Santa Cruz, a California-based bike manufacturer, is one of the most famous bicycle makers in the world. Many cyclists dream of owning a Santa Cruz bike, but they don’t come cheap.
The quality and craftsmanship in them are highly rated, as seen in all their flagships, including the Santa Cruz Bronson. The Bronson won a prize for the best release video, and you get more than what you see.
Even though some people say that it stole its look from its sibling, the Santa Cruz Nomad, the Bronson has its own bragging rights. Here’s a well-detailed Santa Cruz Bronson review.
Santa Cruz Bronson: An Overview
Yes, the Bronson is a very versatile bike, marketed as an all-around trail tamer. This is a trail bike that can also participate in an enduro race and win.
The 2021 model maintains all the features of its previous version with a tweaked geometry that allows the rider to adjust and find a more suitable descending position. Therefore, you can change the bike from a trail bike to an enduro with a stroke of a switch.
You can also change the wheel size to bigger ones for better traction over rocks and to be able to run on lower PSI.
The Santa Cruz is the bike you might be looking for if you love the trail and enduro riding and you don’t want to buy two bikes, but get one for two.
Not the Lightest
Despite all the positive things about the Santa Cruz Bronson, there’s something we cannot overlook – the weight. Not even the latest models, including the Carbon CC frame, can be considered lightweight.
However, all the Bronson options don’t weigh the same, and it depends on the material and the suspensions used.
Aluminum versions are generally heavier, weighing up to 34.35lbs, while carbon frames weigh 29.39lbs, the heaviest, and 28.87lbs on the lighter side.
You should note that the forks, suspensions, drivetrain, and tires have the most significant impact on the bike’s total weight.
The weight is not a serious issue to worry about if you are a leisure rider. If you are looking for a bike to race with, I’m afraid Santa Cruz Bronson is not the right bike for you due to the weight factor.
It will require more propelling power to ride it uphill, but the bike is good if you decide to overlook the weight issue.
Climbing is Sheer Fun
Anything that goes up must come down. I felt like whoever said that was communicating to riders, except the downhillers, but it turned out that it applies in almost everything we do in life.
For every ride you take, there’s climbing and coming down unless you are riding in the Netherlands.
Climbing with a 2021 Bronson is sheer fun, but it’s not one of the best climbers here, especially with its 160/150mm of travel and the heavy SRAM GX Eagle cassette.
Nevertheless, it will still get you to the top of the hill on your next ride without requiring someone to pull you with a rope. The bike climbs so calmly that you won’t need to pop that switch unless you climb on the steep pavement.
Unlike the competition, the bike is also stretched out, which makes it manageable to handle at slower speeds.
What matters is the comfort, and Bronson will give you much of it, but there will be no KOM’s and QOM’s on your way up, just saying!
Also Read: Santa Cruz 5010 vs The Bronson
Great At Descends
29er models are the speed kings of drops. Their large wheels maneuver over obstacles better than the 27.5-inch wheels, but there’s something a 27.5 inch will do better than a 29er. The large wheel is disadvantaged when it comes to taking turns.
Bronson comes with 27.5-inch wheels which means, it’s one of the bikes that negotiate corners well, even at high speeds. The maneuverability of this bike is easy to adapt to, and the moment it hits the trail, you have it under control till the end.
Many agree that Bronson is a weapon on the descents. It curves through turns and berms, jumps like a deer, and responds to every challenge you give it. The Bronson is regarded as the fastest descender amongst all Santa Cruz bikes, and you can confirm once you get to ride it.
The bike is a performer on steep and technical trails. It’s also a playful bike in the sense that you can stuff them back wheel when making turns and jump over obstacles like a pro. In short, even though the Santa Cruz Bronson has a poor climbing power, it conquers the descends.
See the Bronson in Action below.
Santa Cruz Bronson: An In-Depth Review
About the Series
You might have thought that Bronson is one bike, but it’s a brand. There are nine Bronson bikes available, all with different component packages and frame materials.
They’re the Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon S and Carbon C, Bronson Alloy, and frames for aluminum and high-end carbon build.
The Bronson CC features a high-end carbon frame, Santa Cruz carbon wheels, and an SRAM Eagle groupset. The Bronson CC has the most expensive bikes in the lot, namely the Reserve and the XTR Reserve.
