First Look: Santa Cruz V10 Carbon 2013

November 21, 2012

Take a look at’s coverage of the 2013 Santa Cruz V10 Carbon. 

What’s New About the V10 Carbon 

• Entirely new frame
• Carbon front and rear triangles
• Tested over the 2012 race season by the Syndicate Team
• The Syndicate will race on this production frame in 2013
• Five-year warranty and lifetime crash replacement

V10 Carbon Details

• Carbon rear triangle saves 400 grams over the previous alloy version
• Revised front triangle saves 300 grams over the previous version
• New carbon upper link to increase stiffness.
• Co-molded aluminium hardware on upper pivot and bottom bracket – no bonding
• Forged aluminum lower link with recessed grease ports
• Indexed, 157-millimeter rear axle spacing for easier wheel installation
• New integrated fork bumpers with cable guide
• Direct mount rear derailleur hanger
• Two travel settings: 10 inches (254mm) or 8.5 inches (216mm)
• Total frame weight: 7.9 pounds (3.6 kg) M size, Fox DHX RC4 shock

“The most successful DH bike of all time.” Santa Cruz weren’t shy in introducing their new V10 with those words. When you look back at race results, it is hard to argue with the pedigree of the V10: two Elite World Championships, one Junior World Championship, 14 World Cup wins and two World Cup series titles. More recently the carbon version was the first carbon DH bike to win a World Cup (Maribor 2010) and the first to win a World Championship (Leogang 2012). Those first carbon race bikes used a carbon front end and an alloy rear triangle, which soon became available to the public. The Syndicate started racing during the 2011 season with a carbon rear triangle. After a full year of testing on the World Cup circuit, Santa Cruz took the wraps of their all-new production frames with that carbon rear for a small group of journalists at Massa Vecchia in Italy.

The New V10c has already proven itself on the track:

A Process of Refinement

The old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is exactly what Santa Cruz has done with this latest version of the V10. Over the last few years they have refined the geometry and suspension to the point where they no longer feel the need to fiddle with it, so this new bike is identical to the previous version in that respect. Where it differs is in the construction. While the new carbon rear end may grab the headlines, we’re most impressed by the fact that Santa Cruz has shaved 300 grams from the front triangle by some minor re-sculpting of the shape in high stress areas and changing the layup of the carbon. This means that the front triangle alone weighs just 2.3 pounds (1.05kg) for a medium frame. One thing that sets the V10c’s front triangle apart from much of the competition is that they use a one-piece monocoque construction. This means the entire front triangle is a single shape, which differs from many other bikes that use several sections bonded together. One-piece construction is both more complicated and expensive, as it means the tool to make the frame needs to be much larger and more sophisticated. Here at Pinkbike, we were given an exclusive look at how Santa Cruz test their carbon bikes this year. It’s fair to say their bikes go through a world of pain in their test lab, far beyond any statutory requirements that exist today. So we are inclined to believe them when they tell us that this is not just the lightest, but also the strongest frame they have ever made. Santa Cruz are so confident of this that they have extended the warranty on the frame up from two years all the way out to five years. The new V10c also comes with a lifetime crash replacement and bearing warranty. With frames getting ever more expensive (and nobody is going to suggest the V10c is cheap), this kind of assured lifespan for your bike becomes more and more important.

Out back, the new rear end is a full 530 grams lighter than the aluminum version. The whole thing weighs just 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) and the production version is actually more refined than the rear ends that the Syndicate used this year. The forming around the wheel arches is slightly more shapely, and to increase stiffness the vertical support between the chain stays and the seat stays is a flat sheet of carbon, making it a great mudguard too. Santa Cruz say this is just a by-product of the quest for stiffness, but with many riders bodging their own mudguards in down there, it’s a welcome by-product. This weight saving translates to a total frame weight (medium size) of 6.97 pounds (3.15 kg) with a Rock Shox Vivid air or 7.9 pounds (3.6 kg) with the coil-sprung Fox DHX RC4 shock (9.5 x 3.0-inch).

Joe takes an angle grinder to a V10 front triangle in order to show everyone what’s going on inside:

Attention to Detail

Throughout this frame, there are plenty of little details to let you know that Santa Cruz gets it. Out front are nice, sturdy fork bumpers that are long enough to accommodate any fork out there (not just the Fox 40 the bike comes spec’ed with). Built into the bumpers are cable guides which point out the one thing this bike doesn’t have – internal cable routing. It’s something that Santa Cruz considered, but the race team were clear that they didn’t want it. At races, internal hose routing would require mechanics to detach the hose from the caliper in order to change a brake, which means time lost bleeding the brake afterwards. Working your way back along the frame, you’ll find a nice big down tube protector to protect against rock strikes. Grease-ports protrude from the lower linkage, so you can easily keep the bearings running sweetly. The adjustable linkage-axle pivots use an expanding end to hold them in place (think of how a Maxle works and you’re not far off). Along the chainstays are classy, rubber protectors to stop the chain from damaging your shiny new frame. Protectors also run along the non-drive-side for people whose heals rub against the stay.

Reaching the rear axle, there are two features that (at first) had us worried, but the more we looked at them the more we realized they are very good ideas. First is the 157-millimeter rear axle. Our knee-jerk reaction was, “please, not another standard,” but the 157mm axle is a simple improvement. Essentially, it’s the same hub spacing, but there are 3-millimeter indexing insets in the frame for the axle to seat into (exactly like the 142/12mm system). This means that you can easily drop the wheel into the frame without suffering the usual axle/hub/rotor alignment faff with 150-millimeter-axle bikes – which is definitely a good thing. The second feature that worried us was the option of a direct mount rear mech. This bought back horrible memories of early Saint mechs and their incomprehensible and utterly unique mounting system. Fortunately, Shimano has learned from that and not repeated the mistake. On current Shimano Shadow mechs, there is a B-link between the dropout and the mech itself. The direct mount simply replaces the B-link with a one-piece dropout – a much neater solution.

Matt talks to some of the crew behind the new V10:

MSRP for will be $3,499 USD with a Fox DHX RC4 shock and $3,599 USD with a Rock Shox Vivid damper. The V10c will come either in Syndicate Red (matte carbon with red/white decals and Syndicate chevrons) or neon yellow (matte carbon with yellow/grey decals). You can also opt for a colour-matched Fox 40, and if you go for a complete bike they will even colour-match the ENVE carbon rims. Expect the new V10c to start shipping in January 2013.

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