Build: Santa Cruz Butcher

After racing Super D this past winter at Southridge, I knew I needed to started working toward a bigger travel, slacker bike. I had ridden the Santa Cruz Butcher at the last year when SC’s demo fleet came through town, and had thoroughly enjoyed that bike. I started keeping an eye out online for used frames, and eventually I had success! This started the several month long process of bike building and part hunting. Now that I had the new frame, I put up ads to sell my Giant Trance to help fund the new build. I pulled all the upgrades I had made to the trance off that bike and swapped them over to the new frame, brakes, bars, grips, saddle, & dropper post.

BTW- I apologize for the quality of all the pictures in advance, as they are all from my cell phone as this build came together in free moments here and there and random late nights.

Frame and existing parts.
Frame and existing parts.

Next I found a used Fox fork. It was a bit of a drive to go get, but worth the savings. Note: This is just a reminder to ALWAYS measure twice, and here is why. I got the headset installed and when to install the stem and found I was 5mm short on the steerer tube. The steerer tube did not even pass the centerline of the stem bolt. Not really enough pot to clamp on to. Now, I had not cut the steerer tube, but I had just tried to install it in the state I received it. I had only eyeballed the length when I purchased the headset which came in two varieties, standard and low rise which left about a 5-10mm difference between the two. “What’s 5mm?” I thought, plus that one’s cheaper. Well, it turns out it is the difference between a safely installed stem and, well, a not so much safely installed stem.

Fork, headset & bar installed.
Fork, headset & bar installed.

I ordered the wheels new, which was pretty much the only part major part I was not able to find used. Good thing I ordered them early, as they took almost twice as long as expected, 6-8 weeks. But it was worth it! They looked good, and ride even better! For extra stiffness I went with the 10mm axle in the rear, instead of the standard 9m skewer.

Wheels: starting to look like a bike.
Wheels: starting to look like a bike.

The last parts I needed to complete the build at this point was the drive-train. I knew I wanted to but 2×10 on, but had found exactly what I wanted yet. I had been talking with several other friends trying to make a final decision on what I wanted to use for the build when I got a, “Hey, I’ve a whole extra drive-train sitting on the shelf at home available.” It was an offer I could not refuse.

Drivetrain installed: itching to be ridden.
Drivetrain installed: itching to be ridden.

I was finally wrapping up the build and couldn’t wait to get out and ride it. I have neglected to mention, but the same time as I was finishing this build my SS ended up with a cracked frame and was sent out for warranty replacement. Now the pressure was really on to finish the build so I could get out and ride. I had gotten wheels, rotors and cranks on so I was able to finally sit on the bike and get a feel for it for how it was coming along. I scheduled a ride with a friend for the next day and all I had left was to install and tune the derailleurs. The night before the ride I ended up having to work late and had just enough time to run to the LBS for the final part I had forgotten. I did not have the end caps for the derailleur housing! Without these the derailleurs were useless. I literally showed pulled up at 7.00 at night at closing to the closest shop to my house. The lights were off, but I stepped in anyway, and caught them just closing up. Doesn’t get much closer than that.

Final weight.
Final weight.

Here is the info on the build.

Build Spec:
Frame: Large Santa Cruz Butcher w/ Rockshox Vivid Air
Fork: Fox 36 Float RLC 160mm
Dropper Post: Rockshox Reverb
Drivetrain: Sram XO/X9
Wheels: Industry 9 Enduro Hubs w/ Stan Flows
Brakes: Shimano XT 180/160
Bars: Raceface Atlas
Grips: Ergon GA-1
Tires: F-2.3 Specialized Clutch Control R- 2.3 Specialized Butcher Control
Final Weight: 31lb 13oz

Happy to be in the dirt @ Aliso Woods.
Happy to be in the dirt @ Aliso Woods.

One thing I found out after the first ride is that I had incorrectly installed the stem. For some reason, I thought I had a zero rise stem, and I had just pulled it from the previous bike without much inspection. Well, evidently, it is a 5 degree rise and flipping it around made a huge difference in the feeling, mainly on the climbs. It took me several rides to dial in the suspension to a comfortable place, but now the Butcher is nothing but fun…. on the way down of course. I won’t be entering any XC races or hill climb contests on this bike, but I’ll get to the top eventually. The slacker head angle has given me increased confidence on the descents and am able to attack them much stronger than before. I have a Big Bear trip scheduled in a few weeks, and will give the Butcher a good weekend long workout. In the meantime, I have had plenty of fun tearing up the local trails on my new all-mountain build.

