Santa Cruz Stigmata Carbon CC Rival Review
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Santa Cruz Stigmata Carbon CC Rival
$4,599 at Backcountry
|$4,499 List||$2,699 List||$4,599 List||$2,199 List|
|Pros||Lightweight, nice build, excellent blend of frame stiffness and compliance||Progressive gravel geometry, suspension fork and dropper post, outstanding downhill performance and comfort, excellent build for the price||Reasonably priced, lightweight, outstanding price to build ratio, easy assembly||Very lightweight, fast, nice build||Reasonable price, suspension fork, great on the descents and rough surfaces, nice component spec, comes in both carbon and aluminum frames and multiple builds|
|Cons||More expensive||Suspension and dropper add weight, not the lightest or zippiest climber||Proprietary handlebar, limited handlebar adjustability and accessory compatibility||Can feel harsh over the rough stuff, narrow non-flared handlebar||Fairly heavy, longer reach, fewer accessory mounts than rigid fork version|
|Bottom Line||This lightweight, high-performance gravel bike boasts a well-rounded performance and quality build that's ready for anything||A unique new model with progressive gravel geometry, front suspension, a dropper post, and a killer build that excels on the descents and rough surfaces||An affordable, capable, and versatile carbon-framed gravel bike with a great build and solid all-around performance||The Ibis Hakka MX is a very lightweight, uncompromisingly stiff, fast, and efficient gravel bike||A reasonably priced gravel bike with front suspension and great build perfect for rough gravel and adventure riding, but with a slight weight penalty|
|Rating Categories||Santa Cruz Stigmata...||YT Szepter Core 4||Canyon Grail CF SL 7||Ibis Hakka MX Rival||Canyon Grizl 7 Susp...|
|Specs||Santa Cruz Stigmata...||YT Szepter Core 4||Canyon Grail CF SL 7||Ibis Hakka MX Rival||Canyon Grizl 7 Susp...|
|Measured Weight (w/o pedals)||19 lbs 2 oz||21 lbs 14 oz||19 lbs 14 oz||18 lbs 13 oz||24 lbs 12 oz|
|Frame Material||Carbon CC||Ultra Modulus Carbon Fiber||Carbon Fiber||Carbon Fiber||Aluminum|
|Wheelsize||700c (tested) or 650b||700c||700c (Sizes S-2XL). 650B (Sizes 2XS-XS)||700c or 650b (tested)||700c|
|Frame Size Tested||58cm||Large||Large||58cm||Large|
|Available Sizes||52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm||S-XXL||2XS-2XL||49, 53, 55, 58, 61cm||S-2XL|
|Wheelset||WTB Asym i23p 700c rims with DT 370 hubs||WTB Proterra Light i23||DT Swiss C 1850 Spline Wheelset||Ibis Alloy 733 27.5" rims with Ibis hubs||DT Swiss Gravel LN|
|Front Tire||Maxxis Ravager EXO 700 x 40c||WTB Resolute TCS Light/Fast Rolling, 700 x 42c||Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 40c||Schwalbe Thunder Burt 27.5 x 2.1"||Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 45c|
|Rear Tire||Maxxis Ravager EXO 700x40c||WTB Resolute TCS Light/Fast Rolling, 700 x 42c||Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 40c||Schwalbe Thunder Burt 27.5 x 2.1"||Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 45c|
|Shifters||SRAM Rival 1||SRAM Force Etap AXS HRD||Shimano GRX RX600||SRAM Rival 1||Shimano GRX RX600|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM Rival 22 Long Cage 11-speed||SRAM Force XPLR Etap AXS||Shimano GRX RX810 GS 11-speed||SRAM Rival 11-speed||Shimano GRX RX810 GS 11-speed|
|Front Derailleur||N/A||N/A||Shimano GRX RX810||N/A||Shimano GRX RX810|
|Cassette||SRAM PG-1150 11-42T 11-speed||SARM XG1252 XPLR, 12-speed||Shimano HG700 11-speed, 11-34T||SRAM PG 1130 11-42T 11-speed||Shimano HG700 11-speed, 11-34T|
|Crankset||Easton EA90 175mm||SRAM Force 1 Wide||Shimano GRX RX600, 172.5mm, 46/30T||Praxis Zayante Alloy 40T 175mm||FSA Gossamer, 46/30T|
|Bottom Bracket||Easton BSA||SRAM DUB Pressfit||Shimano Pressfit BB72||T47 Threaded||Token Ninja Lite BB4124 PF86.5|
