report and photos by Eric (Auk) Akiyoshi, The Path Bike Shop Ambassador Race Team
Yes, this is a bike review, but it starts with a story of a lost “friend.”
About a month ago, I thought I had lost one of my favorite house slippers: not the pair, just the left one. You know, it’s like that favorite pair of jeans, sneakers, t-shirt, old sweatshirt, or stuffed animal: I was lost without it. Not one brisk evening went by without me thinking about my lost slipper. Flash forward one month to the day it was found stuffed inside an igloo at the back of the family van (really?). Eureka! Reunion! My lost friend! It was a joyous reunion! Nothing could be better than being reunited with a long lost friend: or could it?
That’s how I’ve felt the past two weeks every time I take my, recently acquired, 2013 Santa Cruz TRc out to ride. Wait a minute! Hold everything! All the rage is about 29ers that ride like 26-inch bikes, or 650b bikes that combine the best of both worlds! How is it possible that a 26-inch bike capture the imagination and creativity of riding anymore?
The TRc is like that long lost friend who is found again: sort of like my favorite house slipper.
The posted geometry on the website shows the TRc has a low bottom bracket (13.1-inches), “relaxed” head angle (68-deg), short chainstays (17-inches), and 5-lb medium frame weight: measured on 501 mm Axle to Crown fork. Authors of other reviews observe that this bike is greater than the sum of it’s measurements and is at home on steeper, chunkier trails than other, merely mortal, 5-inch trail bikes.
Truth be told, with a 140 mm Fox 32 Fork (A-C Measured at approx. 510 mm), a beefy 2.35 Hans Dampf front tire, and high volume 2.4 Continental X-King Rear tire, the bottom bracket measured closer to 12.9 (possibly 12.8) inches: DID YOU READ THAT?!?!?! Sub 13-inch bottom bracket. Mated to an XX1 build and Enve / 240 wheels, this dream sled weighed in at 25.6-lbs. Perhaps Santa Cruz didn’t want to publish the actual numbers for fear that it might scare people off due to the, “pedal-strikes-during-climbing-in-rocky-places” phenomenon. The TRc loves to climb steep rocky, chunky, technical trails. As for descending, check out of the sagged bottom bracket of any World Cup DH bike and get back to me as to whether the TRc’s bottom bracket is too low.
The past two weeks have been spent chasing uber fast guys around the Santa Ana Mountains here is southern California. Yes, the fast climbers ripped my legs off while the DH oriented fellows in the group charged the ‘gnar on the steep chunky descents. The TRc begged me to go faster in both environments: but alas, the rider / engine was far more incapable than the bike.
Time spent solo riding consisted of numerous semi-inadvertent Strava “PRs” on local fast flowy downhill segments as well as embracing some other, techno-oriented trails in the hills above Laguna Beach, CA. The TRc egged this author on towards faster, chunkier segments, while efficiently climbing long-steep-lung-busting climbs.
One fellow rider observed that, perhaps 5-inches of travel and 68-degree head angles are all that are needed for everything but World Cup style DH race runs. Hit the remote on the Reverb dropper post, spin the TRc up to speed, get on top of that chunky rock garden, “BBRRRRRAAAP!” Sail across the top of that waterfall section, and feel the world slow down around you. The XTR brakes mated to the 7-inch front rotor provide all the control you need as the fun comes to an end at the bottom of that favorite rock garden.
Santa Cruz manages to get the rider nearly as close to the ground as most gravity oriented race rigs, while keeping the head angle sane enough to give the bike an extremely balanced feel. 29er this, and 650b blah-blah-blah, the 26-inch TRc is a nice ride.