I’ve had my Santa Cruz Nomad since 2009 and we’ve enjoyed 9 years of shredding together, but it’s finally time to let her go. The Nomad really opened my eyes to what an efficient pedalling long travel bike could do. It was ready for the gnarliest descent and fine with an all day pedalfest to get there. While it was considered a really aggressive mountain bike when it was release the geo and travel have moved it more towards a solid all-rounder.
Buying the Nomad coincided with my move from Alberta to BC in 2010 and it was the perfect bike to learn to ride Coastal BC’s very techy trails on. It was forgiving of mistakes coming down and clawed its way up our steep chunky climbs well. BC also subjected it to a massive amount of wet weather riding where traction was at a premium and grit was ready to chew up any moving parts. The Nomad responded to the challenge with aplomb. There was room for uber wide [at the time] 2.4″ rubber on 35mm rims and the VPP suspension provided solid grip. Most surprising to me was how little maintenance the VPP pivots/bearings needed. I was ready to give them some love every 6 months, but they often didn’t need any attention for a year or more of riding. To this day the bike is a tight and smooth as it was off the showroom floor and it’s still got the original Fox Float 36 RC2 and the Fox DHX Air 5.0 shock.
The Nomad wasn’t perfect that’s for sure. The VPP suspension and stock DHX Air 5.0 had a gnarly wallow in the mid-stroke that didn’t feel good when pedalling. That got solved with an Avalanche Racing rebuild of the internals that changed the bike. To this day the best money I ever spent on a MTB mod. The Nomad was heavy at ~35lbs of weight and on longer rides the heft was tiring to move around over tech sections. I considered blinging the bike out a few times, but everything worked well enough it just didn’t seem worth it to spend the $$$.
In terms of after-sales support Santa Cruz was great. They provided free bearings – although I only went through 3 sets in 9yrs. They also let me swap out the XL front triangle for a L one to get a smaller bike at the no fault crash replacement cost. Other than that I’ve really never had a problem with the Nomad that required support so I didn’t get a chance to test the warranty, but I have a feeling they would have gone the extra mile to make me happy.
Santa Cruz has now released a Nomad Mk4, which has become even burlier than the bike I had and moved the model firmly towards the freeride/park end of the mountain bike continuum. If I was buying a new SC bike today and wanted to replicate the Nomad Mk2 I’d probably grab a Bronson as a very capable all-rounder that’s well balanced between pedalling up and roaring downhill.
Why I am getting rid of the Nomad? Well after getting a Knolly Endorphin I’ve gotten so used to a bike with a modern geo that’s lighter and has bigger wheels that it’s hard to go back to the Nomad. The Endo is just more fun to ride and ultimately that’s why I own mountain bikes.
Although I am getting rid of the Nomad it’s going to a friend so I will continue to see it from time to time and will know it’s in good hands. My friend is good at keeping machines running [he’s got my ’97 Mazda pick up!] so I hope to see the Nomad on the trails for many more years.