For the 6th Generation, Santa Cruz Nomad Goes Mixed-Wheel

All photos provided by Santa Cruz.

The Santa Cruz Nomad is now officially on version 6.0. The latest updates swap balanced, 27.5 wheels front and rear for a mixed-wheel configuration, add Glove Box storage in the down tube, and tweak the geo and suspension with the promise of even better performance in a wide range of conditions.

Major changes to the Santa Cruz Nomad 6

santa cruz nomad 6

Let’s start with the biggest change to the Nomad: mixed wheels (MX). In describing the previous version of the Nomad, Santa Cruz says, “we chose 27.5 wheels as the go-to for the widest variety of riding styles and rider sizes.” Welp, clearly times have changed, and the larger 29er wheel up front clearly has its advantages, while still fitting riders of most sizes and (hopefully) allowing riders to tackle even bigger trails. The Nomad 6 is still available in a size small, and even brings the XXL size back that was not offered with the Nomad 5. Moving to mixed wheels keeps with a recent pattern at Santa Cruz, with only the 5010 remaining as a dedicated 27.5 bike. (There’s also a 27.5 version of the V10 downhill bike, which can also be configured MX or 29er.)

The updated Santa Cruz Nomad gets the brand’s Glove Box stash spot on the oversized down tube. Santa Cruz even includes a “Tool Wallet” and “Tube Purse” to help riders keep the Glove Box organized.

Santa Cruz tweaked the suspension characteristics of the Nomad this go-around, and while quantitatively the changes seem to be minor, they represent a pretty major shift in philosophy, and could indicate an end to some of the trends we’re seeing in MTB suspension design, or at least an outer limit. The brand says anti-squat has been reduced “to remove suspension harshness triggered by square-edge hits while descending. The reduction of anti-squat also allows the rear wheel to maintain better traction while climbing.” Of course there’s always a tradeoff, and in this case it means a less efficient platform for pedaling.

The leverage curve has also been tweaked, resulting in slightly more linear, less progressive leverage throughout the 170mm of rear travel. Santa Cruz claims this gives the bike improved stability and better tracking. Until we have a chance to test it, we’ll have to take their word on this.

Singletracks contributor and Steed Cycles employee Sam James got an early look at the updated Nomad, and here’s his take.

Santa Cruz Nomad 6 geometry

Most of the geometry updates to the Nomad are pretty minor, with the head tube angle going slacker by about 0.2° and the seat tube angle going a bit slacker on small and medium frames, and a bit steeper on the XL. The small and medium frames see slightly longer reach, while the XL gets a shorter reach. All sizes still feature size-specific chainstay lengths, which Santa Cruz introduced on the previous version of the Nomad. For the latest Nomad, Santa Cruz lengthened chainstays across the board by several millimeters.

Notable frame features and build notes

The updated Nomad still features a mini fender near the bottom of the seat tube to shield the shock from grit, and the frame is designed to accommodate up to 2.6in-wide tires. The rear brake mounts are designed for 180mm rotors and all builds feature a RockShox Zeb or Fox 38 with 170mm of travel. All medium- to high-end builds can be configured with either a coil or air shock.

  • Frame: $4249
  • Complete Bikes: starting at $5499 (R, carbon C build)
  • Select builds available at Competitive Cyclist