Santa Cruz 5010 CC XO1 RSV Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Like many of Santa Cruz's trail bikes, the 5010 was recently updated. The biggest changes are a move to mixed wheel sizes with a 29-inch wheel up front and the addition of Glovebox in-frame storage. A Sag Window has also been included to facilitate checking the sag of your rear shock, with minor changes to the geometry including a 0.5-degree slacker head tube angle and a couple additional millimeters of reach. We're hoping to test the latest version soon, and will update this review if/when we do. -October 2022
Should I Buy This Bike?
If you're more focused on having fun than going fast, then there's a good chance the 5010 could be the bike for you. While the mountain bike industry continues to embrace 29-inch wheels, 27.5-inch bikes are slowly becoming less and less common. 29ers aren't for everyone, of course, and there is still undoubtedly a place for "fun-sized" wheels. Santa Cruz hit the nail on the head when they redesigned the mid-travel 5010, and it is definitely one of the most playful and fun bikes we've tested in recent memory. The updated geometry is modern without being extreme, making it plenty capable on descents without sacrificing anything in the handling or agility department. The short rear center and 27.5-inch wheels make this bike feel eager to get in the air or up on the rear wheel, while the support of the VPP suspension provides a great platform to push off of as you play your way down the mountain. On bigger hits, you'd almost be fooled into thinking the 5010 has more than 130mm of travel thanks to the composed deep stroke performance of the VPP design. Since you've got to get up to get down, the 5010 is a capable climber with a calm pedaling platform and a comfortable geometry. It may not be the absolute fastest up or down (it's not exactly slow either), but those who value smiles per mile more than miles per hour probably won't mind. The XO1 Reserve build we tested is absolutely fantastic, and also quite expensive, but there are 3 more affordable options to choose from.
Due to the fact that we haven't tested many 27.5-inch wheeled bikes recently, we don't have a perfect apples-to-apples comparison for the 5010. Ideally, we'd have tested a bike like the new Ibis Mojo 4, which is perhaps the most similar bike on the market, side by side, but alas, it was not to be. We have, however, tested a number of mid-travel 29ers, like the Yeti SB130. The SB130 has 130mm of Switch Infinity travel paired with a 150mm fork. It isn't quite the playful, fun-hog like the 5010, but more of a versatile does-it-all-well mid-travel trail slayer. The bikes share similar geometries and downhill capabilities, although the Yeti feels a bit faster and has better small bump compliance and performance over high-frequency chop.
The Santa Cruz Tallboy is another interesting comparison. With 29-inch wheels and 120mm of travel paired with a 130mm fork, the Tallboy is a fast and efficient short travel rig. It's deceptively capable for its travel length, though it can't match the playful nature of the 5010. Both are a blast to ride and are well-rounded and versatile rigs. We'd recommend the Tallboy for XC-style trail riders who value efficiency and speed and steer those who want to jib every roll in the trail towards the 5010.
The 5010 was completely redesigned in 2020. The geometry got a major overhaul to bring it in line with modern trends and make it more capable than its outdated predecessor. The frame of the XO1 build we tested is made from Santa Cruz's higher-end Carbon CC carbon fiber, and the other available builds come with a Carbon C frame. Like most of the other bikes in the Santa Cruz line, they moved its rear shock to the low-mount orientation. All builds come with an air shock, but the frame can accommodate coil shocks as well. The frame also features integrated downtube, chainstay, and seat stay protection, as well as full-sleeve internal cable routing and ample room within the front triangle for a full-size water bottle.
The 5010 features 130mm of VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) rear suspension paired with a 140mm reduced offset fork. VPP is a dual-link system with the rear shock mounted low on the downtube passing through a hole at the bottom of the seat tube where it is attached to the lower link. The lower link is attached to the main frame and the rigid rear triangle behind the bottom bracket, while the upper linkage connects the top of the seat stays to the top tube just in front of the seat tube. There are also flip-chips integrated into the lower shock mount to make minor adjustments to the 5010's geometry.
From a geometry standpoint, the new 5010 is a much different beast than the previous version. The chainstays are size-specific, and our size large test bike's were 429mm. Those chainstays paired with a 616mm effective top tube and a 65.4-degree head tube angle (low setting) result in a 1,224mm wheelbase. The reach measured 475mm with a 76.8-degree seat tube angle and a 334mm bottom bracket height in the low setting. Moving the flip chips to the high setting steepens the head and seat tube angles by 0.3 and 0.4-degrees, respectively, and raises the bottom bracket height by 4mm. The frame has a very low standover height and a short seat tube to allow for longer dropper posts.
- Available in Carbon C and Carbon CC frames
- 27.5" wheels only
- 130mm of VPP rear suspension
- Designed around a 140mm fork
- Flip-chip adjustable geometry
- Size-specific chainstay lengths
- Integrated chainstay and downtube protection
- Threaded bottom bracket
- Coil shock compatible
Santa Cruz's marketing copy makes lots of claims about the performance and demeanor of the 5010. While we typically take marketing hype with a grain of salt, it's hard to argue with their assessment of this bike. To quote Santa Cruz, "Its nimble, poppy feel makes even the most mundane rides feel like they're loaded with features to hop, skip, and jump over." We'd agree that its agile and playful nature is certainly the highlight of its downhill performance, and while it may not feel like the hardest charging bike, it can handle anything that comes down the trail with confidence and composure. The 27.5-inch wheels and short chainstays give it noticeable quickness in its handling, while the VPP suspension provides excellent mid-stroke support, pop, and great big hit performance.
