Butcher is like the inconspicuous neighborhood kid who rarely speaks a word and probably would never have shown up on your radar until you saw him killing it on your home DH trail. The six-inch-travel all-mountain Butcher is the first single-pivot suspension design to emerge from a five-year research and development cycle that resulted in a reconfiguration of that company’s dual-link VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) suspension, and ultimately, the invention of APP.

The APP acronym is a jibe that means ‘Actual Pivot Point’ - a single-pivot suspension that utilizes a compound linkage to reproduce nearly the exact spring rate and shock curve of Santa Cruz’s second-gen VPP. What that means in ride-speak is that the Butcher’s suspension is less expensive and a much simpler mech than the VPP, and it still delivers the VPP’s magic on the trail. Simple, however, is often a hard sell. Read the spec sheet and the Butcher seems quite ordinary, but point it down a technical trail and you will soon discover that the best-kept secret at Santa Cruz is anything but ordinary. Santa Cruz sells the Butcher in three builds from $2299 To $4099. Our test bike, with the mid-priced AM-R kit retails for $2799.

Pinkbike All Mountain Bike Shoot Out
  Santa Cruz Butcher Highlights:

-Frame: Manipulated aluminum tubes, tapered head tube, six inch travel, APP single-pivot suspension
-Fork:150mm stroke, RockShox Revelation RL Dual-Air, 15mm Maxle QR through-axle
-Shock: Fox RP23 with high-volume air can
-Shimano XT/Deore three by ten drivetrain
-Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
-Weight: 28.87 pounds (13.5kg med)
-MSRP: $2799USD (R-AM kit)
Ian Hylands photo


Construction Notes

Up front, the Butcher’s aluminum frame mirrors the profile of the Santa Cruz Blur, with a tapered head tube, a deeply bent top tube to ensure proper stand-over clearance and a beefy down tube that is manipulated with a rectangular profile. The bottom bracket incorporates ISCG-05 chain-guide tabs, while the seat tube is straight as an arrow to allow the 30.9-millimeter seat post to drop its full length for DH runs and jump sessions.

ISCG-05 mounts and rear dropout
geometry chart II
  Santa Cruz gave the Butcher a beefy ISCG-05 chainguide mount (top-left) and incorporated its adjustable angular-contact bearing system into the swingarm pivot. The standard quick-release-type rear dropout (top-right) is a beefy forging, which proved to be plenty stiff, but we'd like to see a through-axle there. Ian Hylands photo


Move towards the rear of the frame and in place of the Blur’s dual-link VPP suspension, the Butcher uses an elevated, single-pivot swingarm, which means that chain slap is almost nonexistent and that there is copious room for big tires with no mud buildup issues. The swingarm pivot, as well as the main link pivot, share the same collet-adjustable bearings and 15-millimeter aluminum shaft system that has been time-proven on the Blur, Nomad and V-10 frames.

Santa Cruz chose a conventional dropout for the Butcher’s frame, claiming that the beefy aluminum forgings have proven to equal the stiffness of a 12-millimeter through-axle, wile offering potential frame buyers the option to use existing wheels. While that may be the case, we’d vote for a 142/12mm through-axle system for every bike in the AM/trail category. The Butcher’s replaceable derailleur hanger is one of the best made and it incorporates a bottle opener for festive emergencies. The medium frame with the Fox RP32 shock weighs 7.4 pounds.

APP Suspension

The key to the Butcher’s APP suspension is that its swingarm pivot is positioned well forward of and slightly higher than the centerline of the bottom bracket. The location releases most rear braking forces from affecting the suspension action, and it also creates some beneficial pedaling firmness when cranking in the lower gear ranges. The advantages of a forward pivot are not new. Brent Foes popularized the concept decades earlier, but what is new is that Santa Cruz developed a compound linkage that functions to eliminate lateral flex from the rear end, while providing the gentle bowl-shaped shock curve that its designers recently developed for its showcase VPP suspension.

