Santa Cruz Solo and Steyning fun

I should ride more! The mantra of many. We all want to ride but there are so many reasons for not doing so. Can I blame work? Is that fair? Whatever, my super form of the winter is fading. I need some serious road miles.

Santa Cruz Solo
Santa Cruz Solo

This weekend, after doing several bike fits and the Paris-Roubaix on, I was all set for a good long trip when a spanner was thrown in the works. We have been admiring the Santa Cruz Solo aka 5010 for a while and such was our enthusiasm that we even sold one (yet to arrive). I mentioned this to a long standing customer who said that he had one and he’d bring it in for me to try. Whey-hey!

Whilst waiting for the group to arrive I just kept chucking the bike around, off curbs and into ridiculously tight turns. I was like a kid with his first BMX. Was it the bike of the fact that I was on a mountain bike again? More to the point a 27.5” bike. As we headed off from my place we climbed the side of Cissbury and such was my excitement I’d soon dropped everyone. This really was a nice bike!

After spending most the last 30 years working on and testing new designs and products I pretty well stopped when I got my first 29er. That was a mistake; there are still bikes worth testing. By way of a teaser I had a quick spin on a Whyte T129 on Saturday and it surprised me just how well balance the ride felt. The Solo came with a Fox set up front and rear with CTD (Climb-Trail-Descend) all very nice but with a good design and proper set up I was happy to leave it in Descend for the entire ride, climbs n’ all. The Solo climbed like a dream. However, this bike and this ride was going to be all about downhill. So zig-zagging our way to Steyning woods we did every descent worth riding. The bike was inspiring.

I wanted to check out all the good work that has been going on improving the Steyning Trails. With 27.5 in wheels, chunky Nobby Nics and 125mm of super plush travel I had a great time and was jumping stuff I’ve never done before. Was it the bike of just being in dirt again? Riding is about confidence and so if the bike, or the set up, or the colour, or the review, or even the technology gives you the confidence that that is enough. Of course poor handling will kill any self belief but the rest is as much in the mind as in the bike design. My mind was in the right place thanks to the Solo. The new version of the Blue run is just fine but the red is really good and seems to have several different options. It is much more manicured than the rough and ready Blue – all to be recommended.

Santa Cruz 5010
Santa Cruz 5010

The Santa Cruz Solo is now the 5010, they have been told that someone else has the rights to “Solo”….. It is set up as a tough trail machine but just by changing the tyres it could pass as a fast, rough riding XC bike. It used Shimano XT for brakes and transmission (you can pay more but can you buy better?), wheels were Hope Hoops with Stan’s Arch and Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35s, Easton EC70 bars, EC90 stem, Rock Shox Stealth Reverb, WTB saddle and 12.4kg /27lbs 5oz. What would I change? I’d fit Maxxis Ardent tyres, Prologo saddle and wider bars. One more thing: Colour!

Here’s the ride, short and sweet.


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