Santa cruz 5010 Geometry, sizing and build kits

Same as the years before, the Santa Cruz 5010 has 130mm of rear travel paired to a 140mm fork and rolls on 27.5” wheels. The 5010 saw some significant updates with this latest version, however. The most apparent, and probably the most impactful update is moving the shock location. The 5010 now uses Santa Cruz’s lower link style like every bike in their lineup minus the Blur. If you haven’t ridden this new design, I’d suggest you try it. There’s something special about the way it provides heaps of traction and a buttery smooth ride. We’ll get into that more later. For now, we’re talking geometry. The 5010 falls right into the modern trail bike category with its geometry. The head tube angle is 65.7 degrees, and the seat tube angle is about 77 degrees depending on the size. Both of these numbers drop by about 0.3 degrees when the flip-chip is in low mode. The reach in XL is roomy, but not too stretched out at 500mm. The wheelbase measures 1255mm. That’s long enough to be stable but short enough that it doesn’t feel like a city bus in a tight corner. 

Here’s an interesting little bit of information. The 5010 has one of the tallest head tubes I’ve ever seen. On an extra-large (size tested), the head tube length is 165mm. A tall head tube is one of a few factors that contribute to stack height. The 5010’s 631mm stack height isn’t extreme, but it does fall closer to the average Santa Cruz 29er stack, 633mm, than it does the 27.5” average of 622mm. The front end feels pretty high relative to the travel amount, and I’m a tall guy. It’s a sensation I’m not used to. I even had to swap most of the spacers under my stem to the top. A tall stack isn’t intrinsically bad. In fact, in certain terrain, it’s pretty beneficial. If you’re riding steep trails, it will keep the front end of the bike from diving and help keep the front wheel from hanging up on bumps. On flatter terrain, it can become a little challenging to keep the front wheel weighted properly. It becomes especially apparent in corners, where the front wheel can tend to wash out. So it comes down to how you like to ride. If you’re going to be pushing the 5010’s limits, you’ll probably appreciate the high front end. If you tend to ride more off the back of the bike and you’re not on steep trails, you might want to slam the stem and invest in some flat bars. 


The new 5010 uses proportionate chainstays for each size. They range from 423-432mm. If you don’t know why this is cool, I covered it in our first look article. Hopefully, more and more manufacturers follow this trend. As a tall guy, I appreciate the correct size chainstays. 

Speaking of sizing, I’m 6’2,” and I rode an extra-large for this review. I almost always ride extra-large, and the 5010 fits me like a glove. As for setup, I ran 90 PSI in the 140mm RockShox Pike Select+ and 210 PSI in the Super Deluxe Select +. Those pressures put me right at 29.99% rear sag and about 15% up front while seated. For reference, I weigh 185lb. 

The build kits on this year’s 5010 focus on value and performance. While Santa Cruz doesn’t have many inexpensive options, most of their builds offer quite a bit of value. Unfortunately, there isn’t an alloy frame as of right now. Not sure if they have plans to make one, but I think they should. The 5010 would be the perfect platform for an alloy frame. A carbon CC frame will cost you $3,299 with complete builds starting at $4,099 for an NX build. The build I tested was an XT kit on a carbon C frame with upgraded Reserve carbon wheels. I have zero complaints about this build. The Shimano XT M8100 drivetrain performed flawlessly and offered a crisp shift every time. I’ll echo what most of the industry has said about the new Shimano 12 speed systems. They shift under load better than the competition. The four-piston brakes offered plenty of power, while they lacked a little in the modulation department. The new XT brakes seem to have more modulation than the older brakes. If you swore them off and haven’t ridden the new ones, it might be worth a shot. The dropper post, cockpit and wheels all do their jobs without calling attention to themselves — just how I like them.

Santa Cruz 5010 Ride Impressions


Santa Cruz stumbled on something pretty sweet when they switched all their bikes to the lower link suspension design. They somehow managed to keep almost all of the previous design’s efficiency while increasing traction and technical climbing performance. I won’t argue the fact that the old design felt a little livelier on the climbs. It was just a hair more efficient. I don’t miss it, though. The heaps of traction the new design offers is worth the small penalty. The 5010 is no exception. Sure, it’s happier to sit into the travel a bit and spin, rather than sprint up steep climbs. There are more efficient fire road crushers, but on technical and bumpy climbs, the 5010 is very good. On my test track, there’s a short and punchy section that has my number. I can get through it clean about 40% of the time. It takes some power and technique, both of which I possess little, to get over the multiple axle-height rock ledges without bashing a pedal or slipping out. Maybe it was a combo of small wheels (easy to maneuver) and good suspension design that proved to be the trick. I made it up this pitch multiple times without any fuss at all. I might even venture to say it made that section fun.

