Review: Santa Cruz Blur LT

13 11 2007

One of our gang rode one of the first generation Santa Cruz Blurs for 3.5 years and it was a capable trail bike. The original Blur had a steep head tube angle by today’s standards, a relatively short top tube and narrow chainstays. The narrowness of the chainstays caused many problems in muddy conditions, this was so bad that for the winter months the bike was almost unridable in the South Downs as the rear end and bottom bracket area were instantly clogged with mud. The LT looks similar to the original Blur but there are some significant differences.

The chain stays of the LT are about 1.5 inches wider than the original Blur at the tyre point, the top tube seems to be approximately 1 inch longer in each size and the head angle is a couple of degrees slacker. The headtube has generous reinforcement and the frame is warranted for up to 6 inch forks. The LT frame is significantly heavier than the original Blur and is only about 1 pound lighter than my Santa Cruz Nomad. A couple of us have LTs we built them independently but the choice of components is very similar. My LT is a polished metal finish that I think looks amazing it is fitted with a Pace coil 150mm fork, SRAM gears, Formula ORO brakes with 180 mm rotors, Mavic 717 rims, slime tubes and Michelin Hot-S tyres the remaining components are favour strength and durability over light weight. I’m not really bothered too much about the weight – it feels lively and getting it rolling is no problem for me. The weight could be significantly reduced if lighter weight tyres and tubes were used. My buddies bike is powder coat black with Fox Vanilla 140mm forks, Shimano XT drive-train and Avid Juicy 7 brakes with 180 mm rotors.

What is it like to ride? I am not interested in racing I enjoy riding at my own pace on a mixture of bridleways, singletrack and over natural obstacles, the LT has been my main bike for the last 6 months. The bike has an upright riding position that I find very relaxing and fantastically well suited to long distance cruising without me suffering aches or pains; however to restrict the LT to this type of riding would be a great error of judgement. The LT belts through singletrack and is much quicker than both my hardtail and my SC Nomad with enough travel to level all the trails I ride in the North and South Downs as well as Wales. I can get it down all the gravity sections I will ever ride and while not as fast as others it always gets down. For me the LT is a great all rounder and really can’t be faulted.

Where does it differ from the Intense 5.5, the old Santa Cruz Blur or Nomad? I owned an Intense 5.5 for a couple of years and although similar on paper it was a completely different type of animal. The Intense was a total singletrack demon, everyone who tried it suddenly became the fastest singletrack rider of our group; however the steep geometry and short top-tube made it pretty uncomfortable and tiring for rides of anything more than a couple of hours. For general trail riding the LT leaves the old Blur for dead as a general purpose trail bike both in riding and mud friendliness. My SC Nomad is built to take a clattering and with a long fork and heavy duty wheels it is easily over 30 pounds in weight. The Nomad leaves the LT for dead as soon as the ground becomes very bumpy or rocky basically as the LT begins to get battered the Nomad is in cruise mode. It is also much easier to jump the Nomad off lips, roots and ledges as well as lifting the front wheel over obstacles. The Nomad suffers most on long drag climbs when the weight becomes noticeable. Having said that when I had a lighter build on the Nomad it was a closer contest, don’t go for the Nomad if you want to blast up hills or you don’t have the muscle to power it. For my riding I would class the LT as trundle/fun and the Nomad as fun/extreme fun. I use the Nomad if we are going playing or exploring off-piste in a new area as it gets up, down and over virtually everything and always puts a huge smile on my face.

A couple of things to be aware of: 1) I think the VPP comes ‘alive’ the rougher the ground, 2) I find the PSI settings for the VPP suspension listed in the manual are way too high, in my experience the VPP system works best with about 30% sag which gives both comfort and masses of traction. 3) I have a 150mm fork with a relatively long axel to crown distance which makes the front wander a little bit on steep hills requiring a slight shift of body position to keep some weight on the front wheel.

 

 

 

 

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