Behind the Bike: Developing the XXL Santa Cruz V10

Jun 5, 2016
by Olly Forster  


Stretching Bikes & Winning World Cups



It's unusual these days for a new bike to slip through the net and do so relatively unnoticed. But that's what happened last year when a prominent brand significantly reconfigured one of its mainstay bikes, adding vital millimeters from one end to the other. With little fanfare and pomp surrounding its debut, this revised machine was left to do the talking. On the mountain and between the tape, this longer than average bike didn't just talk, it shouted at the top of its voice, catapulting one rider in particular to two World Cup victories in its inaugural season. While two wins in one year is a significant achievement enough on its own, it was all the more amazing for this particular rider, who had not stood on the top step of a podium for three years.

We are of course talking about Greg Minnaar, who last year became the winningest male World Cup downhill racer in history, with 18-wins to his credit. Having not won a major race since winning the 2013 world championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 2015 would see Greg miss only two World Cup podiums (Lourdes and Val di Sole) out of seven and score the silver medal at the world championships. So what happened between 2013 and 2015? A lot no doubt, but one thing was drastically different about the 2015 season: Greg’s bike. But was this newly revised V10 really that much of a catalyst to Greg's amazing season? If so, what made it so special? To get to the bottom of this we caught up with a man who knows the story from all angles, and someone who knows the Santa Cruz V10 intimately - Greg's personal mechanic, World Cup stalwart, Kiwi expat, Morzine local and creator of the MarshGuard, Jason Marsh...






Go Big or Go Home

So why make a bigger bike? After all, Santa Cruz already had four sizes in their range, which is one more than most. The short answer is that the riders on the Syndicate wanted more. Well, Steve Peat and Greg Minnaar, that is. The story starts back in 2009 and with the taste of champagne still fresh in their mouths, the Syndicate team were reflecting on the bikes they'd raced upon at the 2009 World Championships - a race that was of course won by Steve on a custom one-of-a-kind alloy V10. Now, this was back before the carbon V10, and using alloy allowed the team to fine tune geometry specifically for the riders' individual tastes and needs. After all, a frame jig is an easy thing to incrementally adjust compared to a $100k dollar one-hit carbon frame mold. That bike is now in Steve's loft, but it certainly left its mark. "Steve said for a long time that every V10 that followed never quite felt as good as that one," says Marshy.


Marshy up with the lark to get the Goat s rig ship-shape before the Syndicate are even out of bed.
A mechanic's work is never done... Marshy in his natural habitat. A V10. A work stand and lots of tools.


Making one-off custom bikes for pro riders used to be commonplace, and something the shift to carbon frames stopped nearly dead in its tracks. With brands investing huge sums of money into carbon frame molds, their focus had to be on the end user first and foremost and not the pros with their unique requirements. Whether or not this transition in materials hampered the advancement in dynamic bike geometry, at least in the short term, is a question we'll leave open for another article, but it was the arrival of 27.5" wheels that really gave the engineers at many bike companies the blank canvas they'd been craving. Incrementally and year-on-year, bikes began to grow in length, especially for Santa Cruz, who added an XL V10 in 2014, but for Greg, things weren't growing fast enough.

A quick fix to this problem came in the shape of reach adjust headsets, which soon became an increasingly common sight on World Cup race bikes, with Greg being one of the earliest to adopt one on his XL V10. Yet an extra 8mm in reach was not going to satisfy either Greg and Steve's desire for a roomier V10. So the scene was set to build the exact bike that a 6'3" Greg and a 6'4" Steve had been asking for. And with the marketplace looking increasingly towards longer bikes, especially within the gravity racing sector, the engineers at Santa Cruz hit the green light on creating their largest DH bike to date: the XXL V10.


Santa Cruz V10 Geometry
Greg Minaar s XXL Santa Cruz V10
Add 10mm to the chainstays and another 10mm to the wheelbase, to the numbers in the chart above and you're getting close to this weapon. Will Santa Cruz go longer for production bikes? Only time will tell...


"Greg always felt like his bike was too short," confesses Marshy, and after a long drive from Punt Ala to Finale with Peaty back in 2014, the imaginary blueprint of a bike that two of the most successful downhill racers in history wanted began to formulate. It didn't take long for Marshy to make the necessary phone call to Santa Cruz headquarters to explain the situation to engineer, Nick Anderson...

bigquotesWe'd had quite a lot of success with the 26" V10 and we knew we wanted to go longer with the 27.5" version, but it was hard to know how far to go. You can't necessarily jump on a bike that is 30mm longer and feels at home straight away. We tested a number of prototypes in 2013 and settled on a reach that seemed right. In hindsight, it was only right at that particular moment in time.

After the carbon production bike was tooled in 2014 we did some testing to prepare the team for a switch in wheel size mid-way through the season. Pretty quickly into this we started talking about reach again and it seemed clear that Greg and Steve would benefit from something bigger (Josh prefers a smaller bike). One of the main concerns with this was front wheel traction in loose conditions.

As a result of feedback from the back half of 2014 we tooled up an XXL size but made the chain stay longer to maintain the same front/back weight distribution as the XL. Midway through 2015 we continued this progression of thought and made custom lower links to make the chainstays longer still for certain tracks that were loose where front wheel traction was going to be an issue.

One of the best things about being involved in bike design is using feedback to make a bike better. It's rewarding to get help somebody get their bike completely dialed whether it's a racer or a regular rider. If you can do this for a living and play some small part in supporting a team then you're a lucky man.

- Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson Santa Cruz bicycles.
Nick Anderson, the Santa Cruz engineer responsible for the XXL V10.
Greg Minaar s XXL Santa Cruz V10


Raising the Bar

But the starting point to creating the XXL V10 wasn't simply to stretch out the existing XL, but to make it bigger everywhere, including the head tube length - an element of a bike's geometry, which is often overlooked. For years, Greg had been running a number of spacers under his direct mount stem to raise the bars. Initially, this was done to help take the edge of steep tracks. "Greg would often comment on riders on the track when we'd be going up the hill on the gondola," says Marshy. "He would always spot riders running low front ends and comment that it would look like they were going down a 45-degree slope instead of a 20-degree slope that the track was on." Lifting the bars would help alleviate this sensation, but as the bars get closer to the rider, especially on a bike with a slack head angle, the reach number decreases as a result - about 4mm with every 10mm of rise which is not something you want when you're trying to develop a larger bike.


Greg Minaar s XXL Santa Cruz V10
Greg's bike from Lourdes, France, 2016 featured a Chris King Buzz Works headset. Too long perhaps?


Raising the bars in this way also aids positioning for riders with longer arms, but as they experimented with increasing the bar height with an increasing volley of spacers, Greg noticed that the bike was getting harder to turn. "The front wheel started washing out," says Marshy, so a solution to balance over steer and under steer began in earnest." We found that anything under 63-degrees, the bike just doesn't want to turn, it just wants to go in a straight line," but more on that later. Adding a shorter stem would help, at least in the short term, but at the speeds encountered on the World Cup circuit, it also made the front feel 'nervous,' and Marshy and Greg determined that a slacker head angle detrimentally affected suspension performance. "Past 63-degrees, forks flex more than they compress," says Marshy.

The team didn't like the characteristics of using a sub-50mm stem either, with the whole team opting instead to run, long by today's standards, 60mm stems from UK brand Burgtec, throughout 2014. But after extensive testing during his years on the old Honda G-Cross team, Greg intimately understood the relationship between fork offset and stem length, "Greg convinced me that you don't want a stem any longer than the offset of your fork," says Marshy. Greg didn’t want a stem length too different to the offset of his fork,” says Marshy. He said he didn’t like the nervous steering when running a stem shorter than 45mm. With the team all on Fox 40s, which have a 51mm offset, they knew early on that the rest of the new XXL V10 would be built around a 50mm stem in play and that the head angle would be optimised between 63 and 64-degrees to maintain optimum suspension performance. "The slacker the head angle, the larger the turning circle you need," says Marshy, so figuring out how to boost stability without compromising the head angle and bar height became the next challenge.


The greatest of all time. Greg Minnaar once again showed us just how much of a champion he is. He is now the winningest downhiller of all time. Congrats Greg.
Lenzerheide, 2015; Greg on his way to win number two.


