Santa Cruz 5010 / Solo: “Jack of all trades; master of many…”
I recently had the opportunity to “test ride” a 2015 Santa Cruz 5010. [edit: I fess up – I bought it…] The bike I rode was the 5010C – the carbon-frame version. When this bike was first introduced, it was named the “Solo;” however, another manufacturer apparently had rights to the Solo trade name, so the marketing folks at Santa Cruz quickly renamed the bike the 5010. Brilliant.
I have four or five rides on the bike – all of which were a mixture of woods singletrack, uphills, downhills (nothing crazy), rocks and roots. The 5010 is a 27.5″ (wheel size) bike – the very first I have ridden. Coming off two full suspension 29Rs, I was concerned about the potential lack of “rollover” effect compared with 29-inch wheels. Here in Colorado, I welcomed the transition from 26″ wheels to 29″ wheels, and I was concerned about moving to a smaller wheel size. More on this later on.
The bike I rode has a high-end build, including the silly expensive Enve carbon wheels. The rear derailleur is SRAM XX1, and braking is handled by SRAM’s new Guide brakes. The bike has a RockShox Reverb dropper seatpost (I could take or leave droppers, personally), Santa Cruz carbon bars, Santa Cruz lock-on grips and, of course, a RockShox Pike fork. The only mods from box stock were the addition of Shimano XTR pedals, and the bars were cut down to a more respectable width for general trail riding. I added a side-mount water bottle cage, and a small seat bag with a multi-tool, tire levers, a 26″ tube and a large CO2 cartridge. (I run Stan’s NoTubes, so the tube is in the pack for sidewall cuts and the like.)
Sizing note: I am 5′ 10.5″ (179 cm) tall with a 32-inch (82 cm) inseam and a 33″ (84 cm) sleeve length in a dress shirt. I’m kind of long-legged with a shorter torso. This bike is a size Large, and it fits me well. I can sometimes ride a medium in other manufacturers’ bikes, but the Large 5010 is perfect.
Ride report: After a few good rides on the bike, the wow factor is an “11.” My impression would be the same even if the bike had the less expensive alloy hoops. Handling is neutral – the bike goes where you point it, and it is very stable. It climbs well, with little suspension feedback, and the bike is loads of fun in the twisties. Due to some combination of frame geometry, superb suspension and fairy dust, I don’t really miss much of the rollover effect of 29-inch wheels. Fortunately, you do lose some of the “flywheel” effect of 29-inch wheels, as well as some of the “wheel flop” effect. I am not a fan of SRAM brakes, but the new Guide brakes seem to have good predictability and stopping power. The pads took a while to bed in, but once they did, they delivered good braking power. I’m not sure if they are as good as Shimano XTR brakes, but I’ll give them some time.
I not a downhiller (way too old for that foolishness), so I didn’t really test the bike on nasty, rocky descents. If you’re into the drops and nasties, just get the Santa Cruz Bronson (or a downhill rig) and be done with it.
Nits and pics: After a good amount of time on the bike, there is very little I would change. That said, I do have a couple of very minor grumbles:
- The stock bars were crazy wide for a trail bike. For general trail riding, you’ll probably want to cut them down.
- The bottom bracket seems a bit low; I’m getting a few more pedal strikes than I’m used to.
- This is not an issue with the bike, per se, but I wish I had degreased the drivetrain before taking it out. The chain had a nasty OEM grease/grit attractant on it that promptly gummed things up and sounded like I had thrown a handful of beach sand into the cassette. It’s much better now after I cleaned it and slathered it with Squirt chain lube – my favorite for dry, dusty conditions.
- I’m getting some drivetrain noise in the back. I’m still trying to isolate it, but it sounds like it might be the jockey wheels. Hmm.
All in all, this is one of the best mountain bikes I have ever ridden. I have been skeptical of the 27.5″/650b platform since it started gaining momentum (hehe…) a few years ago. However, this bike validates, in my mind, what a nice compromise the 27.5″ wheels are – at least with the right frame geometry and suspension setup.
