Bike Check: Danny MacAskill's Santa Cruz Trials Bike

Sep 3, 2022 at 6:53
by Nick Bentley  

We caught up with the trials legend Danny MacAskill to speak to him about his custom Santa Cruz trials bike at his Drop and Roll tour show during The Malverns Classic. This bike is a total one-off so you can't head to your local Santa Cruz dealer and order it. It is a true one of one for Danny only. It's also a very deceiving bike, you think there isn't much to it but there really is a lot more going on on this little 24" wheeled yellow dream bike than you realise.

Danny's bike wasn't exactly as clean as he would have liked as we shot this the day after Danny won the Lake Ride competition at The Malverns Classic. It's a trials bike, it's used like one and it carries the battle scars to prove it.

Somewhat predictably Danny Mac took the win in this very loose race format
Danny MacAskill // RedBull, Adidas 510, Santa Cruz, Magura, Lizard Skins, Crankbrothers, GoPro, Lezyne tools, Endura
Instagram: @danny_macaskill

Santa Cruz Custom Trials bike
Frame: Santa Cruz Custom Carbon Trials bike
Rims:Reserve 24inch
Tyres:Continental Air-King Tyres, 24-inch,
Brakes: Magura MT7
Handlebar: Inspired Team Riser
Stem: Trialtech
Hub: I-9 Hydra Hub front, Torch Hub rear
Crank: Shimano XT Crank 170mm
Pedals Crankbrothers Stamp
Chain Guard: Custom Made Inspired Bash guard
Chainring: Inspired 22t
Rear Sprocket: Trialtech 16t
Chain Keeper: Custom Titanium design by John Langlois.
Chain: KMC BMX Chain
Headset: Cane Creek 40 headset
Seatpost: Inspired BMX seatpost
Saddle: Inspired BMX Seat

bigquotesI would say over the years my bars have crept higher and are slowly turning into a Zimmer frame you knowDanny MacAskill

The frame is made from the same CC UD carbon that you find on all Santa Cruz's but this one is not your average Nomad. The frame itself is crazy light, we didn't have any scales with us at The Malverns but trust me when I say this thing is super light. It's also really stiff and, in combination with the custom-made Santa Cruz carbon fork. It's in Danny's words: "like riding a block of wood when you're cruising down the street" but that's just how Danny likes it.

Next up on the 'custom just for Danny' vibe is the custom Santa Cruz carbon fork. These are fully carbon including the steerer and in Danny's words they are "bomb proof" and really don't flex at all. They run a 20mm bolt through axle and the brake mounts are designed to allow extra adjustment.

For brakes Danny is running Magura's MT7 disc brakes with Magura's 200mm discs. Danny runs Magura's standard brake pads too. However, all is not standard with Danny's MT7, he runs some 3D printed titanium levers which are totally smooth. This is so that if he does trap his fingers between the lever and the bar, which is something that you can't commonly do on a standard mountain bike but is all too regular of an occurrence when riding a trials bike. The levers also give Danny a little more power and provide him with a squarer feel to his brakes which he prefers.

Fork-mounted go-pro mounts just so Danny can get all the angles.

The only thing that is standard about Danny's frame is the 135mm 12mm axle.

Even more 'custom not for anyone else carbon' are Danny's wheels. They are a set of Santa Cruz Reserve 24" wheels. These are the exact same rim profile as the standard Reserve wheels just in 24" size. These are laced to the Industry 9 hubs via some DT Swiss double-butted spokes.

Wrapped around Danny's Reserve rims are a set of Continental Air King tyres which Danny developed with Continental a few years ago. These are running between 60 and 50psi. Danny is running a Rimpact insert in the rear wheel and he is running tubeless using Reserves Fillmore valves. Going tubeless is something Danny described as revolutionary for him. He has gone from hundreds of punctures a year to basically none. It has been a massive change for him.

Normally Danny runs 2 I9 Hydra hubs but as he is in the process of having some wheels built up he's got a Torch Hub in the rear wheel right now.