Maiden Voyage on the Luge.
Maiden Voyage on the Luge.

Ride Report: Through the Gulch with a Butcher – Helena, MT

With a newly acquired client, it has given me an opportunity to travel to Helena, MT last week. Like most of my trips, whether it’s business or pleasure , I always look for an opportunity to ride. As soon as I received noticed that I’ll be traveling to Montana, I immediately searched the web for nearby trails. What were the search results?… Singletrack galore! Next step was the bike. I was debating if I should bring my bike on this trip however at the time I was making my plans, rain was in the forecast for Helena. Also since this was my first trip to Montana for work, I wasn’t sure how much time I’ll have to ride so I decided to just rent a bike.
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I mapped out my hotel, office and local bike shops – ALL were within two blocks or less than 1/8th of a mile from each other. My office was 20 steps from my hotel and the local bile shop was literally around the corner. It can’t get easier than that!!! 🙂

I arrived in Helena, MT on Tuesday evening. Wednesday was an all day meeting but during my lunch break I made a trip to the local bike shop – Great Divide Cyclery. I made arrangements for a bike rental for later in the afternoon however I didn’t quite commit to it yet as I still had a lot of things to do and wasn’t sure how long I’ll be in the office. In speaking to the guys at Great Divide Cyclery, there were describing the trails. Just the talk of the singletracks got me excited and I couldn’t wait!
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Singletrack on my mind

Back at work, I was waiting anxiously for the day to end. As soon as we called it quits, I took a quick drive to the trailhead. Oh, that’s the other thing… the trail, Mt. Ascension was also just a few blocks away… WOW! At the trailhead I talked to a few mountain bikers that just finished their ride. They gave me a few pointers where to go and what to look out for. I then returned to hotel, left my car then walked to the Great Divide Cyclery. I arrived there just before their closing time, but the guys didn’t stop short of providing me with excellent customer service. I was truly impressed! For my rental, they brought out a brand spanking new Santa Cruz Butcher. I’ve been dying to try this bike and the new APP linkage. Steve with Great Divide Cyclery made sure the bike’s suspension was dialed in for my weight. The only thing extra that I asked for was a bottle cage on the bike and they provided it with a water bottle.

With my Garmin GPS, off I went… from the shop to the trailhead was about five minutes. First thing I hit was the switchback climb off Davis Street. I was on a mission to get to the top.
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Switchbacks that took me to the top

This series of switchbacks were not that steep however it would be a gradual climb for awhile. Somewhere along the way, the trail leveled off and started to split in different directions. Unfamiliar with the trail and not seeing the marker that I was suppose to look-out for, I chose the one that would cut right through the middle of the mountain. From here, it was a rolling singletrack that would eventually ascend into another section of the mountain.
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Reaching a vista point I had a general idea where the city was and I was never too concerned about being lost. I was on an adventure!!!

I hit several segments of the Mt. Ascension, but the best part was the singletrack that lead down to Davis Street. At this point I must have hit the mid section of this descent, but as soon as I realized that I was heading closer to the exit, I turned around and climbed back to the top, passing my entry point. Reaching the top I turned around and pointed my bike towards the bottom. What was ahead of me was epic singletrack… smooth, buff, flowy, superfast in some sections… truly one of the most enjoyable downhill runs I’ve ever been on.
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Endless singletrack!

At the bottom, I ran into a hiker. With another trail system across the way, I asked him for directions. This place was unbelievable. Singletrack was spawning everywhere. I crossed Davis Street (a dirt road) and continued my adventure onto another mountain. There were more climbing and more singletrack… my ride ended down a hillside. The singletrack was running through tall grass. Looking back at where I just came from was just awesome!!!
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Exiting on a singletrack

I had minor issues with my GPS. It was turning on/off intermittently however at the end of my ride, my GPS listed 6.20 miles. I would say this was a pretty good ride considering I didn’t know where to go.

I’m scheduled to go back to Helena in July with additional trips before the year ends. I’m hoping for a lengthier stay so I can get out to the other trails. With the sun setting at 9:30pm, I’ll have plenty of light to explore. Helena is a small city but there were definitely lots of mountain bikers. I saw plenty of cars with mountain bikes mounted on the racks.

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.

Review Disclaimer.