Review: Santa Cruz Butcher

This Sunday morning Santa Cruz Bikes was holding a demo ride for their bikes @ the Luge, a local trail. The night before I double-checked the start of the demo, and it began as 7:00am. It was also the morning of the time change forward and hour to Daylight Savings Time, and needless to say I had a fair amount of trouble dragging my carcass out of bed to get to the demo. I ended rolling up around 8:30 and putting my name on the waiting list for a large Butcher. I had planned on making a loop on the Butcher and then trying to get a loop on the Tallboy, but the waiting list for the Tallboy was quite long, and not worth waiting that long for.

SC Butcher
SC Butcher

The Butcher came pimped out a full compliment of Sram XO parts, the new 2×10 drive-train, and Rock Shox suspension with 150mm of front & rear travel. The wheels were Easton’s Havoc with Maxxis Ardent 2.25 tubeless tires, and the front wheel was a 20mm through-axle. Santa Cruz did some preliminary suspension adjustment pre-ride, and put my pedals on and I headed out. I passed a couple of other groups of riders on the paved section on the way to the first climb. For the amount of travel and intended use for the bike, it did pretty well on the pavement. I finished off the pavement section chatting with another rider on a road or cyclocross bike. The shock had three settings from full-open what I guess was a pro-pedal setting. For the climb I left the shock in the stiffest setting which was not a lock-out. At some point on the grind up to the flag I did stop and make some adjustment to the suspension by speeding up the rebound on both front & rear. Overall for being a 150mm travel bike, it climbed pretty well. My guess is that this build was around 27-28 pounds. My biggest complaint about this bike was that the fork didn’t have a lock out. While stand on climbs, I was losing a fair amount of power to the fork slopping around unnecessarily. But standing and torquing on the bars really did make it take off. If you had the strength to throw it around up the hills it would certainly power right up the climb.

Quick Rest by the flag @ the top of the Luge
Quick Rest by the flag @ the top of the Luge

Just before the flag there is a quick rocky descent which is a preview of what to come. I opened up the rear shock and let loose a little to see how it would handle. Lots of grip and plenty of control. So far so good. I made it to the flag in about 45 minutes, took a quick break, and chatted with the other riders who were about to continue on to Old Camp or head down and out the Luge. While this is no XC bike, it did ok on the climb, but now it was time to descend and really show what this bike can do. I took off from the flag and the fun began. The Butcher was hugging the turns and really gripped the trail more. I cleared the first loose and narrow section, and opened it up a little more. The Butcher just begged for more. I found myself carrying more speed through the turns than I normally would. This was definitely something I could get used to. The Butcher ate up the turns, bumps, and drops. It definitely gets my recommendation in terms of an all-mountain bike, and it worth consideration for anyone looking for a new frame/bike in the 150mm class.

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2 Replies to “Review: Santa Cruz Butcher”

  1. I’ve been eyeing up the Butcher myself after spending a season on my husbands Nomad. Both of them are awesome bikes, making it a tough decision. Any distinct differences (aside from the obvious technology) regarding the two. I am looking for something beefy enough for the North Shore (vancouver) riding, but nimble enough for me to throw it around a bit, and climb the terrain around here.

  2. Well, I haven’t ridden the Nomad, but according to SC site the Butcher with the APP is meant to be a more cost effective frame (about $500 less) than the nomad with the VPP. The butcher is almost half a pound heavier and has a little (10mm) less travel. Here’s the geoladders info on the route to help put things in perspective http://www.geoladders.com/show_route.php?route=1 It has a couple a steep grinds (out of the saddle, at least for me) I was able to wrench it around well on the climbs. I would need more time to dial in suspension to my likeing, but it definitely was a smooooth ride. Hope that helps.

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