SANTA CRUZ BLUR TRC REVIEW
When the new Blur TRc demo bike first turned up at our offices, everyone was instantly dribbling over the top specced carbon trail bike. Santa Cruz have had a lot of success with their Blur LT and XC bikes, but this one was a little bit special and eagerly awaited. The aim of the TRc (trail carbon) model was to create a short travel trail bike, with aggressive geometry for maximum fun, whilst keeping everything super light and super strong. Koo-Bikes weigh everything so this made choosing my products that much easier! Sounds like a perfect combination for many of us out there…!
It offers 125mm rear wheel travel with a relatively slack 68degree head angle, all at a crazy 4.9lbs! Although these figures on their own may not be anything out of the ordinary, but when combined, it would suggest this would be a very fun bike to ride! Although flowing single-track and trail centers are getting more and more popular, and sites are springing up all over the place, this type of aggressive trail bike, which seems perfectly suited to this type of riding, seem to be actually quite hard to find! Very few brands have identified a need for this type of bike, and so we were keen to see if this was potentially going to be the do-it-all bike of the future that everyone is looking for! Many existing ‘all mountain’ bikes have 150-170mm rear wheel travel, which isn’t always required by everyone, and if it isn’t needed, why sacrifice pedal efficiency, weight etc? That’s where the TRc comes in…
Unfortunately we only had the bike for a few days, but this gave us enough time to put it through its paces and get a bit of footage of Max, one of our riders, whilst the sun was briefly out!
We both agreed we instantly loved the bike, and being downhillers at heart, were surprised at how well it handled when pointed down the hill, and yet climbed back up so well.
In fact, I liked it so much, a few months later I bought one myself! And so, I have been able to give it a proper test, which hopefully I can briefly put into words for you…
Koo-Bikes Team rider Max takes the TRc out for a good thrashing blowing both tyres of the rims at one point. See if you can notice when….
Firstly I should outline and explain my build, to give you an idea of how it is being used.
I went for a medium sized frame, being 5’10 I was sitting right between a medium and large, but as I prefer having a slightly smaller ‘chuck able’ bike, I opted for the medium.
Up front went some Fox Float 140mm forks which seemed to compliment the frame pretty well with travel and the head angle it produces. The cock-pit was quite an aggressive one similar to my downhill bike, with a 50mm stem, and 720mm low rise bars. Drive was a 1×9 system with a mix of Shimano XTR and Sram X0, with a range of other light yet strong componentry. My target was to keep weight to a minimum without compromising strength. After all, if I am riding any of the local downhill runs, the last thing I want is to be worrying about parts not being up to the job… Total build came in at 24lbs which I was pretty happy with considering most of the spec I would be happy to run on my DH bike.
My previous ‘trail’ bike had been a similarly specced hardtail, so I was hoping the Blur could still offer the snappy feel of a hardtail, but give me extra comfort when things got rough that hardtails have always lacked.
‘Car park’ test was good; it certainly felt very nimble and easy to chuck around. Acceleration and power transfer were very good, especially when the pro-pedal feature on the rear shock was in use. Admittedly it still wasn’t quite the same as a hardtail, but I wasn’t going to make any judgments until it had been off-road…
To get to the local trails I first had to attack a reasonably rough ascend. Straight away I was aware of how much extra grip and traction I had over the hardtail. The rear end and linkage felt very stiff – often the linkage can allow partial flex into an otherwise solid frame – the TRc felt tight and smooth. The extra traction and comfort more than made up for what it lacks in comparison to a hardtail, and so for me, it had easily passed its first test as I powered up towards the trails… Perhaps the only thing to point out at this stage was that my aggressive bar and stem combo, with 140mm forks, did not provide me with the most suitable climbing position, particularly when it got a bit steeper, however I knew once things leveled out or pointed down, I would certainly not regret this set-up!
As soon as I passed over the top of the hill, pro-pedal and fork lock-out was turned off, and the fun began! The back end tracked very well. Obviously the ride wasn’t quite as smooth as what I was used to with 5inches instead of 8 on the back, but it was doing its job perfectly – taking the sting out of the big hits, tracking the roots and keeping me in more control than if I had been on the hardtail. For the majority of the downhill runs, the geometry felt spot on, only on the steep tracks with larger drops etc did things get abit hairy, but at the end of the day, this isn’t a DH bike.
Next I rode some flowing tight single-track. I soon realized I had a massive grin on my face, and that although great at climbing and descending, this is what it excelled at most! The weight, or lack of, was really noticeable, making it easy to hop over technical roots and rocks, change lines and whip around corners. The VPP linkage kept the suspension fully active and tracked the ground well, yet keeping pedal efficiency high and allowing for fast acceleration out of sections. It seems to give you an extra lease of energy as you want the trail to keep going on and on, and the faster you go, the more fun it gets!
So after the first ride I was honestly blown away. Every aspect of the bike felt spot on. Granted I have not ridden any bikes aimed at the same market so direct comparisons cannot really be made – but as previously mentioned, there are not actually many out there. After riding it at every possible chance, getting the suspension tweaked, it is pretty much as I want. The only additional thing which I will be trying out soon will be an adjustable seat post. Although it holds a significant weight penalty, I think the convenience of being able to change saddle height at the flick of a switch would be a nice addition. The only other possible changes would perhaps be trying out an angle set so I can play with altering the head-angle slightly, depending on how aggressive the riding will be, although the stock geometry is a great compromise for a real mix of just about everything! Also a bolt thru system on the rear axle might be a nice addition, just for added security and extra stiffness.
Koo-Bikes Team rider AJ gives the new Santa Cruz Blur TRc a test ride.
So, to conclude the bike is a great trail bike, as the name would suggest. This is definitely the closest thing to the prefect do-it-all I have come across! Anyone who wants to have an all mountain bike, to go for epically long rides or short fun blasts, then this is perfect. It will climb anything you throw at it, is massively fun when its pointing down the hill, and anything in between is even better! The build quality and finish is top notch, as you would expect from Santa Cruz, as well as great customer support and warranty. Some may argue the price is a little steep, and previously I would have agreed. However, having ridden and now own one, I can see why, and honestly do think it is worth it. It is one of those things, like an iPhone, or sports car, it might be a bit unnecessary, but once you’ve had one, life wouldn’t be the same without one! Super light, super fun, if you give one of these ago, you’ll be hooked…
For more info on this bike, or any of the Santa Cruz range, please contact us at Sales@koo-bikes.com