ENVE - Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon - Test

Carbon is the golden material of choice at the moment, making an appearance in all manner of parts on a bike, plus helmets. The promised performance benefits have come in many ways with mainly lightness and stiffness being the key elements identified as making riding better.

Wheels, long being aluminium, have yet to be passed on to normal price levels, as normally carbon frames are only at a small premium to buy compared to alloy frames. Carbon wheels however are significantly more expensive than their alloy counterparts, thus only a few people tend to use them.

The ENVE equipped Santa Cruz carbon Nomad is one of those special bikes that is the final part of the puzzle in carbon story. So how does a full carbon bike ride?

We tested earlier in the year a carbon framed Nomad next to an aluminium Nomad and noted a fairly significant performance difference. Now with a full carbon bike with ENVE carbon wheels, full Shimano XTR and an eye watering price of €10.000 euros, more or less, this bike can claim to be a super bike, and we have tried it.

Riding a bike like this doesn’t happen everyday, firstly one is worried that hitting a rock or falling off it might cost half a years pay to fix it. Throwing caution to the wind is the best thing to do and we rode it hard and fast all over the bandite trail area to get a feeling for how it rode.

As we were already familiar with the frame setup we were able to judge how the bike felt with carbon wheels. In our opinion, adding in a very efficient drive chain as well and the latest CTD shock technology from Fox has lead to a bike that feels absolutely stunning.

Riding on the flat was easy, in fact it felt like even with slight uphills we were rolling downhill, the energy efficiency was amazing. Once you came to a rocky section and pushed hard, the bike responded with such poise and precision that we found ourselves going faster on the same section of trail than before with a normal bike.

Turn hard and the bike responds, push and the bike responds. At one point on The Guardian trail, we found ourselves going so fast we started to use lines we hadn’t thought of before, jumping roots, rocks and flying over an earth bank at the end, taking the shortest line. The bike was so fast and precise compared to a normal setup that we were left screaming with amazement.

This bike is probably the pinnacle of all mountain bikes at the moment, the balance of the bike is incredible with the suspension system working effortlessly, so well you only feel the traction with the ground. The XTR brakes were amazing with tremendous stopping power and no fade.

So the question is are there any negative points on this bike? Well we would say that the setup of the bike is all mountain, not endur. For us to say it is an enduro setup we would want slightly wider tyres and a wider bar, we prefer an enduro setup at the moment, but that was it. Even our worry that the FOX 34 CTD fork might be too flexible was unfounded.

The differences between all mountain and enduro are minimal in reality, but just to be clear, an all mountain bike is designed to be ridden more up and down.  An enduro bike is made to go up then come down only, thus you would tend to do slightly more aggresive trails. Riding this bike as a pure enduro machine is certainly 100% possible, the european concept of enduro has yet to take hold in the states, and very few bike companies actually produce an 100% enduro ready bike unless you ask for a custom build. It takes some adjustment to understand a bike like this as it is so precise, that it definitely requires excellent technique and rider skill to make the most out of it. However saying that even if you are a bad rider, with this bike you will go faster and smoother down a trail and you will find yourself pushing your limits automatically as this bike is simply the best bike we have ever ridden.

Bike provided by : www.bagnolibike.com

Manufacturer: Santa Cruz MTB

Posted under:  MTB Bike Test

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I-MTB is an online MTB magazine and trail areas operator based in Tuscany, Italy

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