Santa Cruz Bikes Review 2021: A Must Read for MTB Lovers

Not sure if Santa Cruz Bikes is right for your style of mountain biking and pocket. We tested over 20+ models of Santa Cruz Bikes (and have spent more time in the wild to make even the deer jealous) to pick out their top models for 2021.

Not just that, we also cover their after-sales services and how good a warranty they offers. Let”s jump into it.

Best Santa Cruz Mountain Bikes Reviewed

1. Santa Cruz Jackal

Specs:

  • Forks: 100-160 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 26 wheels
  • Frame Size: S
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Hardtail Dirt Jump Bike

Being a dirt jumper can be overwhelming, especially if you have a bike that’s not so comfortable.

Santa Cruz Jackal is a ready-made frame that you can use to build a dirt jump bike that you want. It would be best to have the crucial details, including where all the bolts will go.

The bike’s frame can be fitted with a 100 mm to 160 mm front travel. Aside from that, the 26” wheels will work just fine and offer you the spring effect to send you flying in the air.

Also, if you want it as a geared bike or single-speed, you have all the freedom to turn the bike to what you want it to be. Jackal is efficient, and if you use the right tires, you can turn it into a track-ready, dirt jumping, and all-purpose bike.

Jackal was released in 2017 and has only been receiving color updates annually. It doesn’t need any geometry updates, however, as it excels well in the current geometry.

You can even add a dropper seat post though it’s not a common thing to do, but why not go against the culture and turn abnormal into normal?

It’s not just the bike that is amazing, but also the whole process of building it from a frame to a complete bike.

The Santa Cruz Jackal is the bike to have if you are deeply rooted in the world of dirt jumping and you want to feel the pleasure of riding a Santa Cruz.

If you can’t build one, then there’s always someone willing to help, but you’ll pay a few dollars for that, and extra more if you don’t have the parts with you. Bottom line, this is going to be a bike you’ll love.

2. Chameleon

Specs:

  • Fork: 120 mm/130 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”/27.5”+
  • Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum/Carbon
  • MTB Type: Hardtail XC/Trail Bike

The Chameleon’s skin changes color. Santa Cruz Chameleon comes in various colors and changes courses.

In other words, the Chameleon has the ability to adapt to its surroundings, and it’s one of the hardtails I enjoyed riding the most.

The bike has undergone many changes to make it the current one and very different from the original Chameleon. It could be another reason why they called it the Chameleon.

The bike is marketed with a carbon frame, although there’s also an aluminum frame available.

In terms of versatility, there’s only one Chameleon frame that can take 29” or 27.5” plus wheels. It has a lot of tire clearance to take either of the two wheels.

If you thought all Santa Cruz bikes are expensive, well, the cheapest Chameleon model comes with a 1×12 SRAM NX Drivetrain and costs less than 2-grand. The most expensive one goes for less than 3,000 bucks.

This affordable bike is fun-loving, flexible, trail-deserving, faster, and more durable than the previous Chameleons.

Just a few adjustments, and you can turn the bike from a racing machine to a camping horse.

When we thought that Santa Cruz only excels in making full suspension bikes, they surprised us with the Chameleon. It’s such a masterpiece and raises the bar for other hardtails in the market.

This is the bike to buy if you are looking for a 29er or 27.5” hardtail that will handle every challenge mother earth throws at it.

Chameleon is a great bike to tour with and experience the beautiful sceneries in the woods or the hills. If you are a bike rider looking for a capable and straightforward trail hardtail for fun, Chameleon is just a great bike to buy.

3. Santa Cruz HighBall

Specs:

  • Fork: 100 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • MTB Type: Hardtail XC Bike

The Highball is not just the rocket blazing hardtail Santa Cruz, but it’s also the lightest and most efficient MTB the bike manufacturer has.

This bike towers higher than the full suspensions in the line, and you can tell why. The geometry of this bike was well-thought and revised.

It has been tweaked to make the bike look more capable and composed than most XC bikes.

The Highball follows a design that appeals to the XC champions. The carbon frames are a turn-on due to how fine they have been designed.

The Highball is an awesome bike that will climb just as fast and roll on a smooth terrain at high speed.

Other features of the Highball are the 27.2mm diameter seat post, and you can change to a dropper seat post if you like, and the possibility to mount three bottle cages.

For the drivetrain, you can get SRAM NX, GX, or X01, depending on how far you can dig in your pocket. This is the most race-ready XC hardtail bike you can ever have.

You can also run a bikepack on it. There are no ifs and if nots here. Santa Cruz Highball will forever leave you mesmerized.

4. Santa Cruz Tallboy/Juliana Joplin

Specs:

  • Fork: 130 mm travel
  • Shock: 120 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum/Carbon
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension XC/Trail Bike

Santa Cruz does have women’s special bikes with the same features as the unisex bikes.