Of course, Danny's bike runs single speed set up from Trialtech with a 16-tooth rear single speed cog and Trialtech spacers keeping it in place. This is combined with at Inspired custom-made 22t chainring and bash-guard set up, mounted to a pair of Shimano XT cranks that are 170mm long. These are finished off with a set of Danny's Signature Crankbrothers Stamp pedals, these are the large platform.

Hiding behind that custom Inspired bash-guard is a KMC BMX chain.

So instead of a traditional chain tensioner, Danny is running this custom 3D printed titanium creation by French trails rider John Langlois.

Inspired provide Danny with his seat and seat post. Danny likes to keep a seat on his bike as it keeps it looking more like a traditional bike.

It's more Inspired parts when it comes to the cockpit with them providing Danny with their Team riser bar which has 75mm rise to the first shoulder, giving 101mm of rise to the centre of the end of the bar. These are 720mm wide and made of aluminium. The stem is a Trialtech 125mm long stem with 35 degrees of rise, all topped off with Danny's signature Lizard skin grips.

A massive thank you to Danny for taking the time to do this bike check when he was so busy at The Malverns Classic.


  • 122 11
 "This is so that if he does trap his fingers between the lever and the bar, which is something that you can't commonly do on a standard mountain bike but is all too regular of an occurrence when riding a trials bike."

This sentence isn't finished FFS. I know this is all free, but despite reading very little of the text in PB articles, I invariably find big f ups in the copy. Come on now...
  • 52 0
 Ha! I reread that sentence three times to see if I was missing something through my blurred morning vision.
  • 34 2
 @BenPea Pretty sure what’s missing is - “So it doesn’t pull his finger and make him fart loudly on camera”
  • 6 5
 *too regular an occurrence.

No need for "of".
  • 7 0
 Glad I wasn't the only one confused on that point
  • 4 2
 Copy and paste from the marketing press release
  • 3 1
 @chrismac70: The marketing press release for custom 3d printed titanium levers on a one of one custom bike? not everything is a conspiracy. It's just lazy editing.
  • 2 0
 They should start, at least using Grammarly. Or just read what they write out loud.
  • 1 0
 @pisgahgnar: You have to check that your writers can read. It's kind of a prerequisite.
  • 1 0
 The sentence is supposed to finish with telling us about how the lever pinches or digs into Danny's knuckles when pulling the brakes on a hard landing.
  • 1 0
 I literally have bone spurs on the tops on my fingers from years of destroying them by squishing them between my brakes and bars.
  • 1 0
 Bentley is forever bringing a digital camera to an English composition fight. The smooth lever minimises knuckle-pinching under hard braking.

@pisgahgnar: it's unedited; rawer than Lawlor footy

@Sethsg: Grammarly vs. elementary English
  • 1 0
 @powderhoundbrr: why does this happen often in trials?
  • 3 0
 @charliewentoutside: because when you are pulling the brake the hardest you’re often doing something pretty extreme body-wise (like hopping up to rear wheel and hanging off the back of the bike).

These body positions mean your hand rotates on the grips and if the lever is pulled far enough back your middle finger can make contact with the end of the lever and if the lever has cut outs and a sharp edge it can remove a chunk of skin from your finger (this is one reason why I like my Hayes Dominions, they have a perfectly smooth underside of the lever blade).

