FIRST RIDE REPORT

THE NEW SANTA CRUZ NOMAD V5

THE SHREDDER’S SHREDDER

Words by Drew Rohde
Photos by Dusten Ryen

As claimed on their website, the Santa Cruz Nomad has a reputation built on consistently pushing the envelope on how lawless a single-crown bike can get. Obviously as riders have grown more discerning and used to finding bikes that offer impressive performance both uphill and down, bikes have had to progress. The days of pushing bikes up hills just for the descent seem to be fading, except for those true die-hard downhillers…We remember those days and miss them dearly but let us get back to the point. Hiking a 45lb DH bike up a hill is about as fun as pedaling a 38lb sloth up a hill. Thankfully, bikes have evolved quite a deal and the new Santa Cruz Nomad V5 is a distant vision from what it once was, yet the vision remains. Sporting 170mm of front and rear wheel travel, Santa Cruz’s lower link shock configuration and 27.5 wheels front and rear, the goal was to create a play bike that descends like a V10 but can still be pedaled on all-day missions. A bold claim for sure! Let us see how it’s stacking up after some preliminary testing over the last month.

WHAT’S NEW
Santa Cruz bike fans will instantly notice the new Nomad V5 is sporting some refined lines and the lower-link VPP design. The new lower-link design has greatly improved the compliance and square-edge hit performance that plagued earlier VPP bikes and has some of our more vocal anti-VPP testers eating crow after years of criticism. The new Santa Cruz Nomad frame was redesigned around this 170mm lower-link system, comes in C or CC level carbon and has a lifetime warranty. It is available in sizes small through XL and has size specific chainstay lengths, an increasingly popular trend that we are not mad at.

First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5 | Side Profile
First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5 | Geo Comparison

Along with updating the geometry, as seen above, the new Santa Cruz Nomad V5 gets an updated leverage curve and longer stroke shock. Compatible with either coil or air shocks, the new Nomad is straight, progressive and Santa Cruz claims it’s easier to set up and tune. We can attest to the quick setup on our test bike as we had it pretty dialed in within a couple rides. We also passed the bike around to several riders who instantly felt confident on the bike without any adjustments.

OFF THE CUFF WITH SANTA CRUZ’S SEB KEMP

TLW: WHAT ABOUT MULLET FANS? CAN THE NOMAD V5 RUN A 29ER UP FRONT?
Seb Kemp: Putting a 29er wheel and fork up front will lift the front end, which will make the HA slacker (moar slackerer! Yey, say the forums) but also make the STA slacker (booo, say the forums) and will raise the BB (VP-FREE anyone? Says the oldest forum dwellers). So, you would have to down-travel the fork to keep the geo reasonable. Do you want to do that to a bike like this? 170mm rear travel and 150 or 160 up front? Kinda weird me thinks.

No reason you cannot mix it up, but it was a conscious decision by us to not do it on the Nomad V5 and instead focus on optimizing everything for the 27.5-inch wheel bike. We have the Megatower (with 29-inchers) to satisfy the big wheel hungry crowd in this travel bracket already, so we made the two bikes different from one another so the race bois and the funsters both have their option.

TLW: WITH THE BIKES SO CLOSE TOGETHER, WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO?
SK: Personally, before riding a Nomad I was really dismissive of the 27.5 because I’ve been about the two-nines for a long time, even though I’ve had a lot of Nomads and always loved them. But then I rode the Nomad as my only bike for a few months and it feels really good for its intended riding style. I am surprised I am not desperate to have a hole-eating, corner-gluing big wheel up there, but it feels great as it is. To that end, I have also not been racing and have just enjoying tackling super tech, wet laps with friends, hitting jumps and having something stable and surprisingly agile (for a bike in this travel category) for dicking around. The Nomad is the bike I can bring out on any ride right now and I know it will suit the riding – it just works on such a wide range of trails and riding and group ride dynamics. I am also over being serious, 2020 was not the year for being serious and this bike suits the low-key, anytime fun I am personally looking for. And I know there’s other people who feel the same. There is a lot of different people all looking for something to fit their exact modus operandi, and the Nomad might be for some of them.