|Fork||Santa Cruz Carbon||RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR||Canyon FK0070 CF Disc Carbon||ENVE G-Series Carbon||RockShox Rudy XPLR Base, 30mm|
|Seatpost||Easton EA50 27.2mm||SRAM Rexerb AXS XPLR, 50mm (S-L), 75mm (XL-XXL)||Canyon SP0043 VCLS CF Carbon, 20mm setback||Ibis Aluminum 31.6mm||Canyon SP0057 VCLS Carbon, 20mm setback|
|Saddle||WTB Silverado Pro||SDG Bel-Air V3 Overland||Fizik Argo Tempo R5||WTB Silverado Pro 142mm||Selle Italia Model X|
|Handlebar||Easton EA50 AX flare||Zipp Service Course XPLR 5-degree flare||Canyon CP07 Gravelcockpit CF Carbon||Ibis Flat Top Alloy||Canyon HB0050 Ergobar AL|
|Stem||Easton EA50||Zipp Service Course SL||Integrated with handlebar||Ibis 31.8||Canyon V13|
|Brakes||SRAM Rival 1 flat mount||SRAM Force||Shimano GRX 600 hydraulic disc||SRAM Rival 1 flat mount||Shimano GRX RX600 hydraulic disc|
|Measured Effective Top Tube (mm)||573||593||576||573||588|
|Measured Reach (mm)||390||407||402||392||409|
|Measured Head Tube Angle (degrees)||72||69.4||72.5||72||72|
|Measured Seat Tube Angle (degrees)||73.5||74.4||73.5||73.5||73.5|
|Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm)||285||290||278||276|
|Measured Wheelbase (mm)||1038||1095||1040||1040||1055|
|Measured Chain Stay Length (mm)||425||425||425||430||435|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Stigmata is currently only offered in the Carbon CC frame construction. It is a lightweight and stiff frame with some vibration muting compliance engineered into the rear triangle. The frame is paired with a carbon fiber fork, and both feature internal cable routing, including compatibility with internally routed dropper seat posts. The frame is flat-mount disc-brake compatible, and it has three water bottle cage mounts as well as fender mounts on both the front and rear. It is available in five frame sizes, 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60cm.
When we measured our 58cm test bike, we found a 390mm reach with a 573mm effective top tube length. The seat tube angle was 73.5-degrees with a 72-degree head tube. The wheelbase was 1038mm long with 425mm chainstays and a 285mm bottom bracket height. At the weigh-in, the Stigmata was 19 lbs and 2 oz set up tubeless and without pedals.
- Offered in Carbon Fiber "CC" only
- Threaded bottom bracket
- Fender mounts front and rear
- Full-length internal cable routing
- Available with 700c wheels (tested) or 650b
- Clearance for up to 700 x 45c or 27.5" x 2.1" tires
- Offered as frame only for $2,899
- Complete builds starting at $4,599 (tested) up to $8,149
The Stigmata is a pleasure to ride downhill, and it earned a 9 out of 10 in this metric. Whether you're just cruising or going for glory on race day, the stiff but compliant frame, comfortable geometry, and thoughtful component specification combine to enhance the rider's experience. Buff fire roads, chunky old doubletrack, and even some moderate singletrack riding are all a good time aboard the Stigmata.
The Carbon CC frame of the Stigmata is lightweight and stiff, but the engineers at Santa Cruz managed to make the bike's rear end somewhat compliant. Sure, it's still a rigid frame, but when you're throttling down a rough dirt road over some chunky rocks or some washboard, it feels less like someone is trying to jackhammer the fillings out of your teeth as it can on other bikes. This difference was especially noticeable when riding the Stigmata back to back with the Ibis Hakka MX. Both bikes are similarly lightweight with stiff carbon frames, though the Ibis is notably less forgiving over the rough stuff. We rode all manner of roads and trails during testing, even racing our test bike at Grinduro, California. We pinned this bike on loose gravel roads, rutted double track, and rocky sections of singletrack, and through it all, it shined.
