by Jesse Peterson, Bike Technician at The Path Bike Shop.
I have a relatively new bike and it's pretty unique.
What I've built for myself isn't your usual Santa Cruz Bronson 2 CC. Although the Bronson 2 with it's 66 degree head angle and 150mm of snappy VPP travel is enough bike to race down most descents with predictable liveliness, I wanted a bike with as much rake as a DH bike could give without the dead feel of 8 inches of travel, so I created one!
It all starts off with a bike you think will accommodate the modifications you want to make. For instance, when I decided to slacken my bike and put a 29er fork and wheel on the front of the Bronson 2 (which I'll elaborate on later), I anticipated a raised bottom bracket height, so I didn't want a bike that had a bottom bracket that was over 13.5". Likewise, the seat tube will slacken too, so it had to have a steep angle to begin with! After all is said and done, the 13.43" bottom bracket height grew to 13.8," and that wasn't what I was going to be satisfied with. If I had started with something higher I might end up above 14" and that is a kind of weird feeling. Thus stated, I found the Bronson to accommodate these changes very well.
First, after choosing a bike that fits both your body, your style, and your plan, then you begin to compile your build.
I happen to have a great fork that has been on every bike I've owned since 2013 - the RockShox Solo Air RCT3 PIKE. Not only is the fork as good as they say it is, but it's also really simple to change the travel of the fork and service it. I have mine set at 130mm, and with a 29er wheel it sits at the same height as a 160mm 27.5" setup. I welcomed the bigger wheel on the front so I could use it for keeping control on the really steep and technical terrain I'm typically riding, and the shorter travel keeps my headtube angle slacker at all levels due to it's shorter stroke and doesn't dip as much. The only problem is that now I have a higher bike, so I invested in a set of offset bushings made by Bergtec and sold at our shop. The Bronson uses a 22mm X 8mm bushing set, and that dropped my bottom bracket down to around 13," which I can live with. Of course the seat tube keeps getting slacker so beware, you might not want to slacken out any bike you find or else you'll just pop wheelies up every climb. My head tube angle went from the stock 66 degrees to 64 degrees.
Now that I have a head tube angle of a DH bike, I had to equip the rear end with a adequate shock. Luckily Fox just released their DHX2. Get one and you won't be disappointed. I'm a little curious if my 7.875" X 2.25" shock really has a full 2.25" stroke because I think its a little short. Maybe they consider the rubber bumper part of the stroke. Anyhow, with the 2-position climb lever switched on climb, the bike has one of the most solid pedaling platforms I've experienced. When switched off, the bike efficiently and consistently travels through all types of terrain with ease, control, and traction from start to finish. Totally worth the extra pound of coil-sprung radness.
All said and done, there aren't a whole lot of other modifications to mention. Yes, I do run big Ice Tec 203 rotors because I like to always have brakes, and the two-piston Shimano XTR Trail M9000 are light but could use a little more power. I really like my new e13 TRS Race tires and have never felt traction offered like these do. I have the new DT XM 481 rims laced up on DT Swiss 350 CL hubs and they are strong and light. 32h rear wheel and a 28h front, because I justify that the weight savings is worth it. I'll keep running these and smashing through rock gardens until somebody makes something better. My 28t x 11-42t Shimano XT/XTR drivetrain is a workhorse paired with Raceface Turbin 30mm cinch cranks. KS LEV Integra seatpost is tip top. Intense grips are cozy. Santa Cruz carbon riser bars cut to 780mm.
- Total weight: 30lbs
- HTA: 64deg
- BBH: ~13"