Jacob Penick - Latting Speed Shop - November 9, 2023
Santa Cruz Now Available at Latting Speed Shop
Around the early/mid nineties, skateboard legend Rob Roskopp started a mountain bicycle company. Mountain bikes back then were very discipline-focused -- XC bikes were XC bikes and DH bikes were DH bikes. In 1994, Mr. Roskopp saw 30 years into the future when the entire mountain bike industry would be focused on developing a quiver-killer, a bike capable of both. He began Santa Cruz Bicycles with that focus in mind.
30 years later, Santa Cruz has spent more time than any other brand making a perfectly balanced bicycle. Their current lineup boasts example after example of exceptional bicycle design. At LSS, we each hold Santa Cruz in reverence and have done for a long time. When Santa Cruz got in touch and welcomed us into the fold, it was a moment of quiet celebration around here.
The Ideal Platform
Full suspension bikes all have vastly different ride qualities determined by the linkage that suspends and supports the rear triangle. Most of Santa Cruz's models make use of their patented VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) rear suspension linkage, a set of two robust little counter-rotating links. It's this ingenious design that gives these bikes their unmatched trail feel. When it comes to engingeering details and the numbers that quantify my claims, check out Santa Cruz's own site here.
Here's the upshot -- VPP equipped bikes are in their own class of ride quality. The first thing you notice atop a Santa Cruz is the firm, efficient pedal response. No power is lost through the rear suspension. And boy, that really matters around Memphis. Other full suspension bikes can bounce or wallow under power, moving your wattage through the bike's pivot points instead of through the wheels. This is always going to be the case to some degree, but Santa Cruz's VPP linkage minimizes this power loss in a noticeably effective manner.
Now, if you're like me and your joy can be found where the trail points downwards, these bikes are a real treat. Words can only do so much justice to these things, seriously. Come see me at the shop, I'd love to talk your ear off about how these bikes fill a rider with silly confidence borne of a combination of VPP and well-sorted geometry. If you love to weekend somewhere with hella trail (Bentonville, East TN, maybe even CO), these bikes have a lot to offer.
Our stock VPP bikes -- The 5010, Tallboy & Juliana Joplin. If these colors/builds aren't right, special orders are always open!
The New Standard in Offroad Drivetrains
Have you seen the new SRAM Transmission groupsets yet? They're wild. Our Santa Cruzes are shipping with Transmission kits, which are a refreshing change from the established norm in the mountain bike drivetrain world. If you haven't seen these yet, the new Transmission derailleurs mount directly to the frame sans-derailleur hanger. As a result, the derailluer is wildly strong and mechanically stiff. We're also looking at much, much longer component wear lives. Our SRAM rep claimed you'd wear out a cassette before you'd wear out a chain. So like, a matter of years. We're still waiting on someone to come test this claim. For more info, visit SRAM's info page here.
These new components honestly look crazy. Functional to the max, sure, but wow, do they ever catch the eye!
The Faster Options
It's not all squishy bikes over at Santa Cruz! In fact, they make bikes that are much less squishy, or not even squishy at all.
In the much less squishy category lies the Blur, named for how it looks traveling along singletrack underneath the right pilot. This bike uses Santa Cruz's Superlight suspension system in place of VPP. The Superlight design prioritizes pedaling efficiency while compromising as little traction as possible. Included in the rear travel numbers (100mm for the XC version, 115mm for the Trail (TR) version) is a small amount of vertical seatstay flex, which is central to the firm ride feel. The end result is a race bike, pure and simple. It's FAST. Even the heavier, squishier TR version is a cheetah. Will's personal TR build, pictured below, weighs in at under 25lbs. I'm not sure I've ever ridden a faster XC bike.
In the not even squishy at all category lies the Stigmata, a bike that looks very at home at Latting Speed Shop. The latest iteration of the Stigmata, released just last month, falls into the lineup as one of our most versatile gravel bikes. In short; it kills the gravel niches. Instead of race-gravel, adventure-gravel or casual-gravel, there's just gravel. And that's the Stigmata. You've got clearance for 700x50c tires, in-frame storage, an optional suspension fork and an optional dropper post. It does everything, and in that way is a mirror to Santa Cruz's mountain bike philosophy. To be entirely honest with you, it'll be hard to justify our other do-it-all gravel bikes with this one sitting on the floor.
Moving forward, we can't wait to play with more of these bikes. We acknowledge that, in general, the mountain bike scene in Memphis doesn't necessarily call for big travel machines. That said, these bikes' major strength is versatility. They're on our floor because we truly believe in them. I hope you find them to be a good fit too!
Please come visit, we'll toss pedals on any model and set up the suspension for a rip around the parking lot. Rarely do bikes feel so much like toys under a Christmas tree as these. I (Jacob) would love any opportunity to share with you my excitement about having these bikes here.
Thanks for your time :).