The women’s bikes are known as Juliana and only have a special saddle and shorter grips for ladies. Juliana Joplin is the women’s equivalent to Santa Cruz Tallboy.

Both bikes have 120 mm of travel in the rears to provide enough rear suspension to tackle more strenuous trails.

The models ride well on XC terrain and can also tackle the trails just as well. The suspension makes the Tallboy and Joplin forgiving on the descents, and you can hit those trails confidently.

The Tallboy is more of a do-it-all bike since you can also ride it casually. Sadly, the model is offered only in 29” model only, but Santa Cruz has a 27.5” alternative that we will review later.

The bike also features an adjustable lower-link VPP suspension system and a slack geometry.

You can go with an aluminum or carbon model, among the seven options available. The Tallboy/Joplin is the bike for those who want to do trail rides just for fun.

5. Santa Cruz Hightower/Juliana Maverick

Specs:

  • Fork: 150 mm travel
  • Shock: 140 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum/Carbon
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Trail/Enduro Bike

If you are a music lover who only listens to the greatest music hits, you would also want a bike that hits your soul differently and makes you feel as high as a tower.

The Santa Cruz Hightower and its sister version, the Juliana Maverick, will show you the meaning of great tunes while trail-riding or racing enduro.

These quiver killers are the closest you can come to Santa Cruz’s mix of technology and engineering.

The bikes look as high as they should, thanks to the 150 mm of travel it boasts in the front.

On the rears, the bike maker fixed a 140 mm of travel and lower-link shock with a flip-chip feature to change the geometry whenever you want to.

If there’s any bike that you can bet on as a natural trail hitter and will not humiliate you in the next enduro race, it has to be the Hightower or the Maverick if you decide to go with the lady’s bike.

This is the bike to buy if you are looking for thrills and nothing more or less.

6. Santa Cruz 5010/Juliana Furtado

Specs:

  • Fork: 130 mm travel
  • Shock: 130 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”/27.5”+
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Trail Bike

If you are were looking for the Tallboy alternative with 27.5” wheels, it’s no other than one of the most popular Santa Cruz bikes, the 5010.

The bike also has a sister model, the Juliana Furtado, and together, the bikes have their place in the trail world.

These bikes are built for fun, but you can still push them to their limits and participate in a race if you dare.

Santa Cruz claims that the 5010 is its most capable and popular full susser.

Its long-travel makes it more responsive, helps you descend, hop and jump over rocks and other obstacles and conquer all those challenging descents.

5010 is one of the bikes that no longer comes with an aluminum option. All the carbon models are light and ready to take flight.

The bike defies gravity, and it also has a tailored geometry to fit any rider’s size. This is the bike to buy if you want a bird.

If you owned a BMX when you were a kid, and no one would come between you and your bike, then the 5010 is the bike that you’ll have a strong bond with.

7. Santa Cruz Blur

Specs:

  • Fork: 110 mm travel
  • Shock: 100 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension XC Bike

The Blur was launched in 2002, and it’s the toughest Santa Cruz cross country bike. Back then, the bike came with a single pivot design before it disappeared.

Blur was recommissioned in 2018, and since then, it has come with the modern VPP rear suspension. It boasts of tough carbon frame and modern geometry.

The bike is so fast that a video of you racing will look blurry, and so the name.

The bike features a dual remote lockout which means you can adjust the forks and the rear suspension by pressing the switch.

The Blur has 100 mm of travel in the rear, which does more than what a 130 mm rear does for other bikes.

This is the bike to have if you are an XC racer and looking for a perfect climber. It’s the best bike to gift yourself while you prepare for the next racing season.

8. Santa Cruz Megatower/Juliana Strega

Specs:

  • Fork: 160 mm travel
  • Shock: 160 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Enduro Bike

Juliana Strega and the Santa Cruz Megatower are race-ready gigs built for all enduro fanatics out there.

The rollover of the 29” wheels is fantastic, and the  160 mm of suspension front and rear gives you the ability to cushion every bump and small potholes and obstacles you run over while on the trail.

If you are looking into getting a bike to showcase your skills in the next Enduro World Series, the Megatower will spark a flame of happiness in your heart.

The flip-chip switch allows the rider to lengthen or shorten their chainstays for better stability, especially downhill.

The Strega/Megatower is a dream bike for many enduro riders. The great thing is that you can get one at an affordable price, considering the fact that enduro bikes are pricey.

9. Santa Cruz Nomad/Juliana Strega

Specs:

  • Fork: 170 mm travel
  • Shock: 170 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Enduro Bike

Santa Cruz Nomad is just like the Megatower but without the large 29” wheels. Santa crus described the Nomad as the bike that will take a beating but keep on ticking, and that doesn’t fall far from the truth.