The ‘curve’ begins with a slightly falling rate, that makes it easier for the suspension to get moving over small bumps, and which gradually transitions into a rising rate near the end of the suspension’s travel. The rising rate gives the bike an extra measure of bottoming resistance for big landings or full-travel events. Fox customized the Kashima-coated RP 23 shock’s damping curves and air-spring volume to maximize the Butcher’s all-mountain capabilities.

APP suspension Fox RP23 SHock and RockShox Revelation Dual Air fork
  The Butcher's APP rear suspension (left) derives its smooth-acting suspension rate by driving the shock with a pair of links between the swingarm and the beefy rocker. Insiders say that that the simplicity of APP was an 'A Ha' moment that occurred after a lengthily redesign of Santa Cruz's dual-lknk VPP suspension. Santa Cruz chose the 150-millimeter-stroke Revelation Dual Air fork for the mid-priced Butcher, which is one of our favorite trail forks in this range. Ian Hylands photo


Component Check

Santa Cruz mixed and matched the Butcher’s suspension components, paring its custom tuned Fox RP 32 shock with the very capable 150-millimeter-stroke RockShox Revelation Dual-Air RL fork. The Butcher’s 3 X 10 drivetrain was all Shimano, with XT derailleurs with a Deore crankset. Brakes were Avid Elixir 5 hydraulics with a 160-millimeter rear rotor and a 180 up front. Nice wheels based upon Mavic 321 rims were skinned with 2.35-inch Maxxis High Roller tires. The cockpit was also a bit of a salad, with a Truvativ 680-millimeter Stylo Team handlebar and a 70-millimeter AKA stem, while the seatpost was an Easton EA30. The saddle was a comfortable, WTB Volt Race. Missing and terribly so on such a technically capable machine, was a dropper seatpost.

Santa Cruz Butcher Trail Test

Rolling out on the Butcher and it feels familiar, as if you have ridden it for a year, and solid under saddle like a top food-chain predator stepping out for a hunt. Weighing just under 30 pounds, we questioned whether the Butcher was going to be a bit of a dog during the test’s climbing and acceleration trials, but happily, the reverse turned out to be true. The medium-sized frame has a 22.5-inch top tube, which is a half-inch shorter than most bikes in its class. This makes it a better jumper and tends to keep the front tire hooked up while turning. The Butcher rolls silently over choppy terrain and instills a level of confidence that encourages riders to push past their comfort levels.

Chris Powell rides a Santa Cruz Butcher during the Pinkbike All Mountain Bike Shoot Out
  Hit the berms as hard as you like, because that is the Butcher's specialty. Former gate racing pro Chris Powell shows how it's done. Ian Hylands photo


Set-up notes: The suppleness of the Butcher’s rear suspension in the initial stroke requires some attention when setting up the fork. We set the shock at 25-percent sag for trail riding and near 30 percent for gravity runs. Up front, the suggested air-spring pressures printed on the fork’s left slider were too high for most riders and would overdrive the shock. Dropping the values 10 psi produced a more balanced feel with both fork and shock registering full travel on the descents.

Pedaling/Acceleration: Maxxis High Rollers were once considered to be fast on the flats, but not so by modern standards. Over hard pack and pavement, the toothy Maxxis tires inhibit the Butcher’s efficiency slightly. Get onto real dirt, however, and the bike wakes up. The grippy side tread maintains speed through the turns and its angled tread blocks keep the tire riding on top of the soil. With the shock and fork opened up, the bike rolls smoothly without wallowing deep into its travel when the Butcher is pedaled hard. In short, the Butcher feels faster and more energetic as the terrain becomes increasingly technical.

Climbing: The Butcher’s top tube runs about a half inch (13mm) shorter than average, which makes it a champion over jumps and around corners, but its cockpit can feel a bit cramped for riders with long torsos or who are on the taller side of its recommended sizing. On the plus side, the Butcher eats technical climbs for lunch. With gobs of traction provided by its Maxxis tires and APP suspension, excellent balance between the wheels and low enough gears to muscle its way up ugly steeps, it leaves few excuses for pushing. On smooth, lengthily ascents, the Butcher gets the job done efficiently with the shock opened up, but there is enough suspension movement, especially when standing, to encourage the use of the shock’s ProPedal lever. We only used the Revelation’s low-speed compression/lockout dial to boost pedaling firmness on the road.

