There was much excitement in 2018 when Santa Cruz made its return to XC race bikes with the revival of the Blur with 29-inch wheels and the brand’s much touted VPP suspension design. This week a redesigned Blur was officially launched. Here are the five standout features.
By Sean Badenhorst
It was more an official numbers, stats and studio images revelation than a classic launch when Santa Cruz released its new Blur this week (1 June 2021). The re-designed XC bike from the American brand had been spotted, photographed, filmed and analysed many weeks in advance of the official launch as it was being raced in Europe and the USA by the new Santa Cruz pro XC racing team.
Although historically primarily associated with gravity and trail bikes, Santa Cruz has, in recent years, made a concerted effort to cater for the competitive Lycra-clad market with the re-introduction of the Blur, which has been well received in South Africa, the global hotbed of short-travel full-sus 29-inch-wheeled mountain bikes.
You probably came across a whole bunch of media content quoting the official media release info on the new Blur in the past couple of days but we figured we’d cut straight to the five standout features.
NEW/OLD SUSPENSION DESIGN
The most obvious standout feature on the new Blur is the shift away from Santa Cruz’s proprietary Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension design in favour of the widely used linkage-driven single-pivot suspension with flexstays (as used on the Specialized Epic, Cannondale Scalpel, Trek Supercaliber and others). Santa Cruz has called this their Superlight Suspension. Having test-ridden hundreds of bikes over the years and participated in hundreds of races, we can confirm that suspension efficiency isn’t a high priority to XC/Marathon racers. Most want rear suspension for some forgiveness but that’s it. Speed from start to finish are the priority. Something as steeped in credibility as VPP is frankly wasted on most competitive XC/Marathon racers.
Having said that, Santa Cruz says it lowered the focus on anti-squat through the frame design and have given this key responsibility to a progressive high-leverage shock. The more consistent leverage curve apparently gives the rear end improved traction and surface sensitivity.
When Santa Cruz launched its revived Blur in 2018, it intimated that great suspension design and super light weight are mutually exclusive. It wasn’t heavy, but it wasn’t super light. Of course light bike weight remains a primary selling point for people with single-digit body fat and podium ambitions so the new svelte design brings the Blur ‘Superlight’ frame weight closer to it’s big-brand rivals.
According to Santa Cruz, a Large CC carbon Blur with SIDLux shock and frame hardware weighs 1933g for the Dark Matter colourway; and 2221g for the Large C carbon Blur in the Salmon colourway (the paint adds 48g). Santa Cruz says that the new Blur frame is 289g lighter than its predecessor. That’s a just over half a block of butter lighter… Santa Cruz says complete bike weight is approximately 23 pounds (10.43kg).
SPACE FOR A SECOND BOTTLE
By doing away with the VPP suspension design, Santa Cruz has opened up the front of the seattube for a second bottle. This is really a key selling point for South Africans that love to compete in marathons and stage races in a warm to hot climate most of the year. We can’t find any information yet on whether the Small frame size fits a second bottle. If it does, it puts the Blur into a very niche category.
Aftermarket seatpost bottle mounts must surely give bicycle engineers anxiety attacks. With space for a second bottle inside the frame, the new Blur comes standard with a 100mm dropper seatpost (Hallelujah!). On the whole, South African marathoners still need to understand and feel the benefits of a dropper seatpost, but there’s definitely a shift in consciousness in this regard and the Blur is primed for improved control on descents and through fast turns with this feature. Curiously, most XC bikes with 100mm of suspension travel don’t have a dropper post with this feature being reserved for the 120mm-travel sibling (think Norco Revolver 120, Specialized Epic Evo and Scott Spark). Kudos to Santa Cruz for making this commitment which other brands are sure to follow suit with in the near future. Yes, it adds a bit of weight, but the handling benefits are worth it in our opinion.
In line with every other new version of a XC bike of late, the updated Blur is longer and slacker than its predecessor. The headtube angle of 68.3 degrees is 0.7 degrees slacker than before; and the reach (on a Medium) is 450mm, 10mm longer than the previous version.
As with some of its rival brands, Santa Cruz has introduced size-specific chainstay lengths and seattube angles to offer ideal proportional fit for different height riders.
The Blur comes in four sizes: S, M, L and XL; and two colours: Dark Matter and Salmon.
THAT’S NOT ALL…
In addition to the new Blur, Santa Cruz also revealed the new Blur TR, which has 120mm of Fox 34 Step-Cast fork upfront, 115mm of Fox Float DPS shock at the rear, Maxxis Rekon tyres and a longer-travel dropper post. Sounds perfect for former rugby players…
There’s also the Juliana Wilder, a women-focussed version of the Blur TR. The Blur TR and Juliana Wilder both come in three sizes: S, M and L.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
If you have to ask… Okay, we’re informed by Rush Sports, the importer, that the base-level model is R104 995 and that you need to contact your local Santa Cruz dealer for the pricing on each model. More info here.