Pedaling Response: 13.2/15
This bike does almost everything right. Climbing, descending, chunder, buffed-out singletrack: The 5010 has a beat on every trail with a very balanced 130mm of travel front and rear. It translates into more control and, by extension, more speed.
To achieve this suspension balance, Santa Cruz pairs a RockShox Pike up front and a Fox Float X Factory Evol rear shock. The Pike lived up to high expectations on big hits and small chatter. Its mid-stroke felt smooth and consistent, too, though a little bit of messing around with low-speed compression is generally necessary to really get the most from the fork.
There is a small amount of pedal bob, especially when the trail gets steep, and when compared to Yeti’s Switch Infinity system, the bob is somewhat noticeable. We’re often told that it’s fine to just leave the shock set at descend mode because it will climb well in that setting too, but the 5010 climbs a lot better in the trail or climb position; after awhile we stopped noticing the bob if we had the wherewithal to change the rear shock’s setting. Just don’t forget to switch it back to full-open for the descents or you’ll find yourself getting thrown around more than necessary. The VPP design works almost as well as Yeti’s Switch Infinity, but not quite.
The geometry tweaks Santa Cruz made improve climbing significantly, though it may take some time to get used to the steeper seat tube angle. While it never felt like a hardtail, it did cruise up the steepest sections of the climb with unexpected ease, and even with the slack head tube angle, there is no flopping or looping out when pushing over obstacles.
Ultimately, the 5010 is an excellent climber for the trail category, and well above average as a descender. The bike could easily be called the 6040: if you ride 60 percent downhill and 40 percent up, it’s right up your alley. While it’s not as point-and-shoot as its burlier sibling, the Bronson, the 426-millimeter chainstays and 67-degree head tube angle certainly allow for straight-lining technical sections and airing it out on fast descents.
If the trail gets really gnarly and steep for long stretches, you’ll be itching for more travel, but the balanced suspension, along with Santa Cruz’s long, slack geometry that feels more compact than it is — probably as a result of the short stays that allow for quick direction changes — allows the 5010 to tame trails above what its travel would indicate. This is a full-on ripper; you’d have to be trying hard to not have fun on it.
Our test model came with Enve carbon wheels and top-of-the-line everything, which floats the price into the stratosphere. Save $2,000 by skipping the Enve wheel upgrade and peruse other parts packages to get the same great platform at a lower price.
Component Highlights: SRAM XX1 drivetrain; SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes; Fox Float Factory EVOL shock; RockShox Pike RCT3 130mm fork; Enve M Series 60 Forty wheelset
Weight: 27.2 pounds (size L)