LEARM MORE ABOUT THE SANTA CRUZ NOMAD V5
First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5

WHO IS IT FOR?
If you are reading this then chance is you already know who this bike is for. XC pinners and enduro race bois are not gonna be greasing up their chamois to get in line to KOM their favorite climb aboard this beast. Instead, the Santa Cruz Nomad V5 is designed for riders who are constantly chasing fun, looking for airtime, getting sideways and constantly eyeballing weird shapes off the side of the trail to see how they can incorporate it into their ride. The mentality is clear by Santa Cruz’s commitment to the 27.5” wheel size and mega-travel.

BUILDS AND PRICING
Customers have a few choices when it comes to spec for the Santa Cruz Nomad. The entry level Nomad C R build comes in at $4,499 and comes with a Rock Shox Super Deluxe Select shock, Rock Shox Zeb fork and SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain. Not setting the world on fire compared to some consumer direct options, but it is certainly solid kit and will get you on the trail. The top-of-the-line Nomad CC X01 RSV retails for $8,699 and comes equipped with Fox Float X2 Factory 2-position shock and a Fox 38 Factory fork.

NOMAD C • R 27.5

MSRP $4,499

First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5

Frame: Carbon C 27.5″ 170mm Travel VPP™
Rear Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select
Fork: RockShox Zeb, 170mm, 27.5″

R. Derailleur: SRAM NX Eagle, 12spd
Shifters: SRAM NX Eagle, 12spd
Cassette: SRAM PG1230, 12spd, 11-50t
Chain: SRAM NX Eagle, 12spd
Chainguide: E.13 TRS Race SL, ISCG05
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB 68/73mm
Headset: Cane Creek 10 IS Integrated

Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″x2.4″, 3C, EXO+
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 27.5″x2.5″, 3C, Maxx-GRIP, EXO+, TR
Front Hub: SRAM MTH 716, 15×110, Torque Cap, 32h
Rims: WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 27.5″
Spokes: Sapim Race
Rear Hub: SRAM MTH 746, 12×148, 32h

Brakes: SRAM Guide RE
Crankset: SRAM NX Eagle 148 DUB, 32t
Handlebar: e13 TRS Base
Stem: e.13 Base
Saddle: WTB Silverado Race
Seatpost: SDG Tellis

NOMAD C • XT COIL 27.5

MSRP $6,199

First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5

Frame: Carbon C 27.5″ 170mm Travel VPP™
Rear Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select+
Fork: FOX 38 Float Performance Elite, 170mm, 27.5″

R. Derailleur: Shimano XT M8100, 12spd
Shifters: Shimano XT M8100, 12spd
Cassette: Shimano XT M8100, 12spd, 10-51t
Chain: Shimano XT, 12spd
Chainguide: OneUp Bash
Bottom Bracket: Shimano XT 68/73mm
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated

Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″x2.4″, 3C, MaxxGRIP, Double Down, TR
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 27.5″x2.5″, 3C, MaxxGRIP Double Down, TR
Front Hub: DT Swiss 350, 15×110, 28h
Rims: RaceFace ARC Offset 30 27.5″
Spokes: Sapim Race
Rear Hub: DT 350, 12×148, MicroSpline, 28h

Brakes: Shimano XT 8120
Crankset: Shimano XT M8100, 32t
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Riser
Stem: Burgtec Enduro MK3
Saddle: WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth

NOMAD CC • XO1 27.5

MSRP $7,499

First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5

Frame: Carbon CC 27.5″ 170mm Travel VPP™
Rear Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory 2-Position lever
Fork: FOX 38 Float Factory, 170mm, 27.5″

R. Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
Shifters: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
Cassette: SRAM XG1295 Eagle, 12spd, 10-52t
Chain: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
Chainguide: OneUp Bash
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB 68/73mm
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated

Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″x2.4″, 3C, EXO+
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 27.5″x2.5″, 3C, Maxx-GRIP, EXO+, TR
Front Hub: DT Swiss 350, 15×110, 28h
Rims: RaceFace ARC Offset 30 27.5″
Spokes: Sapim Race
Rear Hub: DT Swiss 350, 12×148, XD, 28h

Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Crankset: SRAM X1 Eagle Carbon 148 DUB, 32t
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Riser
Stem: Burgtec Enduro MK3
Saddle: WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth

NOMAD CC • X01 COIL 27.5 RSV

MSRP $8,699

First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5

Frame: Carbon CC 27.5″ 170mm Travel VPP™
Rear Shock: Fox DH X2 Factory Coil 2-Position lever
Fork: FOX 38 Float Factory, 170mm, 27.5″

R. Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
Shifters: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
Cassette: SRAM XG1295 Eagle, 12spd, 10-52t
Chain: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
Chain Guide: OneUp Bash
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB 68/73mm
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated

Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″x2.4″, 3C, MaxxGRIP, Double Down, TR
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 27.5″x2.5″, 3C, MaxxGRIP Double Down, TR
Front Hub: DT Swiss 350, 15×110, 28h
Rear Hub: DT Swiss 350, 12×148, XD, 28h
Rims: Reserve 30 27.5″ Carbon
Spokes: Sapim D-Light

Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Crankset: SRAM X1 Eagle Carbon 148 DUB, 32t
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Riser
Stem: Burgtec Enduro MK3
Saddle: WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth

First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5

RIDE REPORT
As we said above and, in our video, we have passed this bike around to many different types of riders for this first ride report. Nic Hall, our resident XC guy probably spent the most time on it and had quite a bit to say so far.

I am far from what I would consider Santa Cruz’s target rider for the Nomad. As a washed up XC and enduro racer, I am always looking for short travel, poppy bikes that climb well. To be honest, I was not really looking forward to climbing aboard the Nomad for long climbs in the back country, especially when I saw it had tiny little 27.5” wheels. Was I ever surprised!

Climbing on the previous generation Nomad was no simple task, it bobbed under any amount of force and even with high pressures would blow through at least 50% of the suspension on moderate climbs. I found the new Santa Cruz Nomad V5 is a totally new machine. The longer pivot link along with a more refined leverage curve keeps 170mm very manageable on all-day missions. I also like the new seat tube angle as it allows the rider to sit in a comfortable position that feels natural on steep climbs and spinning in the flats. On arduous road climbs or flatter trails, I would often reach down and flip the climb switch. The change is noticeable and really does make a 170mm bike feel more efficient on the climbs. The only thing missing on long climbs is the momentum of larger wheels, but I guess that is where the other bikes in Santa Cruz’s line come into consideration, namely the Megatower.

First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5 | Airtime

Out of all the bikes I have had the pleasure of riding this year, the new Nomad is the most confidence inspiring and natural feeling bike yet when pointed downhill. The stiff front end coupled with the reworked rear suspension keeps the new Santa Cruz Nomad asking for more speed and steeper terrain. Most of our readers know that we have not been fans of the VPP system historically, but the new bikes from Santa Cruz have changed our minds. Suspension is plush off the top without wallowing in the mid travel and this bike pops off any available feature. The New Fox Float X2 and Factory 38 were the perfect pairing for this bike. We quickly had them dialed in and riding faster than normal just a few clicks off the middle setting.

On steep, rocky descents I was able to ride much faster and more confidently than on other bikes. As you push the bike harder, it delivers with stability and consistency. The smaller wheels are playful and despite their smaller contact patch, seem to have the ground hugging performance usually reserved for 29ers. The Nomad has all the right components to make it instantly comfortable: wide bars, aggressive tires, and a good wheel spec.

The bright green and pink machine make a big statement at the trailhead, but it sports the long travel and aggressive geometry to back that statement up. As a recovering PowerBar connoisseur, it is a bit painful to say that the Nomad may be one of my favorite bikes of the year.

First Ride Report: Santa Cruz Nomad V5

The Wolf’s First Impression

Along with having Nic spend time on this bike, we gave V4 Nomad owner and absolute shredder Alex Moschitti the reigns to the V5 Santa Cruz Nomad and he was instantly on fire. As a V4 Nomad owner, Alex is very aware of the bike’s feel and performance. Before we even told him what changes Santa Cruz had made to the new Nomad, he was picking up on them. Increased pop, ease of getting airborne, cornering confidence and climbing speed were instantly noted. The Fox 38 fork is a huge hit among our testers and the confidence to point this bike and corner hard is there. Suppleness off the top, big bump absorption and playfulness all have our crew fighting over who gets to take the bike home next for more ride time.

While some testers have concerns about how long the bike will feel this good for due to some durability experiences on older Santa Cruz bikes, our initial feedback is that the new Santa Cruz Nomad V5 is a homerun. We look forward to reporting back in the future after a winter of abuse on this green machine.

LEARM MORE ABOUT THE SANTA CRUZ NOMAD V5

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