After my torrid love affair with the Hightower this past summer, I decided to see what else Santa Cruz had in store, and pass along my beloved Sriracha rocketship to a new home. The initial plan was to pick up the new Hightower LT – but apparently, everyone else had the same idea, and bikes were in short supply. So, tossing the original idea of rollin’ on wagon wheels, I decided to go full party-mode and pick up a new Santa Cruz Nomad V4 – hereafter referred to as the Bromad.
On paper – things looked interesting. 170mm of travel, paired with a completely new suspension linkage derived from the V10, acceptably slack head angle, and a steeper seat angle than my Hightower. Reach numbers were a bit shorter, stack height was more or less the same, and the wheelbase was a bit shorter, meaning it would actually fit under a doorframe when rolling on its rear wheel. After some deliberation, triggers were pulled, bank accounts emptied, and an absolutely gorgeous bit of carbon wizardry from California showed up at the shop a few days later.
I settled on the X01 build, with the Rock Shox Super Deluxe Air rear shock. My inner weight weenie just couldn’t deal with that extra 200g on a mini DH sled for some reason. That being said, I do appreciate the adjustability that air shocks bring without needing to swap springs. The requisite Chromag bits were added, and that all-too-sexy XX1 gold chain. Playa’s gotta flex.
My first outing with the Bromad would be a true test of its pedalability. My wife and I hit up Frisby Ridge in Revelstoke – not exactly what the bike was made for, but man… was I blown away. Especially considering I was coming off a Hightower, I was impressed with how well the Nomad performed on the 12km climb. Techy sections were cleaned with ease, and there was a surprising amount of efficiency thanks to the new VPP linkage. Almost no pedal bob, and absolutely no reason to use the climb switch.
Once things turned around and the bike was pointed downhill, I quickly realized what this bike was made for. As speeds climbed, the bike just settled in and encouraged me to charge harder, brake later, and send it into janky roots and rocks. There were many occasions when I puckered up and thought “oh shit!”, only to come out the other side unscathed. In short: this bike rewards you for riding like an idiot. Once you let off the brakes, the bike becomes poppy and flickable, yet extremely stable – and that is the major difference I found between the Hightower and the Nomad. Where the Hightower would sometimes feel a bit sluggish in the corners, the Nomad pops around like a juiced up squirrel.
The integrated frame protection has shrugged off many baby heads and shuttle scars, and the little details like the integrated mud flap protecting the rear shock go a long way in protecting the bike and its fiddly components.
Since its first outing, the Nomad has seen trips to Nelson, and many rides on our local trails in the Columbia Valley. Despite our decidedly XC-biased terrain, I have been absolutely smitten with the riding characteristics. Truly, this bike is a quiver of one for anyone who enjoys a good pedal, but REALLY enjoys opening it up and letting it rip on the downhill. I’m looking forward to the Pano bike park opening in a month or so, to see just how much of a mini DH sled she really is.