Improved linkage geometry and beefed up pivots are highlights of the redesign
By Matt Pacocha
The original Blur LT was introduced three years ago and the all-mountain rig has become the brand’s bestseller. But the company is releasing a remodeled design intended to keep it at the top of its heap.
The most visible new feature is the use of a carbon fiber upper VPP link. Less visible but more important is a careful re-tooling of the linkage’s shock rate. Santa Cruz engineers mellowed the rate out to offer a supple beginning stroke and and a linear feel all the way through to bottom out.
The company’s engineers had been kicking around ideas for a redesign since late 2004, looking for ways to improve the multi-link design’s durability and ease of maintenance — and stop its creaking, said Joe Graney, Santa Cruz’s chief engineer.
“(We had) a couple of people working full time, a fat budget, and cart blanche to come up with something new,” Graney said.
After building multiple test mules that illustrated both good and bad ideas, the team settled on some distinct upgrades:
- • It switched from radial contact bearings in the linkage to angular contact, for their better ability to deal with side load.
- • It added grease ports to the lower link, which will allow for the quick containment of any squeaks in the system. To allow the grease to flush properly, engineers even developed special seals for the bearings.
- • It beefed up the three lower pivots (both axles on the lower link and the lower pivot on the upper link) to 15mm instead of 12mm. The increased size and bearing type helps the overall chassis stiffness.
- • It quickened the frame geometry is just a bit with shorter chainstays and a half-degree steeper head angle.
- • It added 5mm of travel for a total of 140mm.
- • It added more tire clearance, more standover room, multiple routing options for cables and a new replaceable derailleur hanger instead of a replaceable dropout. (The hanger even has a built-in bottle opener.)
- • To top it off, you can rebuild the whole system with a multi-tool, if necessary.
“It’s the bike we wanted and we did it right,” says Graney.
The new LT will be available by mid-April with Santa Cruz’s usual array of powdercoat colors. There will be two anodized options as well, black and Skidmark.
Prices start at $1750 for the frame and Fox Float R shock with a powdercoat finish or $1950 anodized.
You can also get it with the Fox RP23 platform rear shock, although media manager Mike Ferrentino, says there’s no need.
“The reason we showcased these [bikes] with the Float R is because it’s, sort of, an invisible shock,” he said. “It’s a great performing shock that people just don’t think about that much. There isn’t a platform switch, so it forced people to see how the bike behaved while climbing. It is very neutral; it’s a well behaved bike.”