All the bikes have 27.5 of 27.5+ tires with a clearance not exceeding 2.8 inches. The VPP suspension technology is only available on Santa Cruz bikes, and other components are FOX or RockShox forks, RockShox suspensions, internally routed dropper post, and SRAM brake sets.
The brand is available in various sizes, from extra small to extra-large. Bronson comes in Primer Grey or Industry Blue, and there’s one great thing about Santa Cruz’s bikes. They all come with a lifetime warranty.
The Santa Cruz Bronson is a versatile bike but most suitable for trail and enduro riding. With that kind of bike and the money you will spend on it, maybe you should first know what’s in the box. The bike’s features are its selling point.
Telling by the amount you’ll have to part with for a Santa Cruz Bronson, the bike must have must be having the top-end parts you are always on the lookout for. Here are the general specs of all the Bronson-line of bicycles.
All Santa Cruz frames are built to perfection. It’s a no-brainer! They are real neck breakers and jaw-droppers by just looking at them, and the Santa Cruz Bronson doesn’t fall short.
Whether it’s aluminum, carbon C, or carbon CC, Santa Cruz has crafted their bikes so well to make them worth every penny.
The type of frame your Bronson will have depends on what you are willing to spend. For the most expensive Bronson, you will only get some pocket change left off your $10,000.
The frames are internally routed for the rear derailleur cable and have tubes for brakes to make the installation process simpler.
The bike also comes with custom-made fenders to protect your back from mud wash or trail debris hitting your back as you cruise in gravel or muddy trails. Bronson is definitely a masterpiece. You will want to hang it in your house for everyone to see it and pose for some Instagram photos with it.
Another fantastic feature of the bike is the removable downtube protector to protect the frame from getting damaged by the back guards.
The bike also has chain guide tabs and rubber “armor” to protect the frame from impeding rocks. There’s also a water bottle holder inside the triangle and the chainstay protector.
The Santa Cruz Bronson has one of the most exciting geometries. From extra small to extra-large, the reach increases by 15mm. The head tube’s angle increases with a degree for every size, with the XL frame coming with 65.4 degrees.
The Flip Chip allows you to slant the head tube further by simply adjusting the shock link. The angle ranges from 65.1 to 65.4 degrees. A longer angle is suitable when you are riding with wider tires.
The seat tube angle can also be adjusted to 75 degrees or shortened by an inch. When adjusted on a medium frame, the seat’s height is shortened by 10mm to 721mm.
The geometry falls in line with what is expected of downhill bikes, even though Bronson is marketed as a trail or enduro bike.
The bike comes in different sizes following this order:
- Extra Small (XS)
- Small (S)
- Medium (M)
- Large (L)
- Extra Large (XL)
Find your perfect fit among these sizes and ensure that it suits your riding. In addition, the 75.3 degrees seat tube angle makes it easier for you to propel the bike uphill comfortably. You can weigh the front wheel easily to give you maximum grip and control.
The 2021 Bronson has had some geometry improvements from the old ones present at the older models, and we believe it’s a big step to making a great bike.
The cheaper Santa Cruz Bronson uses RockShox Lyrik forks, while the highest-end sports a Fox 36 Float Performance fork. Both forks are much the same, and it’s almost impossible to compare their performance.
The Float features a better mid-stroke than the Lyrik, making the rider feel high while on the bike. However, some cyclists say that they get sore hands from the discomfort of riding on a Fox 36 and that it felt completely different with a RockShox.
Nevertheless, Fox 36 is classified as a high-performing fork, and having it on your bike means you’re going to cough big bucks for it.
All the forks come with 160mm fork travel for a smoother ride. The lower model is equipped with a RockShox Yari RC, which is as smooth as the Lyrik and Float.
All these forks require a small amount of force for them to act. You shouldn’t have any difficulty choosing the right Bronson for you while comparing the forks.
Besides, you can always change to a new fork if you feel like the current one is not comfortable enough.
Also Read: Santa Cruz 5010 Review
Most people think that Santa Cruz fell short before installing a RockShox Super Deluxe R shock on the rear of the Bronson. Speaking on my behalf, this is the best stock shock I have ever ridden.
