MTBR Reader's Choice Bike of the Year (2009)
By Varaxis August 6, 2010
If you want one bike that you can take on any trail and mainly ride for fun, this fits the bill almost perfectly. While your hardtail buddies will squirrel their way up smooth fireroad climbs and roll through fast flowy flatland singletrack with relatively swift ease, you'll be smoothly cruising up the rough technical climbs, daring to clear all the obstacles, hucking off drops, hungering for air, carrying ridiculous amounts of speed through rough turns, and bombing downhill on actual mountains, while they'll be hiking up rutted and rooted steeps, riding their brakes down, and possibly riding off the edge of the trail, in their continuous effort to find the smoothest line, avoiding the exposed rocks and roots that this bike's 5+" of travel levels out. You'll find yourself challenging any rider to steep climbs, including those sub 20 lb HT riders, due to how well the suspension helps to hook up the tires on climbs.
The frame feels lightweight and you can even build one up to be under 25 lbs, if you wanted; the shock and linkages add about 3 lbs to the entire bike weight compared to a typical aluminum hardtail's frame. The carbon version of this bike is over half a lb lighter (6 lbs) and almost 2x as stiff (I read 80% somewhere), but sells for $2500. As for sizing, Sm should fit 5' to 5'5", Med 5'5" to 5'10", Lg 5'10 to 6'2", XL 6'2" to 6'6". These are estimates, true fit depends on inseam and reach and component choices such as crank length, stem length, handlebar rise/sweep/width, and seatpost (amount of setback). As for colors, I'd say the Anodized Skidmark is much more beautiful than Black and it matches with more colors, which is especially nice if you don't want to go all black. Though, I saw a really blinged out Black SC Blur LT Carbon with gold anodized parts, chain, and decal accents which totally blew me away by how awesome it looked, but there's a clear difference between that black and an Anodized Black.
VPP, horst link, single pivot, 4-bar linkage, DW link, Turner, Yeti, Ellsworth, Giant Maestro, Trek ABP... they'll all say their suspension design is the most technically advanced/efficient/stiff/active, but if all you want is to turn the mountain into your personal roller coaster ride, then that technical jargon is as useful to you as that advanced physics class in college you possibly took for your non-engineering degree. The story of each bike is best told on a ride. Each design rides a bit differently and the story of the Santa Cruz Blur LT2 winning the MTBR Reader's Choice Bike of the Year award for 2009 says a lot. It may be a bit daunting to order a bike through the mail, sight unseen and without a test ride, but if you know you want a 5+" big travel trail/AM bike to tame your local mountains, then this is a deal you may regret passing up.
This is an awesome price for a bike that has made history with its race proven design. New upcoming 2011 models might look tempting, such as the Giant Anthem X 29er with tapered head tube, press fit Shimano BB, disc brake posts, etc., but this design has dominated the Downieville Classic for a good part of the past decade. Downieville is an all-mountain challenge with a 29-mile XC course with 4,413 feet of climbing and 5,692 feet of descending paired with a 17 mile super D style DH course with 5,333 feet of descending and 1,010 of climbing with times combined to determine the overall winner. This year, while winning the DH portion (1st, 4th, 5th), this design only managed to earn 3rd (and 5th) overall while the new 2011 Giant models took the first 2 overall spots due to the lead they gained from the XC portion (this design took 3rd in XC, if you count the Nomad as sharing a similar design). You can't buy those bikes yet and price isn't certain, but you can buy this and be confident that you're getting an awesome frame at an awesome price. At this price, you can possibly have a rig for around $3000, totally customized to your liking rather than settling with stock factory spec'd parts and upgrading.
The one significant issue that this frame notably has is a low BB that can dive relatively low when deep in its travel (common issue with many long travel bikes), making the chainring and pedals susceptible to hitting rocks and such, so make sure to get durable pedals and bashguard, such as one from e-thirteen. The low BB actually helps the frame perform better with a lower center of gravity and there are other frames that suffer even more from this problem. You will quickly adjust after a few pedal strikes, so it's not exactly a con, but just a note.
If you're worried about building a bike up from scratch, you may already be halfway through a build without knowing it. You can shop for almost everything here. Buy this frame, a Magura Thor 140, 1 1/8" steerer headset of your choice, Sunline V-One AM wheels* and maybe the Sunline V-One AM stem+OS handlebars+platform pedals, your choice of tires and pull the rest off your existing bike, maybe upgrading the brakes and adding an adjustable seatpost (the CB Joplin R can be had relatively cheap here, though the Gravity Dropper and Kind Shock variety are said to be more reliable). You can have your local bike shop help you put it altogether for a reasonable price if you're not mechanically inclined.
*Edit: seems the hot deal on these wheels finally ended. You can build up a sweet set of tubeless ready wheels though. You can make a set of fast tubeless wheels with ZTR Flow or Arch Rims, DT Champion Spokes (I don't recommend Revo), a decent hub with thru-axle option and use Stan's tubeless kit to make a virtually flat proof tire that can run 20-25 psi. With some quality tires that are not known to burp in a tubeless configuration, like a Nobby Nic (2.4 Evo Skin) up front, you can get even better performance from running low pressures and not worry about flats.
Nailed It? 0 Yes
- Frame Material, Main Triangle:
- Frame Material, Rear Triangle/Swing Arm:
- Suspension Linkage Material:
- [Upper] carbon fiber; [Lower] aluminum
- Pivot Type:
- Angular contact bearings with grease ports
- Fork Length:
- Rear Travel:
- Shock Included:
- Fox Float RP23
- Integrated Chain Guide:
- Accessory Cable Stop:
- Seat Dropper
- Rear Axle:
- 135 x 10mm
- Seat Post:
- Head Angle:
- BB Width:
- [Size medium, with shock] 6lb 2oz (2790g)
- Shock pump, grease gun, chainstay protector
- Recommended Use:
- All-mountain riding, XC
- Manufacturer Warranty:
- 2 Years