Friday, 8 June 2012

Santa Cruz Superlight 29er - A Teeny Tiny 29er

Not so long ago I did a short interview for BikeMagic on the pros and cons of 29ers. The final question was one of rider size, in which I stated my opinion that the benefits of 29ers were for all riders (well, those that wanted them), not just the tall ones, and that the only thing really stopping Grace from going 29er was the lack of availability of suitably sized 29er frames.

Not long after this, Santa Cruz announced the release of their new Superlight 29er frameset, with a special small size specific rear triangle, allowing them to offer sizes for a full suspension 29er their other bikes hadn't offered before, including a short and low small that is very small indeed. Putting my money where my mouth is I got one on order straight away and, after a lot of time and care on the build, a 23lb full suspension 29er, suitable for a 5'3" racer, is born!

The bike has 100mm of travel front and rear, and has all the benefits of an up to date bike, with no sacrifice on stiffness or performance to shave weight: 2.2" tubeless tyres, taper steerer, oversize stem and bars, ergonomic bolt on grips, a 2×9 drivetrain for a full set of gears, a full set of 32 spokes in each wheel, a QR15 axle, some nice wide bars and forks and shock with lock-out if required keep things fully functional with all the mod cons. 

At the same time I have sweated the detail to shave weight where it's not required including all the silly details such as titanium or aluminium bolts just about everywhere (including all the control bolts, mech. bolts and chainring bolts), matchmaker brake lever clamps, lightweight seat clamp, titanium rear skewer, aluminium nipples, Mt Zoom bars, revolution triple butted spokes and a lightweight tubeless set-up for rims and tyres. 

At every opportunity I have also tried to consider two things:
  1. This bike will be ridden by a short woman, so ergonomics are important, resulting in an in-line post, 45mm stem, shorter cranks, women's specific saddle of the rider's preferred shape and brake levers with maximum adjustment, so reach and free stroke can be tuned to the rider's smaller hands
  2. Colour matching and looks are important, so green highlights on black parts have been specified with equal priority to ergonomics, weight and function. Well, everybody knows pretty bikes are fastest ;-)
I'm pretty chuffed with the final bike and, more importantly, so is the bike's rider. Here's what she had to say about it in the BikeMagic review of the recent Stilettos on Wheels race, in which the bike propelled her to second: 
" I had brought my new bike to the race for its first competitive outing, a Santa Cruz Superlight 29er. The bike, beautiful in black and green (ride pimped by Rob Dean), is so fast I almost feel it has a life of its own when I’m riding it, a bit like an unruly colt. Except, instead of me trying to tame the colt and slow it down, I’m trying to pluck up my own courage to keep up with its speed! Anyway, the bike is light, fast and awesome to ride. Love it."
So, for those that are interested, the full spec is below, but first, here are a few pictures of the build:

The finished Bike in all its glory
SantaCruz Superlight 29er in Size Small
Wide flat bars to keep the front end down 
Ergonomic grips and a clock give away that this will be used for endurance races
Hope Tech X2 brakes allow brake lever stroke and lever open position to be adjusted for small hands
Matchmaker clamps connect the X0 shifters to the Hope brakes and a full set of ti bolts saves weight
Green hubs, a green disc and green ti bolts, is that enough green?
Add green nipples and green dust caps, now that's definitely enough green!
Short stem for a female torso and super sharp handling. Obviously green stem bolts and stem cap ;-)
There's even an aluminium bolt in the Exposure Lights mount to shave the last gram!
Oh, so important women's specific saddle, with colour matched green saddlebag and seatclamp
Swoopy curved downtube adds huge standover , to keep the bike trail happy
Medium cage X0 rear mech (obviously green), XTR cassette KMX X9 hollow pin, hollow link chain and  for a lightweight 2×9 drivetrain
Super reliable XTR pedals on 170mm shorter cranks spinning a double ring setup held on by ti bolts

Frame: Santa Cruz Superlight 29er, size small
Fork: Fox F29 RLC Taper steerer, QR15
Shock: Fox Float RL
Rear QR: X-Lite Titanium
Seatclamp: Superlight Green + Ti Bolt
Saddle: WTB Deva SLT
Stem: ControlTech FX 40mm + Green Aluminium Bolts
Grips: Ergon GS1 Lightweight Ergonomic Grips (green)
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X0 9s & Matchmaker clamps + ti mounting bolts
Front Deraileur: SRAM X0 2s
Shifters: SRAM X0 9s
Cassette: Shimano XTR Titanium 9s 11-32
Chain: KMC X9 SL
Chainset: Shimano XTR M970 170mm + 22/32 Double ring + Titanium chainring bolts
Brakes: Hope Tech X2 Limited Edition (green & black)
Brake Discs: Alligator Aries Rotor 160mm Green + Green Ti fixing Bolts
Lights: Exposure Lights MaXx-D with aluminium mounting bolt


  1. I want one! Exactly what I have been looking for!

    Looks super sharp. Sounds wonderful.

    Ballpark cost?

    1. I believe the frame retails for £999 in the UK

      This was built up by me using some parts that I already have, but you can get full bike prices for different levels of build from the Bike Builder on the Santa Cruz website, see the link below:

      NOTE: As I write this, the bike builder and prices are down and being updated! I'll update this link once the new prices are published, but I believe they were very very similar to the 26" version, there are a copuple of examples here:



      Hope that helps

  2. Thinking about building up one of these for my wife as well. Doesn't look like there's room for a bottle inside the front triangle... is there even a mount?

    1. Hi Clint, yes there is a mount on the frame, but it's under the downtube, there is no mount in the frame at this small frame size (There's not room for a bottle!), we have set it up with clip on bottle mounts on the top tube a couple of times (for racing), but away from the race course it's hydration pack time.

      Hope your wife enjoys her new bike, Grace loves hers so much I just replaced her hardtail with a Highball 29er too!