SANTA CRUZ NOMAD V5 XO1 REVIEW
Words & Photos by Drew Rohde
Few bikes have a legacy or reputation like the Santa Cruz Nomad. A lot has changed in the mountain bike world since it was first released back in 2005. What has not changed is Santa Cruz’s vision for what a burly, downhill ready, fun-focused mountain bike could be. Back in the day we remember seeing polished Santa Cruz Nomad’s at Suicide Trail, G-Spot and other local DH spots as we pushed our 45+ pound DH bikes back up for more laps. It was an awesome time where bikes began blurring lines like never before and brands were pushing envelopes just as much as riders pushed them out on the trails. Although the geometry numbers and equipment have changed by just a few inches or degrees here and there, the perceived difference on the trail is worlds apart. It is amazing that we are now able to send it deeper, hit bigger drops and ride faster than we did on our old DH bikes on a bike that still pedals better than our XC bikes did. Now in 2021, Santa Cruz Nomad V5 takes the V4 revision from 2017 and steps it up a notch to offer aggro-shredders a bike that does not care about your Strava account or race times while being unapologetically fun.
That is right, it is not a mullet (mixed wheel size) or a 29er, that is what the Megatower is for. The Santa Cruz Nomad V5 is built for good times and creative lines, and Santa Cruz firmly believes that 27.5 is the fun wheel size. While the goals for big hit capabilities and fun have remained, there are plenty of changes in the bike’s design that have made for some big changes on the trail.
** In case you missed our first ride video where we took two Nomad owners and gave them this bike to ride without any information on the updates or geometry changes, you can give it a watch here to see how quickly they realized the changes were notable compared to their own machines.
Suspension: With 170mm of front and rear wheel travel, Santa Cruz’s Nomad v5 has a lower leverage ratio, longer shock stroke and some extra progression tuned into the end of the travel. According to Santa Cruz Bikes, these changes give the bike a more settled and damped rear tire that hugs the ground while also make the bike feel a bit more composed and stable in big hit scenarios. Like the preceding V4 Nomad, riders can opt for a coil or air sprung rear shock.
Geometry: As to be expected, Santa Cruz has updated the geometry of the new Nomad V5 while also adding size-specific seat stays, something we are stoked to see more brands doing each year. Each size grows 5mm from 426mm on the small to 441mm chainstays on the XL. The new Nomad has also grown in the reach department by 16mm, with our size large test bike sporting a 472- or 475mm reach and 436mm stays. Depending on where you have the adjustable geometry set, you could run the Nomad with either a 63.7- or 64-degree head tube angle. This is nearly a degree slacker than last year’s bike. To keep this longer and slacker mountain bike’s front tire on the ground while climbing to your favorite descents, Santa Cruz gives the new Nomad a steep 77.5- or 77.9-degree seat tube angle. For most of our testing we kept the bike in the High position and never felt that it needed to be lower or slacker.
Builds: Starting at $4,499 with a claimed weight of 34.46lbs, the Santa Cruz Nomad R is the brand’s entry level price point and comes in their Carbon C material with a RockShox Zeb fork, Super Deluxe Select shock and SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain with SRAM Guide RE brakes. From there models increase to the S at $5,499, the XT or XT Coil at $6,199 before jumping to the CC carbon models at $7,499. The X01 and X01 Coil builds come in at a claimed 32.54 and 34.16 pounds, respectively and come with Fox Factory 38 forks, Factory rear shocks and X01 Eagle drivetrains. They also come with DT350 hubs with Race Face ARC 30 wheels or the Reserve Carbon upgrade and SRAM Code RSC brakes.
SC Guarantee: According to Santa Cruz Bicycles website, they will repair or replace at its option any frame made by Santa Cruz that it determines to be defective in materials or workmanship for the lifetime of the product, to the original owner. The Santa Cruz Nomad V5 also qualifies for their lifetime pivot bearing warranty, where original owners can simply fill out a bearing replacement form, upload a copy of the receipt and will have to wait 48 hours for new bearings to ship. Santa Cruz also offers a no-fault replacement policy for non-warranty situations, where parts will be sold at a discounted price. Of course, Santa Cruz Bicycles works hard to make sure the Nomad and all of their bikes pass tons of hours of testing and abuse, so these issues won’t arise for consumers, but in the world of rocks, speed and gravity, things tend to happen, so it’s good to have some peace of mind around your hefty investment.