FRAME & BUILD
The frame is laid up as a one piece mould, eliminating the need to bond bits on at various points in the build process. Cable stops and the rear brake mount are integrated into the layupn as well, with all cabling slung underneath the top tube. A short, tapered-bearing zero stack-compatible head tube works to keep the front end as low as possible, while flattened seat stays are there to try and filter out some rear end stiffness. A regulation threaded bottom bracket shell ensures a wider range of crank options, too.
It’s hard to see at first glance, but the seat tube is slightly kinked just above the point where the front derailleur sits to facilitate the use of ultra-short 17.3″/432mm (for a 29er at least) chain stays. That’s a full 13mm shorter than those on the KTM 29er we test in another write up, yet there’s still plenty of clearance for 2.1 inch (53mm) tires In fact, the larger 2.25″ )57mm” Schwalbe Racing Ralph also fits in; a good choice for a longer day in the saddle.
We’re not overly impressed with the low-tech soft alloy chain suck plate fitted under the right stay – from the look of our test bike, the damage from dropping a chain actually occurs right above where the plate is double side taped on. And there’s nothing protecting the stay itself other than the 1990’s-spec neoprene protector that Santa Cruz throws in the box. A regulation bolt-on derailleur hanger provides some insurance against rock strikes, but it can also be a source of mis-shifting when even slightly tweaked.