Sustaining Stability

"You can't just make a bigger and more stable bike by simply making the front end longer or the head angle slacker," jokes Marshy, poking at what some manufacturers have done to their DH bikes. After experimenting with increasingly slacker head angles, "the guys felt that their weight was still on the back wheel and they didn't have enough on the front wheel causing the bikes to understeer. The bikes felt stable, but they couldn't turn them quickly enough as a greater turning circle is the by-product of a slacker head angle." Having already determined that a head angle of around 63.5-degrees was the best option - also, the stock head angle of the production bike in the 'low' setting - the scales soon came out to figure out how weight was being distributed between the front and rear wheels.


Jason Marsh Santa Cruz Syndicate and Greg Minnaar s personal mechanic.
Is Greg the most 'particular' rider on the circuit? You'll have to go to a World Cup and ask Marshy...


“We worked out a way we could determine the weight distribution of both wheels as a percentage,” confirms Marshy, but how this was achieved remains a closely guarded secret... “Initially, we were aiming for around 40% on the front and 50% on the rear. This was an approximate ratio derived from the understanding that a wheeled vehicle that races on flat-ground wants an even 50/50 split, yet DH tracks vary considerably from flat to very steep. So we designed the weight distribution of the XXL V10 around Fort William,” says Marshy. “If you take the course drop and divide it by the length you get the average gradient. This works out at very close to 5% so we thought we would try a weight distribution ratio of 45% on the front and 55% on the rear”.


Greg Minaar and his XXL Santa Cruz V10
bigquotesYeah, it definitely played a huge role. I felt comfortable and more centered on the bike, the combination you need to get a little loose and push things.
- Greg Minnaar on his 2015 season.


The next step was to figure out how to achieve this in the real world. Options on the table ranged from, "dropping the forks in the crown, going up a spring rate in the rear shock or just steepening the head angle, none of which Greg wanted to do," says Marshy. "The only thing we could do was to grow the grow the back end to match the front." During the 2014 offseason, Marshy headed to California to work with Nick on the XXL project at Santa Cruz. "We actually came up with the initial numbers while at a burger restaurant one night in Santa Cruz and came to the conclusion that we needed to increase the length of the rear by 10mm." Thanks to numbers obtained from the scales test, they knew that they had to grow the rear by 45% of how much they grew the front, and with a reach number of 470mm, 24mm longer than the XL, 10mm more in the rear was bang on.


The Clock Doesn't Lie

Rolling into Lourdes for round one of the 2015 season and after some pre-season testing, Greg was on a prototype XXL mainframe, sporting an additional 24mm in the reach than the last V10 he raced on. The new bike also had the prototype swingarm sporting an extra 10mm on top of that. Greg was nursing a hand injury sustained at Crankworx Rotorua, but in true DH racer fashion, Greg still competed using a velcro strap and homemade brace to keep his hand physically strapped to the bars. Greg would finish the race within the top-25. It wasn't until round two at Fort William, Scotland, on the track that helped Nick and Marshy choose the geometry for the new XXL V10, and with Greg healthy and ready to open up what this new bike could do, that the smiles began to appear. "Greg could really feel the difference," confirms Marshy, so much so that Greg smashed the field and won his first major race in three years. With cause for celebration, the Syndicate was naturally on a high, but for Greg, the cogs were still turning on what was possible going even further... After Fort William, Greg said to me, "Well, we've gone 10mm bigger in the rear, how much more can we go?" says Marshy.


Greg s V10 - Lenzerheide World Cup 2015.
Greg's momentum and results in 2015 will go down in history.


"I was driving across Europe in the team van and I called Nick back in Santa Cruz for three hours - on speaker phone of course - and we talked about how we could make the back end even longer. Nick said we could make a longer linkage for the XXL to and add another 10mm," says Marshy. With the V10 link being machined from a solid piece of billet alloy, containing three connection points - one to the shock, one to the swingarm via the chainstays and the other to the mainframe - moving things outwards to increase the wheelbase was easily achieved and wouldn't affect the handling or kinematics of the VPP suspension system. While Nick began designing and prototyping the new link for Greg back in SC, the team were already in Leogang, Austria, for round three of the World Cup. Greg would follow up his win in Fort William with another podium, rounding things off nicely in fifth. Greg's confidence was peaking and the season was beginning to get interesting for Greg, Marshy and Nick.

Morzine Madness

With a three week gap between round three in Leogang and round four in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Greg decided to stay in Europe and continue testing the XXL V10, choosing Marshy's local trails as the perfect location, "I think Le Pleney in Morzine is one of the most special places to ride," says Marshy. "We've had guys here testing, doing 38 runs in a day - that was Chris Kovarik," reminisces Marshy. "The guys used to call them 'pleny-a-thons' - you'd struggle to find anywhere else where you can smash out the runs and adjust things incrementally and on some serious and varied terrain."


Lourdes World Cup 2016 - shock article
RAD is an acronym for Fox's Racing Application Development program.


For Greg, this was a trip down memory lane, having not ridden these slopes since 2001. With Marshy reluctantly on point and showing off his local trails - imagine riding with a multiple world champ behind you - they hit the trails and took in some epic 80km rides on the DH bikes. Yes, this is a thing in this part of the world, using the extensive lift network to access nearby Les Gets, Avoriaz, and Chatel to name but three resorts with bike parks and rad trails only a few gondolas away. After a few weeks of testing and learning the tracks, and with Greg loving life on his new race bike, the team was back on the road and trucking to Lenzerheide - a new track for 2016 and a fresh challenge for the whole World Cup field.


Champagne Supernova

On Swiss soil, there was something different about Greg's bike. The new 10mm longer link had arrived from California. On the bike and after some adjustments on the Fox X2 Coil from Fox technician, Jordi, Greg was on the mountain and punching in the runs. As we all know, this race was a special one for Greg. Not only did he win his second World Cup of the year, but superseded his teammate and legend of the sport, Steve Peat, to become the winningest male downhill racer in history with 18 wins to his name. The GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) was now on a roll...


With a record breaking 18 World Cup wins and countless podium finishes Greg Minnaar knows the proper etiquette for welcoming a first timer onto the box. Drink up Dean Lucas
With the second win under his belt, Greg was showing the latest batch of young upstarts how to own the podium.


From Lenzerheide, the remainder of the season certainly became a memorable one for Greg and Marshy with only Val di Sole's podium passing them by making all but two podiums all year. Greg went on to take a silver medal at the World Championships later that year proving that the adjustments made gave Greg the necessary confidence to become a serious podium threat at every round of the 2015 series. "Yeah, it definitely played a huge role," says Greg. "I felt comfortable and more centered on the bike, the combination you need to get a little loose and push things."


Greg teaching Marshy how to put together his hot new V10 ride in Simba yellow ...think Lion King.
Who doesn't love a Syndicate world champs bike?


How Long is Too Long?

That's the golden question with bike engineers right now and a deciding factor is how much can you push things and how quickly? But then professional athletes have such unique needs; take Greg's teammate, for example, and not Steve, the other one; the inimitable Josh Bryceland. At an inch shorter than Greg, he too could be more than comfortable on the XXL, yet he prefers a stock size large with a straight headset, a 60mm stem, and randomly for today's bikes, a ten-speed cassette. He's won a fair few World Cups on this setup, so what works for one, might not work for another.

"Josh did really well on that bike in 2014 and just wanted to keep things the way they were, especially after his injury," says Marshy. Josh went on to win Mont Saint Anne on that same bike setup in 2015 so he's still able to win on what could be considered a dated set up, "I rode his 2014 bike in Spain and I just couldn't get on with it", says Marshy, who is also an experienced DH racer, "I kept hitting my knees on the bars and my weight was in the wrong place and I just couldn't figure out how Josh rode it like he does?"


Miami Bryce has looked smooth and fast all week cruising down the track with endless steeze. Unfortunately he was a little off the pace today finishing back in 20th position.
Josh loves a smaller than average bike, and it doesn't seem to hold him back.


But perhaps Josh is at the extreme end of the personal and highly unique set up spectrum for a World Cup racer and with more and more riders now opting for increasingly larger bikes, it looks to be the way things are going. "It's what people are asking for," says Marshy, "it's about having a bike that you can feel comfortable on because it's stable and doesn't feel nervous. Too many people think it's the head angle that makes the bike stable. I don't agree with that and neither does Greg. It's all about finding your center and controlling your weight distribution."


Steve Peat may not be on the World s Team for the first time in decades but he is still here as a course pre runner.
And Peaty, who runs a reach adjust headset in his XXL, but backwards... personal preference rules supreme.


