One of the most startling things about the Garda festival were the two bikes keeping the majority of the US bike industry out of the mud and floods. Thanks to the guys from Rock Shox, SRAM and Maverick themselves, ML-4 monolinks seemed to be everywhere., but one bike still eclipsed them for “I-Spy” points.
We’ve already ridden the V-10 downhill version of the Virtual Pivot Point bike but last weekend we got a chance for a very quick blast on the new Santa Cruz Blur XC bike.
Although we only had time to rattle it across some loose fireroad and rocky roadside rough our first impressions were very very good. The bike sprints and corners extremely solidly, with a genuine ignorance for what the back wheel is going over. With Fox forks up front we watched potholes and reasonably sized rocks alike roll underneath us and waited for the pedal kickback or squat. We also tried short hard sprints to make it bounce and bob with pedal and body movement. But we got neither, we just carried on spinning smoothly along without interruption (and that’s without any chance to tweak air pressures or damping set up).
Apart from that the bike just feels like a more planted and solid version of the Superlight in terms of handling with the added bonus of better suspension performance at both the pedalling and big hit ends of the ‘envelope’.
Santa Cruz achieve this very impressive performance using a suspension system they’ve developed from an original idea by Outland (whose design they’ve bought). By using two linkages between the mainframe and rear subframe the rear axle can be made to move around a “virtual” pivot point (or points) normally somewhere way out front of the bike. This enables a nearly flat axle path that is almost completely isolated from pedalling activity.
This is hard enough to achieve on a downhill bike with mass to spare, but fitting the system into an XC package at an acceptable weight has taken longer. What impressed us about the Blur though was that they’ve obviously prioritised stiffness and strength over weight. All the linkages are short broad and stout rather than wafer thin and wobbly and the solidity of the ride is immediately impressive. Other nice touches on the two bikes we saw and rode (Pre-production 1 and 2 respectively) include the asymmetric diagonal bracing strut to avoid the chainline and a complete replaceable drop out system using a bolted plug-in joint on the chainstay.
We’ll bring you a full test as soon as we get quality time with a production version but for now we’re certainly very impressed. Jungle are hoping for deliveries late July / August time so start pestering your local shop for one somewhere around then.
As we’ve said the other rarity around in surprising numbers was the Mono-Link Maverick ML-4.
As well as the standard copper coloured version designer Paul Turner also turned up with some of their dafter ‘screen print’ style paintjobs, including a new Hawaiian shirt print.
Our favourite is still definitely the floral paintjob, which when you think about it is actually remarkably practical. I mean who’s going to notice a few touch up dabs of nail varnish on a frame like that?
Also on the stand was the new lightweight “Reposado” frameset which delivers 80mm of Monolink travel from a magnesium all air shock. A lighter mainframe sat out front drops frame + shock weight to 5.2 lbs. Paul Turner also had a totally new project that he’s still developing and we were therefore asked nicely not to leak any information and pictures about. Suffice to say it’s a fairly radical idea and our short rides were very impressive. More on that as soon as Paul wants people to know.
That’s all for now folks, but expect some final product news from Giro, Ritchey and SRAM in the final instalment of our Garda goody bag.