Santa Cruz V10CC – Review

The V10CC needs little introduction really. It’s seen unprecedented success under Peaty, Ratboy and Minnaar, as well as Luca Shaw and countless racers around the globe. The bike is also one of the most visually stunning on the market. When the V10cc turned up at Ride.io HQ it’s fair to say there was a big queue of us frothing to get a leg over the beast.

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  • 157mm rear axle spacing
  • 216mm (8.5″) VPP suspension
  • 27.5″ wheels
  • Adjustable geometry with HIGH & LOW settings
  • Angular contact bearings maximize stiffness
  • Carbon C and Carbon CC frame options
  • Collet axle pivots lock in place without pinch bolts
  • Double sealed pivots for long bearing life
  • Dual grease ports on lower link for easy maintenance
  • Full carbon dropouts and disk mounts
  • Full carbon frame and swingarm
  • Integrated fork bumpers with cable guide
  • ISCG-05 tabs for chainguide compatibility
  • Molded clip-on chainstay and upright protector
  • Molded rubber swingarm and downtube protection
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Threaded Bottom Bracket

The stiff and sleek carbon frame just oozes style, and features everything you’d expect from a bike at the absolute top end of the market. I’ve spent a while just admiring the lines of the single piece rear swing arm. Take it off, hang it on the wall, it’s wonderful. Maybe I’m just a bit sad, but the finish is superb!

Santa Cruz V10cc angles

Santa Cruz V10cc angles

As with the other full sus bikes SC make, the angular contact bearings are sealed in, with the lower pivot having grease ports to keep them running sweet. All you have to do is clip on the grease gun, squeeze, and wipe away the excess. With UK distributors offering an old for new bearing swap, there’s no excuse for running raggedy bearings in here. Cable routing is simple, meaning there’s no mucking about if you have to make an emergency brake swap on race day, and everything is just tidy. There’s a chip that can be rotated to switch between high and low settings.

Santa Cruz V10 cc

The build on our CC was not far off top end. Fox DHX2 shock and 40 RC2 float forks offer all of the suspension tuning you could possibly want, much of it externally. I didn’t stray too far from the base settings, firming up the low speed compression a little on the forks to keep things slack on the North Wales steeps. The drivetrain was handled by SRAM XO1 7 speed and Sixc cranks, and these haven’t skipped a beat, shifting faultlessly even when jammed full of mud.

A Santa Cruz branded cockpit was great, 800mm carbon bars felt perfect and the direct mount stem held them firm. The SC grips weren’t really to my taste, but if I had my way bikes wouldn’t be sold with grips (or tyres, or saddles!) as it can be such a particular thing. Stopping was handled by SRAM’s Guide RSC brakes. The long levers give great modulation and external reach adjust means fine tuning is easy. Pad changes are a matter of moments in the car park as well, great for uplift days when you’ve forgotten…. ahem!

My main gripe with the build was the WTB saddle, a vicious thing that had bruised my inner thighs and stabbed me more times than I’d hope for. It’s low profile, but this also makes it really sharp. Easily solved, but at this kind of money, you want things to be perfect.

The DT Swiss wheels have run true through the test, remaining ding free and needing only the lightest of love with a spoke key. Our bike came with a pair of Minion DHR II, which have really impressed me in a range of conditions from loose on hardpack to pretty blummin’ sloppy. Well worth a look, and I can see these coming up on offer as the stigma of the (underrated?) original Minion DHR sticks to them.

Andy Lund was first up, as the spanners behind a big pile of world cup and champs medals he knows what a top end bike should be…

Andy Lund:

Firstly this bike is fast, silent, predictable and very responsive. Being a large it was a little short in the top tube for me at 6’1″ but most Santa Cruz bikes are, the XL version would be better sized for people over 6ft tall.

The bike picks up speed incredibly quickly, as soon as the brakes are off it accelerates and wants to go faster and faster. The short back end allows quick direction change and it loves back wheel action!

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At high speeds it is very predictable and goes exactly where you want it to, holding its line through the roughest of terrain.

Overall the component choice is good value for money and well spec’d, making it an ideal race bike straight out of the box.

Andy Lund V10

 Over the test it’s also had alpine laps under director Rob who adds

Rob Lewis:

The bike blew me away on the first few runs; this things fast, really fast! It felt well balanced, even at speed letting you go faster and faster. Never did I really feel I was in a situation where my body weight wasn’t where it needed to be, it was spot on on that front.

V10cc review

I’m quite happy to jump on most bikes and be up to ‘my’ speed pretty sharpish. But this bike pushed me faster and seemed to excel at every point. Whether it was hitting a rowdy rock garden, slamming some tight switch backs or hitting some jumps, I’m happy to say it filled me with confidence every time. I wouldn’t hesitate to jump back on the V10 tomorrow and ride at my peak from the first run.

