2010 Santa Cruz Nomad

When the ride took a turn onto the brutal, techy singletrack, however, things took a turn for the worse. The bike would sit nice and high in its travel until the rear wheel encountered a sizeable hit, at which point the rear wheel would lose traction while the Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension played catch-up. Often, this would result in a complete loss of traction.

To compound this difficulty, it felt like the VPP blew most of its midstroke once I cracked into its travel. This left me feeling not only like I was climbing way in the back of the saddle, but also towing a bag of rocks, even though I sat way forward on the horn of my saddle. I thought the frame may have an especially slack seat tube angle, but research assured me that the 71.5-degree seat tube on the Nomad is not incredibly far off from many of its competitors noted for their climbing prowess (e.g., Pivot Firebird: 71.1; Trek Slash: 71.9).

In the weeks to come, I relentlessly tried to find the happy medium of shock adjustments, where the bike climbed nicely but still felt plush and active. I usually have no problem setting up my suspension, and in this case I even enlisted the help of my awesome local bike shops. With each try I got different incarnations of the same feeling: The Nomad climbed on smooth terrain like a hardtail, but when faced with any sort of terrain variations, it would break into its travel just a little too late to keep the rear wheel tracking nicely, then blow through a good portion of the rest of its travel. Disappointing.

But as I reached the high point of our ride, things got better again. I hit the dropper post and began descending the techy downhill, and I found myself on an extremely stout machine that was stiff, sturdy, and capable of eating up anything in front of it. Not just that, though, I found the Nomad jibby and playful, easy to ollie, and eager to boost off anything that presented the opportunity. The Nomad did get bucked around quite a bit on smaller bumps, but it ate up the bigger ones nicely.

For a bike designed to climb well but still eat up the techgnar, 67 degrees is a fairly ideal head tube angle, and the Nomad is a case in point.

The firm initial stroke of the suspension requires a standing, active rider on the descent—a seated rider will quickly find most of the small bumps of the trail communicated directly to his or her lower back. The suspension stroke is much easier to break into, however, with the greater force of medium-to-large hits at high speeds. The Nomad was still eager to quickly give up a good portion of its travel all at once on any sizeable terrain variation, but this was much less of a problem on the downhill, and often made for a nice plush ride.

Santa Cruz Nomad, Blister Gear Review
Rob Dickinson on the Santa Cruz Nomad.

If I had been a bit discouraged on the climb, I was now at ease with the Nomad as I crushed an incredibly technical section of trail faster than I ever had on a bike I was sure I would not break. Nice.

5 comments on “2010 Santa Cruz Nomad”

  1. Rob, you absolutely should have tried a different rear shock. The DHX Air is terrible on that frame. RP23 is pretty good, but the Monarch RT3 is amazing. A much more efficient and predictable use of travel.

    The Push link is designed to make the Nomad’s current VPP setup work better with coil shocks and moves the needle back towards more DH performance. This incarnation of the VPP on the Nomad is optimized to work with air shocks to make the bike more of an All Mountain destroyer. Unfortunately the DHX Air sits in the middle…not a predictably good air shock, but not a plush coil.

  2. Hi, I came to your website because I was looking for reviews on the Panaracer CG AM AC, and stumbled across this review of the Nomad Mk 2. While there may be some shortcomings with the DHX-A 5.0, I feel that perhaps you need to fettle with the shock a bit more. I had an alu Nomad with the DHX RC4 couple with a Ti coil, and is currently riding the carbon Nomad with the DHX-A. My current set up that can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.389744174370136.100076.100000036705817&type=3
    weighs 30.4 lbs. For AM duties, I really feel that DHX-A does a better job than the RC4. I am using a Float RC2 upfront and the bike feels well balanced. Take some time to dial in your boostvalve and bottom-out control, because if you do it right, the DHX-A can feel bottomless on this frame with the revised shock rate. An RP23 is inherently a progressive shock while the DHX-A is built to be as linear as possible (for an air shock). Coupled to the fact that the new Nomad has a flatter shock rate (not-so falling rate to not-so rising rate), one should be able to set up the DHX-A to match the new shock rate. A good starting point is to find the right sag, followed by opening up your bottom-out control fully, and pumping a boostvalve psi that matches your main spring. If the shock feels overdamped, the drop boostvalve in 5 psi intervals until you can get full travel based on the riding you do. If the bottom-out feels harsh, then close the chamber by half turns. Get comfortable with what each setting does and how they co-relate to each other and you should be able to find a set up that works for you! I’m sorry if I talk too much but I want you to enjoy the Nomad as much as I do!
    By the way, I bought the Panaracer CG AM AC based on your recommendation :) and they really are good!

  3. I’ve got a 2008/09 Nomad Mk2 that I am still riding as my winter/backup bike. Except for its portliness [average build] it still rocks compared to the latest greatest bikes.

    The stock DHX Air was awful. I sent mine to Avalanche Racing for a custom rebuild and it transformed the bike. It’s now as good a climber as a descender. Without a doubt this was the best money I ever spent on a bike upgrade in my riding career.

    I keep trying to kill my poor old Nomad, but it will not die.

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