FIRST LOOK | Santa Cruz Releases New 5th Generation Nomad


Santa Cruz’s big travel brawler, the Nomad, is back for 2021 with its fifth generation platform. Flanked by the latest Bronson on one side and the V10 on the other, the Nomad rolls on 27.5in wheels and is designed around the lower link VPP suspension design with a generous 170mm of suspension travel front and rear. While it used to be Santa Cruz’ enduro bike, that position has largely been filled for the racers by its 29in counterpart, the Megatower. Santa Cruz is far from abandoning 27.5in wheels though, having launched an all-new 5010 earlier this year. Not everyone wants big wheels, and not everyone is only concerned by going as fast as possible. And for those riders, folks who are looking for a big mountain-freeride-enduro-park smasher, Santa Cruz has this bike; the Nomad 5.0.

2021 santa cruz nomad 5.0 cc
The Nomad is back!
2021 santa cruz nomad 5.0 cc x01
Featuring an all-new carbon frame, the 5th generation Nomad is perhaps the tidiest one yet.

Nomad 5.0 – What’s Changed?

We’ll start by talking about what hasn’t changed. That would be the 27.5in wheelsize, the 170mm of travel, and the suspension design. The last model, the Nomad 4.0, was the first non-DH bike from Santa Cruz to feature the lower link VPP suspension layout, with the shock placed down over the bottom bracket where it was driven by the bottom linkage. Now nearly every Santa Cruz model, including the Hightower, Tallboy and Bronson, features the same layout.

The new Nomad carries on with the VPP suspension design, though the link orientation has been tweaked to improve the leverage curve, and the overall silhouette has been tidied up. The carbon frame is entirely new, and the one-piece carbon swingarm now features double uprights to create a stiffer and stronger rear end, while also giving it a more symmetrical aesthetic. All suspension pivots roll on sealed bearings, and the lower link features external grease ports.

As with the 5010, the Nomad adopts the SRAM UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger), and the usual features we’ve come to expect from Santa Cruz, like the guided internal cable routing and threaded bottom bracket, are all present. There’s also a new squidgy chainstay protector, along with downtube and shuttle guards, and a neat mudflap to protect the shock from rear wheel spray.

2021 santa cruz nomad 5.0 cc
A two-position chip in the lower shock mount gives you both High and Low geometry options.

Fresh Geometry

The Nomad 5.0 gets a few key updates over the last generation model – it’s a wee bit slacker and the reach is a touch longer. The seat tube shows the biggest difference though, steepening by over 3°. It’s also shorter too, for extra long uppy-downy seatposts.

You can tweak the bike’s angles with a two-position geometry chip that’s located in the lower shock mount. It’s not exactly drastic though – flipping that chip into the High position will lift the BB by 4mm and steepen the angles by just 0.3°. The suspension rate also changes slightly, with a slightly more progressive feel in the Low position.

As with the 5010, the Nomad now offers size-specific rear centre lengths. Santa Cruz achieves this by moving the VPP pivot points on the front triangle to increase or decrease the distance between the BB shell and rear axle – the swingarm itself is actually identical for all frame sizes.

2021 santa cruz nomad 5.0 geometry

2021 santa cruz nomad 5.0 cc
Rear centre lengths are different on each size to keep the front-to-rear weight balance more consistent.

What Will Be Available In Oz, And When?

The Nomad will be available in both C and CC carbon varieties. Same moulds, shape and geometry, just a different grade of carbon fibre, with the CC being the lighter and more expensive option out of the two. No word on an alloy frame as yet, but we don’t expect there to be – Santa Cruz has been moving towards carbon frames exclusively for a while now.

We’ll see three different spec options available in the Nomad range coming to Australia, with prices ranging from $9,699 – $12,249 AUD. While all complete bikes feature a 170mm travel Fox 38 fork and an air shock as standard, both the XT and X01 builds will be available with a coil shock option too.

You’ll also be able to get a Nomad CC frameset with a Fox Float X2 or DHX2 shock for $5,899 AUD. You can choose one of two colours; Oxblood or Adder Green.

Anyone itching to get their hands on a new Santa Cruz Nomad will need to be patient though – Lusty Industries, the Australian distributor for Santa Cruz Bicycles, won’t be receiving stock until April of 2021.

2021 santa cruz nomad c s
Featuring a GX Eagle drivetrain and Code brakes, the Nomad C S build will be the cheapest Nomad coming to Australia.

2021 Santa Cruz Nomad C S

2021 santa cruz nomad c xt coil
The Nomad C XT steps up to a Fox 38 Performance Elite fork, and offers both coil and air shock options.

2021 Santa Cruz Nomad C XT

2021 santa cruz nomad cc x01
The blingiest of the lot, the Nomad CC X01 gets the lighter CC frame, and features Fox Factory suspension.

2021 Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01

2021 santa cruz nomad 5.0 cc
No number plates here.

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