Over this past Winter, I spent a fair amount of time scheming up a new dream build for Spring. Last year I converted a Specialized Enduro into a mullet setup with WRP’s link, but this year I’ll be aboard my first dedicated mullet – a Santa Cruz Nomad version 6. The last time I owned a Santa Cruz was in 1999 on a bright red Bullet, which was my first “downhill” bike. Needless to say, some things have changed since then. Last year I tested the new Bronson and was very impressed with its greatly improved suspension. Right after my first ride, the idea of a longer travel version of that mixed wheel setup seemed like it could be the hot ticket for a great deal of my riding, so here we are…
Like most of my dream bikes, this Nomad is black, but if you look closely you’ll notice that I slapped a gloss RideWrap kit on the matte frame for a finish conversion. Anyhow, read on for details on the full build…
- 170mm travel front and rear via VPP suspension
- Internal sleeved cable/hose routing
- Universal derailleur hanger
- Adjustable geometry via flip chip in lower shock link
- 29″ front / 27.5 rear wheel
- Glovebox internal storage
- 33 pounds without pedals
Starting up front, I opted for the recently updated RockShox ZEB Ultimate RC2 with 170mm of travel. On the surface the 2023 ZEB doesn’t look wildly different, but with an all new Charger 3 damper, bleed valves, an updated air spring and Buttercups, the sum of its parts make it a much improved fork.
One of the high points of the new Nomad is its internal storage via Glovebox. I’d be lying if I said that downtube storage isn’t a factor when it comes to choosing my bikes these days.
The Nomad has very ideal rear suspension kinematics – to me any way – with an ability to run coil or air rear shocks equally well. I went with the new RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate, in part due to its externally adjustable hydraulic bottom out – a feature that I place high value on. That was paired to a 500# EXT spring to save quite a bit of weight (~200 grams). Lastly, I opted to swap out the stock lower shock hardware for a needle bearing setup from Real World Cycling. This is due to the high degree of rotation at the lower shock eyelet that’s inherent to the VPP suspension layout.
Up front, I decided to mix things up and instead of my usual OneUp bar and Industry Nine stem combo, I’m trying a couple of new bits from Chromag. Specifically a 38mm length Riza stem and Cutlass Fubar in a 35mm rise. I went with 31.8mm diameter to get a bit of extra compliance. So far, so good…
A nice tidy front end with just two brake hoses.
Magura was kind enough to provide a set of the latest MT7 brakes. On a past build I cobbled these together by ordering the Loic Bruni levers separately, but now Magura offers them as complete setup. Their power, modulation and lever feel is extraordinary. 203mm Storm rotors front and rear.
RockShox AXS seatpost remains my all time favorite. Pricey, yes, but no cables works wonders on the maintenance and aesthetic fronts.
I managed to get my hands on the slightly lighter CC version of the frame to keep the weight down a bit.
For the cockpit I opted for a SRAM Eagle AXS XO1 drivetrain with a 10-50T cassette and a 30T chainring. By forgoing a 52T, I am hoping to keep the chain length slightly shorter and thus quieter…We’ll see how it shakes out.
My original Cane Creek eeWings just keep on ticking, I have had these cranks on a half dozen or more bikes at this point. They’re simply incredible in terms of weight and stiffness…very much worth the investment in the long run.
For the Nomad’s wheelset I custom laced a set of crankbrothers Synthesis E11 carbon rims to a set of DT Swiss 240 hubs, I upgraded the star ratchet from 36T to 54T and added in Santa Cruz Reserve valves. Over the years I’ve tested many carbon fiber rims and to this day, the crankbrothers strike the best balance of stiffness to forgiveness, while still boasting excellent strength.
To save a bit of weight while still remaining comfortable, I went with WTB’s Silverado Carbon saddle. The contour and padding are great and I love the shape of the nose. At just 181 grams it’s featherweight for its size and level of comfort.
When I tested the new Hightower recently, I fell in love with Santa Cruz’s in house grips. They take a few rides to break in, but are super comfortable and extremely grippy in wet weather. They’re also on the thick, but not too thick side of things.
As far as rubber is concerned, I went with a pair of Michelin’s Wild Enduro Racing Line tires. These have a thicker casing than the standard white label offering from the French brand and feature the super tacky Magi-X compound both front and rear. A special thank you to Michelin for sending me a 27.5″ rear tire despite the fact that it isn’t available to the public yet…
Last, but certainly not least, the tried and true Time Speciale 12 pedals. For me, nothing is better. Consistent feel, great support and incredible performance in bad conditions. Plus, if they’re like most Time pedals, they’ll last forever.
Thank you to everyone who helped play a part in getting this bike together. After my first couple of rides I can say it’s my favorite build to date!