The performance of the bike downhill is incredible, not bad as people want to make it appear. The Deluxe is one of the most refined stock shocks capable of absorbing all the impacts, and it’s also one of the most flexible ones.
It helps you control the bike more quickly. If the shock is not good enough, you can upgrade to a different air shock.
The shock doesn’t come with a climb switch which is a little bit disappointing. A climb switch is crucial for minimizing the suspension movement while off-saddling and reducing sagging for a good climb.
The shock also misses a low-speed compression adjustment which makes your bike a bit study on high-speed trails. However, it’s a shock anyone wouldn’t mind using, but not suitable for racing as it will disadvantage the rider against other racers.
One exciting feature about the bike is its VPP link. The VPP system connects the front and the rear triangle to provide the best bump absorption and a solid pedaling platform.
Wheels and Tires
As you already know, the Santa Cruz Bronson comes with 27.5 and 27.5+ wheels. They are usually 2.4 and 2.5 inches wide, but you can upgrade to 2.8 inches to keep things more grippy and increase your traction.
The Santa Cruz wheels come with a lifetime guarantee. If you decide to run 2.8 inches tires, you can use the Flip Chip feature to adjust the geometry so that the wheels can fit. You only have to slacken the head-tube angle, and the bike will be ready for a spin.
When choosing the tires, you can opt for the Maxxis Minion DHR 2.4” or the Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5” You can also opt for any other wider wheels not exceeding 2.8 inches, but wider tires are heavier. Also, every model has a different type of and size of rims.
The Minion tires are not light, but when the trail points downwards, and you are under the mercy of gravity, they feel excellent. Try a different set of tires, and you’ll realize that Minions are the right tires for the Bronson.
The wheels are made up of RaceFace AR rims and DT Swiss 370 hubs. These hubs don’t use the star ratchet system you see on 240 and 350 versions. Therefore, you can upgrade to any of these hubs if you want to make your bike lighter.
There has been a rising demand for 29” wheeled bikes, and Santa Cruz has several 29ers to meet the needs of the riders.
Unfortunately, the Bronson is only available as a long travel 27.5” bike. If you are looking for thrills similar to what Bronson would give you in a 29er, then Santa Cruz’s Hightower, Tallboy, or Blur.
Every bike should come with brakes, but the quality and effectiveness of the brakes matter. For the Bronson, you would expect the bike, with its top-of-the-range features and higher price tag, to have some excellent brakes.
Indeed they are, all manufactured by the world’s leading brake-set and groupset manufacturers, SRAM and Shimano.
The top of the range Bronson comes with the SRAM Code RSC brakes with avid Centerline 180mm brake rotors. In case you didn’t know, these are among the sharpest and most effective brakes in the MTB scene
The most expensive model comes with Shimano XTR M9120, which is good and powerful, but not as much as the SRAM Code R or SRAM Code RSC. SRAM’s brakes are known to offer a better stopping power, and not even the much-hyped XTR can match with what the SRAM code can do.
Whatever brake-set you choose, it will stop your Santa Cruz bike of any model even when dropping down on a downhill at rocket speed.
The Bronson comes with an SRAM GX Eagle groupset, most likely. The bike you choose will either have an SRAM NX Eagle or an SRAM GX Eagle, depending on what you are willing to spend on a bike. The GX is less expensive but does the job quite well.
There are a few shortcomings for the GX cassette. Some riders complain that it’s heavy, but with just a few pounds compared to the NX, which to me is negligible. All in all, both groupsets work much the same, and you can hardly notice any difference when riding your bike.
Another issue about the SRAM GX Eagle groupset is the shifter’s buttons. SRAM X01 is a better shifter than the GX since you can adjust it.
For the GX, you don’t have many options involved. For me, I don’t think these are issues worth thinking so much about. The drivetrain feels excellent, and you get the smoothest ride with every pedal stroke. No doubt Santa Cruz only wants you to enjoy every moment with your bike.
The Santa Cruz Bronson is undoubtedly a good bike that will fit your riding style despite its few shortcomings. It’s the kind of bike you’d want until dusk.
Hopefully, the review will help you make the right decision when buying a Bronson. In case of any queries, we are at your service and ready to help.