Chris Powell rides a Santa Cruz Butcher during the Pinkbike All Mountain Bike Shoot Out
  The Butcher's easy handling encouraged us to hit features as they arrived. Test riders seemed visibly more relaxed aboard the Santa Cruz. Ian Hylands photo


Technical handling: The Butcher is best ridden from the center of the chassis, and this gives its pilot equal command of each wheel when ascending or descending technical problems. The front end can easily be lofted while descending, which is a great help down rocky or rutted chutes. In the turns, the Butcher has ample handling in reserve, so riders can change lines by steering or sliding as needed. Under hard braking, the chassis remains quite level, making it less stressful to pick a line down drops. Although I did crash the bike trying, I discovered that, as long as I kept the front wheel pointed down the fall line, I could ride out almost any mistake. The Butcher is more trustworthy than its 67.5-degree head angle would suggest down the steeps.

Downhill: “The Butcher feels like a mini downhill bike,” was the test-rider quote that summed up the bike’s performance best. While the Butcher would need a slacker head angle and some upgrades to make good on that claim in the literal sense, it absolutely rips the descents. In the turns, it feels like a gate racer, it is stable in the air, and its suspension remains level and balanced feeling down the rock gardens. The suspension feels deeper than its published numbers and there is rarely if ever a sense that the fork or shock has bottomed (although the O-rings certainly indicated we had). One rider mentioned that, although the Butcher was not as efficient a climber than his personal bike, he ascended faster on the Santa Cruz because he was rushing get another downhill run in.

Suspension action: Perhaps it was due to the Fox RP23 shock’s slippery Kashima coating, but the Butcher’s RockShox Revelation RL fork never attained the level of bump-eating performance that we had experienced from it in prior tests (a soft shock creates a harsh fork). Applying synthetic chain lube on the dust wipers woke up the sliders and aided small-bump compliance, but that did little to ease the over-progressive feel that the fork had when impacts reached full travel. On the plus side, the Butcher’s rear suspension feels (dare I say it?) better than the Blur LT with its VPP linkage. And that stands for the entire range of suspension performance from small chatter, through the ugliest landings. The difference was observable, as those aboard the Santa Cruz floated rock gardens and both the take-offs and landings of jumps that kicked other riders around.

Chris Powell rides a Santa Cruz Butcher during the Pinkbike All Mountain Bike Shoot Out
  Same place, different bike. Chris demonstrates the APP's ability to level out chatter bumps on a section of the test course its creators built specifically for the task. The Butcher owned it. Ian Hylands photo


Component report: Starting from worst to best, the loser component on the Butcher was an apparently overfilled Avid Elixir 5 master cylinder that refused to allow the brake pads to retract beyond the minimum distance required to keep the rear wheel spinning freely. The lever’s contact point remained at the extreme outward end of its stroke throughout the test. The second nagger was that the chain often slipped off the inside of the crankset, lodging in the grips of the ISCG-05 chain guide tabs and making a mess of things. The culprit seemed to be that the chain line was one click too far outboard, which encouraged the chain to leap towards the bottom bracket with too much enthusiasm. A double chainring would have moved the crankset inboard and should have been on the bike from the get-go, as we rarely used the 42-tooth chainring.

On the brighter side, the Butcher’s 680-millimeter bars were too narrow for us, but the bend was quite good, which mitigated (nearly eliminated) test rider’s, complaints there. In lieu of a dropper post, Santa Cruz specs one of the best quick-release seatpost clamps in the business, and the Easton post was a beautiful slide fit. Both helped to facilitate quick height adjustments. Top honors go to the Butcher’s Fox-driven rear suspension, its uber-capable wheel and tire combination, and the precise-feeling Shimano XT rear shifting.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesSanta Cruz's Butcher is a keeper. It has gobs of handling in reserve, with which a rider can use on trail to deal with most unknown situations as they appear. The bike climbs like goat, descends with conviction, and is easy to manage when pushed to its limits - and the Butcher is as capable under a rider who executes every move with precision, as it is for someone who has more luck and courage than skill. At its core, the Butcher is a beautifully handling all-mountain chassis with a top-drawer suspension system, and it is built like the proverbial brick 'outhouse.' The frame should easily outlast its OEM components and when it does, it will be worthy of any elite-level upgrade. As tested, the Santa Cruz Butcher is an impressive technical trailbike that could put in a good performance at any bike park. Add a dropper post, a more capable fork and a two-by-ten drivetrain, and it would be outstanding. - RC