With regards to the burning question, can we go even bigger? Marshy had this to say: "We talked about that and the market for bigger bikes is there and growing year on year - I liken it to skis... When you start skiing, you ride shorter skis and as you get faster and more confident, you start to use longer skis for stability and increasingly more savage piste you're on. I would recommend anyone on a medium bike to try a large or go up a size from what they're currently on." While one set up works well for some, something clearly illustrated by the Syndicate - three riders, all similarly sized and all on vastly different bikes and setups. But Marshy has a point, and that is keeping an open mind and when the opportunity arises to ride a bike that's different to the one you know, embrace it and add some weight to those opinions.


Minnarr wasn t showing his card in practice but if we ve learned anything from Greg over the years it s that he s always fast on race day.
Greg's start to the 2016 season hasn't mirrored that of last season so far, but with rumors of some radical changes to his suspension setup... Who knows, but then after all, you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette.





So where do we go from here? Hopefully, we'll keep on riding our bikes and let the bike industry figure things out in their own time and without upsetting the apple cart too much. Is that too much to ask for? Perhaps, but the fact that bikes are getting longer only supports the notion raised in the article above. The point here is that there are a growing number of riders out there, weekend warriors and seasoned pros alike, all on bikes that reside above the manufacturers recommended sizing range for their height.

Upsizing is not new and thankfully for those who like a roomier ride or those who are simply too tall for most bikes, the bigger bike revolution is coming and for some, it's here already. And Santa Cruz, do they have plans to introduce the longer linkage or swingarm championed by Greg and Steve into their range or offer it to customers looking to gain a few millimeters? They had this to say, "There are no plans right now to change the current swingarm length or introducing longer links at the moment. We want to let things settle a bit longer first." Watch this space, but in the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments below...






Visit the high-res gallery for more images.



MENTIONS: @MarshGuard / @mdelorme / @davetrump / @natedh9 / @Chamakazi / @foxracingshox



Must Read This Week

237 Comments

  • + 451
 This might have been the first pink bike article I read every word of. Damn.
  • + 50
 Yeah, It was so good I swear I even read some if it twice...
  • + 45
 Yeah wow, great article. Maybe the first one where the words were better than the pictures.
  • - 64
flag enrico650 (Jun 1, 2016 at 3:11) (Below Threshold)
 Troy Brosnan's Demo 8 is waaay smaller and he podiums every time.
  • + 6
 I also read every damn word and these words "but with rumors of some radical changes to his suspension setup" caught my attention. What are these rumors ? Did i miss something?
  • + 8
 @enrico650: try brosnan is the height not 6 ft 3.....
  • + 38
 @zede: I think it involves picking the back end of the bike up and then smashing it into the ground as hard as possible, if it bounces - sad face, if it rolls forward - happy face
  • + 15
 and also googled "rock shox boxxer offset ." to make sure my stem isnt to short
  • + 35
 @driftmonster: Almost like real Journalism. Would like to see more like this and less paid ads. Nice job Olly
  • + 2
 Great read and look into what makes a great bike.
  • + 13
 @Mojo348: don't miss the 40% front 50% rear weight distribution.
  • + 3
 @enrico650:No one comprehends your tongue-in-cheek comment.
  • + 2
 me too, was a good read that's why
  • - 10
flag FabienTT (Jun 2, 2016 at 7:43) (Below Threshold)
 What about the Rat Boy ? I didn't see him in a while and in this review the rat isn't. Anybody can explain me please.
  • + 6
 @FabienTT: Josh Bryceland (mentioned in the article) is RatBoy.
  • + 6
 Tha nks to Pinkbike for bumping this up the list. All the more relevant given Greg's result.
  • + 100
 I am always happy to read educational articles on PB and this rates up there with one of the best I have read; an excellent grounding in the relationships between bar height, stack, reach, front and rear centre, stem length, offset etc etc etc.

Fantastic stuff.
  • + 5
 Can anyone explain why someone with long arms needs a taller front end?

Isn't it ultimately about the angle your upper body makes relative to your legs, meaning that if you have relatively long legs but short arms you'd need taller bars in order to compensate for this?
  • + 2
 @bonkywonky: Your right, long legs drive stack height...speaking as a long legger.....and funnily enough the only time I had an issue weighting the front end is when I tested a 50mm rise bar with a 16mm stem and plate rise on a 608 base stack bike
  • + 14
 @bonkywonky: if you're a tall rider, with a low front end, your weight may feel too far over the front wheel so you get the sensation of tipping over the bars on steeps. The higher front end allows a better position on the steep stuff by not pitching your body as much. Conversely if your on flatter ground the higher front end pushes your position too far back so the front wheel isnt weighted enough for grip; its pretty much a goldilocks situation.
Hope this helps/makes sense
  • + 5
 To tie in with @lozzerbiker, it's also somewhat that they aren't building skyscrapers on the front of their bikes, so much as that from sometime around 2007, you're average rider started trying to bury the front of their bikes in a basement 30 feet below the ground.

Yea, geo changes & longer headtubes(look at the length of this XXL v10, it's huge!) made 50mm rise bars less necessary, but the "cool" thing for a while has been to drop the front end of your DH bike much lower than is probably smart. It might feel good in a parking lot, but when you're pointing that thing down a 45% slope, you need to get them bars up, & your body backward, to keep weight over both wheels.
  • + 4
 @lozzerbiker: it's more than a sensation....I repeatedly got into trouble on steeps because I couldn't offset the weight imbalance when I had a Large 26" bike with only a 580 stack.....I managed to squeeze it up 28mm and then I stopped being pulled over....it was still a bit low but at least it was safe...

It's great 650b came along because it has forced up stack heights!
  • + 51
 "A mechanic's work is never done... Marshy in his natural habitat. A V10. A work stand and lots of tools."

In the picture: playing Candy Crush.
  • + 62
 Google search: "how to install front wheel on fox 40" ????
  • + 14
 Nah he's instagraming his tools. It's like hipster do with food but for mechanics.
  • + 51
 They worked hard with yeti to develop the xxl.....not yeti the company, an actual yeti.
  • + 32
 The article hints towards seveal important factors.
1. Ride what you are comfortable on
2. Ride what suits your riding style
3. Ride a bike that is suitable for the track type that you are riding (you won't see and xxl bmx or 4x bike)
4. Head angle is not the most important thing
5. Match your stem to your fork (50mm for fox 40, 45mm for boxxer generally).
6. Long chain stays don't work for all (the v10 lengthens through its stroke a fair amount)
7. Everyone is different, test and find what works best for you.
8. Greg is trying some radical different suspension setup... it's not all in the head angle, length, stem etc.
.
All that makes for an interesting control loop to be critically damped.
.
.
Most importantly... have fun.
  • + 1
 From being a huge fan of motorsports (especially 500cc of old and MotoGP) it was easy to see that the question of too long or too slack was going to eventually show itself. As a matter of fact, we were seeing some evidence of this before in places. Brooke MacDonald a couple of years back putting a 50mm stem on his Mondraker because he wanted more weight on the front end to help with traction is a good example.

Feeling "in" the bike yet always making sure there was enough weight over the front to maintain bite should have always been the question right, but even this is subject to dynamic forces at various points in the corner, including of course, rider input.

With that in mind, is our true goal to find a bike that remains neutral enough front to rear to not compromise either ends ability to maintain traction?

BTW, I'm willing to bet that "...jokes Marshy, poking at what some manufacturers have done to their DH bikes..." is aimed at Scott. I could be wrong course and perhaps Bendog likes riding the back wheel more than most.
  • + 3
 The stem lenght is an invalid point.
As every bar has his own "offset" between the grips and the center, so the stem lenght depend more of the bar than of the fork.

