Santa Cruz's 5010 has been around for five years now, and while it did see an update in 2016, the march of time never stops and neither does what we want from our mid-travel bikes. This is especially true when it comes to trail rigs that many of us expect to ascend close to how a cross-country racer does but also descend like an enduro rocketship. That's asking a lot of a 130mm-travel, 27.5'' wheeled machine like the 5010, but Santa Cruz is chasing that all-around performance by updating the bike's geometry and frame design for the third iteration of their do-it-all platform.
The new 5010 can be had in two frame flavors: aluminum for $1,999 USD or their high-end CC carbon frame for $2,999 USD. Complete bikes start with an aluminum model at $2,699 USD and top out with the CC XTR Reserve bike at $9,499 USD, with ten different models altogether. If you don't want to spring for the lighter weight CC frame, the standard C carbon entry point is $3,999 USD.
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain
• Rear wheel travel: 130mm
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• Frame material: aluminum or carbon
• Updated w/ longer, slacker geometry
• Adjustable geo: 66.2° or 66.5°
• Clearance for up to 2.8'' rear tire
• XS to XL frame sizes
• Color choices: purple and matte carbon (all models)
• Lifetime frame warranty
• MSRP: $2,699 - $9,499 USD
If you're not into the Purple People Eater
look, you can get the carbon or aluminum 5010 in black, too. The Furtado is the exact same frame in carbon and aluminum, but it's sporting Juliana-branded touch points and a burgundy finish.
Similar Lines, New Frame
Routing is all internal, but molded-in guides will keep the swearing to a minimum for those who do their own wrenching.
The third iteration of the 5010 looks a lot like the second version of the bike... and the first version, too. But while the lines sure are similar, it's a whole new frame from headtube to rear axle. The most obvious difference between the V3 5010 and its predecessors is the rear triangle's dual uprights - V1 and V2 had a single upright on the non-drive side; Santa Cruz says that the new rear-end is ''stiff, stout, [and] evenly distributes forces going through frame/suspension.''
I've spent a brief amount of time on the previous version of the 5010 and it never once came across as needing more rigidity, but hey, more stiffness is more better, especially if you weigh more than a twelve-year-old.
One way to tell the V3 5010 apart from the V2 and V1 bikes is the dual uprights on the new rig's rear triangle. Santa Cruz says that they make for a stiffer rear end.
Both of the counter-rotating VPP links are new as well, with the upper sporting a geometry-adjusting flip chip (more on that below) and the lower link being captured by the massive, stout-looking bottom bracket area of the front triangle. Santa Cruz sorted out their collet-style pivots years ago and the new bike is rocking those as well, so it's also no surprise to see their lifetime bearing replacement extend to the V3 5010.
Longer, Slacker, and Adjustable Geometry
On to other details. Santa Cruz has always been on-point when it comes to having their bikes be home mechanic-friendly, and that's still the case this time around. There's the threaded bottom bracket that's easier to work on than a PressFit system, just so long as you have the correct tools, and the internal cable routing feeds through molded-in hose guides inside the frame, too.
There are two bottle cage mounts (one inside the frame, one under the downtube), which should always be required on any bike that's intended to be taken on some proper adventures, and room for 2.8'' wide rubber out back if you want to run the big meat.
During my drive down from Squamish to Bellingham, Washington, to sample to the new 5010, I found myself wondering exactly what sort of treatment Santa Cruz gave the third version. One doesn't need to have the gift of clairvoyance to correctly assume that the list of updates will include a longer reach, a slacker head angle, and a steeper seat tube angle. That's partly what the 5010 saw changed during its first revision back in 2015, and it's also what's happening in 2018.
Just for some perspective, let's go back to the 5010's debut in 2013. Back then, the bike had a 68-degree head angle, 73-degree seat angle, and a 426mm reach on the large-sized frame. Jumping ahead two years and the second-gen 5010 is rocking a 67-degree head angle, 73.8-degree seat angle, and the large frame was bumped up to a 445mm reach. Y'all don't need a crystal ball to know what's coming next: version-three gets sprinkled with the strongest slacker, longer spice yet for a 66.2-degree head angle, 74.9-degree seat angle, and a 456mm reach on the large-size 5010 with it in the 'Lo' geometry setting.
Yup, there's a new geometry adjusting chip system in the top link that, much like the chips used on some of Santa Cruz's other bikes, lets you choose between 'Lo' and 'Hi' geometry settings.
The adjustable geometry is intended to balance out tire choice (low versus high-volume rubber), but you can use it to tune the handling as well.
I'm definitely more of a 'Hi' kinda guy, too, so the slightly steeper 66.5 front end, 75.2-degree seat angle, and 4mm taller bottom bracket (at 334mm) are probably more my jam. Interestingly, Santa Cruz was thinking more about tire size than anything, with the idea being that a rider can use it ''for optimizing geo for bigger tires.''