After reading the Santa Cruz Butcher test I would...





Five-Bike $3000 AM Tests:

1 - Cannondale Jekyll 4
2 - Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp
3 - Giant Reign 1
4 - Santa Cruz Butcher
5 - Norco Range 3






114 Comments

  • + 52
 I know i will probably never get a chance to ride one of those, so maybe I could at least see a short video of how it climbs, handles chatter bumps, rails berms... All Richards reviews are well written with enough details for me, but a short video at the end would be like icing on a cake.
  • - 6
flag bfe89 (Jun 11, 2012 at 10:12) (Below Threshold)
 Chill out man. Some one's got a bit of a chip...
  • + 10
 CFOxtrot is a keyboard soldier with a bad attitude.
  • + 8
 dude you literally just flipped out at some random dude on the internet for no reason at all. i'd recommend slowing your roll and getting off those uppers
  • + 3
 must be that time of the month for him. he's been ranting on and on all over the other articles as well recently.
  • + 1
 dude your getting edgy take another hit of meth!
  • + 7
 again pinkbike forgot the I don't have money option
  • + 3
 pinkbike tests are serious business
  • - 1
 wow. what a massive inexcusable dickhole. anyways, a well edited video would be a pretty damn sweet icing...
  • + 1
 Is that demo forest he's riding at?
  • + 1
 @doorknob100 I would say no. Judging by the look of the terrain and openness of the area. Demo forest is highly tree covered.
  • + 11
 Best trail bike I've owned in a long time... Here's a link to another review on the awesomeness of the Butcher Smile
hyperformancehardware.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/living-with-butcher.html
  • + 9
 I owned 2 Hecklers over the course of 11 years and jumped at the chance to get a Butcher last year. I kept the Butcher for a season but had to sell it. The swingarm didn't feel as stiff as the Heckler's, and I'm less than 150lbs with all of my gear. I strongly agree that this frame would benefit from a 12 X 142 axle, however Santa Cruz tech reps maintain that it is stiff enough with the standard QR axle. I constantly checked my pivots to make sure they were tight as it felt 'fishy' to me. I was a bit disappointed honestly. But, to each their own...
  • + 3
 I rode my Heckler for 8 hard years and just got rid of it for a Reign. I was pretty excited to read this write-up, but I also agree this bike REALLY needs a thru-axle rear. That was one of the only qualms I had with the Heckler, and if the butcher is less stiff, that just won't do. I also don't understand how the Reign is, only now, upgrading to a thru-axle next year. Figure it out, AM frame manufacturers!
  • - 3
 ^^why are we getting spam comments all of the sudden?? I hate that crap
  • - 31
flag CFOxtrot (Jun 11, 2012 at 9:33) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah it REALLY needs a thru-axle rear because everyone can REALLY feel the difference when riding a thru-axle especially if it's the "modern" 145mm width version.