I hope that helps
  • 1 0
 @aliclarkson: Thanks Ali, that explains it! Love your videos by the way, the reason I asked was that I'm looking into getting a trials bike myself so I can try to learn some of this stuff. I live in the US so they're not that easy to find, sadly. (I have a pair of the Dominions on my MTB and love them though. Best brakes I've tried. I think I'll put them on any bike I can going forward, at least if I can come up with the money!)
  • 40 1
 I might only be able to do a wee on that bike but god damn I still want one!!
  • 6 0
 Don’t worry, the next article we’ll see is “new E-bike trials bike”
  • 5 0
 @nickfranko: that's actually a better idea than e-DJ
  • 2 0
 @Dogl0rd: and an even better idea than e-Pumptrack!!
  • 1 0
 @freeriderayward: e-pump is the future!
  • 30 0
 Two spec choices in here stand out:

XT cranks (continue to be one of the most bombproof options on the market)


Cane Creek 40 headset (if that doesn't tell you that you shouldn't be overpaying for headsets I don't know what will)
  • 3 14
flag 5afety3rd (Sep 6, 2022 at 7:02) (Below Threshold)
 Broke two pairs of XT cranks in the last year. I think you’re thinking of saint cranks.
  • 1 1
 Yep on both. The guys that just want to upgrade their headsets on ship fresh bikes just to spend money cause me irrational irritation. I'm a sweaty bastard and doing 3-4K miles a year, split across two bikes running CC 40s. One is on a 3 year old headset, one is two, original bearings, still spinning, not crunchy, not corroded. On my old Krampus, I had to change out a lower bearing once in 3.5 years.
  • 3 0
 @5afety3rd: I have a set that has been thru hell and back (Dirt Jumper, Trail bike with endless Enduro races/miles, back to DJ, etc.) with zero issues. Only issue with XT was years ago where the pedal threads stripped ...most likely my fault. XT is a one of the best 'bangs for the buck' out there. Not arguing against the Saints though. Truly bomb proof.
  • 10 0
 Cane Creek are the best bang for the buck. That said, Chris King is a lifetime headset. Yes it's expensive. However, it's 100% worth it. I have on in a towny bike that spent most of it's life on my BMX race/jump bike , then a DJ for few years before installing on the towny. Smooth as butter and bearings never even re-greased. Endless stories like those for CK's
  • 1 0
 @bman33: one pair disbonded (warranty) second pair bent. I’m on the high end of abusive to cranks category. I knew they wouldn’t last long going into it, but supply issues. Replaced with Atlas cranks. So far so good.
  • 4 1
 @bman33: have you ever tried warrantying a Chris King headset? We had one come in the shop with a lower bearing failure and the o-ring in the top cap had expanded and didn’t want to slide over a steerer. The warranty process is “send it back for consideration”. The bearings aren’t removable from the cups and can’t be easily field swapped. A Cane Creek has removable bearings and is easily serviced, I’ll take that over a Chris King any day.
  • 2 0
 @BikesBoatsNJeeps: I haven't, and since approx 1995 or so I have had several...two still working fine after endless miles/abuse. Not a single component is indestructible, but King headsets have one of, if not the top reliability ratings out there. Always those one off / rare exceptions.
  • 21 2
 I might only be able to do a wee bunny hop on that bike but god damn I still want one!!
  • 18 0
 Ahhhhh.... 4mm of plush travel when the tyres compress. Luxury.
  • 13 0
 Impressive that the XT cranks take the abuse and loading he must put into them. I’d of thought he would of gone saint. Think I’ll ditch my saint for xt next time I need cranks.
  • 6 0
 Aren't they basically the same or at least really close?
  • 5 0
 He used to run Cane Creek E-wings, wonder what happened to them?
  • 38 60
flag Will-narayan (Sep 6, 2022 at 1:31) (Below Threshold)
 It's "would have", not "would of". Not to be a grammar nazi but while this "would of" form might sound similar when spoken, writing it down makes no sens.
  • 8 0
 @Boozzz: E-wings are bombproof. It will be to do with change of sponsorship rather than any product issue. Sure Shimano can offer more money than Cane Creek. This is great marketing for XT cranks
  • 4 7
 @tom666: or CC ended sponsorship and Shimano are affordable and reliable (and maybe came stock on the bike).
  • 25 0
 @Mac1987: came stock on a one off custom made bike?
  • 2 5
 @tomhoward379: as in "Santa Cruz had these laying around"
  • 7 4
 @o-dubhshlaine: Ha ! Thank you, english is not my native language so there had to be one xD (there may be a capital letter to english but I can't remember this rule)