And you have to avoid too short stems because your hands will be behind the steer tube if your bar has a big "offset".
  • + 1
 @BDKR: I was more thinking about Mondraker that goes the opposite way than SC with super long top tube, ultra short stem and very slack HA.
  • + 1
 @faul: I think that might also be the reason why Greg was trying some new bars recently, more "straight" if I'm correct. Also depending of how you angle your bar this can compensate the offset of the bar.
  • + 3
 @Balgaroth:

It would be funny considering it was a Mondraker guy that really started pushing the longer wb, tt, and shorter stem thing. Remember the Mark Weir bike check from 2012 where he up-sized the frame and ran a shorter stem?

www.pinkbike.com/news/Mark-Weir-Bike-Check-2012.html

In there it says he spoke with Fabien Barel, who at the time was with Mondraker. Fabien most likely got it from Cesar Rojo or at least collaborated with him on the concept.

www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/article/interview-mondrakers-design-guru-cesar-rojo-24422

You could be right however. I'm just jabbing at the fact that the Gambler 20 has an HA of 62.0 degrees in the low setting and 62.7 in the high. Never mind stem length, there's a point where the HA gets too slack to allow for proper weighting of the front tire.
  • + 1
 @faul: That's only true if you don't use the same bars all the time though. Not sure what Minaar runs, but I have 800mm wide, 20mm rise, 9 degree up- and 4 degree back-sweep bars, paired with 50mm stems on every bike I own. Maybe I should switch to 40 mm stems though, according to this article, since all my forks are 650b. Anyway, it means that any difference in feel is down solely to bike geometry. I would imagine picky folks like the syndicate do something very similar.
  • + 23
 Just built a XL Pheonix which has a tad longer wheelbase and reach and I think I'm in love... I am 6'8 however Razz
  • + 2
 It's nice to finally have some options! The Canyon Sender in XL is pretty big too.
  • + 15
 A bigger bike for a taller rider? What an amazing advancement in design!!!

Seriously though, I'm 6'4" and that the bike industry thinks I only need an inch or two more than someone that's 5'6" is nuts. Hopefully this XXL, along with Giant's giant XL sizing heralds an overall trend that recognizes 6'1" is not the tallest an MTB'er will be.
  • + 14
 “We worked out a way we could determine the weight distribution of both wheels as a percentage,” confirms Marshy, but how this was achieved remains a closely guarded secret... "

Don't you just put each wheel on a set of scales one at a time, and then calculate it?
  • + 7
 I think it's two sets of scales at the same time.
  • + 9
 But "we had Greg trackstand on a pair of bathroom scales" doesn't sound as fancy as "closely guarded secret".
  • + 1
 yooooooo hahaha
  • + 12
 This was a very, very good piece of writing. I think so many of us crave the technical, behind the scenes info to give us the inside knowledge we wish we had first hand Smile

Mechanic interviews are on a similar plane to this article.
  • + 13
 Thank Santa Cruz for not jumping on the illogically short chainstay length trend. Tired of Specialized shoving that nonsense down our throats.
  • + 7
 They kinda did with the new Bronson I think on their website they even mention shorter chainstays in the Bronson description
  • + 11
 It's a hell of a lot of fun, but it certainly does not make for an awesome race bike.
  • + 58
 Shoving down our throats? Good lord, that's a bit dramatic. I crack up whenever I hear people whining about "the industry" forcing things "down our throats". Autonomy is a thing, you know.
  • + 12
 Depends on what you're looking for. Iove the short chainstay because I like to be able to flick my bike around a bit more, but then, I know I'm not going the fastest and am not trying to be the fastest. Obviously the short rear stay works for Brosnan though...
  • - 19
flag thook (May 31, 2016 at 23:39) (Below Threshold)
 The short chainstays make it so unstable. It will definitely kill somebody one day.
  • + 26
 @erik2k10 The reason they have been so big on that is because of Sam Hill and his geometry revolution (beginning with Iron Horse) that forever changed the way DH bikes were made. They believe in it and it's their strategy, and Santa Cruz has their strategy. Both produce winning results, both produce amazing bikes. Pick the one you want and be a dick about it.
  • + 4
 @thook: Haha!
  • + 3
 Longer is not better, it's just another fad. Not all of us like long bikes. Long live the short pods and 740mm handlebars.
  • + 1
 Take a look at the 4:38 of Minnaar in Fort William in 2009.
  • + 10
 This is a thoroughbred race bike. For people who do not race, short chainstays are a more fun option for park and shuttle riding.
  • + 2
 @Desertrat3511: Ratboy loves the 'back end'.
  • + 13
 Very interesting read, especially for us tall guys.
  • + 5
 Serious. It took a couple years, several bikes, and a lot of trial and error to learn what was just laid out in that article.
  • + 8
 Great article. The team has put a lot of effort into getting the performance they want, and the bike with the longest top tube, shortest stem and chainstays, lowest bottom bracket, and slackest head angle isn't always the best. It depends on the rider, terrain, and task at hand.

You might want to reread the section on weight distribution (end of sustaining stability), needs some fixing.
  • + 9
 Santa Cruz bikes have always been small for their size though and the measurements of this XXL really aren't that big relatively.
Look at the new Nukeproof Pulse for example; an XL Pulse is arguably a bigger bike
  • + 6
 valid point @IllestT They make it sound like this bike is very long in reach, but compared to many other bikes it falls into the XL area. The wheelbase is however quite long and that makes the geo interesting for other company's I think. I quite enjoy my old demo as a playful bike (and love the short stays on my E29 because that is a bike that needs it due to bigger wheels), but the big S should probably consider putting some longer chainstays on the larger models. Same chainstay length across the sizes is slightly contradictory.
  • + 0
 @thestraightline: exactly. It's driven by cost. If you wanted every size bike to handle the same, you'd increase every dimension, just like dragging the corner of a picture on the computer. Wheel size too.
  • + 2
 And its wild that sc has still been makn small bikes(entire lineup) whilst their two legends are saying they'd like more room.
  • + 2
 @jrocksdh: I really wonder more what Greg and Peaty's measurements are and how much that matters... Greg is a lanky dude.

I'm 6'2" with short arms. So while most people look at me and say hop on an XL, I am almost always more comfortable on Large because I don't feel as stretched out in the upper body
  • + 1
 @dhx42: I think the reason I always want a bigger bike is because my arms are massive!
My wingspan is 3" longer than my height .
Monkey arms!
  • + 2
 @IllestT: this is me exactly. Im 6' with a 6'3 monkey reach.

Currently im on an CL V10 with a 60mm stem and a +7mm works components offset headset and finally I can say it feels about right......took me years of riding like a dog taking a shit to work it out tho.
  • + 1
 XL V10*
  • + 7
 Great article and touches on a lot of the 'issues' with mountainbikes and their various frame / wheel sizes and geometries.

Lets be honest, much of the current mountainbike is an evolution of 'clunker' type machines that were put together by guesswork and accident, things have evolved and we have seen different wheel sizes being introduced (26" was not chosen by design, it was by convenience / evolution)

We are now going through a phase of looking at our bikes and questioning why certain angles / sizes are the way they are - Is it development / function or just a factor of evolution over time from guesswork?

Its going to be exciting to see what comes over the next few years and I keep an open mind when looking at bike sizing, geometry and design.

All of the die-hards that still clutch their short top tube 26" bikes need to open their eyes and give the new breed of bikes a go, if you dont like them that is fine but at least take a look and stop saying that some of these bikes are no good because they are just not what you are used to.

The future looks good, just get rid of all the damn standards!!!
  • + 1
 Well said! Just sux when I can't find a single good wheelset to replace my 135 thru axle rear hub.
  • + 2
 @Racer951 short top tube 26" bikes

My XL Transition Suppressor would like a word with you...
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: most of the 12x142 hubs out there are just 12x135 with longer endcaps so pretty much any 12x142 hub will work with a set of shorter endcaps to make the spacing difference go the opposite direction. If that sounds stupid you could probably just turn 3.5mm off the outside end of each endcap from most hubs.
  • + 1
 Die-hards who clutch their short toptubes? Please don't generalize. Minnaar needed to compensate the long top tube with a longer chainstay to get back better grip on the front. But that's because he's quite tall, so that he needed the long TT in the first place.

For me 5'7", I read it as follows. Find a bike with a not too long TT that has a long chainstay. Had a Turner size XL (reach 424 cs 442) and changed recently to a Glory 2015 in S (reach 408 cs 439). Much better, but will try to go one step further. Minus 6mm reach adjust with 5mm longer stem. Should keep the length of the cockpit similar but moves the front wheel more beneath my upper body and equalizes the front/rear weight ratio a bit more. I'm going for shorter TT dude!