In terms of geometry, the Stigmata has almost identical numbers to several other bikes in this review. It seems that most of the major gravel bike manufacturers have settled on the sweet spot for gravel bike design. Since the major elements of the geometries are so similar, subtle differences are the most noticeable. For example, the Stigmata has the highest bottom bracket of all the models we tested, which is a nice touch and helps avoid pedal strikes when you're on the gas on a descent. The stack height of the front end is also a tad higher than some of the other models we tested, which helps keep the rider in a more upright and comfortable position while attacking a descent. The wide and flared Easton handlebar spec is also a great touch that increases overall comfort and steering leverage for more confident handling and reduces twitchiness in the front end at speed.
The component grouping of the Rival build is solid on the descents and helps give it a composed and confidence-inspiring feel. As mentioned above, Our testers appreciated the wide, flared handlebar for comfort and handling. The SRAM Rival brakes are quality and served our testers well throughout our testing. The WTB wheels felt stiff enough, though we could see riders with podium aspirations possibly upgrading to something a little lighter and more rigid. The Maxxis Ravager tires provide ample traction on dirt roads, and the EXO casing proved to stand up well to our abuse. However, riders who frequently ride pavement or very smooth and hard-packed dirt roads might find the Ravager tires overkill.
The Stigmata is a lightweight carbon rocketship on the climbs. The geometry is relaxed and comfortable, power transfer is direct and efficient, and it eats up the vertical as well as just about any other bike we've tested. It earns a 9 out of 10 in this metric.
The Stigmata is a lightweight bike, tipping the scales at just over 19 lbs with the Rival build in size 58cm. It's not the lightest bike we tested, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice the 5 oz difference between it and the Hakka MX. The Carbon CC frame is stiff laterally, and our testers couldn't identify any loss of power through the small amount of frame compliance. The geometry is dialed, and the seated pedaling position is quite comfortable. The reach is roomy without feeling long, and the stack height brings the handlebar up a little higher than some, so you don't have to feel like you're in a racer crouch at all times. The 73.5-degree seat tube angle is properly steep and puts the rider close to right above the bottom bracket for a very direct feeling power transfer down into the cranks.
The Rival build is far from the flashiest spec out there, but it works very well on this bike and enhances its performance on the climbs. The 1x11-speed Rival drivetrain features a relatively wide range 11-42-tooth cassette paired with a 40-tooth front chainring that provides an adequate range for most riders. The Easton EA90 cranks are nice and stiff, with 175mm crankarms on the 58cm frame we tested. The WTB Silverado Pro saddle is agreeable and plenty comfortable, as is the Easton EA50 handlebar and cushioned Velo Bar handlebar tape. Testers found the Maxxis Ravager tires to provide plenty of climbing traction on dirt conditions of all kinds with minimal rolling resistance.
Like most gravel bikes, the Stigmata is a highly versatile bike. Not only does it rip on gravel roads, but it can easily double as a road bike, and it performs well enough on mellow singletrack. You can ride it with 700c wheels and tires, and it can fit 27.5" wheels with up to 2.1" wide tires. We actually tested the Stigmata with a 27.5" x 2.1" setup for a ride or two, and the added air volume and traction made it feel a bit like a drop bar mountain bike. Santa Cruz currently offers it in both wheel sizes, though only one build has 27.5" wheels.
The Stigmata is lightweight and fast enough to jump right into some gravel races and true to its cyclocross roots, it is just as ready to tackle the fall CX series. Throw some slicks on it, and it's prepared for any length of road ride, though the 1x drivetrain may not have enough range for hammering in the flats. There's also no reason it wouldn't make a good adventure riding/bike packing bike, though the lack of rack and accessory mounts limits you to frame, saddle, and handlebar-mounted bags.
Our size 58cm test bike weighed in at 19 lbs and 2 oz set up tubeless and without pedals. It is the 2nd lightest bike that we tested, and we feel this is a very respectable weight for the entry-level Rival build.
We attribute the low weight to the high-end Carbon CC frame, which is very light, and the thoughtful component specification that Santa Cruz clearly chose to keep the overall weight of this bike down. This bike is light enough for racing, and it will undoubtedly increase efficiency over long rides and make climbs easier compared to heavier models.
The Stigmata Rival build we tested was pretty dialed and gave our testers little reason to complain. The component grouping is nice for the price, from the handlebar tape to the tires.
