Deep Loam #4 - The Bronson
One Bike. Ride Anything.
Ride up, rip down, smash some turns and head out for an all-day mile muncher. The Bronson will quite literally, do everything you want it to do unless of course you’d prefer to put on some lycra and head out on a b-road for 100 miles!
Having said that, due to the current global situation, I have been testing my own Bronson out as a “road bike” for the past few weeks and it’s performed pretty well! Albeit with a tyre change from my usual Maxxis Shorty upfront. A cut spike mud tyre is kind of draggy on the flat tarmac roads around my house!
The 5010’s bigger brother (and the 5010 for that matter) has been around since the beginning of Santa Cruz’ jump into the 650b (27.5”) wheel size and have been evolving ever since. I can remember when the Bronson & 5010 were launched, and a barrage of haters emerged with comments like “it’ll never catch on.” “What’s the point?” “26 can’t be beaten.” “27.5 is a stupid idea!”. How wrong they were.
We’re now on the 3rd generation of Bronson and still rocking the 150mm “mid-travel do it all” trail machine, but it’s now followed suit with the Nomad (and others in the Santa Cruz range) to the amazing lower link driven rear shock, developed on the V10.
The Bronson was already a super capable machine, with enough travel to get you out of the s%*t and not too much that it felt like “too much bike” on most rides, but Santa Cruz’ latest lower link design adds more feeling and better results to the back end. Smaller bump suppleness, plusher all-round travel and endless amounts of it.
It feels like a short travel downhill rig that you can let off the brakes through rock gardens & rougher trails and let it dance around underneath you at full speed, digging in to the grippy sections and carrying you down the trail with a huge grin on your face.
And then, with less travel than the Nomad, climbing back up or riding along flatter Singletrack sections, it feels responsive, agile and fun. Sure, the shorter travel models like the 5010 or the Tallboy climb better and feel more snappy than the Bronson on a flatter, more “XC” type trails, but it’s the perfect balance of being able to rip down a gnarly section of secret off-piste and the agility back up and along that makes the Bronson a true all round mountain bike.
The closest thing to that “one bike to do it all” title!
This can also be said about the Hightower, the Bronson’s bigger wheeled brother.
If you prefer the speed and feel of a 29” wheel, then everything I’ve just explained about the Bronson above can be said for the Hightower and you should check that out too. I personally prefer the feel and the way smaller, 27.5”, wheels ride and it’s all about which bike suits your riding and how it makes you feel when out on the trail.
150mm rear travel, 160mm fork, 650b wheel size and adjustable geo of the Bronson is the perfect combination of numbers & stats for 99% of my riding in here in the UK. Everything from local loops (road riding now included), trail centres, natural epics in Scotland/Wales/The Lakes etc, even to uplift days at places like Bike Park Wales are all perfect locations on the Bronson.
The other 1% of my riding is attempting to ride my Jackal at skate parks or dirt jumps, usually ending in hospital visits.
Geo & Adjustability
The Bronson’s 650b chassis can be altered into 2 different modes (Hi/Lo) depending on what you’re riding or how you want the bike to feel which adds to it’s appeal as a the true all rounder. Switching it is easy and is taken care of via a chip in the rear shock mount.
Hi setting is a good choice for the majority of rides like trail centres and all day epics with a 65.4 degree head angle, 75.3 degree seat angle and 10mm BB drop. This feels like a bike you can pedal all day long, on any trail and drop into any descent with confidence to go flat out.
Lo setting slackens the head angle to 65.1, seat angle to 75 , drops the BB to 14mm and reduces the reach and standover. This combination of angles creates a much more aggro bike that will handle more gnarly riding like uplift days and off-piste steeps.
The flip chip will also adjust the geometry of the Bronson if you decide to run it with the 650+ wheel setup. Turning it into low when running a wheel/tyre combo of up to 2.8” will achieve the same BB height when running standard 2.5” tyres in the Hi setting.
Alloy, C & CC Options
As with most Santa Cruz models, the Bronson is available in all three frame materials; Alloy, Carbon C and Carbon CC.
Santa Cruz Bronson Alloy - R Kit - £3599
A solid choice for anyone looking to invest into the Santa Cruz trail bike family where budget is an important factor. Modern and bombproof components at a great price including tech from higher priced groupsets; 1x12 NX gears, dropper post and RockShox suspension front and back.
Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon C - S Kit - £5299
The one most of us here at Stif ride, myself included. The S kit is the perfect balance of cost vs components with parts like Sram GX Eagle 1x12, RockShox Reverb post, Code brakes & Rockshox Suspension. A top performing shred machine ready to go fresh out of the workshop.
Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon CC - X01 RSV Kit - £7799
The dream build. Santa Cruz' top level Carbon frame dripping with the super light Sram X01 Eagle drivetrain, Code RSC brakes and the top spec RockShox suspension. Couple all of this with the amazing Reserve carbon wheels and you have an all round trail machine that manouvers as fast as a fighter jet.
Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon CC - Frame Only - £3299
Custom build your own. The Bronson is available to buy in either Alloy (£1899) or Carbon CC versions and we can custom build either of these to your exact spec. One of our favourite things to do is put together dream machines and we can help you choose the best kit out there for it.
You pick it, we'll build it.
There are many different options and build kits available in all 3 frame options depending budget, preference and style. All of the above come with the amazing lifetime warranty on both the frame and bearings. This is not something all other brands offer and Santa Cruz lead the way in after sales care to their customers which is awesome.
How does it compare?
The Bronson's Bigger wheels Brother; slightly less travel (140mm rear/150mm front) but couple that with the faster rolling, large wheels and the Hightower shreds.
The Juliana Roubion packs the same riding experience as its Santa Cruz Sibling but with a host of woman's specific features.
Besides the rad Juliana colour schemes, the Roubion frame is the same as the Bronson. However, the Juliana utilizes a lighter shock tune along with a ladies specific Juliana saddle and thinner grips to improve performance and comfort on the trail. 2 of our Female team riders, Toni & Monika, both ride and race their Roubions.
Rear shocks in Juliana bicycles are custom tuned to maximize traction and control for lighter riders - Subtle changes like this make a big difference out on the trail.
Want to know more?
Give us a shout - even better still ask to speak with our in-house Juliana specialist, Tanya! Tanya has ridden the whole Juliana range and is the perfect person to advise which bike will work best for you.
For more info or to take a look through all the build options for the Santa Cruz Bronson, you can also contact us by phone, email or live chat on our website.
We live and breathe bikes and are lucky enough to ride & test everything we sell in our stores.
We pride ourselves on the knowledge we have and being able to advise people on the best possible stuff is why we create the Deep Loam Articles, to pass on the collective information that we have here at Stif on our favourite bikes & products.