The rating ratio is a bit sad though, +10/-24 just for pointing out a grammar/typo. I mean I understand some rules are dumb (I'm french so I surely know) but come on you at least have to recognize the original word.
  • 8 0
 @Will-narayan: fwiw I'm one of the 11 who upvoted your original comment. I just couldn't let the sens/sense thing pass, given the context Smile
  • 3 0
 @Mac1987: I don't think Danny Macaskill is in a situation where he just runs whatever crankset because he has it laying around. Brands will be queuing up to get a component on Danny Macaskill's bike.
  • 7 3
 @Will-narayan: Pointing out grammar mistakes in posts about grammar mistakes is one of the most satisfying activities one can undertake on this website. I'd of thought that those who highlight others' mistakes are extra careful to not selectively pick errors for comment and, importantly, to not make any of their own, including punctuation faux pas
  • 6 1
 @mi-bike: "I'd *have* thought..."
  • 3 2
 @thegoodflow: I had assumed that my non-punctuated punctuation faux pas would show my intentions, but it was perhaps too subtle a hint.
  • 4 0
 @mi-bike: nice try
  • 4 0
 @mi-bike: Grammar is the real battleground on PB.
  • 3 0
 @thegoodflow: This is like chess.
  • 3 2
 @BenPea: Grammar is going DH. Puns, on the other hand, remain at an XCOllent level.
  • 2 0
 @mi-bike: Jesus Christ.
  • 1 0
 @faul: I think the saint cranks are nearly 200gm heavier. Much more heavy duty
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: four Dee chess
  • 1 0
 @mi-bike: trial period for foreign language idioms
  • 12 0
 How can this be listed as full custom? From what I've seen in the PB buy and sell full custom means you've taken a stock bike and added new grips and replaced the tires.
  • 14 0
 Let's not forget the Chester pedals!! Fully custom!! Big Grin
  • 6 0
 Even though I have absolutely zero intention of buying some bikes like this, I appreciate that brands still do some innovative, kinda crazy, one-of-a-kind bikes like this, or the canyon trial bike too, or a TREK ticket s, or others that will not sell in a million pieces, but make the brands feel more involved in professional sports. Some bike brands nowadays are so boring: 130 mm trail bike, 170 mm enduro bike, and both of them with a Shimano Ebike system and thats their line-up. Hats off Santa Cruz!!!
  • 9 0
 I'm very inspired! Thanks for the info.
  • 8 1
 ‘The only thing that is standard about Danny's frame is the 135mm 12mm axle.’ Which isn’t standard
  • 1 0
 Haha, I have an old Intense M1 that takes a 12 x 135 mm axle... and caught that too - it is very difficult to find that hub size!
  • 1 0
 @rad8: Deviate Guide has 135x12. It’s designed to be run with a singlespeed specific hub though, which makes sense for Danny. Still keeps wide spaced flanges, but narrower than Boost due to the shorter freehub.
  • 7 0
 That stem's never 125mm... 110mm maybe?
  • 8 0
 Indeed. Think it's the 110mm Trialtech Sport Forged High Rise. Trials nerds unite!
  • 1 0
 @CleanZine: Hell yes! Of course, that is 110 x 35 Trialtech forged stem, I ride that too :-D
  • 5 1
 Trials bike checks should be all about the geo?!
Inspired bash that fits Shimano cranks. Yes!! Preferred the bling'ness of the E-wings mind you!
  • 10 0
 Agreed - not showing geo numbers is pretty slack.
  • 5 0
 I wonder why his chain tensioner faces forwards. The other way around makes more sense to me
  • 45 2
 I can help with this, Danny's bike uses the same tensioner mount design as Inspired's a dedicated mount and avoids using a mech hanger that could easily get damaged. I also have a bike with this mount (an Inspired Hex) but wanted something lighter and unbreakable so I came up with this tensioner idea (inspiration taken from old 74Kingz tensioners)'s my design that Danny's using but that physical tensioner was made by John.

