Words by Nic Hall & Drew Rohde

Chances are if you saw our first ride video of the new Santa Cruz 5010 mountain bike, then you know we were pretty hooked right away. Heck, even our review of the last generation 5010 back in 2018 had us stoked on how fun this bike is and the type of riding it inspires. The changes from that bike to the new, 4th generation 5010 are significant and notable on the trail, but we’d say that the overall fun factor of Santa Cruz’s play bike, the 5010 remains the same.

The new 5010 is still designed around the 27.5in wheel and is meant to pop, pump, and jump over every nub or bump you can find. For 2020, Santa Cruz updated the 5010 with their lower link VPP suspension platform. The bike offers 130mm of rear wheel travel and 140mm up front. The new, lower link VPP system is optimized for fun on the 5010 and sought to improve some of the criticisms we have had regarding VPP bikes in the past. They keep making us eat our words year after year. Looks like we’re starting to become VPP fans after all that smack talk over the last decade, all it took was moving that link!


Santa Cruz also gives the new 5010 a slacker head tube angle of 65.7 degrees, brought the reach out to 500mm on our XL (475mm on L), and a pedal friendly seat tube angle of 77 degrees. Chainstay, reach, and wheelbase all are size dependent, which is new for the Santa Cruz 5010. It gives each size rider the optimal wheelbase and rear-end length for fun and center of gravity optimization. You will notice the geo charts show both high and low settings for and integrated flip chip, which we rode almost exclusively in high. But if you want that extra bit of wheelbase and ground hugging bottom bracket height, you have the option.

These geometry changes coupled with the new VPP leverage ratio and custom shock tune show that Santa Cruz is looking to push the 5010 as their everyday play bike of trail rippers. The 130mm of rear travel acts like more and can run a wide variety of rear shocks depending on the rider’s preference. The rising rate linkage even allows for a rear coil shock if desired.


Another new change is the rear axle sizing of 173.7×12 which allowed the engineers to incorporate more lateral stiffness in the rear triangle while allowing space for the monster 52t cassette. Along with the axle, Santa Cruz has incorporated the SRAM universal derailleur hanger which is cross compatible and available at almost every bike shop.

Santa Cruz has always been about longevity and rider-based design and it still shows in their latest offering. The 5010 comes standard with ISCG-05 tabs for a chain guide or bash guard, a threaded bottom bracket, and custom molded frame protection and a small mudguard to protect the shock; these are the touches we are looking for in a top shelf trail bike. The carbon frame, linkages, and Reserve wheels all come with a lifetime warranty as well, so feel free to send it as deep as you want. Maintenance is also an important factor to Santa Cruz and they have placed bearings in the linkage not the frame, so you won’t have to worry about scratching that pretty paint when it comes time to clean or replace bearings.


As fewer 27.5in bikes come to market, it is refreshing to see Santa Cruz fully embrace the “fun” wheel size and play to its strengths. They are playful, quick to get up to speed, and snappy in tight situations, which are the main adjectives we would use to describe the 5010.

We were sent a size extra large for testing as the global pandemic has severely limited production numbers and availability. Initially, we thought this might detract from the playful nature that the 5010 was built to exploit. We were wrong and still had plenty of fun on this XL tester, although we would have preferred a large if we were going to be buying one to keep for ourselves. At its core, the 5010 is purely a fun bike to ride. Even with the longer reach and chainstays, we found ourselves slashing every corner and trying to pop at any opportunity.

Build spec is solid on the 5010 CC X01 model but we would probably opt for the XT model as we believe it maximizes performance to savings and we like the Shimano XT four piston brakes. We were a bit underwhelmed by the SRAM G2 brakes when it came to all out stopping power, but modulation did make up for it in most cases. The Pike offers nice compliance in gnarly rock gardens and offers plenty of support when we came up short on a few landings. We would upgrade any of the builds to the Reserve carbon wheelset as they are super stiff, strong, and offer a lifetime warranty.


Climbing is comfortable and snappy in tight corners.  At no point while on the 5010 did we feel like we needed to set a new Strava PR but we did try a few kooky lines and hard enduro style hops up steep rocky pitches that we didn’t dare take our precious XC bikes on. Standover is so low that the 5010 feels like a BMX bike when standing on climbs and trying to make ridiculous moves. It is the first non ebike we have ridden this year that turns every rooted, rocky climb into a fun challenge. We’re not saying it’s a slouch by any means, but if you want to find the most fun way up the hill, the 5010 delivers.

After several laps of our standard test track, we took the 5010 for some laps at Mt. Bachelor Bike Park and found ourselves lapping every jump line over and over. The 5010 is effortless in the air and snaps sideways at even a hint of bar input. Thanks to the very progressive suspension, which has come 180 degrees from the VPP of a few years ago, the 5010 stays nicely in the sag and has pop for days once the rebound is set correctly. Even the smallest of trail features turn into opportunities to try something new and get you out of a mundane ride.

Tech trails and tight woods were the surprising icing on the 5010 cake. It handled square edge hits with ease and was holding lines much past where 130mm bikes should go, then would snap a turn so quick we would have speed to pop out of the berm. Every once in a while, we would come in a bit overzealous and overwhelm the front tire grip, but that was on us. The size XL helped while in the bike park and we found it didn’t really hold us back on the trail, but for our aspiring BMX and Loose Dog wannabe tricks did have us thinking a sizer Large would be a better option.


The Wolf’s Last Word

Santa Cruz’s 5010 is a mountain bike to the very core. It does not promise anything but a fun time and delivers like few bikes do. It’s not marketed as a race bike, you may not crush any PRs and you are definitely going to hit a few lines that aren’t the fastest, but you are going to have a damn good time waving that middle finger at the clock. When it comes down to it, isn’t that why we are riding in the first place? The 5010 brings you back to when you first started riding your shitbox BMX or hardtail and were just out there for the fun of it trying to do goofy stuff and bring different flavors of riding to the terrain you ride. Buy one and never turn Strava on again.

Price: $6,899

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Frame: Santa Cruz Carbon CC 130mm travel– Size XL
Fork: RockShox Pike Ultimate 140mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate

Brakes: SRAM G2 RSC
Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Carbon Riser 800mm 20mm rise
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS
Stem:  Burgtec Enduro MK3 42mm
Saddle: WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost: RockShox reverb Stealth 31.6

Hubs: DT Swiss 350
Rims: Santa Cruz Reserve Carbon
Front tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5×2.4 MaxxGrip EXO TR
Rear tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5×2.4 3c EXO TR

Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB Threaded
Cassette: SRAM XG1295 12 speed 10-52t
Cranks: SRAM X1 Eagle Carbon DUB 32t
Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle


We Dig

Gives zero shits
Finish and details

We Don’t

Would buy the XT version
Not Cheap


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