I like SantaCruz. They’ve somehow managed to grow to the size where they can afford serious R&D without being a faceless, soulless company like some many of the brands are these days. Plus they recently hired Mike Ferrentino.
As a 13 year old mountain bike grom I looked forward to each issue of BIKE magazine to arrive at the bookshop so I could read Mike’s articles. BIKE was a glossy mag with amazing photos and great stories about cycling and was a real depart from Mountain Bike Action and their Woman’s Weekly drivel of 10-tips-to-make-you-climb-faster which were industry norm at the time. Their yearly Photo Issue would quickly be cut-up and blue-tacked to my bedroom walls and provided infinite motivation for the mountain biking I did in my teens. Wade Simmons, Ritchey Schley, and Brett Tippie’s careers and the riding style we now call ‘freeriding’ were kickstarted by a BIKE article focusing on these three Kamloops residents riding their bikes down very steep hills while wearing hockey padding. Schley used one SPD pedal and one flat so he could controllably dab. I am really lucky to have grown up in West coast Canada while North Shore freeriding forever changed the way mountain bikes are ridden and designed. Mike Ferrentino’s articles were fantastic and I think he went on to become editor before BIKE was sold to their corporate overlords who changed the magazines tone at which point I stopped spending my lawn-mowing money on them. Current magazines like Spoke, Rouleur and Privateer owe a lot to BIKE’s trailblazing and it’s great to see Ferrentino finding his feet at SantaCruz.
The Tallboy was released when 29ers were still freak bikes for circus runaways. Now 29er wheels contribute over 80% of the mountain bike wheels I build, so to say SantaCruz read the trend would be stating the obvious. It was also one of the first non-XC bikes to be made from carbon fibre and it has helped to usher in a new era of framebuilding material to mountain biking by proving that fancy plastic cloth and resin can be used to build durable mountain bikes. And somehow a Specialized Epic chews through it’s 12 suspension bearings once a year but SantaCruz can offer a lifetime bearing warranty on their bikes.