2022 Santa Cruz Bronson Review
It’s that time again, the new Santa Cruz Bronson is here, and it’s better than ever.
The Bronson has been Santa Cruz’s best selling bike for a long time now, and for good reason. One of the best all round bikes money can buy, at the cutting edge of technology but refined as can be, the Bronson leads the charge for all their other trail bikes. Way back in 2013 the Bronson was Santa Cruz’s first 27.5″ wheeled trail bike – in fact it was one of the first 27.5″ wheeled trail bikes, period. Fast forward nine years and the 2022 model is no less progressive, but overall is a much neater package.
Covering most needs for most people, the Bronson has always been an all-around trail weapon. Running 150mm of travel rear and 160mm at the front sitting in that sweet spot between trail and enduro, I guess you can call it “all mountain”, for whatever that’s worth these days. The Bronson has always represented a bike that’s comfortable in all situations and can be piloted by any rider.
With geometry numbers that typically pushed the boundaries of what you might call “neutral” into the more aggressive territory, it’s a bike that you can jump on and instantly feels familiar, and it instantly feels fast. Big enough travel for all but the gnarliest of trails, and efficient enough to ride all day, it’s no surprise that the Bronson has been a popular bike from the start. With a bike as dialled as that then, where is there room for improvement? Well, the folks over at Santa Cruz usually find a way…
The biggest news of all for the 2022 Bronson is that it’s Santa Cruz’s first mullet trail bike – that is to say that it has a 29″ wheel up front and a 27.5″ wheel out back, combining the stability of a 29er with the playfulness and precision of a 27.5 bike to make the new Bronson the best of both worlds. The mixed wheel (MX) setup means that with the rider’s weight naturally a little further back on the bike it’s easier to unweight the front wheel and to pop the bike up and over things. It also means it’s easier to get weight back on steeper descents as well as giving a little more clearance for your backside when you really need it.
A notable change to the Bronson includes chainstays that grow in length by frame size, because smaller riders need a smaller bike, larger riders need a larger bike and the front end isn’t the only part that should change. By changing chainstay lengths, this means that the geometry remains balanced for every rider and the bike should ride the same whether you’re 5 feet tall or 6 feet tall. While we’re talking about geometry, the Bronson 4 loses 0.6º off the head angle to make it 64.5º in the low position. Reach grows by 23mm in a medium to 452mm, seat tube angle gains roughly 1.5º to 76.6º in a medium and the BB height stays the same. So the geometry is all about small improvements rather than big change to keep it in line with modern numbers, and we like that. The Bronson didn’t need a big change.
The Bronson 4 uses the same lower-link driven VPP platform that Santa Cruz have been steadily improving for the last few years now and not a whole lot has changed including the travel, staying at 150mm. The lower link VPP offers a supple suspension platform with plenty of progression and amazing pedalling efficiency, and the new Bronson retails all of these characteristics, with a little less anti-squat than before, meaning a slightly more active ride while pedalling which should translate into more grip on those technical climbs. The Bronson 4 also uses a longer stroke shock for the same travel which means a little more tuneability and better quality of suspension with a more plush feeling and less stiction.
The new Bronson is packed with well thought-out details; this is something we love about Santa Cruz. Their frames are always cleverly designed with neat touches, their latest bikes being no exception. All of Santa Cruz’s most recent bikes now are utilising the Sram UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger), something the industry has been calling for for some time now, and we’re stoked to see it happening. This means that you should be able to get a derailleur hanger for your Bronson from any bike shop, anywhere in the world!
As we mentioned before, the suspension is the same VPP layout as before and uses the same bearings previous bikes backed up by their lifetime bearing warranty replacement scheme. Keeping all of those pivots in their rightful places, the pivot bolts are all accessed from the non-drive side now, keeping the look clean and simple.
Aesthetically, the Bronson 4 frame is arguably the cleanest and tidiest looking Bronson Santa Cruz have produced. The lines flow from the front to the back of the bike, tied together with angular intersections at the head tube and chainstay junctions that mirror each other. I particularly like the fold around the shock tunnel that carries on into the rear triangle – it makes the whole linkage look super neat and tucked-away. The whole bike looks more purposeful and designerly, it’s a really well finished product, well deserving of its high end accolade and price tag.
Spec and pricing
Currently the Bronson 4 is only available in a carbon C or CC frame. Starting at the R build spec at $6649, riders get a premium suspension package with a Rockshox Lyrik fork and Fox Float X shock, Sram G2 4-piston brakes and a Sram NX Eagle 12sp drivetrain. Moving up through the spec levels, every other bike gets a Fox 36 fork and Rockshox Super Deluxe shock, with various levels of Sram Drivetrain with the exception of the Shimano XT build kit. The mid range bikes now use Industry Nine 1/1 hubs and the high end bikes use their top end Hydra hubs. The XO1 build kit has a Reserve wheel option and the range topping XX1 build comes with reserves and will set you back $14899 before tax.
As always, feel free to contact our incredible customer service team or come in store to speak with a sales person to figure out which bike is the right one for you!