PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
SANTA CRUZ BRONSON
"Heels down, plow through all the things..."
Words by Mike Kazimer, photography by Trevor Lyden
Whistler, BC, is full of challenging descents, descents that often require a good bit of steep climbing to reach them. That's where a bike like the Santa Cruz Bronson comes in handy, which is how this versatile all-rounder with an appetite for the technical made its way into the Pinkbike Field Test
The third generation of the Bronson
underwent the expected longer and slacker treatment, but its suspension design also received a substantial revision. It now bears a strong resemblance the Nomad, with the shock situated low in the frame, just above the bottom bracket. The goal behind this change was to increase the small bump sensitivity and mid-stroke support while still having a controlled ramp up to prevent any harshness at the end of the travel.
Bronson X01 Carbon CC Details
• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Travel: 150mm
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Frame construction: carbon fiber
• 65.1° or 65.4° head angle
• Chainstay length: 430mm
• Sizes: XS-XL
• Weight: 29.4 lb (13.3 kg) size large, w/o pedals
• Price: $8199 USD as tested
• Colors: Industry Blue, Primer Grey
• Lifetime frame warranty
Just like the previous version, the Bronson rolls on 27.5” wheels and has 150mm of rear squish, but it's now spec'd with a 160mm fork. The amount of tire clearance has also been increased, and you can run up to a 2.8” tire if you'd like. A flip chip allows for two different geometry positions, but we put it in the slackest setting and left it there for entirety of our time on the bike.
Highlights of the bike's build kit include the Fox GRIP 2 fork, Reserve carbon wheels with Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II tires, and SRAM Code RSC brakes. All of those niceties do add up, and the Bronson X01 Carbon CC retails for $8,199. Keep in mind that there are aluminum models available for a much lower price. Climbing
“Efficient” was the word that kept coming up when discussing the Bronson's climbing performance. Testers were impressed by the lack of rear suspension movement with the shock in the full open position. Even on long, sustained fireroad climbs there was never any need to flip that low speed compression lever, and when things got really technical there was plenty of rear wheel traction.
Mike Levy thought that it felt like the bike was sitting a bit deep in its travel on the climbs, but I didn't find that to be the case; different rider heights and weights could the be reason behind the two opinions on that aspect of the Bronson's ride feel.
Overall, the updated Bronson hasn't lost anything in the climbing department compared to prior versions – it's very well mannered, especially considering how well it descends. Descending
We subjected the Bronson to plenty of rowdy trails, full of all possible configurations of rocks, roots, dust, and mud, and it took it all in stride. This is a bike that can plow through all the things, but it's still peppy enough to remain enjoyable on mellower, less steep terrain. It's on the plusher side of the spectrum, but even when we used every millimeter of travel there were never any jarring bottom outs.
There are longer and slacker bikes out there, but the Bronson's numbers make it enjoyable on much more than just the steepest trails. It's certainly capable of holding its own in an enduro race, but it's also just as useable as a trail bike with plenty of travel for the technical stuff. When it comes to cornering performance, the Bronson's low center of gravity makes it feel extremely stable and planted, and testers were unanimous in their praise about the grey machine's tenacity in the turns.