If you are looking for a 27.5” Enduro bike that will negotiate corners more easily, go for the Nomad, or its sister, the Strega. These two models are the most abused bikes, yet they take it easy.

To be clear, if your car crashes and turns into scrap, the Nomad in the trunk will only get a few paint scratches.

This bike is suitable for those riders who want to maximize suspension travel, strike the downhill and enduro trails hard, and shine in the bike park.

Every feature available in the Megatower is also available on the Nomad. Nomad is basically the younger sibling to Megatower, but man, how I love Nomad, though I can’t compare it to my favorite, the V10. Don’t ask who let the dogs out.

They want to stare at the Nomad too.  

10. Santa Cruz Bronson/Juliana Roubion

Specs:

  • Fork: 160 mm travel
  • Shock: 150 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”/27.5”+
  • Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Trail Bike

The Bronson is a fun and playful bike to ride, and it’s also capable of hitting technical terrain when you need to.

The bike manufacturer designed the bike for agility and stability, and it performs better than other Santa Cruz bikes of the same wheel size.

Bronson is Santa Cruz’s benchmark achievement to what other bike companies only thought it was a dream no one could achieve, targeting those who want to unlock trails.

The current model has a longer reach, slacker, steeper, and with a shorter seat tube.

The latest version of Bronson now uses the lower-link rear suspension to increase the ride quality downhill.

If you never thought that a 150 mm bike with 650b wheels could not negotiate corners on the edge like a boss, and hit challenging terrains like Thor’s hammer, then Bronson will surprise you.

This is the bike to have if you are looking for more traction. Bronson can take 27.5+ wheels and tires.

Buy it if in search for a rig that can withstand the challenging and technical terrains and thirsty to jump trails.

11. Santa Cruz V10

Specs:

  • Fork: 203 mm travel
  • Shock: 215 mm travel
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”/29”
  • Frame Size: S, M, L
  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Downhill Bike

As a professional downhill racer, you deserve the winning bike, and it’s no other but the Santa Cruz V10.  

The bike is for racers, competitors, medal chasers, and cup lifters. Every year, the V10 features in the World Cup with a new set of features.

It’s a bike that takes complete control and manages to roll through extreme routes. The suspension travel is probably the most you can get in the DH world, so choose wisely.

The Santa Cruz is a bike you can tune to your liking. You can decide to run 29” wheels, the 27.5” wheels, or mix both wheel sizes. The frame is versatile and with a tunable geometry.

The bike also features a flip-chip which allows you to change the chainstay length. You get to change from low and slack to lower and slacker.

V10 is the right bike for you if you are looking for a teammate and a bike that will put you on top of the podium.

Santa Cruz Warranty

Santa Cruz offers a lifetime frame warranty for any frame or fork made by the company if determined and proved to be defective as a result of poor workmanship.

The warranty is effective from the date of purchase and forever, but the warranty is only available to the original owner.

Santa Cruz also provides a lifetime bearing warranty for pivot bearings. The bike owner only needs to fill out the warranty form and upload a copy of their purchase receipt, and they’ll get a set of bearings within 48 hours.

The lifetime handlebars warranty protects the carbon handlebars against defects for life from the date of purchase.

The original buyer also gets a lifetime bottle cages warranty which will provide new bottle cages if the current ones have issues.

Lastly, a Santa Cruz bike’s original owner gets a lifetime reserve carbon wheels warranty.

If your wheels get damaged or destroyed while you ride, worry not. The company will replace the wheel or wheels in 48 hours.

Suppose the warranty does not cover the damage. In that case, the company will make the replacement parts available to the customer at a reduced charge for a lifetime, provided they are the original owner.

Although registration for your bike is not mandatory, you should register your Juliana and Santa Cruz bikes and your Reserve Carbon wheels to make it easier to process your claim.

After-Sales Service

Santa Cruz bicycles are with you every step of the way as you get to experience your bike.

You can send them an email or contact them via the numbers available on their page.

However, if it’s a technical issue with your bike, you can check the service guides, tech sheets, or bike archive on their website.

History of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a creation of skateboarders who took up mountain biking. Rob Roskopp and Rich Novak founded the company in 1993, and their focus was to produce high-end MTBs, even though today they produce other types of bikes such as gravel bikes and road bikes.

The Californian bike maker bought the rights to Outland’s Virtual Pivot Point (VPP)suspension in 1999.

Since then, the suspension has been the focal point of all Santa Cruz full Sussers. All Santa Cruz bikes are built with aluminum or carbon frames.

Wrapping Up

All Santa Cruz bikes are great. It highly depends, though, on what you are searching for. You can be assured that they have the perfect bike tailored for your needs.

In case you have any issues you would like help with, don’t hesitate to contact us.