Santa Cruz 5010 Outdoor Gear Review: Best Trail Bike To Choose In 2019

santa cruz 5010
low angle view of cyclist riding mountain bike on rocky trail at sunrise

If you’re planning on cruising down a dirt path or trudging up a steep incline on a bicycle, it would be wise to make sure the bike in question is top of its class. After all, the better the quality of your bike, the better the quality of your ride — and you want an amazing ride. Introducing the Santa Cruz 5010, an excellent bicycle that will give you the ride you’ve been waiting for.

What Is It?

Made by the company Santa Cruz out of the California city of the same name, the 5010 is a trail bike that was designed and built to ensure the most comfortable and efficient ride you can get. The company was founded in 1994. From their first bike up to their 2018 options, they have produced dozens of models with impeccable qualities, each one better than the last. The 5010 is one of their best efforts. As a top-selling trail bike, this model is extremely popular with consumers from all walks of life: everyone from casual off-road riders to professional mountain trekkers.

Specifications

man biking down the hill

Weighing 32 pounds, the Santa Cruz 5010 is a relatively lightweight bicycle — and it's built to last. The frame is solid-construction aluminum, making the entire vehicle sturdy and protecting against nasty collisions. The wheels are a bit smaller than the average trail bike, measuring 27.5 inches in diameter. With a RockShox Recon RL fork, the front wheel is held safely in place, and the FOX Float Performance DPS Shock and SRAM NX shifters ensure the smoothest ride possible.

Front and rear travel on this bike are both 130mm, and the Santa Cruz Palmdale grips keep your hands firmly on the handlebars. All of these impressive features just not cutting it for you? Take it from famous Scottish trail cyclist Danny MacAskill, a professional in every sense of the word, who proudly rides many Santa Cruz models and especially favors the 5010. The specs and the endorsements speak for themselves — this bicycle is well worth the buy.

Pricing

In order to buy the Santa Cruz 5010, you need $2699, a really inexpensive purchase when stacked up against similar top-of-the-line bikes. Here are some alternatives that can be bought from bike stores, such as Erik’s Bike Shop, outdoor recreational companies, such as REI, or online, from a number of different retailers.

The prices and specifications you’ll see in this article come from each bike brand’s individual website. Wherever you end up purchasing from, the price for the Santa Cruz 5010 will be close to the standard $2699 price shown online, and the same holds true for every model discussed in the comparison.

How Does It Compare?

As you’ve seen up to this point, the 5010 is a remarkable vehicle and a great choice for many trail-bike enthusiasts. Of course, it is not the only option out there. With hundreds of brands and models flooding the market, the task of choosing the right bike for you can be a bit overwhelming. After all, each bike is boasting something different than the next, and the sheer volume of information thrown at you makes it confusing, to say the least. This is why the comparisons below were created: to help you see more clearly how the Santa Cruz 5010 looks up against the competition in the marketplace. The following five options are all high-quality, customer-acclaimed bikes, and their reviews will put the features of the 5010 in better context.

For comparison’s sake, there are four categories in which the five outlined bikes will compete. These are build quality, ease of use, assembly time, and warranty. The scores will be based on a five-star scale.

Trek Fuel EX 7 29

The EX 7 29 is a bike made by Trek, a company renowned for its selection of quality bicycles and equipment. It weighs half a pound less than the 5010 at 31.5 pounds and is also comprised of an aluminum frame. The wheels are the standard 29-inch size, a measurement that will appear frequently in this article.

Some exciting features the EX 7 29 offers include an Anti-Braking Pivot, which allows the suspension to work regardless of whether the brakes are on or off, and a Mino Link adjustable head tube angle and BB height, to ensure optimal comfort while riding. A great choice for a trail bike, the EX 7 29 costs exactly the same as the 5010 at $2699 and comes with a lifetime warranty: a Trek promise.

For build quality, the EX 7 29 is certainly in a good position with sturdy aluminum construction and appropriate wheel size. The only downside is the weight; 31.5 pounds is not terribly heavy, but it is somewhere Trek could improve, considering that other brands strive to keep the weight of their trail bikes under 30 pounds. A 4/5 star rating is thus rewarded for build quality. Ease of use gets 4/5 stars as well, the weight balancing against the great ABV and Mino Link features. Very little assembly is required when buying this bike, but if you were to transport it on a plane or in a small car you may wish to disassemble and rebuild it at your convenience. The 7 29 gets 3.5/5 stars because the handlebar is at a bit of an awkward angle for quick assembly. Warranty is where this bike packs a punch, with 5/5 stars given for a lifetime guarantee.

