First Look | The Santa Cruz Bronson V4 gets a new haircut

We first saw the 150mm travel Santa Cruz Bronson in 2013. Back in those days, we were asking ‘What does the Fox say,’ doing the Harlem Shake, enduro was beginning to gain steam, and so were 27.5in wheels — we also thought a 67-degree head angle was on the cutting edge of progressive geometry, oh how times have changed.

Eight years on, Santa Cruz has just announced the fourth iteration of the Bronson and the third generation of its sister bike, the Juliana Roubion.

While the rear travel remains at 150mm of Santa Cruz’s VPP squish, the mixed wheel setup should retain the bikes playful character, but add some big hit monster truck-ability.

Business in the front, party in the back

A rider bar turns next to a rock wall
The new Bronson and Roubion have a wagon wheel on the front and an in-betweener wheel on the back.

According to Santa Cruz, the adoption of mullet wheels trickled down from the Syndicate race team’s success doing its best Joe Dirt impression on the V10 DH bikes, and now we see mixed wheels on the Heckler MX, Bullit, and of course the new Bronson. 

The idea behind utilising both wheel sizes is to allow the front end the rollover, traction, and stability afforded by 29in wheels and tyres. The smaller 27.5in wheel on the back reduces the BB to axel drop and shortens up the rear end to make the bike a bit more agile and playful. With that said, the XS size frame rolls on 650b front and rear to alleviate any issues with standover height and toe overlap and to help smaller riders get on top of the wheels.  

In that same vein, the new Bronson also sees size specific chainstays so that the front centre and rear centre grow in tandem to maintain handling characteristics across the size range. Santa Cruz has also employed variable seat angles; size XS measures 76.9-degrees and size XL is 76.4-degrees.


Lower-link VPP

The new frame is based around the lower link VPP, but the linkage has been tweaked to ride like the Hightower.

Unlike the new Blur XC bike, the 2022 Bronson sees Santa Cruz’s VPP suspension design, where dual, counter-rotating links move the rear end through its travel. The lower-link VPP suspension layout is carried over from the previous model, but the linkage has been tweaked to allow for a longer stroke shock to reduce overall leverage. 

Santa Cruz says the leverage curve is similar to its Hightower, meaning your ankles shouldn’t pay the ultimate price when you go a bit too deep, but when it’s time to pedal your way back up, each turn of the cranks isn’t met with a wallowing, inefficient mess. Still, the Bronson is most definitely not the bike for a person who puts an emphasis on going uphill, there are far better bikes in Santa Cruz’s lineup for that, like the Tallboy.

The VPP setup also creates a lower instant centre and anti-squat, creating less pedal feedback and reducing the chain’s influence on the rear suspension.

Santa Cruz VPP
The shock is routed through the seat tube and is driven by the lower link.

With that, the new Bronson and Roubion can be run with both an air shock or a coil. Every build comes stock with a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate, except for the entry-level Bronson and Roubion builds, which utilise a Fox Float X Performance shock. 

What about the geometry?

We are talking about a new bike here, so of course, longer and slacker need to somehow make their way into the conversation. The Bronson and Roubion are 0.9-degrees slacker at the head tube (64.5-degrees), while the reach grows by 15mm and the stack is 20m higher than its predecessor, in the low position. A size medium sees a 542mm reach, 628mm stack, 436mm chainstays, a 76.6-degree seat angle and 1222mm wheelbase. 

Should you swap the flip-chip into the high position, the BB height goes up by 3mm, the head angle steepens to 64.7-degrees, as does the seat angle to 77.1-degrees, the reach increases by 3mm (455mm), the stack jumps 2mm (626mm), the chainstays come down by 1mm (335mm), and so does the wheelbase (1221mm). 

Santa Cruz Bronson Geometry

Two riders descendin on the new Rubion
The Bronson is definitely a bike with a descending bias, but it will still pedal uphill when you need it to.

Build kits

Santa Cruz is offering both the Bronson and Juliana Roubion in its C and CC carbon. In a size large, the CC frame is claimed to weigh 3,572g, including the Super Deluxe rear shock, and the C version is said to add another ~200g depending on the size. 

The new Bronson sticks to Boost spacing, has ISCG05 chain guide mounts and a threaded bottom bracket (yippee!). Santa Cruz has also opted for SRAM’s Universal Derailleur Hanger, and an IS headset with 44mm upper bearing, 49mm lower bearing. 

Santa Cruz Carbon Bar
Unfortunately, these bars aren’t spec’d on any of the Bronsons or Roubions coming into Aus, but the fact that Santa Cruz denoted they’re available in a Di2 version is interesting.

Select models of the Bronson are spec’d with a new Carbon handlebar from Santa Cruz. These bars see a 35mm rise, 8.5-degree back sweep, and five-degree upsweep. Designed, prototyped and tested at the brand’s in-house carbon lab, Santa Cruz tells us these bars are easy on the hands and will be available for aftermarket purchase. The bikes that don’t get these carbon bars see a Burgtec Alloy cockpit.

An interesting little nugget we’ve noticed in the details about these new bars is that Santa Cruz points out that they are available in a Di2 version. Shimano offered its previous generation 11-speed drivetrains in an electronic shifting trim, however up to this point, Di2 has not made its way to the brand’s 12-speed drivetrains. Has Santa Cruz accidentally blown Shimano’s cover here? Maybe not, because this could also be referring to compatibility with Shimano eBike controller, used on the Heckler and Bullit.

While the prospect of a 12-speed Shimano electronic drivetrain caught our attention, the availability of these bars in Australia is to be confirmed.

Santa Cruz Bronson and Juliana Roubion price, specs and availability 

The Juliana Rubion moves around a corner
Santa Cruz had warned its bikes would get a bit more expensive; we definitely see that in the new Bronson and Roubion.

Lusty Industries, the Australian Santa Cruz distributor, has confirmed we will see both the new Bronson and Roubion from about August. Both will be available as a frameset in the CC carbon trim with a RockShox Super Deluxe, priced at $6,249.00.

As for complete bikes, we will see the Bronson C in a Sram NX Eagle build with RockShox Lyrik fork ($8,449.00) or dressed in Sram GX Eagle with a Fox 36 up front ($9,849.00). The Roubion will only be available with GX Eagle and a Fox 36 ($9,849.00).

2022 Santa Cruz Bronson 4 C R

Santa Cruz Bronson C R
The Bronson C R build mixes RockShox and Fox suspension and spins a SRAM NX drivetrain.

2022 Santa Cruz 22 Bronson 4 C S

Santa Crus Bronson CS
The Bronson C S steps up to a SRAM GX Eagle Drivetrain and mixes Fox and RockShox but swaps front for back.

Juliana 22 Roubion 4 C S

Juliana Roubion C S
The Roubion C S exactly the same at the Bronson bar, the touchpoints and the paint job.

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