The reason it points forwards is that the mounting position is too far towards the rear axle for it to point backwards. In the real world it doesn't really matter which way it points anyway as it needs to work both pedalling forwards and backwards so the direction it points is meaningless.
  • 1 2
 @aliclarkson: I imagine that having it pointed that way also helps give more chain wrap compared to the other way. With such small rear sprockets and the loads being put through them it becomes more of an issue.
  • 4 2
 @CleanZine: I guess the contact point with the chain wouldn't really change if it switched 180 degrees so I don't think it would effect the chain wrap...unless you're thinking it would be attached near the bb? The main issue with it pointing the other way is the chainstays would be quite far from the chain line making it a more complicated shape if mounted 180 degrees from where it is now.
  • 2 0
 @aliclarkson: I’d love some more details about this tensioner design? I’m really intrigued!
  • 1 1
 @aliclarkson: I was thinking with the part of the tensioner contacting the chain having tension applied from the opposite direction that the angles would mean that the chain wouldn't necessarily be fed from the tensioner to the rear sprocket as well, but I guess that's not necessarily a given and could probably be designed around pretty easily. That's not quite the case with having to try and freestyle some kind of suitable mount further down the chainstay. Not sure I'd really be keen on the BB mounted style, although I know some people have tried that with trials bikes in the past.
  • 8 1
 @dnorris: it's essentially a leaf spring made from a sheet of titanium and (in my case) some thermo-mouldable nylon type plastic as the sliding surface (slippery so no notable drag and once it wears you can just heat it up and shape it flat again). It's extremely light, gives good tension and is practically bomb proof.
  • 1 0
 @aliclarkson: That was my next question after the direction. It seems like steel dragging on Ti would be very noisy and corrosive. Thanks for the details!
  • 1 0
 Come on Santa Cruz! Canyon is selling the inferior Fabio version of this bike, is that not good enough for you guys? Last I checked SC bikes aren't cheap. This would fit right in. My guess is SC would never want to warranty one of these frames.
  • 2 0
 They would at least continue their free lifetime replacement of suspension pivot bearings.
  • 1 0
 Seriously though Santa Cruz should put this into production.
  • 1 0
 "has 75mm rise to the first shoulder, giving 101mm of rise to the centre of the end of the bar."

"first shoulder"? I only see one...

Is this going to be a new thing on PB: measuring the rise from upsweep in addition to the rise from "shoulders"? At what roll angle?
  • 1 0
 It makes sense to give the actual rise of the bars, we rely on a fixed base rise figure (from the clamp to the top bend) but upsweep, backsweep and roll will make a big difference to the actual height that the grips are positioned
  • 2 0
 Nope, it's a thing in trials. The rise is the "total rise", from center to the end of bars. More logical than the current method in MTB : from center to shoulder...
  • 4 0
 Hail hydra Hail Macaskill
  • 1 0
 Looks lovely, seems crazy to have made custom moulds for a frame, fork and rims but then never sell them?!? I'm sure there are loads of people who would want to buy these if they were offered.
  • 2 0
 There’s more than one way to build carbon bike parts
  • 1 0
 Open mold design maybe, with a specific carbon layup schedule?
There’s too much custom transitions between tube shapes for it to be bonded tubes.
  • 2 0
 In older articles (I think when he first signed with SC) they talked about how Danny's bike is the most expensive bike SC makes just because it's a one off.
  • 4 0
 He’s from Dunvegan on Skye not Inverness!
  • 1 1
 It's very surprising that SC isn't even doing a limited release and selling like a 100 of these, maybe even donating proceeds to a charity or something.

There is always lots of talk about how expensive making molds is, enough that even SC itself uses the same rear triangle on most sizes of most models, making chainstay length changes in the front triangle which already has size-specific molds.

