Thoughts on the new Santa Cruz Nomad

I've had quite a few people get in touch through the blog and online messages asking my thoughts on the new Santa Cruz Nomad and the Bronson, so I figured it'd make sense to put them down in an easy to find spot.

New 2014 Nomad
First off, as much as I wish I have, I have not ridden the 2014 Nomad. I rode and raced a Tallboy LT last year and am putting in the miles on a Bronson this year. All are or will be great bikes, no doubt about that.

So Bronson or Nomad? That's the big question.

If you want the now answer: Bronson

And the horribly old school 2013/14 Bronson
 If you want to know why, read on...

I like the Bronson a lot. It's a fast and fun bike. I've been collecting PRs on most of my local trails with less effort than on my Tallboy LT. Corners super well, quick in techy stuff but still stable. Pedals and climbs great. Def a solid bike and a great quiver of one. Every now and then it feels a little shaky on high speed, loose stuff (think old, sandy, eroded reclaimed double track at 35mph), but reminding yourself to look further ahead calms things down. Adding the Cane Creek Double Barrel didn't hurt, either.

Nomad looks killer on paper. I'd love to take the Miami Vice version out. I would guess that it may not be the best "bike of one", depending on where/what you ride. Pretty dang slack and long travel with what is probably tuned to be quite plush would give up some pedaling ability. For US Enduro races, I don't think the Nomad would be the best tool since most of our races are not overly techy, rough, steep and require more pedal power. (Keystone and Whistler are exceptions. I'm sure/hopeful there's a few more, too) All guesses till there's some people with time on them.

If you're into longer, alpine rides and big descents or general trail riding, it could make for a more trying day, but I'd love for people to report back saying that it pedals well enough to be an all day bike or a race bike.

Personally, until there's more feedback on the Nomad, I'm going to keep the Bronson. It's the only bike I've got. It can climb pretty damn quick and it can go down even faster. Simply not a lot of compromise for a rough and wild trail or race bike. It's a killer one bike to own.

If I could afford it, a Tallboy LT and Nomad would be a dream setup...


  1. Did you find the pike cane creek set up makes a big difference? I'm trying to decide between building a frameset with either pike vivid air or what you have. They say the new fox is way better. But the rp23 I have had been far less than spectacular. Thanks!

    1. There's a ton out there on the Pike and it's a killer fork. I used a Pike last year and was very pleased and it's no different this year. For me personally, I like the 160mm. Just a touch more slack on the front end and more forgiving when the going gets tough.
      The Cane Creek Double Barrel Air CS is a major improvement on the bike's downhill performance. It doesn't have the same pop or liveliness as the stock Fox, but once you head down something rough, the rear end of the bike is never a thought. It's just there, tracking the terrain. Chatter, square edges, consecutive big hits are all way more controlled. The shock's feel with longer DH is very consistent, to the point of it not changing at all. I'd finish up a prolonged DH on the Fox and it'd be warm to the touch and have noticeably less damping control. It makes the bike much more DH capable.

      I think the Vivid would do pretty well, too. I think it would be wise to go more with the CC due to the Climb Switch though. The downhill performance def sacrifices some of the climbing ability and pedal efficiency, but the CS brings it right back.

      I have never felt a huge need to use pro-pedal or other switches on the Fox or Monarch +, but the Cane Creek's is really well done and makes a downhill shock into an XC shock.

  2. Awesome we have no shuttle runs and few dh runs. But im worried about stock fox float blowing thru travel. Wish there was a way to get x01 build without the suspension haha. Or even a frame withought the fox shock for a discounted price. Any idea what your head angle comes too with 160mm fork? Is cane creek better on big hits than stock float?

    1. Our area is similar. Pedal for your downs on 95% on the trails and days. That's where the Cane Creek shines. And it's more supportive than the Fox. Takes more time to dial in, but as more people use them, that'll improve. Even with some pretty standard base settings, it's much better than the stock Fox.

      I think I've heard of people being able to order the frame only through a shop with no shock. They may be able to get a full bike minus shock. Worth checking for sure. I've tried measuring the headangle a few times with an iPhone. Maybe not super accurate, but lets say 66.5. Enough to notice it.

  3. Hey thanks a ton! Sounds like a perfect bike little better pedaller/ climber, firmer than the nomad but still a ripper on the dh. Im going to see if I cant get a bike minus suspension build from shop. Now only option im unsure of is duel position pike or solo air. Hhhhmmmmm


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