But really, 4mm difference? I mean, that's basically nothing, I said to Josh Kissner, Santa Cruz Product Manager. ''Sure, yes it's minor, but we're shooting for perfect here! If we find a bottom bracket height we like (which we nitpick quite a bit), we want to make sure everyone can get there - regardless of tire size,'' was his reply to my skepticism. ''4mm is more than it sounds - like the difference between 170mm cranks and 175mm cranks as far as ground clearance goes. It's noticeable.'' But Can It Do 29'' Wheels?
No, no it can't. The press release pack refers to 27.5'' wheels as ''The fun-sized wheel size,'' but I sure do have fun on 29'' hoops, too. So, if you're going to make it tuneable to get the most out of the bike regardless of tire size, why not go all the way and build-in enough adjustment for riders to use 29'' wheels?
''That would have to be a really big change in geo (to fit 29er wheels), and even if we could fit that there, that much adjustment via a flip chip would definitely screw up the suspension in one of the settings,'' Kissner told me. ''Remember that to change bottom bracket height via the chip, you're only moving one of the wheels. To get that 4mm bottom bracket height change, you have to move the rear wheel up or down more like 8mm. That's a fair bit of movement from a little shock mount. The idea isn't to change the character of the bike, but just to make sure it can be set up with the geometry we want regardless of configuration.'' So there you go; ready for low- or high-volume rubber, but making the new 5010 29er-ready would have messed up other things.
The new 5010's 130mm of rear wheel travel is controlled by two counter-rotating VPP links, and it's seen some important changes compared to the previous model.
Rather than import V2 5010's suspension layout onto the new bike, Santa Cruz took the time to make some changes to the how the rear end performs. ''Instead of the slight falling rate that the V2 had, this one starts basically flat for the first 30% of travel and then is progressive for the last 70% of travel,'' Kissner explained to me. ''The flat rate instead of falling helps with traction and small-bump feel while making the midstroke more supportive.''
The rate is also a touch more progressive in the 'Lo' setting than it is in the 'Hi' as well, which is a byproduct of the adjustability that probably makes a lot of sense.
Who doesn't like prototypes? Santa Cruz's Josh Kissner spent the day riding with us on his aluminum 5010 mule.
In an ideal world, I would have had the first, second, and third-gen 5010s all lined up to better understand the bike's evolution, but that'll have to come down the road as my introduction to the latest version was really just a solid day spent pedaling around in the woods of Bellingham. Our ride was about three hours long and while the climbing wasn't overly technical, there was definitely some singletrack ascending - and just as much descending, roots, rocks, some steep bits, and plenty of fast stuff, too. Also, I have to give a shout out to Santa Cruz for introducing the 5010 and Bronson this way - on terrain familiar to Kaz and myself - rather than organizing a press camp as is usually the case. Evaluating a new rig on blind trails that are often not worthy of whatever bike we're on, which is often the case, doesn't do it or us any favors. This, though, is how to do it.
My thoughts on the new 5010 after three hours could be summed up as such: It simply feels like a solid, do-all-the-things trailbike that's more well-rounded than just being focused on one task like, say, pretending to be a mini enduro rig or a long-legged cross-country greyhound. I pointed it down some steep lines and it felt right at home; I pointed it up some rooty climbs and it felt right at home; I spun it up some boring gravel roads and it also felt right at home.
Trail rides mean different things to everyone, but the 5010 is ready for whatever.
The day was dry and dusty, yet not once did I find myself hoping for traction and not finding it. And the suspension, which I spent a grand total of three minutes setting up, asked nothing of me after I initially adjusted the spring rate pre-ride, which tells me that it's not a bike that's going to require a whack of volume spacers or have trouble using all its travel. To that point, I cased some jumps, smashed into some stuff, and landed so flat once that I was reminded of how fifteen-year-old Levy loved to launch off of loading docks with paved uphill ''landings.'' Ah, simpler times. Issues? Nada. I used all the travel, sure, but you're supposed to, and there was zero clanging.
The rear-end is decently supple for a 130mm-travel bike, too, and it's worth noting that I didn't feel any of the VPP 'funniness' through the pedals that I experienced years ago when on older VPP bikes.
You're not going to mistake this thing for a 150mm-travel rig, which is fine. It's likely going to be more fun, and easier to use, than a bigger all-mountain sled in 90-percent of the places it'll get ridden anyway. And that brings me to the 5010's handling that, truth be told, I thought would be a bit too lazy for my tastes given the travel on hand. But it wasn't. Instead, the 5010 felt pointy when I needed it to, but never too pointy while I was trying to keep up with Kazimer on the slacker, more forgiving, and all-new Bronson.
So, my take on the new 5010 is that it's all-around-ness is going to be a great asset to a lot of different riders who ride different kinds of trails. Yes, I'd prefer if it had 29'' wheels, but I can't fault the bike after riding it - I wouldn't quite say that it's fun despite the 27.5'' wheels, but I also don't believe that it was more fun because of them. You could over-fork it a bit and turn it into a mini-shredder, or keep the front-end at 130mm and have a fun, capable trailbike. I'd be happy pointing it down some sketchy shit, but I'd also be happy to be on it while trying to survive a death march, which is probably the best compliment for a bike of this kind.