Bike Review: Santa Cruz 5010

Bike Review: Santa Cruz 5010 - Thunder Mountain Bikes

With a 130mm Fox Float DPS shock and a 140mm Rockshox Pike fork, the 5010 is an all-purpose trail bike that seemed to cater to all my interests—with one exception: the mullet build. The concept is that by pairing a 29-inch front to a 27.5 rear, you get the rollover and speed advantage of a big wheel but the quickness and pop of the smaller, shorter back end. And though I pedaled out highly skeptical of what felt like marketing hype, by the end of the day I was won over.

This is a seriously peppy, confidence-inducing ride, though the VPP suspension feels more progressive and truer to size than the Rascal. One other bonus: the built-in flip chip allows geometry tweaks, down to a very confident 64.9 head angle and a comfortable 76.8 degree seat tube.

santa cruz 5010 detail group image

The Santa Cruz 5010 Details

This Santa Cruz was the most economical build of the four bikes I tried ($5,300 MSRP, which is 30 to 40 percent cheaper than the others), and yet it didn’t at all feel like a comedown. That’s testament to how much lower end components have benefited from development at the top end of the market. Though it lacks a lot of whizbang adjustability, the base-level suspension here felt perfectly smooth and supple. And though the SRAM NX had a slightly clunky feel, it still operated flawlessly.

The only slight oddity was the pair of 2.4-inch Maxxis Minion DHRs—I’d have preferred at least a 2.5-inch DHF up front. But the big picture is that you don’t have to buy top shelf to get high-end performance these days.

The Ride

The dual wheel sizes are immediately noticeable for the unique stance they afford. Because of the smaller rear wheel, it feels like you are seated within the bike rather than on top of it, while the 29er front makes for a tall feeling front end.

That might sound weird, but it’s subtle, and the result is increased confidence on steep and rocky terrain. I found myself throwing the bike down stuff that normally I’d inch through, mostly because of the unique position. The suspension design has an overall harder edge than the one of the Rascal, but that gives the 5010 an energetic, playful feel. 

santa cruz 5010 full bike

Last Take on the Santa Cruz 5010

The surprise of the week for me was how much I enjoyed this ride. For anyone who frequents acrobatic, demanding terrain and wants a frisky bike that’s as comfy off the ground as on, this should be a real contender. That’s not my home terrain, however, and honestly I’d be hard pressed to get past the need to stock multiple tire and tube sizes.


by Aaron Gulley

Aaron has been writing about cycling, travel, and the outdoors and reviewing gear for the likes of Outside, Bicycling, Velonews, and others for over two decades.