Put those huge mudder tires on your Escalade to drive pristine asphalt, bro! It's all about the image!
  • + 6
 "a closed mouth gathers no feet" ^^
  • + 4
 why dont they sell qr dh bikes any more then? dont be a tit of course 12mm through axles going to be stiffer than crappy qr
  • + 3
 you can still run a thru axle on the bike. i am using a DT RWS 10x135 and cant feel any flexing at my weight of 220lbs
  • + 1
 not related to this bike, but i'd love it if dj bikes started to have thru axle rears, would make so much difference and would be so stiff!
  • + 2
 Seriously I just changed to flows on the all-compatible Hope hubs (by the way don't think at all free hub sound is that loud and pickup is faster than 330 DT Swiss hubs) with DT RWS 10x135 thru bolts and it made a noticeable difference on my Stumpy FSR. It's like before you felt a wallow in the compression of the shock and twang in the extension because wheels and backend were flexing, instead now it tracks sharper and the compression feels cleaner and allover damped by the shock, not twangy by chain stay and wheel flex. +1 on stiff wheels (another topic) and +1 on 10x35 thru bolts: anyone can upgrade to that and it is probably as stiff as thru axles.
  • + 1
 Would this be a good first bike to get into the sport? Would you still be able to charge some lines in a DH setting?
  • + 10
 Bit late to be reviewing it now, as Santa Cruz are canning this bike - grab the frame on sale while you can.
  • + 1
 That's what i thought. Why review it now?
  • + 1
 No more Butcher? I didn't know that.I guess I haven't really kept up on it since I am not currently in the market for a new bike. Bummer. The Butcher is a nice ride, imo.
  • + 1
 no more Nickel and Butcher
  • - 6
flag PapaGeorgio (Jun 11, 2012 at 18:37) (Below Threshold)
 Because single pivot is out dated I'm guessing? I know I wouldn't' buy one for that reason.
  • + 3
 outdated? lol
companies have marketing departments geared for people like you
  • + 0
 PapaGeorgio...there are tons of different bikes running some version of the single pivot suspension design pretty successfully these days.
  • + 9
 You dont know how excited I was to see a bike test on the home page! You guys need to do more of them.
  • + 9
 I have one with the lyrics rc2dh and rp23, love it Best am bike ever
  • + 5
 i like this bike, but what are the main differences between this and a nomad ?, also in orange and with those decals, it looks very 'mountaincycle'esque
  • + 0
 It is a completely different suspension design! Nomad is VPP and this is a Single pivot. Look closely.
  • + 1
 I get that the suspension design is different, I meant in terms of the type of bike ? don't get me wrong this looks like an awesome bike and I am sure it is, but what can this do that a nomad can't ? or am I arguing a losing battle here ? and they are completely different markets
  • + 3
 its more of a poor mans nomad
  • + 1
 The butcher is a 6 inch bike front and rear designed around 150mm forks, the nomad has a bit more travel at 6.3 inches and is designed around higher travel forks, up to 180.
  • + 1
 i think the biggest difference is the price.butcher is cheaper
  • + 2
 I bought this bike when it first came out, replaced it with a carbon nomad this year and all i can say is if you have the $$$ go straight to the Nomad. It climbs the same (actually I think maybe even a little better...but that could be the carbon) and definitely descends much better and I think is generally better balance and better built. My butcher has a weird gap just on one side at the main pivot which apparently is normal. The pivot also is perfectly positioned to catch all my sweat which makes for rusting bearings! Huge fan of SC customer service either way though!
  • + 2
 The Butcher is truly an underrated all-mountain bike. I loved my Heckler but the Butcher beats it in every area. I did swap to a solid 10mm through-bolt rear axle and it boosts the rear wheel support. It climbs way better than the weight would indicate and instills confidence when pointed down hill or blasting rocky, rooted trail. SC gave a demo in Washington this past weekend. There wasn't a single pivot pivot bike in their trailer, though they wouldn't comment whether the Butcher (or Nickel) was going to be pulled. It can be a 'do-all' bike and should be considered if you are in the market.
  • + 2
 So the negs are a badly set up brake and somebody in the universe still thinks an AM bike needs a 42 tooth ring. looks like a top knotch rig for under $3000. I'd still prefer a lyrik up front. I'd trade that rear shock for it.
  • + 2
 I dont know what they are saying about that rock shox revelation having bad small bump, I have a 2010 fox talas rlc fit and a 2010 rock shox revelation team, and the revelation has much better small bump over the fox. The fox is better looking though Wink
  • + 4
 In the section of the article right below the pictures of the suspension linkage and fork,the word "FORKS" is finally used in the proper context on PinkBike !!! Love it.
  • + 2
 ✭IMO✭ This rig will take the average rider and make them a PEDALING STIG! I own this exact bike and approve this review. Personally I saw instant performance gains in all disciplines.
  • + 1
 i've tried a friend's butcher, just on pavement though. but oh boy, that butcher felt like a DH bike. the geometry and suspension awkwardly felt like a DH bike (i meant it in a good way) and pedaling didn't produce any bob (though i must admit, the bike wasn't setup for my weight). i'll try his bike on a proper trail one of these days.
  • + 1
 I broke my Heckler after 5 years. I really liked that bike. I got the Butcher frame so that almost everything swapped over. The most noticeble difference is how much more plush the Butcher feels. The O rings show full travel, but there is no harshness or bottoming out feel. The Butcher is a great ride. While my 36's and Avid CR's are in for some much needed love I have been riding a Trek Slash 8 demo which I am also having a lot of fun on.
  • + 2
 I have one. Agree 100% with everything stated in the review. I don't see much value in buying completes under any company however. Building your own is always better and far more worth it in the end.
  • + 1
 That statement surprises me.

