Does the Santa Cruz Nomad work as a trail bike?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Does the Santa Cruz Nomad work as a trail bike?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  samjames2018 3 weeks ago.

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  • #289149

    I ride trail center style trails 90% of the time on my Giant Stance 120 mm trail bike. It definitely gets the job done but doesn’t feel super capable on chunky Colorado Black trails. I am looking to add a bike to my arsenal that will be practical for trails and for the 10% of the riding I do at the bike park. Where I live it’s ROCKS EVERYWHERE!

    Ive been thinking of the Santa Cruz Nomad, but have heard it’s big and sluggish on trails. My local bike shop doesn’t even sell it unless I order it. I know it would be a blast at the bike park but would it be too overkill to have fun on regular trails? What are your experiences with the nomad ?

    Ive also been thinking of the Rocky Mountain Altitude and the Santa Cruz Bronson (though I don’t like the colors of the Bronson this year). I know these bikes are more balanced all around but I am fixated on the Nomad for some reason. Please let me know if you’ve ridden any of these bikes and if any of them fit the bill. I ride strictly for fun and for exercise.

  • #289178

    Would it be too overkill to have fun on regular trails?

    Maybe not. I tested the Nomad (along with 4 other similar bikes) on “regular” trails a couple years ago. At the end of my review I wrote,

    Perhaps the craziest thought I had after my test ride was that I could see myself riding the Nomad on my local trails–trails very similar to those at the US National Whitewater Center–without feeling like I was pushing around too much bike. This is an aggressive bike for sure, but it’s only as aggressive as the rider wants it to be.

    What are your local trails? Living in Colorado, I think the Nomad would be a good fit for anywhere you want to ride.

    • #289303

      Hey Jeff,

      Thanks for the feedback! I read your review and found it very helpful. I can’t believe I was able to get a response so quickly from someone as experienced as you.

      The trails I ride the most are in the Horsetooth Mountain/Lory State Park area, which is sort of my home base. I ride Devil’s Backbone sometimes and ride Trestle Bike Park when I am able to (Roughly 6-10 days out of the summer). I’ve only been riding for a little over a year but am hooked.

      A few additional details that might help are that I am a slow climber and not in the best shape, but I am getting fitter every ride. I live for the descents and am willing to work for them, though I am slow compared to other riders on the climb. I am probably what most people would consider a weekend warrior. I go pretty much every weekend and sometimes after work if I am able. I probably average once a week, twice when I am able.

      I did have another question I would like to ask. Is the extra $1000 for a carbon frame worth it? I know this is subjective, but if I am going to spend this much on my dream bike, I don’t want to regret not getting the carbon. The marginal weight savings are not a huge factor for me, but if it will ride noticeably better that might be worth the extra money. (Not gonna lie, the looks of the carbon also pull me in). But at the end of the day, I don’t even know if I would feel the difference.

      Thanks again for taking the time to respond!

    • #289363

      The trails I ride the most are in the Horsetooth Mountain/Lory State Park area, which is sort of my home base. I ride Devil’s Backbone sometimes and ride Trestle Bike Park when I am able to (Roughly 6-10 days out of the summer). I’ve only been riding for a little over a year but am hooked.

      I also ride Horsetooth two to three times a week.  Based on your comments above, I am assuming you are typically riding Wathan, Mill Creek, Sawmill, Howard, etc.

      As others have pointed out, you have a wide array of really good choices these days.  I have ridden with people on aggressive hardtails and with others riding 180mm travel bikes.  You need to figure out if you like to dance around the obstacles or plow through them.  Also, some bikes will make Towers slightly less awful to ride up – but it will still suck even on a new wonder bike ;).

      Most local shops will let you apply the money you spent demoing their bikes toward a purchase from them.  ProVelo has a good selection of Yeti, Santa Cruz, Ibis, and Giant.  For example, try a Hightower, Nomad, Bronson, and then mix things up and take out a RipMo.  A list similar to that should give you a good taste of short- vs long-travel, 29er vs 650b, and different company’s suspensions.

    • #289365

      Thanks for the responses everyone.

      ProVelo is actually where I bought my Giant and it is where I plan on buying my next bike. Unfortunately, they do not have any Nomads to demo, but I did demo the Bronson. It was great, except it was not as plush as I expected it to be. They said it may be because they set it to 25% sag instead of 30%. I plan on demoing more bikes so we will see what I land on.

      If anyone else has ridden the Nomad and his impressions please let me know. I like to plow through terrain and like my bike to be forgiving, but I do want it to feel like it is alive.

  • #289340

    Two years ago when Jeff tested the Nomad things were very different.  Then, there were almost no 29er Enduro bikes or Trailbikes with progressive (Enduro-ish) geometry and 2.5-2.6 tires were were just coming out.  Now,  there are many 29er Enduro bikes and even short-travel Trailbikes have progressive geometry and 2.5-2.6 tires are quite common.  Now, even short-travel 29er trailbikes with progessive-geo and 2.5-2.6 tires are amazingingly capable.   Before buying the Nomad,  I would go test ride some of the new wider-tire 2020 29ers with 130-150mm rear travel like the Trek Fuel EX, Ibis Ripmo and so many more.  The Nomad might have been state of the art two years ago but I don’t think that is true today.

    As to aluminum vs carbon fiber,  aluminum is heavier but cheaper and carbon fiber is lighter but more expensive.  They both get the job done.  You will get no performance advantages with carbon fiber except the decreased weight.   In fact, aluminum is less likely to fail over the long run.

    In the end, don’t over think it.  Bikes are so much better than they were just a few years ago.  It’s getting hard to buy a bad bike.  Just get out there and ride.

    And yes, you can use an Enduro bike as a Trailbike.

  • #289341

    You will get no performance advantages with carbon fiber except the decreased weight.

    Not sure many bike brands would agree with that statement. 🙂 Everyone claims their layup is tuned to add stiffness or compliance exactly where it needs to be.

    • #289366

      I was wondering if you had any input on fair negotiations? I do not want to be greedy and my local bike shop offered to take off the price of tax essentially. Is about 10% off reasonable for buying a new bike of this caliber or should I go higher? Like I said I don’t want to be greedy and I know they need to make money, but I have been told not to pay retail price on a new bike.

      Thanks!

  • #289732

    I have spent a lot of time on various Santa Cruz bikes (all of the current ones pretty much) and own a Nomad 4 right now.

    First up I’ll say that I and everyone I work with think the Bronson is a waste of time. The Nomad climbs equally well and descends better. The Nomad is honestly one of the best climbing bikes in that travel bracket in my opinion. It’s a very plush bike but a lot of fun still. I live in North Vancouver and it’s my every day trail bike.

    For something that’s a great all rounder and very capable check out what I wrote on the new Hightower – not as plush as the nomad but pedals crazy well and it’s still a fast bike. Would be my choice for 90% of riding, if I could have more than one bike.

    I do love my Nomad though… it’s a great bike.

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