This is to me what the article says. No more rules of thumb like longer TT or slacker HA is better. Fit it to the rider!
  • + 9
 Dear Santa Cruz, please produce this bike. I'm 6'5" and could really use a bike that fits.
  • + 3
 GG/DH has a 25.5 TT they can do custom sizing for a bot more the XL would be the same size as this.....
  • + 1
 It has been on their website for a long time. Are they not producing them yet?
  • + 1
 @bogey: The DH in size LG is what they have for now. The Megatrail comes in XL though. But hell they can make you a 27" TT and a 52" WB if you need it......
  • + 1
 Yip definitely make this am 6ft6 and always have to just accept that I will never be 100% comfortable ????
  • + 6
 This paragraph needs a fixin'
"This was an approximate ratio derived from the understanding that a wheeled vehicle that races on flat-ground wants an even 50/50 split, yet DH tracks vary considerably from flat to very steep. So we designed the weight distribution of the XXL V10 around Fort William,” says Marshy. “If you take the course drop and divide it by the length you get the average gradient. This works out at very close to 5% so we thought we would try a weight distribution ratio of 45% on the front and 55% on the rear”. This was an approximate ratio derived from the understanding that a wheeled vehicle that races on flat-ground wants an even 50/50 split, yet DH tracks vary considerably from flat to very steep. "We designed the weight distribution of the XXL V10 around Fort William," says Marshy, "we worked out the course length and divided it by the average gradient coming up with a more refined weight distribution ratio of 45% on the front and 55% on the rear."
  • + 2
 Thought my eyes were playing sneaky buggers with my mind... but it turns out @ollyforster just being a sneaky sneaky sly dawg.
  • + 15
 You clipped off the best part of that paragraph: "“Initially, we were aiming for around 40% on the front and 50% on the rear." ...And the other 10% just levitates?
  • + 1
 @ninjatarian: it's floating. It's in a non exclusive relationship with the front wheel and back wheel. I'm not judging.
  • + 2
 @jaame: Then where is that "floating" 10% when they throw out their final 45/55 number? Weight distribution is measured stagnant on scales. Nothing Floats. It's a typo or he mis-spoke.
  • + 6
 Writing a tech article as good as this is quality journalism ! Super nice job guys.
Making a bike a cool as this and being happy to share the genesis of the story is top quality too.
Seriously loving my V10C XL - at 6ft 2in will be trying the (hopefully new model) XXL out for Xmas.....
  • + 5
 Damn! i love this articles full of detailed specs & geometry stuff :o i've recently sized up, feel way more comfortable and faster! (strava says it), btw i can barely fit a 100mm dropper, that's the only disadvantage of getting a lager frame :/
  • + 5
 As a rider that is 6'4 I approve this. Big bikes for taller riders are very hard to find, I got very lucky and found a single bike that was an XL with 29's and it blew me away how comfortable is it to ride, sure it's not a DH killer, But as a big guy it nice to feel that have room in the cockpit. Instead of being cramped like so many other bikes make me feel.
  • + 5
 I am 3" taller then Minnaar and I really appreciate all of the companies that create sizes of bikes/clothing that will fit the taller riders out there. There are so few options for tall people to begin with. This was a great article about the complications of making a larger frame.
  • + 4
 I've been wondering for years why chainstay length doesn't increase as frame size increases to balance weight distribution?
I'd wish we would start to see that become the norm over the entire range of bikes from S-XXL in the future although fiscally it must makes sense to just run one stock length chain stay for all frame sizes in order to only need one chainstay mold so unfortunately my wish may never be granted :-(
  • + 2
 If only the front triangle changes with frame size, then all the other parts can remain the same across sizes. Saves a ton of cost, especially if you're using carbon molds.
  • + 1
 Norco does this though no XL Aurum just yet. But they do apply longer chainstays by size for the Optic, Range and Sight.
  • + 1
 He even mentioned how XC and road bikes should be redesigned to be longer and slacker as well. Roadbike geometry is appalling! XL frames have a reach barely over 400mm!!!
  • + 3
 It is good to see there are some similarities between what Chris Porter and Santa Cruz are saying.

I just wish bikes were sized by "Reach" rather than S, M, L, XL etc. At least this way you would get an instant feel for the size of the bike straight away rather than having to sift through geometry tables. I know "Reach" isn't the whole picture but it gives a starting point.
  • + 4
 @SintraFreeride: Thats because the UCI limits the front center of road bikes. Lame I know, buts that why. The tall pro riders just run 140mm stems to compensate.
  • + 8
 @nagaredama: When I hear things like this it makes me wonder why the UCI still exists
  • + 7
 @AGR97: At one time it was for safety, I'm 6'5" and it frustrating to see such an arbitrary number limit how bikes are designed for tall riders.
  • + 1
 @nagaredama: UCI is making road bikes into cockroaches - unchanged for millions of years - just getting lighter.
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: Don't try to compare road bikes with mountain bikes by the reach measurement. I'm 6'5" and most of the larger road bikes fit very well. The reach only looks short because you have drop bars and need to be able to comfortably ride on the tops, drops and hoods. If my road bikes were any longer I wouldn't be able to reach the hoods.
  • + 1
 @nagaredama: Are you serious!!! Had no idea! Super retarded. I fail to see how it could be for safety reasons though. As short wheelbase bikes are less stable at speed.
  • + 1
 @bogey: The reason a large road bike fits you well is that they compensate by putting longer stems and slacker seat angles. Wheelbase between small and XL frames doesn't vary very much on road bikes. One day I'll get myself a custom geometry road bike:
Headangle: 67º
Reach: 480mm
Stem: 50mm
Wheelbase: ~1200mm
Chainstays: 440mm

Short nervous roadbikes that average 30-40km/h with BMX sized wheelbase and headangles are just stupid!
  • + 2
 @bogey: Steve Jones and Dirt said the same when they made their custom Nicolai enduro bike. The article is worth a read if you're intested in geometry.
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: No, it is because they fit well and handle well as they are with far more years of evo,union than mtbs. I don't run a long stem, the seat angle is steeper than most mtbs and I'm stretched out very nicely (I ride Giant road bikes - no pun intended).

Go ahead and get a long, slack road bike. Might be ok for doddling along but won't handle and climb like most people want. Road bikes are akin to XC bikes and not Enduro bikes so no need to make them suitable for steep and gnarly downhills IMO.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: I love bike geo theory and I read that article a few tens when it came out. I'm a big fan of longer geo on more aggro mtbs but their purpose is entirely different than a standard road bike,
  • + 3
 @nagaredama: Rubbish, the UCI limit it huge, look at the list of frames and sizes (www.uci.ch/mm/Document/News/Rulesandregulation/16/60/87/ListofApprovedModelsofFramesandForks_English.pdf) they certify every size of every brand I have looked at.

The reason they run long stems and huge seat posts is that it results in a more aerodynamically efficient set up, and they don't care about handling.

If you look at that list you will see Canyons certified up to size XXL which is recommended for riders up to 204cm, yet in 2015 there were no riders over 2m in the pelaton (www.reddit.com/r/peloton/comments/3c2s1k/who_are_the_largest_riders_in_the_peloton)
  • + 1
 @bogey: Heh, they're efficient and comfortable for long rides, but good handling is not something I would associate with any road bike. Maybe "handles well enough not to kill you". I always dread the first five minutes hopping on my roadie, thing feels like a drunk puppy in comparison to a mtb.
  • - 1
 @bogey:
1. Cross country bikes are badly design. Their geometry comes off road and the main incentive is weight not handling. They handle like crap. Sure they climb reasonably well due to low weight but seat angles are still too slack.
2.Road bike geometry is tradition not evolution. Not much has changed in 100 years. Shorter chainstays yes but not much else geo wise.
3. Long, slack bikes climb super well both on and offroad. So long as you have a long toptube, you can have a slacker headangle (not DH slack extreme) and with a steep seat angle and longer chainstays you can get better traction (less of a problem on road obviously).
4. Road bikes have an seat angles of 73-72º which is slacker than the more modern 74-75º mtb angle (which ideally should be even steeper 76-77º).
5. Most roadies wouldn't like "my roadbike" seeing as it would be too different from what they know. That does not make it bad though. Roadies are worse than the 26forlife crowd when it comes to change, just look at the whole rim vs disc brake thing.
  • + 3
 Sounds to me that they have just fixed a problem of their own making. Santa Cruz bikes have always been short and given that Greg and Steve have been on the team for years then why they never made a bike that fitted them has always been a bit of a mystery
  • + 7
 Best article I've read in ages. Looking forward to re-reading this later.
  • + 3
 "Initially, we were aiming for around 40% on the front and 50% on the rear."
Well that sounds about right. I would have said 50/60.