Do you think buying complete is not worth it because you have to spend extra money on getting the bike exactly the way you want, or because you think it is better value to buy grouppo + fork + frame than a complete bike?

I understand where you are coming from only if it is the former. If the latter, however...
  • + 1
 I shall have to disagree sammrose, having done both I can confirm that building your own, although good fun, results in costing substantially more than buying complete and swapping out any parts you want to change. All complete bikes purchased will end up customised to some degree to suit individual taste anyway so you might as well reap the savings that can be passed on by way of manufacturers buying power.
  • + 0
 Well I guess it's really all relative. Whilst working at a shop and having full access to cost pricing, it's not worth the effort to buy a complete and receive lots of useless components vs. buying everything individually (part for part - not a gruppo) where you can pick and choose as you please as far as looks, dependability, function etc. All of my bikes have been sub $2000 no matter if I got a complete or bought frame and built from fork up. My current build is running me $2000 on the dot and it's entirely custom built weighing 27lbs even. It helps to work at and know the right people/places. =)
  • + 2
 If your numbers are based on cost pricing then your argument is invalid for pretty much 99% of riders.
  • + 1
 The bike is gorgeous. And at first glance I thought it was an MC Battery!

The AM category rocks! Unless you're a lycra wearing high poster, an AM rig is the thing to buy. I have an '08 Khyber Elite that I train and Super D. Climbs rock and decents rock. Sure, I won't be bringing it to Snowshoe with me in a couple of weeks (my DH bike is going of course), but EVERYWHERE ELSE, my AM rig is the weapon of choice.