The 5010’s geometry isn’t exactly designed for racing uphill. The high front end comes into play a bit here too. When things get really steep, the front end can wander a bit. Luckily, the seat tube is pretty steep and helps mitigate the wandering front wheel effect by putting your weight more over the middle of the bike. 

I want to highlight again how well the Shimano XT drivetrain performed under literal pressure on the climbs. It shifts so smoothly even when under big loads. Usually, that’s a big no-no and an excellent way to snap a chain. I wanted to put it to the test, so I shifted into larger cogs mid pedal stroke on some pretty steep stuff. I can’t say I was disappointed — no broken chains, no smashed knee caps, and no drama.    


Surprise, surprise, the lower link design is a standout feature again when it comes to downhill performance. The word plush doesn’t usually come to mind when talking about 130mm travel bikes, but there’s something about the new design that makes the trail feel buttery smooth. Small bumps seem to disappear under the new 5010. You’re bound to feel the bigger hits as there’s only 130mm of travel, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by how good the small bump performance was. The 5010 feels like it has more mid-stroke support and ramp-up than some of Santa Cruz’s other offerings. Combine that with small wheels, and you’ve got yourself a bike that likes to jump, jib, and schralp corners.

The 5010’s suspension feels soft initially and then quickly ramps up. It’s ideal for maximizing height off small bumps and jumps. There’s plenty of support to push into, so your bunny hop efforts aren’t just absorbed by all the suspension. Finding little trail gaps and natural doubles becomes a pretty fun game out on the trail. This bike almost makes you see the trail differently. Instead of looking for the fastest lines, I found myself looking for side hits, rollers, and rocks to jump off.

Cornering on the 5010 is a blast. The wheelbase length is a good balance between stability and agility. The small wheels also contribute to the bike’s ability to dive in and out of corners with ease.  

The tall front end comes into play again on the downhills — in both a negative and positive way. The 5010’s tall stack keeps the front wheel from getting hung up on rocks and bumps. It almost allows the bike to ride above its travel category. Look at it this way. You can consider the 5010 the 27.5” version of the Tallboy. The Tallboy has bigger wheels but less travel, so it probably equals out in terms of potential capability. I think the 5010 rides harder than the Tallboy. It seems to erase bumps better, handle steep terrain better, and feel like a longer travel bike. I kept forgetting I was only on a 130mm trail bike. Now here’s the bad part about the tall front end — front wheel washouts. I had a couple of close calls. Sure, my test track was full of dusty, blown-out corners that seem to have negative traction. Most bikes would have struggled. The 5010 isn’t going to let you be a passenger. It makes you get over the bars and ride the bike like you mean it. It took a conscious effort to keep my weight further forward to maintain traction on the front wheel — something we should all be doing anyway. Just watch a pro ride a bike and try to mimic their body position. It’s probably way further forward than yours and mine. 


Progressive and supportive suspension – great for jumping

Stout frame that rides above its travel category

Tall stack height

Compatible with almost every shock – including coil


Tall stack height

Who is The Santa Cruz 5010 for?

This one is pretty easy. If you’re not overly concerned about being the fastest, most efficient, or burliest, you’re probably going to dig the 5010. It’s all about having the most fun on two wheels. If you like to jump off every roller, find little trail gaps, dive in and out of consecutive corners, the 5010 is going to be your dream bike. Sure, it will go fast, and it can ride some burly stuff, but it really excels at jumping, pumping, and cornering. Maybe the 5010 will be the bike that helps 27.5” make a comeback. There are some big advantages to the smaller wheels. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t racing all that much — of maybe better stated, most of us aren’t winning races all that much. We might all enjoy having a little more fun instead of being so concerned about speed and efficiency.

Buying advice

  • If you like this type of bike but have to have 29” wheels, check out the Santa Cruz Tallboy.
  • The XT kit is our favorite “bang for your buck” build kit.
  • Check out a demo before you decide. An online review is no replacement for spending quality time on a demo bike.

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