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Tech News – January 21, 2008

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New carbon fiber speed machine from Santa Cruz

By James Huang

All carbon Blur XC frames will come in a bare carbon finish
Photo ©: Santa Cruz Bicycles
(Click for larger image)

Santa Cruz has taken its popular Blur XC in a new direction for 2009 with the introduction of an all-new carbon fiber frame. According to Santa Cruz PR man Mike Ferrentino, the new frame is substantially lighter, dramatically stiffer and yet even more durable than the outgoing aluminum version.

Claimed weight for a medium frame is now an impressive 1948g (4.3lb) including a RockShox Monarch 3.3 shock, down from 2359g (5.2lb) for last year's model, and a complete bike with a not-too-exotic Shimano XTR build is supposedly just 10.15kg (22.38lb). In addition to the carbon fiber main frame and rear triangle, Santa Cruz also uses the material for the upper link, both rear dropouts and even the rear disc brake tabs.

Even so, Santa Cruz claims the new Blur XC rivals some of its big-travel bikes for strength – there is no rider weight limit – while the purported increases in rigidity (the company doesn't say exactly how much but says it "blows away" the old one) should yield improvements in pedaling response and handling precision as well. All heady claims for sure considering this is Santa Cruz's first-ever carbon bike and we'll do our best to secure a test sample as soon as possible.

The decreased weight suggests a more race-oriented bike than before but the geometry numbers reinforce this notion even further. For comparable large-sized frames, the carbon model drops to 105mm of rear wheel travel (down 10mm), the shock stroke shortens to 165mm (down from 200mm), and the chain stays shrink a considerable 7mm to just 422mm (16.6"). In keeping with industry trends, head tube angles slacken a bit to 69.5° across the board for marginally more stable handling though and the head tube lengths have also grown a few millimeters. Geometry is optimized around 100mm-travel forks but 120mm ones will also work well.

As it has done with other new introductions, Santa Cruz will equip the new Blur XC with a second-generation VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) suspension system. A more linear suspension rate and decreased chain growth (down to 15mm from 24mm) should yield improved pedal snappiness and less kickback under power in the bumps and all of the pivot points have been upgraded with angular contact bearings for much-needed improvements in longevity and side-load capacity. The lower link will come equipped with grease ports for easier servicing, too.

Santa Cruz will offer the new Blur XC in four sizes – small, medium, large and extra-large – and in either black or silver. Not surprisingly, the new performance capabilities will also come with a substantial increase in price: the new Blur XC will fetch US$2299 (anodized aluminum Blur XC frames were US$1999) when it becomes available in the US around mid-March. As always, Santa Cruz will also offer complete bikes ranging from US$4669 to US$6281.

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Santa Cruz Bicycles