First journey: 2023 Santa Cruz Nomad – Combined wheels now obtainable

Santa Cruz was launched this year, updating their catalog with changes in geometry and in-frame compartments for each model. Next up is the venerable Nomad, the long-distance travel machine that has been a mainstay in the lineup since its introduction in 2005.

Version 6.0 of the Nomad retains 170 mm of travel front and rear, but it is now running mixed wheel sizes, with a 29” wheel in front and 27.5” at the rear. Along with the larger front wheel, the new Nomad’s shape has been made to feel slower and longer, though the changes aren’t too wild. Again, it’s more about improvements than drastic modifications.

Nomad 6 Details

• Wheel size: 29″ front / 27.5″ rear
• Travel: 170mm
• C & CC . carbon frame
• Head angle 63.5º (low)
• Seat tube angle 77.6º (size L, low)
• 444mm post (size L, low)
• Size: S, M, L, XL, XXL
• Weight: 33.5 lb / 15.2 kg (size L, X01 AXS RSV)
• Price: $5,649 – $11,199 USD

There’s also a Glove Box for storing tools and hoses inside the frame, and a bike kinematic adjustment designed to increase suspension sensitivity and consistency.

There are 10 different build options, with prices ranging from $5,649 for the R kit all the way to $11,109 for the XO1 Reserve build.

Frame details

Nomad’s frame has all the accessories that Santa Cruz is known for. Bottom threaded bracket, internal tube-in-tube cable routing, chain guard in place, room for full-size water bottles, universal derailleur mount, grease port for linkage bearings below – there’s really nothing missing.

There’s also that Glovebox, which has a small latch that allows access to the inside of the exhaust. A neoprene tool wallet and tubular wallet are also included to help organize and keep things uncluttered inside the frame.

There are two frame color options, Gloss Gypsum, which comes in white/purple/gray depending on light, and matte black. The frame uses 230 x 65mm shocks and is compatible with air or coil options.


Compared to the previous generation, the Nomad’s head angle has shrunk by 0.2 degrees and the reach numbers remain the same, although keep in mind it now has a 29-inch front wheel. The reach of the large 472mm is a bit shorter than the 480/485mm figure many other companies have settled on, but that’s not necessarily a negative. Remember, there’s more to cycling than one or two numbers on a chart.

There’s also a new XXL option in the mix with a 520mm reach for all existing taller riders.

The most significant geometric change occurs in the grooves – the length has been increased by about 8mm depending on the size. This is done to improve the front/rear balance of the bike, especially since it now has mixed wheels. Body length increases as the frame size gets larger, starting at 439mm for the small and going up to 450mm for the XXL.

Pause layout

Unsurprisingly, the Nomad retains its familiar lower-link drive VPP suspension layout. Nomad’s initial leverage has dropped and it’s actually a bit less progressive than it used to be. It is still compatible with coil shock, but the changes should help produce more consistent performance throughout the travel range.

The anti-squatting feature has also been reduced, which Santa Cruz says was done to reduce suspension harshness and improve traction when climbing hills.


R-Kit $5,649
S-Kit $6,799
GX AXS-Kit $8,499
GX AXS-Kit Pre-order $9,799
X01-Kit (CC) $9,299
X01 AXS-Kit Reserve $11,199

Test parameters

There’s no arguing that Santa Cruz’s prices are on the higher end of the spectrum – this isn’t the place to look if you’re trying to stretch your money as far as possible. That said, the parts in the various build kits are all handpicked and if a bike has a GX drivetrain it has a full GX drivetrain, not just a derailleur to make it seem so. All cars have some version of SRAM’s Code brakes with 200mm rotors at the front and rear, and all models have impact guards.

Interestingly, the build kits with coil dampers receive Maxxis DoubleDown tires, and the kits with gas damper receive EXO+. Is it possible that coil users are more likely to make a poorer current selection?

My only real will with the kit is the 175mm hydraulic Reverb on full-size frames. I groaned a bit about this when Hightower first came out, but in this case it was even more relevant. The Nomad is basically a pedalable DH bike – I like the saddle as far as possible on long rides and I know I’m not the only one. There are also a lot of cheaper cable-activated posts on the market that work just as well (or better) than the Reverb and can adjust the stroke to launch.

Number of rides

The previous edition Nomad’s is a fun, relatively light favorite, an all-day touring bike that doesn’t seem to mind if the terrain isn’t always super steep and rough. The new version maintains most of those pleasant traits, but the modifications it receives, including the 29-inch front wheels, take its capabilities to the next level.

Considering how similar the Nomad’s geometric numbers are to the Megatower’s, I’m not sure how much of a difference there will be between the two on the trail. They even share the same front triangle, so it really goes down to the Nomad’s smaller rear wheel and slightly different kinematics. Turns out, all the subtle changes make up for something much more important.

Honestly, the latest Megatower hasn’t really let me down, and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on it this season. It’s what I’d consider a Very Good bike, but it doesn’t add a bit of special sauce to push it into the Awesome category. That didn’t happen with the new Nomad – after a number of rides, it’s now moving towards the top of my list of favorite bikes this year.

What’s special about it? For me, it’s the way the suspension allows the plow down to the heel while maintaining enough support to pedal or pump through flatter trails. With the Float X2, there aren’t any harsh endings and I’ve sent this very deep on multiple occasions, mostly because it seems like that’s how it wants to be ridden. I try not to use the phrase ‘inspiring confidence’ more than once or twice a year because it becomes cliché, but in this case, it’s an appropriate one. The Nomad has plenty of ride to deal with big bumps and rough terrain, with its rapid acceleration making it a highly addictive bike.

The Nomad’s suspension feels a bit lighter than the Megatower’s, which meant I had more access to the climb switch on smoother climbs, but it was still calm enough while pedaling. and leaving it open all the time is doable.

While the Nomad’s reach figure may be on the slightly shorter side of the modern spectrum, that’s balanced by a slack head angle and moderately long shafts that offer plenty of stability at high speeds. than. Lately, my preference for mixed-wheel configurations on longer touring bikes has been growing, and that continues with the Nomad. Along with creating more rubber ground clearance from the rear, it feels easier to lift and place the rear wheel, especially on steep roads.

I’m curious how Nomad will hold up to the longer term test – considering the sky-high price tag you’d expect it to be absolutely perfect. There are many more difficult miles in the future for this bike, including a couple of big enduro races and a lot of laps at the bike park – I’ll report back with the final results and compare with the others. another bike in this category when it’s actually over squeezed.

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