A while back we brought you our exclusive hands-on first look at the new Santa Cruz Nomad, it was only a large and I only had a short roll on it. I'd be planning on changing that (to a long roll) and a couple of months back it happened, and thanks to a seriously rad build, it happened in a very cool way. The build on this long term test bike is pretty much comprised of all the best bits from SRAM, with the only exceptions being the tyres, pedals, grips and headset. The 165mm Nomad is suspended on a Vivid Air out back and the already well proven RockShox Pike up front. It's rolling on SRAM Roam 60 carbon hoops and driven by the bulletproof SRAM XO1 1x11 drivetrain. The cockpit is centered around the always rad Jerome Clementz 750mm Truvativ bar, and it turns on my first ever Chris King headset. Grips are the new Santa Cruz lock-ons and back at the rear end of things the the 150mm drop Rock Shox Reverb has been utilised. A nice set of new WTB tyres rounds out this bike, which comes straight outta my dreams. All the gory details are back in this post here, and the bike isn't exactly new on the scene but it's worth reminding you that both the lower and upper linkages on the new Nomad have seen quite a change in direction and moved closer to resembling a V10 than any previous Nomads, or the Bronson. The result is a compact and stout linkage that is unbelievably stiff, I really mean unbelievable. Some of our readers may indeed realise that this is my third Nomad over the years, having ridden both the very first Nomad design and then the Nomad2. I was really looking forward to comparing this turquoise beast to its predecessors. The first couple of weeks of this bike's life were spent on trails I wasn't too familiar with, but after hitting local trails here in Wellington that I'd ridden its previous versions on, I was just in shock at how fast it was and how well it tracked. I mean the rear wheel just stayed where it was put. After riding Makara Peak's Ridgeline trail I got on the phone in the car park and proceeded to call a bunch of people to tell them how this bike had just dumbed down that trail. Sure the 65º head angle helped as did the long 1223.9cm wheelbase, but for me it was that planted stiffness that really made this thing shine. And it even climbs surprisingly well, much much better than any other Nomad I've ever ridden (and that is with a DH shock with no platform dampening switches!) I was also pretty damn excited about yanking on the new SRAM Guide brakes. Spoke photographer Simeon Patience had been raving about his and I'd been waiting for this build to set some up. Now I've never really had any problems with Elixir Trails but everything about the Guide is just on point. The lever actuation just feels right and the dials are all easy to adjust in gloves, and after some massive descents Stateside I can tell you that they have been adjusted. The claim that the "deadband" is reduced was spot-on but luckily SRAM's famed modulation was still in the house. After a solid two months riding, the brakes still feel solid and with no squishiness. The Guide's utilise the same four piston caliper that has been doing duty on the Elixir Trails for the last wee while, they are things of beauty and über powerful. On this build I opted for a 200mm rotor up front and a 180mm out the back. With my camera gear on I weigh the better part of 112kgs so I've put brakes, the pads and rotors through their paces and so far these are handling it. There's still plenty of pad left although a couple of massive Colorado fall-line descents saw the rotors get a tad glazed and discoloured, a bit of sandpaper has given them a new lease on life. It's also our first chance here at Spoke to ride any of the SRAM wheels and the top model Roam 60 wheels have been nothing short of exceptional. They haven't brought into this fandangled wide business but the 21mm internal width is ample for my needs and gives the WTB tyres that I have mounted up a nice round profile. There is also a definite bonus to knowing that one spoke fits both sides of both front and rear wheels. They are still as true as the day the bike was built and haven't been tweaked at all yet. Also the front wheel I set up without any goop when I first built the bike (with a floor pump) and two months later it's still up and still running goopless. I did have to top the air up last Wednesday but to hold air that long without deflating is a pretty good testament to a solidly designed hoop! I think there has been enough said about SRAM's 1x setup. I've been using it for over a year and have had zero problems with it and I am absolutely in love with it. With the new and very affordable X1 it's now available to even more people. The XO1 setup on the Nomad has been super dependable, and was a breeze to install. The 32t/42t combo has done right by me on all but one 1700m climb in Utah (yes I got off and walked) where my guides (people, not brakes) had to wait over 30min for me to reach the summit! I also have the XO1 setup on the Ibis Ripley and having it setup correctly on the Nomad has reminded me exactly how good it is. I snapped the chain on the Ibis not long ago and removed a few links, shortening the chain a bit much so that the upper jockey wheel can move onto the wrong tooth in certain positions. There has been none of that with this setup and after two months the chain hasn't dropped once. I'm not an EWS racer and I doubt I'll ever need to run a guide in conjunction with this setup. Like JC, I have complete faith in the retention of just the chainring and clutch rear mech. We've talked cable routing before with the Nomad, but it's worth mentioning again that it's the easiest internal cable routed bike in the world to set up. Thanks to internal carbon channels you just feed the cable in, and it pops out the other end. Cable routing is pretty sweet but once again it's another bike that forgets that a good deal of the world's population run their brakes on the other side of the bars. The rear brake cable now does a bit of an abrupt turn down the same side of the frame creating a few unnecessary contact points. It would be pretty easy to accommodate with one cable mount on the top right of the down tube, it's a minor criticism though.And that's that. December will see the first review installment for this rig, it will have had a tonne of riding by then and hopefully will be supporting a lighter rider. But I can tell you that after two month's riding, if you're considering one of these, you should stop considering and run out and buy one now! I'm pretty sure this bike just put SC back on top of the All-Duro™ market even though now there are few more One Bikes to choose from.
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