Were I to buy new ATM, a Butcher would be very high on the list. However, I'd prolly wait until the '13 Mondraker Foxy.
  • - 14
flag CFOxtrot (Jun 11, 2012 at 9:31) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah because nobody who rides "AM" is a poseur, and nobody kits up with the _required_ "AM" helmet and "AM" body armour to ride their "AM" bike on what looks like a dirt criterium track where a CX bike would be best.
  • + 6
 Oooohhhhh...... It seems I've drifted into the crosshairs of the local Jim Navas. LULZ
  • + 1
 I just want to say I appreciate Pinkbike writing some meatier bike reviews than the ridiculous mags out there. Oh, and it is also nice that these reviews are on bikes that are less than $3000. The mags rarely cover anything less than $4000.
  • + 1
 I bought this bike after reading the review and would say it is all fair. After a bit of personalized tweaking: stem length, etc. the fit is right on for the published geometry. I've ridden our trails in GJ, and spent some time on the gondola. The Butcher satisfies as the 'quiver of one' bike I was looking to replace. It isn't the lightest but I'm not racing uphill and will trade perceived durability of alloy over carbon. Thanks PB for a decent review!
  • + 1
 good performing bike if you are on a budget, wonder if thats what SC was getting at when they designed and released it, because it sits right in the middle of the Blur LT and the Nomad. But because it is between those two great VPP bikes i dont think it really had a chance to do very well. Hence why they are discontinuing it
  • + 1
 I think of my Butcher as much like my last 3 Hecklers...but on steroids! If you go with the 20mm thru axle Lyrik, add a DT Swiss 10mm thru bolt kit on back, and a dropper post...and you have one fantastic AM bike! I looked at a number of bikes (and particularly liked the Specialized Enduro..but had fit issues), and went with SC once again. There are many fine bikes these days, but when I look at the cross section of quality/performance/value, I've stuck with SC for a long time...over 10 years now (even my first DH bike was a SC Bullit - finally went to the dark side with a Specialized Demo). I'm very, very happy with the Butcher.
  • + 1
 Amazing piece of bike.... I've bought one in the same Tic Tac Orange, but mine has a Fox Float 150mm FIT.... It's a shame that SC is giving up on this design, it's a true AM machine...
  • + 1
 RC: "The location releases most rear braking forces from affecting the suspension action" -- why is this? why does a lower, farther back single pivot affect the braking more than a high forward pivot?
  • + 2
 I can't give you an accurate scientific explanation for why the forward pivot frees up the system for braking. It came as a surprise to me (a reformed single pivot hater) as well. I learned it while I was testing various bikes from Foes. In side-by side tests, the low-forward pivot is remarkably better under braking than single-pivots with rearward locations and some four-bars too. Brent Foes used to build winning off-road race trucks and they used straight-axle rear suspensions tied to swingarms, so I figured he knows a bit more than I on the subject of braking and suspension. He's a pretty chill dude and I highly respect him.
RC
  • + 2
 It's awesome to see Chris Powell back in the bike media after crushing law school. This man is a true gentlemen/scholar/warrior!
  • + 1
 Here, Here! ...my sentiments exactly ps- sorry bout Jaxon's gas...
  • + 1
 I've had my Butcher for 1.5 yrs now. It has been a worry free, smooth riding, capable bike that with the parts I have on it, comes in at 29 lbs. And now its a collectors item too!
  • + 1
 The Manipulated Tubing caught my eye, is that a fancy way of saying Mandrel Bent? Just curious as I can not recall ever reading that description of frame material / fabrication.
  • + 4
 The main tubes are bent, tapered and profiled. It's tastefully subtle. RC
  • + 3
 Glad to see they still come with the beer opener. Big Grin Love my Heckler, it has taken one hell of a beating.
  • + 3
 I own SC Heckler and this one looks similar simple and strong I like it and hope it will be my next one
  • + 2
 Good to see him with a Giro Feature on his head, I have mine in the same colour and love it!
  • + 1
 i absolutely love my Butcher but its a shame what they did to the graphics this year. and rumor has it the Nickel and Butcher are on their way out
  • + 3
 Love mine, rides brilliantly.
  • + 1
 Ditto. Although I switched to a 1x10 and added a chain guide to stop the chain drop.
  • + 1
 I parted out my Heckler so mine has been 1x9 from day one, just so much better riding than my Heckler and a fraction of the price of going to the Nomad.
  • + 1
 just sold mine but i put a fox 34 160 fit w/trail adj a e thirteen gude new custom wheelset and some good old wtb rubber. it was great on anything
  • + 1
 i think RC likes this one the best so far! btw, might as well say that every bike should have a dropper post and then it would be perfect!
  • + 3
 i'll stick to my old heckler , still works fine
  • + 2
 Benchwarmer... nothing wrong with the Heckler. Have had 3 of them (each was from a different generation) and they were all great bikes. But as the travel got longer, they got more flexy (I'm 220 lbs, or 100 kilos to the rest of the world) - last one was 140mm travel on the front and I could feel the front flexing. I got the Butcher complete with the SPX AM kit. It came with the Lyrik fork with a 20mm thru axle. Super stiff. But the rear did feel a bit flexy to me, so bought the DT Swiss 10mm through bolt kit. Now it's an outstanding bike. As much as I loved my 3 Hecklers in their day, this bike is much more to my liking (and to be honest, my riding style has also changed from more XC/Trail to AM). I've also added a dropper post (the KS Dropzone). Absolutely the best bike I've owned (so far).
  • + 1
 no argument there , it gets flexy after a while , but i'm only 160lbs so its still okay for me
  • + 2
 I can't believe they didn't hate it cuz of the flex, cuz there is a ton of rear end flex on butchers and nickels!
  • + 1
 I don't notice any flex on my Nickel, and I'm about 190 with gear on.
  • + 2
 Suspension better than my Blur LT? I need to test that out.. I love my Blur.
  • + 2
 looks like a fun bike, and cool to see bike tests on my local trails
  • + 1
 If i bought this bike, I fear I would immediately lust after a Nomad on the descents....
  • + 1
 josh24seven for me construction of Nomad is much more XC and this one is rather FR direction
  • + 1
 Good timing for the review just as Santa Cruz stopped making it :-) I've got a Nickel and love it!
  • - 2
 I have to commend SC for sticking with its love for a single pivot bike - but seriously, the pitfalls of a SP suspension can't be fixed in the realm of the conventional bike/gearing/braking system. Love the picture with the chatter bumps....yah, looks great, but he's off the brakes. throw some brakes in there and see what happens, or try to pedal through them...so much SP propaganda....
  • + 1
 If this is better than VPP, how long before Santa Cruz put it on the Nomad and V10?
  • + 4
 No one said it's better than VPP.
  • + 1
 they don't say it's better, it has a very similar behaviour, and a bit cheaper... I have one, and, with the extra money, I went for a Fox Float 32 150mm, wich gives a different punch, when you're out there...!!!
  • + 1
 i could see this bike being made/changed to be a kinda short travel freeride or even slope looks awsome too!
  • + 2
 I'm colour-blind and that bike is loud...
  • + 1
 U ridin Ted William DH???