If the name didn't already give it away, the Rival build comes with a SRAM Rival 1 x 11-speed drivetrain. This setup includes the shifters and derailleur. The cranks are Easton EA90 alloy in a 175mm length (crank arm length varies by frame size). It comes with a 40-tooth chainring and a SRAM PG-1150 cassette with a 10-42-tooth range. The brakes are SRAM Rival flat-mount hydraulic disc with 160mm Centerline rotors front and rear.
The Stigmata rolls on WTB Asym i23 700c rims laced up to DT Swiss 370 hubs. Our test bike came set up tubeless with Maxxis Ravager EXO 40c tires front and rear. The Ravager tires have a lower-profile center tread and more aggressive side knobs that work well in a range of conditions and terrain.
Testers found the Stigmata cockpit set up to be quite comfortable. The Easton EA50 AX flare bar was nice and wide with a comfortable 16-degree flare. The Velo Bar tape was also very comfortable, with more cushion than most. The handlebar is attached to an Easton EA50 stem. Keeping things consistent, they have included an Easton EA50 aluminum seat post and a WTB Silverado Pro saddle.
The Stigmata is offered in 4 different build kits that range in price from the $3,599 Rival build we tested up to the $9,899 Red AXS Reserve. Santa Cruz/Juliana also makes a women's version called the Juliana Quincy, which comes in 3 smaller frame sizes, 49, 52, 54cm only.
The GRX build comes with Shimano's new GRX gravel-specific drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes. It rolls on DT Swiss XR 361 Asym wheels and Maxxis Rambler tires and retails for $4,599.
The Force AXS build goes for $5,899 and is available with either 27.5"/650b wheels and tires or 700c. It comes with a SRAM X01 AXS Eagle 12-speed electronic shifting drivetrain and SRAM Force brakes. The 27.5" version has RaceFace ARC Offset 25 rims and WTB Ranger 2.0" tires. The 700c version comes with DT Swiss XR 361 Asym wheels and Maxxis Rambler tires. You also have the option to upgrade to a Santa Cruz Reserve Carbon wheelset in either wheel size for an additional $1,200.
The top-of-the-line Red AXS Reserve build goes for a whopping $9,899 and comes fully tricked out with a SRAM Red eTap AXS 12-speed drivetrain, SRAM Red brakes, and Reserve Carbon wheels with i9 Torch hubs.
There's pretty much nothing that we'd suggest upgrading on the Stigmata right off the bat. This bike is completely ready to ride as is and will suit you well whether you're entering a long-distance bike event or just heading out for group rides with friends. Anyone serious about racing would probably be inclined to upgrade the wheelset eventually, but the stock wheels should serve most riders well for a season or two.
Should You Buy the Santa Cruz Stigmata Carbon CC Rival?
If you're willing and able to shell out a few thousand dollars for a gravel bike, then there's a good chance you should strongly consider the Stigmata. It is our top-rated model for a reason, and whether you're a serious or aspiring racer or just a casual rider seeking a high-performing lightweight gravel rig, this bike has you covered. For several years, the Stigmata has been a staple in Santa Cruz's lineup. Originally designed as a cyclocross race bike, the Stigmata was redesigned in 2019, giving it a more gravel-friendly geometry, increased tire clearance, and a more forgiving but still plenty stiff frame. There are lots of gravel-specific bikes to choose from these days, but we feel that the Stigmata is one of the best.
What Other Gravel Bikes Should You Consider?
The Stigmata Rival takes home our Editor's Choice Award for its combination of well-rounded performance, comfortable ride quality, and efficiency. This bike is lightweight with a stiff frame that sacrifices little in the power transfer department for the compliance engineered into its design. However, the Stigmata is one of the most expensive models in this test. Considering that it's our Editor's Choice Award winner, we feel that it still represents a solid value for a bike that's race-ready and well-equipped. There are a few bikes that cost significantly less but still offer reasonably good performance. The Canyon Grail CF SL 7 follows close behind in terms of performance and manages to knock a big chunk off the price if you are willing to gain a few ounces of weight. If you like the idea of suspension for riding rough gravel, the YT Szepter Core 4 is hard to beat. It has a more relaxed, mountain bike-inspired, geometry, a slick carbon frame, and comes with a 40mm suspension fork and a dropper post that enhance its downhill and singletrack performance as well as rider comfort. It also comes with an excellent build for a very reasonable price.
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