Very interesting article! So even in DH longer is not always better. All this starts to be really interesting when talking about trail bikes which also have to go uphill, then the compromises are even bigger.
  • + 3
 Don't be afraid to think outside of what the company sizing charts say!

I'm 5'8" and moved outside the recommended sizing range onto a large HD3. Best decision ever. If you're between bike sizes, definitely demo the next size up and see how it feels.
  • + 3
 I ride the XL 2015 V10 and being only 5'11" the bike feels really good. I was hesitant to buy the XL but two friends that ride the larges and at about the same height always wondered what one size up felt like. I tried the large frame and liked it but once on the XL I fell in love with the feel. It more stable for me and was instantly more confident once it got to speed. I think for people who may have slightly longer arms or legs for their height like myself, having the extra option is nice, at least it was for me. Just had to change my riding style a little bit and now I love how the V10 feels. Santa Cruz's size chart has 5'11" riders at the edge of either large or XL. Just ride what feels right I guess!
  • + 2
 If someone 5'11" can happily ride an XL then those of us 6'5"+ need XXXLs, at least in Santa Cruz' world.
  • + 3
 I like the article- Santa Cruz layed their development process out for all to see- very gutsy! That said, the geometry looks great, and finish is better than any prototype I can remember at the moment, but... Consider reducing the progressivity of the suspension or matching the front somehow. Racers look a little bucky mid corner. Too much low speed damping to make up the difference between topout and bottom out makes for a skittish entry and uncontrolled exit.
  • + 5
 XXL with 470 reach is considered long for a DH bike...?
My 140mm hardtail has 475 reach.
  • + 2
 Sc bikes are mega little sized !!! A minimoy would need an L one Big Grin
  • + 1
 Agreed - No wonder they need a XXL.

I wonder how many size small V10's they sell, would have made sense to just size everything up, go with a low stand-over and supply with 7mm reach adjust headsets to allow a smaller rider to jump on the medium.

As for Josh Bryceland - he does look 'odd' on his large doesnt he... Who knows if he would be faster on a bike that actuall fit him properly?
  • + 2
 I'm only 6'2" but with long legs.......I've been wrestling with this stuff for a while and trying all sorts of tweaks mostly around stack, stem and bar rise/widths on my DH as well as on my trail FS and HT bikes. The adjustable CS on my Kona has been an eye opener and has meant I've been able to play with CS from 415 to 450 across my trail bikes.

My current DH has 435 CS with 450 reach and 608 stack and feels proportionate/balanced (I have a 50 stem, 16mm of stem/spacer rise and 27.5 rise bars) but feels overall slightly small, especially at higher speeds and jumping. Just building an XL Phoenix with 442 CS and 482 reach and 611 stack..... once I put the stem/spacer on it will shorten the reach a bit, raise the effective stack and give me a better position. We are all different but this info may help someone.

The comment about Stem length and fork offset is something I had never heard of before......very interesting and makes me wonder about these mega short stems that are being used.

Its pretty clear that the manufacturers that wake up and make sure their L/XL/XXL bikes are proportionate (the reach and CS and stack) will end up winning.....




@alexsin
  • + 2
 Nice article! Good to see the industry still keeps an eye on tall customers. I'm 1,99m tall and it's hard to get a bike that fits. On the weekend i rode the Nicolai Ion-Geometron and the length of the bike is awesome and it's very stable at high speeds.
  • + 3
 "make it bigger everywhere, including the head tube length - an element of a bike's geometry, which is often overlooked"

Since when is head tube length overlooked? That's usually how increased stack height is achieved.
  • + 2
 It's certainly not overlooked by those of us in the XXL+ size range who actually want our bikes to fit.
  • + 1
 @alexsin: I'm 6'6", so I need an XXL as much as anyone, I'm just surprised they say that head tube length is overlooked. Look at most frame geo and the head tube is longer on the bigger sizes.
  • + 2
 Great article, really interesting. One of the problems with the ever evolving, continuously moving bike industry and its standards is the risk of jumping no the bandwagon and ending up with a bike that either doesn't fit, or doesn't match the type of riding you do (or the style of riding you have).

It's great being Minnar, Peaty or Bryceland who get to ride bikes every day, bashing out runs with different stack, bar, stem, rise combinations, but for the weekend rider its not only hard to try out different things, its also distracting; nobody likes, wants or has the time to risk messing up a ride by trying a new setting that doesn't work.

So, while it's great that the pros do the hard work for us, it's also important to remember that what works for them doesn't work for the masses. Take Bryceland's choice to run a smaller bike, for example. There is also no shame in admitting that certain bikes don't work for you either whether that's due to the geometry itself or, more likely, simply that your ingrained, natural riding style just isn't compatible with longer bikes.

Having ridden one for almost a year, there is no doubt a longer, slacker bike goes damn quick in certain circumstances. But simply jumping on one and being able to go quick everywhere takes time, practice and a definite shift in technique.
  • + 2
 At 6'2", I have always had a size large (20"-21") frame - from DH bikes to AM to my old XC hard tail. I just got on a Rocky Mountain Maiden in a XL at the urging of the rep. It's great! I sit "in" the bike, not on it. I thought it was just a labeling issue, that the manufacturers were just putting a smaller size designation on them, but it turns out it's more than that.

I demoed a few bikes at Outerbike Moab and rode both Larges and XLs, and was surprised that the XLs didn't feel too big. Maybe I've always been used to feeling like the proverbial "monkey humping a football"?!