Most of the photos look like it!

One of my favorite local spots.
  • + 3
 Yeah, Ted's a good test location - action packed and you can push, ride or shuttle it in about the same time interval. RC
  • + 2
 Just dont like the look of this bike .sorry
  • - 9
flag jamesrusby (Jun 11, 2012 at 2:36) (Below Threshold)
 Swing arm is like a 2 piece swing arm version of an orange five, don't like bike where the chain runs under the swing arm at all...
  • + 14
 Form follows function, it would be incredibly impractical to make the chain stay below the chain with the pivot point located where it is. I can see how some might find it ugly, but it looks pretty to me!
  • + 2
 Blimey, hadnt thought about the pivot system at all!
  • + 6
 since I've discovered YT bikes its hard to justify any of these top brand prices, look at the spec list of this bike then look at the spec list of a YT bike at the same price. I hope they test a YT to show how it stacks up against the competition.
  • + 2
 It's not hard to make the swingarm of a single pivot sit below the chain. Just look at Morewood and Commencal's designs. Having an elevated chain stay (like on the Butcher) is a design decision, which comes with the benefit of eliminating chain slap. However, I do believe it comes at the cost (not sure how much) of rigidity, as the rear triangle becomes smaller. Orange overcomes the stiffness issue by making it one giant monocoque structure.
  • + 3
 You have to remember that the point of this bike is to be value minded. Creating a large monocoque rear triangle like Morewood also comes at a cost- which is cost. The rear triangle on this bike is probably much cheaper to produce and I doubt there is a noticable performance difference. People get too hung up on aesthetics with things. bike are machines first, art second.
  • + 0
 was looking at this for a light use dh bike/ heavy am i thought it was under 1500$ though...guess i thought wrong
  • + 1
 It looks like a Hecker - so it must be a good bike!
  • + 0
 All this excitement over a slightly redesigned bullit ....... it's good they have brought it back ....... but geez
  • + 1
 Oh and also I hope the next is Trek Remedy.
  • + 0
 any1 notice that it seems little less...... agressive than its "predocesor"? just asking
  • + 4
 The Heckler? No, I think it looks much better than the Heckler.
  • - 1
 god damn, how I hate SC dropouts, destroy one and u're fucked with finding new one
  • + 1
 this or an orange five?
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