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Mountain Gear

Space-Age Nomad

Santa Cruz Bicycles' six-inch, all-mountain masher — the Nomad — is now dressed in fresh carbon fiber.

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You’ve got your Tall Boy, Santa Cruz Bicycles’ carbon dually 29er, and you’ve got your Blur LTc, the stealth fiber version of the company’s venerable trail rig.

Nomad-c in black and gold.
Nomad-c in black and gold.

Now it’s time to drool over Santa Cruz’s freshest serving of carbon fiber flavor — the reworked Nomad. The 160mm Nomad-c whacks 1.25 pounds off the aluminum Nomad, which will continue to be available. That brings the Nomad-c in at 6.1 pounds with a RockShox Monarch 3.3 shock, according to Santa Cruz’s marketing man, Mike Ferrentino.

The carbon Nomad will be available for delivery starting mid-June at a MSRP of $2,499 for a frame and Monarch 3.3. Ferrentino says to check out Santa Cruz’s Web site in a few weeks for build options on the next-gen Nomad as a new site is in the works that will have all the information. If you need to know now, he says all the current spec info for the aluminum Nomad applies to the Nomad-c, aside from the difference in frame prices.

Meantime, who better than Santa Cruz’s Dark Lord to expound on the virtues of the Nomad-c…

“The new Nomad-c marks our fourth carbon fiber bike, and is the culmination of what has been a very enlightening process for us, pun intended. In this case, the move to a carbon fiber chassis has chopped a whopping 1.25 pounds off the weight of the aluminum Nomad, while at the same time increasing strength and stiffness by large margins. The existing aluminum Nomad isn’t exactly a porker in terms of weight or a wilting violet with regard to strength, so being able to reduce weight by that much and at the same time increase strength and stiffness, without skimping on any features, is about as much of a win-win scenario as we could hope for. It’s light. We are seeing frames weighing in at 6.1 pounds with a RockShox Monarch 3.3 shock.

There are three key aspects to our carbon fiber process that differentiate it from many others and at the same time allow us to achieve the strength (and stiffness) to weight characteristics that we are so in love with. They are:

One piece lay-up and curing
By laying up and curing the entire front triangle as a single piece, instead of assembling or bonding pieces together during the process, less material can be used to achieve the same end. Suspension pivots, disc mounts and the ISCG05 tabs are all molded into the frame in this process. Additionally, we overbuilt things in critical areas. The underside of the downtube features five layers of UD fiber, two of aramid fiber, and one of 3k weave, in order to thrive in sharp and pointy environments. The chainstays also benefit from extra layers of material. These all serve as added insurance in rocky terrain.

Continuing fibers around tube junctions
One piece lay-up and molding allows the use of continuous fibers throughout the frame, meaning the structure can more widely distribute loads and absorb impact energy.

Net shape lay-up and fiber compaction
Our proprietary manufacturing process allows us to precisely control both the outside and inside frame shape while compacting the laminate layers, which in turn results in superior stiffness and strength while eliminating excess material.

We don’t have any fancy acronyms for this, but it is unique – nobody else is making carbon fiber mountain bikes this way at this time. And, while we don’t have the selling power of a carefully focus-grouped nickname behind the process, the results are pretty enough that we are proud to show off what the insides of our frames look like. You’d be surprised what you might find inside some of the other frames out there…

VPP Suspension
The suspension on the Nomad-c is the same as found on the aluminum Nomad, featuring our latest generation Virtual Pivot Point design with 160mm of travel. VPP is defined by a pair of counter-rotating links that offer a falling- to rising- shock rate, and instant center migration traits that minimize chain growth and maintain lively pedaling with a designed-in degree of anti-squat. The shock rate allows for plush, compliant suspension behavior in the early part of travel, letting the shock react quickly to trail garbage and smaller impacts. Then, as the shock rate flips a to rising rate later in the travel, it offers a nice progression to resist bottom out near the end of the stroke. The end result is a suspension that performs exceptionally well over a very diverse range of terrain AND at the same time pedals with an efficiency throughout that outshines many bikes with less travel.

An important aspect of our VPP suspension is the hardware. The lower link is aluminum and has a pair of grease ports built in to ease maintenance, while the upper link is molded carbon fiber. Pivot axles are 15mm diameter aluminum pieces that thread into the frame on one side, and have nifty locking collet heads on the other – this allows them to tighten down and correctly preload the angular contact pivot bearings (another not-so-common piece of hardware) to keep everything moving smoothly and at the same time wiggle-free. By threading into one side of the frame and then locking into the other, the pivot hardware plays an important part in ensuring that all these carefully designed, stiff, flex hating pieces of bike continue to behave in a stiff and flex-hating fashion. They also are designed to allow for easy removal for servicing when the time comes – no need to remove the cranks or disassemble the bike around the pivot hardware.

Attention to Detail, and stuff…
Alongside the carbon fiber makeover, the VPP suspension, and the trickest pivot hardware in the world, we added an impact absorbent protection strip underneath the downtube and along the drive side chainstay and seatstay. There’s a metal plate where the chainsuck gremlins usually strike. You’ll find cable stops for dropper seatposts integrated into the frame. An ISCG05 chainguide mount is molded into the bottom bracket area during lay-up, as are the disc brake tabs and dropouts. There’s a 1.5″ headtube up front, since we figured this bike would probably be getting treated with a bit more abuse than most taper-steerer forks would be intended to see. You can have it any color you want, so long as you like white with black decals or a matte carbon color with gold pinstripey decals…”