Great article.
  • + 2
 Last photo - something I've always wondered - why don't downhillers run their seatposts cut down to bottom out the saddle? Do they need some sort of a pedal platform? I just assumed that a lower saddle would be better, but it seems like most people always leave a bit of post.
  • - 7
flag slowrider73 (May 31, 2016 at 22:12) (Below Threshold)
 Really?
  • - 18
flag danonow (May 31, 2016 at 22:20) (Below Threshold)
 @slowrider73: it's okay he's American
  • - 16
flag slowrider73 (May 31, 2016 at 22:25) (Below Threshold)
 @danonow: ahh i see!
  • + 19
 @cecald The only reason I've left post on my own bikes is because at a certain point in your travel, your seat will fart on your rear tire. The post keeps it from contacting. @danonow , you don't need to be a dick, man. Not everyone knows this stuff.
  • + 7
 @cecald I run my seat higher than I need to when downhilling because you can use it to help control the bike when you have it leaned over in high speed corners - you can feel the bike better if the seat's just slightly in contact with your leg. Because of the geometry on downhill bikes, unless you're throwing tricks or hitting REALLY steep terrain you don't need your seat down that low.
  • + 2
 I run my saddle relatively high and use it to stabilize the bike. With the saddle to low it feels less stable and the saddle is around knee hight (my inseam length isn't the smallest) It's not at XC height but I'd say around 15cm (thats 6") below that. Any lower and I lose speed
  • + 2
 @hotsnail: I think it's a personal thing. I run my seat as low as it gets as I've ridden (street/trails) bmx for years and tend to get very low on the bike in corners or when jumping. I did try raising it a bit but didn't really notice any benefits in terms of stability..
  • - 7
flag slowrider73 (Jun 1, 2016 at 0:40) (Below Threshold)
 My bad i didnt realize that people read a mtb web page specific to dh in this case who dont ride themselves. The reason i have the saddle up is so i can still get a reasonable pedal extension whilst seated pedaling. On a long track any chance you can get to "rest" whilst still crankin her over is a bonus. As hotsnail said i run it below xc height so its out the way. Also as others have said its a stability thing with my inner thighs. Its also just a kind of feeling that its there even when standing.
  • + 4
 The seat is actually used to control the bike in turns. That is the reason why the seats aren't slammed.
  • + 1
 They run it so that they can feel the saddle and it gives them better control over the bike. I personally run the saddle as low as possible without it hitting the rear tire when bottoming out. I can even ride without a saddle with no problem. Only really run one so I can sit down between runs. PS: I used to do trials so got used to riding without a saddle.
  • + 1
 I tend to try and run it as high as sensibly possible. It gives you more control. I think it is definitly a personal thing. I have found that I can run a 3" drop from full XC height on my hardtail for most of my trail riding. Any lower and my old legs get tired Razz
  • + 1
 I love a long slack bike, to me it makes perfect sence to have a riders weight between the wheels rather than on top of them. The one thing that I would say (and have done) is if you are unhappy with your current set up or interested in this style of set up look into offset bushes and angle headsets, cheaper than a new bike and may help to find what works for you and the next purchase. Fitted a 2 degree angle headset to my 29er hardtail to get a 65 degree ha, the thing rips
  • + 1
 Like so many have already said I really enjoyed this article! Being 6'7 myself I've always had a lot of fun on smaller enduro and 4x bikes but have never felt truly comfortable on a dh bike because I've never ridden anything that was actually a proper fit. I love riding dh but a dh bike makes me push harder and faster and for myself a smaller size never feels stable when riding the bike the way it was designed to be ridden (fast as f*ck!). As has been stated everything comes down to the preference of the rider but it's amazing to see a company like Santa Cruz, as well as a few others, working with bigger sizes and I really feel like the more they become available and people get to try them the more their popularity will skyrocket. Cheers guys, looks like I might get to add a dh bike to my quiver again!
  • + 1
 Very interesting, and I didn't know the fork offset / stem relationship. Now I'm wondering if i really should go for an 55mm stem with my boxxer team @ spec Demo. On the other hand, Josh is the perfect proof for not "over"-thinking stuff. Just shred and feel good on the bike, don't let the bike industry confuse you with the current trend for long slack bikes.
  • + 1
 Well, I have both a nomad xl and a V10xxl, I whish Nomad goes for xxl too (maybe29)....
Anyway The article is very much appreciated, tks.
It would be nice (at least for me) to have the set up details Greg and Steve adopt on both bikes just for a comparison ..
  • + 1
 Not many of us get to ride with such selective changes to the geometry so it was interesting to read in detail about the cause and effect of these changes. Renewed interest to buy copious amounts of aftermarket parts so I can continue to play Pro mechanic at home. My garage is starting to look like a boneyard.
  • + 1
 Downhill bikes are definitely still on the small side of things reach wise. I've recently gone from a medium demo with a reach extending headset to an xl demo and it feels 100 time more comfortable to me. No more hitting my knees on the bars, more room for my legs when in the air and obviously more stable. Going to be interesting in the Alps! They can definitely go bigger with the sizing as am on a xl and am 6ft tall !!
  • + 1
 I dont down hill race. But i free ride and enjoy Dh. I do not like short chain stay bikes. They are less stable . I ride a large frame . The numbers of these Santa's are step in the right direction. Keep in mind this works for DH bikes.
  • + 1
 I used to own a large V10 (albeit their first carbon version). That bike always felt a little too short in terms of reach in general. Not only is it long it's bloody low too! Lovely bike though and most definitely one of the best on the circuit
  • + 1
 I love Lepleney/Les Gets...It´s really easy to end the day whit 200+ KM of riding and more of 30 runs done. Fast uplifts and no people waiting. MTB paradise. I think the v10 has one of the best rear end of any DH bikes. It´s a really easy to ride and a very fast cornering machine. Any DH rider will be comfortable at a V10 really quick.
  • + 1
 Would love to see Santa Cruz do equivalent xxl sizing throughout their line, even if only in alloy versions. I used to ride a xxl Tallboy LTc, and when I demoed an xl Bronson, the short stack (615 vs 649 on the old bike) and reach had me feeling like constantly going to go over the bars. Despite lengthening the TT, this bike felt really small. Can't believe the sizing is recommended for someone up to 6'6". I'm 6'4" and a bit on the leggy side.
  • + 2
 What an awesome article! love how indepth this is! I've just gone from a Large Undead to an XL V10 and the difference is huge. I feel so much more balanced, and at 6'2 im on the cusp of an XXL
  • + 4
 {Posts article about bike geometry changes}

Three days later

{Wins World Cup}
  • + 2
 I love this new "longer=better" trend. I am 6'5" and after a few years of prancing around it I bought a Mondraker with forward geometry in XL. That 710mm of effective top tube feels bloody awesome.
  • + 1
 At 6'6" I really liked this whole lenghtening bikes article. And beeing this one of the sickest looking bikes around I'm really about to put it on the map for a dh bike of mine in the future...although I'd have to find it used...still too pricy!!
  • + 1
 I dont see why this is a big deal. Give bikes that fit riders. This isnt news that people ride bikes that are all jacked up. I think their bikes are still too short. Kona, mondraker, pole, they know whats up
  • + 3
 That was incredibly fascinating, especially as a 6'2" rider on a "large" frame.
  • + 3
 Ha, the one picture of Gee, and he looks miserable while everyone else is loving being on the podium.
  • + 3
 I ride an XL frame and I'm 6'4", still slightly too small, glad companies have of at least thought of an XXL frame.
  • + 3
 Same here. My XL V10 still puts my back in knots after a day at the park.
  • + 2
 Great story. The SCS are giants, skills and stature. Awesome to hear the dialogue the team has with one another. Great machines makes great machines. Communication is king.
  • + 4
 They should make it 29" ! Big wheels for big frame and tall riders
  • + 4
 Exactly! i would have put on the bigger wheels and called it a day. then more time for doing sweet jumps!
  • - 1
 @Real69erFan: The Soho Bikes video proved big wheels were faster. IMHO a 180mm 29er is going to be faster than a 200mm 650b.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: what about a 200mm 29er ?
  • + 1
 @RedBurn: It would probably be too much travel. Just as 26/27.5 travel has maxed out at about 200mm it would be the same with 29ers.
  • + 3
 Running out now to buy two scales to measure the weight balance on my bike now. How to get them on the trail tho?.?.?
  • + 4
 thank you for this pinkbike
  • + 2
 Looking for a big bike . Pole bikes form Finland do some loooong bikes. 510 reach 1339 wb 62 head 450 cs 176mm travel. They do an insane 29er too
  • + 0
 Everyone seems to have skipped over the fact that Ratboy would also fit the XXL bike but rides an L which is considered too small for him. If the XXL made such a huge difference then why has Greg been a near wash out in 2 events so far this season?
  • + 1
 Cos he had the wrong spring and it was bucking him off (you can actually see it when watching him in Lourdes) and they have messed around with the shock and also moved to wide rims (they could be struggling with getting tyre pressures right)...
  • + 1
 The issue with Gregs riding is Greg, he is getting on now and the other guys are all hungry for a win and flying.

Ratboy does look odd on his size 'Large' - Its small enough that a local 5"7 rider feels his large is if anything slighly too short so I cant imagine how cramped he is on it.

Maybe somebody needs to force him to try an XL on timed runs for a few days.
  • + 2
 @Travel66: your doing what everyone else does and blaming it on everything but the rider.
@Racer951: I'm inclined to agree with you on both statements. We have to remember though Ratboy is odd looking regardless of his bike size
  • + 1
 @mikeyspaff: I'm not defending him.....just pointing out what I saw.....I noticed the bike bucking before he even admitted it and I wasn't the only one....he was fighting the bike....watch the tape... I think the spring is 650lbs or something crazy....
  • + 1
 @Travel66: I'm not trying to get at him or you just pointing out that most people think a slight change in bike geometry is going to have a dramatic effect on the average rider. Try sizing up by all means but if your shit on a bike your shit on a bike regardless of size and in Brycelands case sizing down feels better for him. Concentrate on your riding and not what your riding
  • + 2
 @mikeyspaff: I wish I was as shit as GM
  • + 1
 @mikeyspaff: the message from Greg is don't go large, go double extra large!
PMSL
  • + 1
 Apart from fort william right? I don't think that was a washout was it?
  • + 2
 Great article, just one thing:
"...and creator of the MarshGuard, Jason Marsh"
should say: "duplicator of the muckynutz bender fender" Wink
  • + 1
 I'm only 6ft and have ALWAYS felt bikes were too short. Some people like em that way. To each their own. Great read on an interesting bike and team.
  • + 2
 Great article, I'm a fucking midget tho so I might go wild and try a medium aized frame lol
  • + 3
 XXL the Nomad please, I beg of you.
  • + 1
 I am sure the new Nomad will have a longer Reach in XL. Look at the Bronson, the most recent one has a longer Reach than the previous one. I actually think SC will get rid of the XXL v10 in their next iteration of the bike, and just increase Reach across the board like with the Bronson.