With 130mm of rear-wheel travel paired with a 140mm fork, the 5010 falls squarely in the mid-travel category. Thanks to Santa Cruz's VPP suspension design, it feels like it has more travel than it actually does. It's not bottomless, of course, but it's progressive enough that you'll rarely find the bottom unless you're asking for it. It feels particularly composed on big hits at high speeds or landing off jumps or drops. Mid-stroke support is also superb, with a nice platform to push off of when pumping through dips in the trail, popping off a trailside obstacle, railing through berms, or when you get on the gas out of a corner. Our only real gripe with the performance of VPP is that it doesn't feel quite as supple in the initial part of the stroke as DW-link, for example, and it tends to feel a bit chattery over high-frequency chop and chunk.
The geometry of the 5010 feels perfect for its travel length and playful, trail bike intentions. Santa Cruz successfully made it long and slack enough, without going to extremes and making it too long or slack. The moderate length 1,224mm wheelbase and comfortable 475mm reach give it adequate stability at speed. The 65.4-degree head tube angle (low setting) is slack enough to confidently tackle any steepness of trail, but not so slack that its handling feels vague or unresponsive at lower speeds or in tighter terrain. The short rear center/chainstays and 27.5-inch wheels feel like they are almost encouraging you to get the front wheel off the ground and pop wheelies and manual every dip in the trail. Of course, 27.5-inch wheels don't smooth the trail quite as well as 29-inch, but they're one of the main reasons why the 5010 feels so snappy, quick side to side, and responsive to rider input.
It goes without saying that the XO1 build we tested is outstanding and enhances the 5010's performance on the descents. The Ultimate level RockShox suspension package is excellent, and the Super Deluxe shock and Pike fork work impressively well and offer a good level of tuneability without being overly complicated. The SRAM G2 RSC brakes with 180mm rotors handle the stopping duties with good modulation and a great lever feel. The Maxxis Minion DHR II tires provide great, predictable cornering grip and loads of braking traction. The Reserve carbon wheels are stiff but not harsh, and they do a great job of dampening vibration and trail feedback. Likewise, the 800mm Santa Cruz Carbon Riser handlebar provides excellent leverage and steering, plus it helps mute vibration to keep your hands feeling fresh. The handlebar has comfortable Santa Cruz Palmdale lock-on grips and is clamped to a short, stout Burgtec Enduro stem. The cockpit is rounded out with a 175mm (size large) RockShox Reverb Stealth to get your saddle low and out of the way.
The 5010 is a surprisingly adept climber. Sure, the 27.5-inch wheels don't roll over obstacles or maintain momentum quite as well as larger hoops, but that's pretty much our only complaint. At 29 lbs and 5 oz, our test bike is relatively lightweight and it feels quick and efficient. The VPP design provides a supportive pedaling platform, the geometry is dialed, and the XO1 build leaves little, if anything, to be desired.
The updated geometry of the 5010 feels great for climbing. The effective seat tube angle measures 76.8/77.2-degrees in the low/high settings respectively, lining the rider up right above the bottom bracket for direct transfer of power down into the pedals with a comfortable, upright seated position. The 475mm reach is nice and roomy without feeling too long, and the moderate length 1,224mm wheelbase isn't so long that maneuverability becomes an issue. Combine those numbers with a slack enough, but not too slack, 65.4-degree head tube angle (low setting) and its handling remains responsive through tight turns and technical sections. We didn't find the low setting's 334mm bottom bracket height to result in too many pedal strikes, but the flip-chips enable you to raise it slightly for more clearance while steepening the head and seat tube angles for marginally crisper handling.
Santa Cruz's VPP suspension design provides a very calm and supportive pedaling platform. It separates pedaling forces exceptionally well for a very efficient and relatively bob-free climbing experience, especially while seated. Out of the saddle efforts result in some suspension movement, but less than we're accustomed to with other platforms. The flipside of VPP's supportiveness is that it doesn't have the greatest small bump compliance, and it can feel marginally harsher at times. The RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate rear shock has a compression damping switch, but we felt it was completely unnecessary while riding on trail, although we found it to be handy for extended road climbs.
The XO1 build we tested is very nice and performed excellently on the climbs. The 12-speed XO1 drivetrain is impressively smooth and crisp and provides a huge range with a 32-tooth chainring paired with SRAM's new 10-52-tooth cassette. The 175mm (size L and XL) SRAM X1 carbon cranks are lightweight and stiff, and power transfer feels very direct and efficient. Our test bike came with Santa Cruz Reserve Carbon wheels which help to reduce rotational weight as well as the overall weight of the bike. The Maxxis Minion DHR II rear tire also provides loads of climbing traction and works well in a huge range of conditions. Lastly, the WTB Silverado saddle has a crowd-pleasing shape and is a comfortable place to sit and spin away the climbs.
We tested the top-of-the-line XO1 build with the upgrade to Santa Cruz Reserve Carbon wheels. On its own, the XO1 build goes for $6,899, with a bump in price to $8,099 for the carbon wheel upgrade. That's obviously a lot of money to spend on a mountain bike, but those who can afford it likely won't be disappointed by the high-end performance this package delivers. Anyone who isn't willing or able to spend that much has three more affordable builds to choose from, starting at $4,099.
As 27.5-inch wheels are slowly becoming less common in the trail bike market, Santa Cruz makes a very compelling argument in their favor with the versatile and fun-loving 5010. The recent redesign has brought the 5010's geometry in line with modern trends and made it an impressively well-rounded descender without sacrificing its agility or playful trail manners. This versatile ride is also a comfortable and efficient climber and a solid choice for any length of ride. Whether you're a fan of "fun-sized" wheels, or you prioritize good times over all-out speed, we think the 5010 is a great option to consider.
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