Tom Laws:

My personal experience on the V10 echos Andy and Rob’s. The V10 is an exceptionally well balanced bike that inspires confidence from the first ride. The rear end manages everything I can throw at it with poise and control from stuttery braking bumps and rock gardens to hit after hit after hit (Lower Ghetto at Revs anyone?). The first few rides this actually caught me out – it was so filthy wet yet the bike just held a line and kept accelerating – putting me at speeds at the far end of my ability! As I got used to just how controlled this bike was I began to embrace it and the seconds just fell off my times. It’s not just flat out that this bike excels, however. In steep, tight and techy Welsh trails it flicks from turn to turn with ease and holds a line through loose lines like a champ.

I could wax lyrical about the bike all day, but as one of the most expensive DH bikes on the market, you’d expect it to be great. When it comes down to it, would I buy one? Absolutely. Yes, you could buy a nice car for that price, or 3 cheaper DH bikes. In-fact, I have a massive list of other things I could buy for 7+ grand, but to get the absolute best the V10 is worth the cash. You only have to take a look round the pits or at any uplift at the number of V10s out there to see how riders agree. Whether you are a mid pack potterer (me!) or an out and out racer, if you have the cash, you really should demo a V10 and consider it.

The V10 can be summed up by two words I found at the bottom of Rob’s notes on riding the V10cc.

Goes Some!

RRP £7600

Santa Cruz BikesJungle Distribution

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We also let Tam of BTR get his greasy tape measure all over the girl and have a crack at picking apart why it is just such a great bike for everyone.

THE SCIENCE

“The V10 is arguably the most successful DH race bike ever, but why? In years gone by (thankfully!) there were plenty of bikes with bad suspension performance.  Nowadays these bikes just don’t make it to world cup level, or if they do, they don’t last long. Is there something magic going on with the V10 to warrant all that success? Let’s take a look…

The V10 got a major revamp for the 2014 season; It lost that pesky 1.5″ of spare rear wheel travel, which allowed the folks at SC to fine tune the performance for the remaining 8.5″. The geometry, particularly in the low setting, is still right up to date, with a 63.5deg head angle, 353.5mm BB height, up to 470mm reach (XXL), and 441.7mm chain stay.

axle path

Rear axle path on the V10 is pretty neutral, moving rearwards to +8.7mm at 90mm of travel, then forwards to -11.6mm.  Plenty of other DH bikes give a similar rearwards portion, but then shoot forward to -17 to -20mm.  With chain stay length being decently stable deep in the travel, the V10 is probably a hair more predictable when things get out of hand.

v10 pedal kickback

A good axle path normally means poor (lots of) pedal kickback, but the V10 still performs well enough there; 11.5deg total with a 36-18t gear ratio.  That’s not amazing, but it’s sufficiently low to avoid shaking feet off pedals.

anti squat

Things seem to fall apart a little on the anti-squat; initially 125%, rising to 135%, then falling off to 70% at 186mm (of 216mm) travel is perfectly reasonable.  But it then drops like a rock to -60% at full travel.  Admittedly tolerances in my model could be skewing this – maybe it only drops to 0%, but that still wouldn’t be amazing.  At this point in the suspension travel though, does that really matter?  The shock would be at 58mm (of 70mm) of its stroke, which is fairly close to the bump stop, and you probably don’t need to worry about anti-squat that far through the travel anyhow since the suspension will be pretty stiff by then.

leverage ratio

Taking care of suspension stiffness is the leverage ratio.  The V10 is really pretty predictable and progressive throughout its travel, but does cover a big range; 4 to 2.6.  That’s 1.54 times as stiff (less leverage) at the bottom of the travel compared with the top.  (1.4, or 3.5 to 2.5 is a much more normal figure here)  The way the V10 delivers the leverage ratio isn’t quite linear, but it is close to being a constant curve; stronger progression at the beginning, and flattening towards full travel.  Linear might be the ideal for suspension feel, but this constant curve certainly isn’t bad.

aintirise

Anti-rise on the V10 doesn’t look brilliant – probably the weakest factor in its suspension performance.  It begins at a hair over 100%, but falls away to -15% at full travel.  This certainly means that the V10 won’t sit upright when you grab some rear brake, but if you’re hard on the rear brake and deep in the travel (think heavy braking bumps) the brake will be interfering with suspension activity.  Is that a problem for the world’s best riders?  Probably not; do they even use their brakes??

So is the V10 something special?  Not especially. It just isn’t bad, anywhere.  Even the slightly chaotic anti-squat and anti-rise are within reasonable levels in the parts of the suspension travel where they make most difference.  Every crucial aspect of the bike’s behavior is reasonable and predictable – and that’s what’s important for going fast.

Could the V10 be improved?  If you could drop the last 0.5″ of rear wheel travel, and optimise the geometry for 8″, it would cut out the worst parts of the V10’s suspension performance while leaving a useful amount of travel: anti-rise would finish at 10% instead of -15%, anti-squat would finish at 20% instead of -60%, pedal kickback and leverage would be largely unchanged, and axle path would only go to -7mm instead of -11.6mm.  You could drop the static BB height a few mm too.  Unfortunately you’d need a 222 x 64mm rear shock, and you’d probably have to step up the spring rate another 25lb too….oh, and if you dropped the static BB height you’d probably just run back into the same problems all over again.” – Tam Hamilton, BTR Bikes.