My wild guess: 2017 Nomad XL will have 475-480mm Reach.
  • + 1
 Esta é a melhor matéria que eu já li no Pink Bike, li tudo até o final. Parabéns, gostaria de ler mais matérias assim aqui no site.
  • + 1
 Percentage= weight on (insert end) wheel ÷ total weight of bike and rider x 100
Am I missing something? But I ain't no Einstein and it wasn't hard
  • + 2
 Glad the industry is realizing that we're not all 5'8" 170lb manlets.
Kudos to adult-sized bikes!
  • + 1
 Funny thing is their XXL reach is less than my XL enduro. No wonder they needed to make the XL bigger, it is way short for a tall rider...
  • - 1
 Really good article, but may be there's an obvious answer to developing bikes. Stop using carbon, could have made those changes in weeks! Carbon is difficult to work with and dose it really offer any benefits in gravity based applications?, I'm yet to be convinced. It's over rated, just look what it did for Ducati MotoGP when they used it for their bike, ended a few careers.
  • + 3
 Carbon fiber is significantly stronger than aluminum. CF typically has a UTS of 500KSI and 6061T6 is around 45-50KSI. think about that for a moment. The material isn't the issue, at all. It actually provides engineers with a material that they can do more with design wise. It's the engineering design and trying to lighten it up too much or poor designs that cause issues. SC is aware of this and builds their frames for strength, and a CF V10 is much stronger than a 6061 V10. Think about those UTS values for a minute.... CF isn't an issue and isn't very hard to work with in reality (compared to the manufacturing process of an aluminum framed bike), and it provides significant strength and performance benefits to DH bikes. Period.

Oh, and www.motomatters.com/analysis/2011/08/08/the_trouble_with_the_ducati_desmosedici_.html

"The claims by many that carbon fiber is too stiff to use in a motorcycle chassis can be put down to a common misunderstanding. CF can be made as stiff or as flexible as the designers want it to be"

The material wasn't the issue. The engineering was.
  • + 1
 @atrokz: There is one problem with carbon, and it's the molds. In order to change a carbon fiber design you need to machine new molds, which can be very expensive. I think that's what @e1d0g is getting at when he says carbon is difficult to work with.
  • + 0
 @samsq: To weld aluminum frames you need a fixture and jigs, TIG welding equipment, certified TIG welders that are skilled, a HT oven to temper the frame from it's T0-T4 condition around welds post welding. While molds are expensive and don't allow much on the fly adjustment (if at all) the topic was working with material and the material itself. CF is actually easier to 'work with' when performing a layup in a mold vs the skills required to GTAW an aluminum frame nice and straight. You can hire unskilled workers and train them to lay up CF, you can't do the same with aluminum. So even that point isn't correct. It's messy but not difficult to work with, as there are many home made CF frames illustrating how easy CF is to work with. With regards to molds, I would know since as a certified Tool & Die maker I've made dies very similar to how a CF mold works (more similar to a form die than an injection mold). I'm an industry expert on this topic. SC has a mill and an R&D department where they can develop and make a new mold within days. This is evident by the fact that they can do it.

At any rate the topic was "carbon is difficult to work with" which is false, " dose it really offer any benefits in gravity based applications?" which I illustrated with strength comparisons, and "just look what it did for Ducati MotoGP" which I responded with an in depth analysis of this exact topic.
  • + 1
 @atrokz: It's quicker, cheaper and easier for a bike company that has the ability to make alloy and carbon frames in house to do their design iterations in alloy than carbon. You could weld up a handful of front ends for a bike before the CNC cutter had finished the tooling for one.

I'm not an expert like you, but I do work for a bike company.
  • + 1
 @sq225917: The real problem is most bike companies don't engineer their carbon frames in house, they contract that out. So there is huge cost in just tweeking things from an engineering standpoint, and then production is outsourced. It doesn't cost $100K to make a prototyping mold, that's the cost of production molds. If they had in-house carbon shops they could kick out carbon prototypes almost as easy as Al ones.
  • + 1
 @sq225917: Correct, once you get the fixtures in place or are using a modular setup it's quicker by a long margin to make changes and protos. But there's that initial investment in tooling and weld equipment and the SKILLS required which can't be ignored as part of the recipe to making alu frames. I'm just iterating that CF isn't 'difficult' by any means to work with and it's benefits are immense if done correct. That is how I interpreted the comment and question. Currious where you work, but Sheffield does raise a few ideas. cheers.
  • + 1
 @zutroy: Any company can make the proto molds in house, in a matter of a day or two, with a machine as small as a VF2. I use a VF2SS for my side projects, and it's plenty fine for alu molds and is about the same price as a production CF mold in a few sizes. Well under 100k. Many bike companies have machines for prototyping but lack the know how of a mold/tool maker, but it can be done.
  • + 1
 @atrokz: No doubt any any company can make the mold IF they have a machine shop and right people. The fact is most bike companies are just marketing companies that do not have a workshop i- house, or engineers who can design the frame. So it's not as easy as it should be to do it for most of them.
  • + 2
 @zutroy: correct. There was a time where they literally ordered out of a catalog and slapped some stickers on it. I can name 8 companies off the top of my head that were doing this in the 2000s. But SC is an outfit that would be able to do this, same for Trek or shops with R&D shops.
  • + 2
 Silver and red v10 is plain and simple the sexiest paint of all time Drool
  • + 1
 Patiently waiting for the Buzzworks adjustable reach headset from Chris King to move from prototype model to production model. Pretty please?
  • + 4
 Works Components have reach adjust headsets as well. Been using one for over a year, quality headsets.

www.workscomponents.co.uk/reach-adjust-headsets-21-c.asp
  • + 2
 @markus-a: Agreed - get one now rather than wait years for something that probably wont ever be released, and if it is it will be $250.00
  • + 2
 Great write up. Really explained it understandable
  • - 2
 A good read although basically what is being said is that Santa Cruz has finally cought up with what other companies have been doing for 3 years... anyway, for the company, it's a waste of money to have to produce 5 sizes of a bike... I now kind of see where the MSRP on these bikes come from.
  • + 2
 Truly, hanging on every word. Awesome!
  • + 1
 When I click, add to favorites....what actually happens?

Where is that repository for favorites?
  • + 3
 it shows up on your profile page under favorite news Smile
  • + 1
 This is an awesome article. I love reading about the design and engineering aspects of mountain biking. Keep it up PB.
  • + 1
 I've soaked in every word. Wow- that article was like a road movie....going to be too late at work today! Thank you, pb!!
  • + 2
 Well looks like that all worked and proved their reasoning..
  • + 2
 great article, very informative
  • + 1
 Smaller bike = more flickable = more smiles, not worried about a tenth here or there
  • + 1
 Feck me I thought I was doing well at 20 pleneys in a day... Must be all that Mutzig to get him to 38..
  • + 2
 SUCH SCIENCE MUCH NUMBERS
  • + 2
 SO PUMPED!!! I'm 6'7" and cannot find a DH bike for the life of me.
  • + 1
 Check out Pole bicycle. They make the longest DH bikes in the world both in reach and wheelbase:
www.polebicycles.com/bicycles/downhill/evolink-176-dh-27-5/?v=d2cb7bbc0d23

The large has a reach of 510mm!!! Their small is most company's Large!!!
  • + 1
 The new Pivot Phoenix XL is HUGE! The Canyon Sender XL as well, but don't think it is for sale in the US.
  • + 2
 Im 6'7" and I own one and its by far the best bike ive ever ridden, if you can find one get it!
  • + 2
 I ordered myself the XL Sender. First DH bike ever at age 36 (been doing some renting at bike parks)! I am 6'5".
  • + 1
 I loved the article! That was a great insight into Greg and Marsh's thought process, so cool
  • + 1
 This was a great article, very informative and well written. Makes me want to jump up a size for my next bike.
  • + 1
 just a little bit longer than a large size summum on stock geometry setting....
  • + 1
 Awesome article @ollyforster ! Cheers!
  • + 1
 Executive summary anyone?
  • + 1
 Finally frame made for us. I'm 198 cm.
  • + 1
 Surprised to see the 'MADE IN CHINA' on the XXL sticker.
  • + 2
 Enjoyed!
  • + 1
 Looks like a stickleback fish.
  • + 2
 Pure insanity.
  • + 1
 It's the first time I read that a Fox 40 can feel flexy!
  • + 1
 And you will be 29,1mm closer to the finish line!
  • + 1
 Well, we know that whatever they did, it worked.
#gregwinnaar
  • + 1
 Interesting to see where a marsh guard came from. Had no idea.
  • + 1
 I enjoyed that read. Made me desire to do some more tinkering on my bike.
  • + 1
 XXL Hightower please
  • + 1
 Finally!!
  • + 1
 Love this article!
  • + 1
 Great article!!!
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