How are they amortizing the cost of molds for a one-off frame _and_ rims? Just through Danny's exposure of the brand? Seems like a stretch.
  • 1 0
 I've seen quite a few different figures thrown around for how expensive carbon moulds are from a few $k to tens of thousands. Surely they wouldn't be too difficult to CNC so the few $k seems more plausible and isn't too big a hit for all the exposure Santa Cruz are getting from Danny. Let's also not forget that the actual layup of a carbon frame is labour intensive so it's not like the mould is the only big cost consideration.
  • 3 0
 100 ? If they sell 100 of them it'd be absolutely incredible I guess !

Plus, doing molds for three to four frames or for hundreds is not necessarely the same process, nor the same cost.
And last point, SC already said that it's part of their R&D plan doing these parts for Danny Smile
  • 2 0
 Such an awesome One-Off! I saw it in person a few months back at the factory. Super trick
  • 2 0
 Is this literally the worlds most expensive bike?

One off carbon mold, and no way to amortize the cost.
  • 2 0
 I guess the molds could be made of some cheaper prototyping material like foam or plastics since the production volume is really low. Cant imagine they would splurge on stainless or aluminium. Might even be 3D printed. Labor cost of doing the layup and finishing is still pretty big though I imagine.
  • 1 0

You might be right, but whatever they used, it needs to resist both heat and pressure.
  • 1 0
 SC uses 3d printed mandrels which they then use to make latex bladders which are used to press the composite structure from the inside (along with the outside main mold). If they wanted to, they can probably release this as a product just like Canyon did.

Without the nice finish, its actually not that hard to make this frame for a single person in their garage, especially with how good/cheap 3d printers are for making molds. You can do things like use an epoxy that cures at room temp, which then allows you to make an inside mold out of candle wax, which you can then just melt out with hot water.
  • 1 0
 @magnoblox: machining an aluminium mould is surely in the region of £5k if you are doing it in house and leaving it to run unattended.
  • 2 3
 "The only thing that is standard about Danny's frame is the 135mm 12mm axle."

Not really. 135x12 is an exceedingly rare spec. The 20mm front axle is way more "standard" of a spec, though you neglected to mention the width...
  • 6 0
 Standard for singlespeed specific hubs.
  • 1 0
 Danny, I love your signature grips but on my trials bike they wear out so freakin fast. and at $30 per set its a pain every 2 months.
  • 2 0
 e-Trials bike coming soon following the e-Dirt Jumper recent release
  • 2 0
 But where does he put his water bottle?
  • 10 0
 Over there in the shade
  • 1 0
 Tldr: shorter and steeper
  • 1 0
 one of one? what about the blue and orange one he had?
  • 2 3
 It's funny that you say that the only thing standard on the bike is the 12x135 axle/hub...when a 12x135 is far from standard these days.
  • 1 0
 22/16. That’s about the right gear ratio for me.
  • 3 4
 I see clearly the SC fanbois are in full force today with senseless comments
  • 2 3
 I see why he's orders of magnitude better than me: he seems to have a BMX background
  • 13 0
 This is a common misconception (and one I get myself)...these bikes are quite BMXy but Danny comes from a trials background and as far as I know (as his friend for many years) has never ridden BMX seriously.
  • 4 1
 @aliclarkson: but... but... You CAN'T be this good without a BMX background!
  • 1 0
 naw, this is a nearly standard street trials setup, there were vids with bikes of this style on OTN 20 years ago...
  • 1 0
 total weight?!
  • 6 0
 from memory having weighed it in the past I think it's around 9.5-10kg
  • 2 1
 No 29er?
  • 1 0
 Win it Wednesday?
  • 1 2
 Only decent thing to come from this is seeing custom Ti made levers
  • 7 10
 No Mullet?
  • 6 2
 Complaining about not having something to complain about?
  • 4 5
 @tomhoward379: wasn't a complaint
  • 1 1
 @tomhoward379: No water bottle holder either!
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