There's a new version of the Santa Cruz Bronson for 2022, and this time around it's sporting a mullet. That's right, eight years after debuting as Santa Cruz's first bike to roll on 27.5” wheels, the newest iteration has joined the mixed wheel party with a 29” wheel up front and updated geometry to go along with it. Rear travel remains at 150mm, which is paired with a 160mm fork.
At the moment, the Bronson is only available with a full carbon frame, in either the less expensive and slightly heavier C option, or the lighter and pricier CC layup.
Santa Cruz aren't exactly known for their bargain basement prices, and that trend continues with the new Bronson. Completes start at $5,049 USD for the Bronson C R model, which has a RockShox Lyrik Select fork, a Fox Float X Performance shock, and a SRAM NX drivetrain.
Santa Cruz Bronson Details
• Wheel size: 27.5" rear / 29" front
• Travel: 150 (r) / 160mm (f)
• C or CC carbon frame
• 64.5 or 64.7-degree head tube angle
• Size specific chainstays
• Sizes: XS - XL
• MSRP: $5,059 - $11,389 USD
• Frame + shock: $3,699 USD
• Weight (as shown, size L): 31 lb / 14.1kg
The highest end model is priced at $11,399 USD, with a no-expenses-spared list of parts that includes SRAM's XX1 AXS wireless drivetrain, Fox Factory 36 fork, and Reserve Carbon wheels. The frame with a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock goes for $3,699. Frame Details
Not surprisingly, the Bronson's look falls in line with its other longer-travel stable mates - from a distance it's difficult to tell the different models apart. A 230 x 60mm shock is situated low in the frame, where it's driven by an aluminum link that connects to the swingarm. There's enough room run any coil or air shock with those dimensions, and the frame's kinematics make it possible to run either type of shock without issues. A flip chip at the rear shock mount can be used to make subtle geometry tweaks – the BB height changes by 3mm, and the head angle by .2-degrees.
There's clearance for up to a 2.6” rear tire, molded frame protection in key places, and SRAM's Universal Derailleur hanger to help make it easier to find a spare if necessary. Other details include a threaded bottom bracket, ISCG 05 tabs for running a chain guide, and plenty of room for a water bottle inside the front triangle.
Frame color options for the Bronson are gold or green, and there's also a new light blue Juliana Roubion. For those who aren't familiar, the Roubion is the exact same frame as the Bronson, but complete bikes have different grips and saddles.Geometry
Along with the larger front wheel, the Bronson has undergone the expected longer and slacker treatment, although Santa Cruz didn't go totally wild with the updated numbers. After all, the goal was to retain the quick and easy handling of the previous version rather than turn it into something that would tread on the Nomad's territory.
The head angle now sits at 64.5-degrees in the low setting, a number that's paired with a 76.5-degree seat tube angle and 439mm chainstays. Those seat tube angle and chainstay numbers vary slightly depending on the size, a trend that's becoming increasingly common in order to help preserve a similar front / rear center balance throughout the size range. Reach numbers range from 402mm for an XS (which has two 27.5" wheels) to 500mm for the XL.PricesRide Impressions
Bike categories are blurrier than ever (no pun intended), but after a few rides I'd say the Bronson still comfortably retains its place in the longer travel, all-rounder category. It has a compact feel to it, the type of bike you can stuff into tight corners, or wriggle up through a tricky, chunky climb without too much effort, all while having enough travel to take the edge off rough descents.
Santa Cruz reduced the amount of anti-squat on the new Bronson, but that doesn't seemed to have hampered its climbing abilities. Where the first couple generations of this model had an almost-locked-out feeling under power, the new versions (the previous model included) have toned that sensation down, which means there's more traction, and an overall smoother rider.
The Bronson is quick in the corners, but I did find myself needing to pay a little more attention to avoid getting too far over the back of the bike while pushing through flatter corners. We'll see if that changes once I get in some more ride time and experiment with different cockpit positions and suspension settings – it may be that I've gotten lazy from riding so many longer and slacker 29” bikes lately, and that the sweet spot is a little smaller on the Bronson. The shorter back end does make it an easy bike to get airborne, and there's a nice, even ramp up that keeps it from using its travel up too quickly.
Look for a full review later this summer once I rack up enough ground and air mileage on this mixed-wheel machine.