If general trail riding is your thing, the 5010 is hard to beat. Call it a “Goldilocks” bike or, as I stated earlier…a “Jack of all trades; master of many…”
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DISCLAIMER: The above remarks are from an aging “masters” rider who is going on his fifth knee surgery, experiences occasional shoulder, hip, wrist and foot pain, and periodic trailside incontinence. Your results may vary…
I like the new Santa Cruz lock-on grips – although I’ve developing some nice calluses!
SRAM’s new Guide hydraulic brakes…so far, so good.
I like how Santa Cruz had RockShox color-coordinate the decals on the Pike fork.
Here’s the bike at Pro Cycling – about to get the bars cut down!
On the trail – until next time…
thanks for the article, I’ve also bought a solo and also love it! I’ve upgraded from a aluminum blur so this was a natural progression for me.
I am looking into upgrading the drivetrain from XT to 11 speed XX1 SRAM because I like the idea of losing the front derailer and saving some weight.
I’m thinking of upgrading the Fox evolution forks to something a bit more substantial. I’ve read the Pikes and the Fox 36 would be the best contenders. I think the Solo is supposed to have 140mm forks – would you know if I can fit a set of 150mm or even 160mm?
I too am too old for downhill, LOL. I hope you continue to enjoy the bike and the sensible trails.
Lynn Kehler says
Thanks for the comment, Steve, and my apologies for the delayed reply. I guess I’ve been asleep at the blog wheel for a couple of weeks. Your proposed upgrades sound good to me, but I don’t know about the longer travel forks. The OEM Pike that came on my bike seems just about perfect. I’ve never had a fork that was as smooth as the Pike (i.e., little if any stiction).
Hope you enjoy your Solo….send me a pic sometime!
Martin Canby says
I have been looking at getting in to a 5010 and value your opinion. There has been much time that has passed since you have written your experience and was curious how your opinion has changed, if at all. Every time I plan on doing a demo with Santa Cruz, something keeps me from riding one. I, much like you, enjoy the cross country aspect of mountain biking.
I don’t really mind buying used. I have came across some really nice bikes that someone goes out and spends a boatload of cash on then looses interest or doesn’t like the work it takes to get to the places that makes a ride so gratifying. We’re probably close to the same age and ride the same type of trails, so I have to ask you, do you prefer a carbon frame or aluminum? What is the difference that you would find other than the obvious. Yes, I know several pounds. But I have to laugh at my self when I go for a good Saturday morning ride. My Camel Pak alone probably weighs 10 pounds. 2 liters of Water, Phone, music, food and my new addition of a GoPro. Am I concerned about the weight difference between carbon and aluminum, not really, unless you start talking about the flex of a carbon and the rigidness of aluminum. And what about the strength? I realize carbon is strong but my current bike has some good gouges from scraping and falling on rocks. How would that affect the carbon? Some of the things I wonder about. I am curious to what you think about all this.
San Luis Obispo, California
Lynn Kehler says
Thanks for the note. I’ve been thinking about posting a followup report on the 5010. I still believe it’s a great bike, and I love the geometry. SC’s frame sizing seems to run a tad small, so be sure to take that into consideration (I ride mediums in Specialized, but a large 5010 with a short stem is perfect). Relative to carbon vs. aluminum, for guys like me it basically boils down to a couple of pounds and the cool factor. I’m with you — a Camelbak, tube, pump, rain jacket and tools will easily top ten pounds, so why worry with a couple of additional pounds of frame weight??
So….the choice a frame materials is more of a financial and “cool factor” decision. If I was an elite racer and could ditch the Camelbak, my opinion would probably be different. As a 50-something, fueled by good chow and IPA rider, it probably doesn’t make much difference. If you are at all concerned about resale value, I would pass on the carbon (Enve) rims. My experience is that they command very little, if any, value in the resale market.
Let me know what else I can do to help with your decision…..thanks!
Steven Muenzenmeyer says
PS ..Nice bike!!