Ibis Ripmo

Next up is a bike with a carbon-fiber frame, a bit of an oddity in the trail bike world — but it has benefits nonetheless. One of these is the substantially low weight: a mere 27 pounds. The wheels measure 29 inches and the fork is a FOX Float Performance Series,  similar to the 5010. Ibis lists the bike at $4099, definitely on the high end for this list. However, the Ripmo is a top-quality bike with stellar reviews from amateurs and professionals alike. The Ibis website even displays helpful guides to building the Ripmo and shows in-depth geometric details on how everything works. A seven-year warranty backs up your purchase of an Ibis Ripmo, and, considering all the positives, it is worth the high price.

The carbon-fiber frame provides a  low weight, so build quality and ease both of have high scores. 4.5/5 stars are awarded in build quality, with the only negative being a lack of outstanding features. The same holds true for ease of use — it is easy to operate the Ripmo, but there is a noticeable absence of any element to make this bike more than great. A perfect 5/5 score is given for assembly time because of the helpful and comprehensive information posted on the Ibis website, and 4/5 stars are given for the seven-year warranty.

Heller Barghest NX

As a trusted brand across the country, Heller was in a good position to release their Barghest NX model. It definitely isn’t a bad purchase by any means, as it is a safely built machine with a Manitou Machete comp fork and solid-carbon construction. However, where the carbon fiber contributed to the Ripmo’s low weight, it did not deliver in the same manner for the Barghest NX. Weighing 32 pounds, it is certainly not uncomfortable or cumbersome, but an opportunity was passed up to make this bike a lighter option. The wheels measure 27.5 inches — again, no travesty, but not very impressive either. The Barghest NX costs $2999 and comes with a three-year warranty.

Because of the noticeable drawbacks in the design of this bike, some scores will suffer a bit. Build quality is one of these, with a 2.5/5-star score because of the higher weight and the smaller wheels. Ease of use gets 3/5 stars for the same reasons, but the Manitou Machete fork pulls up the 2.5-star potential to a 3. The highest score this bike will receive is 4/5 stars for assembly time. It is a relatively simple bike without many confusing parts or instructions, and, while there is always room for improvement with better guides or more detailed descriptions, 4 stars is a fair rating in this category. The three-year warranty is good but not dazzling, so 3/5 stars are awarded here.

Transition Smuggler NX

Ending the carbon-build streak is a great design by Transition: the Smuggler NX. The aluminum frame and 31.75-pound weight make this a relatively average-size bicycle. The wheels are 29 inches, another average measurement. Where this bike goes above and beyond is in performance, with an advanced climb switch to help you up those treacherous hills. Furthermore, there is a RockShox Revelation fork, a RockShox Deluxe RT rear shock, and an SRAM NX Eagle shifter: all built to improve rideability. It is a bit pricey at $3999, the second most expensive option in the comparison, and the warranty is another three-year guarantee.

The aluminum frame definitely gives a safe and sturdy build quality to the Smuggler NX, even if the weight isn’t as low as it could be. The average weight and wheel size and the exceptional features mix to give 4/5 stars in build quality. Ease of use also gets 4/5 stars, for the great climb switch and the solid shock and fork — the only negative is the weight. In order to assemble the bike, one need not look further than Transition’s website, where guides for setting up suspension and frame are given. They are a bit confusing to read and rather small print, so assembly time gets 3.5/5 stars. The three-year warranty is not stellar but it is commendable nonetheless, so 3/5 stars are given in this category.

Marin Rift Zone 2

Closing out the comparison is the most affordable option on the list. The Zone 2 goes for just $1950, but the low price does not mean lower quality. An aluminum frame helps protect against collisions, and the 31.75-pound weight is perfectly respectable. The boost spacing included in the Zone 2 design is certainly nothing to scoff at either. All in all, you’ll find this is a great standard bike, pretty much the definition of average. Nothing jumps out at you as stellar, but there is nothing unwise about buying the bike, especially considering the five-year warranty.

Because of the average nature of the Zone 2, average scores will inevitably follow. For build quality, the boost spacing, aluminum frame, and 31.75-pound weight all add up to a 3.5/5 star score. The bike is also quite easy to use, though some helpful features would certainly add to the already solid build, so 3/5 stars are awarded for ease of use. Assembly is an area where the average design is beneficial, as the assembly time required for the Zone 2 is minimal. Finally, a 4/5 star warranty score is deserved, as 5 years is a great deal, but not as great as 7 years or a lifetime.

Pros

  • Fantastic safety feature
  • Well functioning machine
  • Life time warranty

Cons

  • One of the heavier options for a trail bike
  • Wheel size is 5010 is lacking a bit

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