2016 Nomad review

...I think I'm in-love...

Sooooooo today (September 4th, 2016) was the first ride on the Nomad on my home trails. Yesterday was all shuttle assisted gravity riding and the bike was exactly what I expected it to be...A BEAST!!!!!

Today was the true test though. I had to earn my turns by pedaling up. I was thrilled to discover that this bike climbs amazingly well. The 65 degree head tube angle is just a number on paper...it did not hinder this bike's climbing handling at all for me. I was mildly worried that tight uphill turns were going to be cumbersome but I was thrilled to find that not to be the case. Don't get me wrong...it doesn't climb like an XC hardtail or even a short travel XC full suspension...but it's not designed for that anyway...but it DOES climb well. It's worth mentioning too that those bikes are known for quick and sometimes twitchy handling going down which I personally don't enjoy. My ride today involved several sections of trail with mandatory switchbacks and the Nomad handled it without even a stutter. I didn't notice any clumsiness at all that one might expect with such a slack HT angle. To be entirely honest, I love the way this bike handles. It's the slackest all mountain bike I've ever ridden. My DH bike has a 63 degree HT angle and it's definitely "floppy" going slow as one would expect. Not the Nomad though...Santa Cruz got their geometry right this time. The steeper seat tube angle (74.1) and the longer top tube are great revisions to the previous geometry which often left me feeling like I was still on too small of a bike even after upsizing to a large. I never felt very comfortable or confident in the air on the previous Nomad so I didn't jump much. (I'm not a great jumper ANYWAY so that didn't improve on that bike.) This bike on the other hand...longer reach...wide bars...short stem...I'm still not a great jumper, but I feel much more apt to attempt to jump more now on this bike.

DOWNHILL

So remember that little piece I mentioned about how some other bikes with steeper HT angles sometimes seem twitchy? Yeah...I love that none of that applies to this bike because of the slack HT angle. My previous Nomad had a 67 degree HT angle which was relatively neutral as far as handling. I did find myself "microsteering" through corners on the downhills frequently though. It never struck me as an issue...until riding the current Nomad. Today (and yesterday) it became immediately clear just how well this bike does what it's supposed to do. Cornering on this bike is textbook...set your speed, look, lean and roll...PERIOD.

SIDE NOTES

Low bottom bracket

I've seen lots of reviews that mention the low bottom bracket height of this bike as an asset in how "carvy" the bike is but with the downside of frequent pedal strikes. Most recommend using 170mm cranks in order to reduce this. I'm running 175s and yes...I had a few in the last couple days. That being said...it's not a deal breaker...just get used to ratcheting pedals when necessary.

Air shock or coil???

This debate can go on for way too long so I'll try to keep it brief.

When I was anxiously waiting for my build to be completed I read every review I could find on the new bike. A few things came up consistently and one of them was in regard to which air shock was the best spec...and then I saw two that broke convention and recommended a coil instead. Long story short...

Go with the coil. Yes...it is heavier but if you're a weight weenie, you probably aren't interested in a bike like a Nomad anyway.
The advantage(s)? 

  • Better performance throughout the full stroke 
  • Depending on the shock...more detailed and specific tuning capability
  • No "stacking" on long aggressive downhills due to air compression at the end of shock stroke.

Disadvantage(s)? 

  • Weight...and as I already stated...if that's an issue for you, you're probably not interested in a Nomad anyway.

Thanks for reading!!!!!