Up next, we have the Santa Cruz Blur. The Blur is Santa Cruz to its core. It’s a blast on the descents, with a comfortable and confident attitude. It’s no slouch on the climbs, either. It provides traction for days and a comfortable fit and feel. It comes in several flavors to suit the XC racer and the everyday trail rider alike. So is it the ultimate XC bike? Stick around to find out.
Santa Cruz Blur Geometry and Details
Like the Cervelo ZFS-5, the Blur comes in two different styles. There’s the ultra-XC 100mm version and the 115mm TR one we have here — the TR version comes with a 120mm fork. It also uses a flex stay suspension design departing from the usual VPP platform Santa Cruz employs.
With a 67.1° head tube angle, it’s the second steepest bike in our test. It has the shortest reach and nearly the shortest wheelbase. On paper, its geometry looks a little more traditional XC, apart from a typical taller Santa Cruz front end. But, out on the trail, it fits and feels a bit more like a trail bike. The chainstays are size-specific, so kudos to Santa Cruz for thinking about all sizes of riders. The cockpit setup is very similar to what you’d find on a trail bike as well. I felt right at home on the Blur.
My test bike came equipped with the new Sram GX AXS Transmission. That’s a topic for a future video, I think, but initial impressions say it’s probably going to find its way onto all of my personal bikes at some point.
Santa Cruz Blur Review
So how does the Blur do when pointed uphill? Like the Cervelo ZFS-5 it’s a bit closer to the trail side of the spectrum. It has a more active suspension design, which is great for traction, comfort, and control, but it does come at a bit of an efficiency cost. In fact, I found the Blur to provide the most traction and control out of all the bikes in our test. It handled technical, steep, and loose climbs the best with a fair amount of composure. It smoothed out bumps the best and contoured the ground more easily. The Oiz and Anthem are going to be quicker when it comes to smooth, fire road climbing, of course. That said, the Blur finds itself right in the mix when it comes to overall climbing performance, if only for its technical climbing ability. In my mind, it’s more of an endurance event race bike than a World Cup XC race bike.
The Blur doesn’t have as forward-leaning of a body position when riding either. It’s more upright, comfortable, and casual than bikes like the Oiz and Anthem. Keep in mind this is the TR edition. The XC version will be more forward-leaning, with a lower front end and steeper angles. However, I didn’t find it so upright that the front end felt vague and wandery. It still was easy to control and navigate on tight, technical sections. I’d imagine the size-specific chainstays and shorter overall wheelbase are to credit here.
Overall on the climbs, the Blur fits, feels, and pedals more like a trail bike than an XC race bike. Don’t take that to mean it’s no faster than a Tallboy, just closer to that than bikes like the Anthem and Oiz. Maybe think of it as a Tallboy Light.
For a bike that’s designed to go uphill as well as it does, the Blur has no business being as fun and capable as it is on the descents. The suspension really comes alive, providing a ton of traction, pop, and control. For the most part, I found myself right at home, riding it like I’d ride my bigger bikes.
The Blur’s Superlight suspension design does an incredible job of making the most of its 115mm of travel. It feels the softest off the top of all the bikes in our test. I don’t want to use the word plush, but it’s getting pretty close. It smooths out small trail chatter well without feeling vague or sloppy. There’s a distinct level of traction and control that I didn’t experience with any of the other bikes. Much in the same way Orbea can make a bike pedal and climb better than its travel numbers would suggest, Santa Cruz has a way of making a bike descend better than its numbers. The suspension is easily the star of the show with this bike.
The Blur’s geometry is a bit more traditional, keeping the handling quick and lively. It’s easy to corner and maneuver with a shorter overall wheelbase and moderate head tube angle. With a shorter wheelbase, it’s not the most stable bike in our test in terms of geometry, but the suspension does a good job of making up for that. There’s a good balance between the front and back wheels, with no extreme gymnastics required to get your weight centered.
I don’t normally describe XC bikes as jibby and jumpy, but the Blur makes an exception. It’s very easy to unweight, bunnyhop, and jump. In that regard, it’s similar to the Giant Anthem; only it has a more forgiving fit and feel. I found it the most fun bike in our test.
Overall on the descents, the Blur finds itself in the top spot for our test. The combination of its smooth suspension and sharp handling makes it a blast to ride downhill. Sure, it’s still designed to get you uphill quickly, but it makes very few compromises on the way back down.
Who is the Santa Cruz Blur for?
I think the Blur, at least the 115mm version, is the XC bike for a rider like myself who typically rides bigger bikes. You’ll find yourself right at home on the Blur. Still, it’s no slouch uphill and is one of the better technical climbers in our test. I don’t think it’s as quick and efficient as some of the other bikes, but it would still be quick enough for racing, especially endurance events. Keegan Swenson has proven this time and time again this year, stacking one win after another at the major endurance XC events.
XC Showdown Awards
That’s going to do it for the Santa Cruz Blur. We have one bike left before we dive into the showdown summary. Stay tuned.