Dirt School Head Coach, and long term 29er advocate, Andy, made the switch to MX wheels for the first time with the release of the 4th generation Santa Cruz Bronson. Stepping off the V1 Megatower and onto the V4 Bronson should, in theory, be a smooth transition; the geometry between the two bikes is remarkably similar. To gain insight on how the Bronson handles the trails here in the Tweed Valley, and learn a bit more about his setup, we sat down with the man himself to get all the details on his Bronson.
“After riding a Megatower for almost 3 years I fancied something a bit different. The long travel 29er platform is absolutely solid but I was still curious about the MX set up that the Bronson V4 now offers. I actually had a Bronson V1 a few years ago and really liked the playful, brawly nature that the bike brought to the market.”
Andy stands at 177cm tall which puts him well within the range for the large frame, a reach of 472mm gives a roomy cockpit without becoming overly stretched out. With the geometry of the V4 Bronson being relatively similar to the V1 Megatower, Andy found he felt comfortable on the new bike very quickly. Swapping between two bikes with such similar geometry, but different wheel sizes, allowed Andy a great opportunity to really dive into how the ride changes when you swap to a smaller rear wheel.
“The 29er front end of the bike is as stable and predictable as ever, but the back end feels like it turns with less effort than the front. The way that it drops off into turns on choppy tracks means you don’t have to worry about fitting it into tight places, perfect for the tracks we have in the Tweed Valley. I quickly became accustomed to the MX set up and was absolutely loving it; all the attributes of modern geometry are there, it’s a bike that gives you so much confidence to muck about and play on technical trails.”
Fitted with a 160mm Fox 36 Factory fork, Andy’s Bronson has plenty of travel up front to take the sting out of big impacts and offer up plenty of traction over the near constant small bumps that are such a prevalent feature of Tweed Valley trails. The Bronson’s 150mm of rear wheel travel is controlled by a Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate rear shock which gives adjustability over both Low Speed Compression (LSC) and Rebound.
“I initially just ran my suspension fairly hard so it wouldn’t bottom out but it ended up feeling a bit harsh on the trail. I dropped some pressure and it felt amazing without a pack, but it would bottom out every time I rode aggressively with a pack on. After some advice and a quick service from Ady at TVB Tech, I was running the same lower pressures, but with an extra token front and rear.”
Andy weighs 85-87 kg fully dressed with his riding kit and leader's bag. His fork is inflated to 85 psi and is fitted with 3 tokens. He runs high speed compression fully open (0 clicks), and 2 clicks of low speed to keep the fork from diving into its travel on things like jumps and berms. 2 clicks of low speed rebound and 0 clicks of high speed rebound lets the front wheel track the ground accurately, increasing grip. His shock sits at 190 psi with 3 tokens. Compression fully open and 2 clicks of rebound.
Andy’s initial setup was relatively firm to prevent bottom outs on hard compressions. After chatting with Ady from TVB Tech Andy dropped pressure in both the fork and shock and added an extra token front and back. Coupled with reducing the amount of compression damping and faster rebound, Andy’s bike now handles everything from small chatter to big impacts with poise.
“Setting my suspension up with extra tokens and less damping transformed the ride of the Bronson. It was now supple on the trail but would ramp up beautifully when pushed. I now get close to full travel every time I ride and the progressive nature of this setup actually suits the bike’s poppy riding style as well.”
A Burgtec bar and stem gives a solid connection to the front wheel. Andy’s Ride Wide carbon bar is trimmed to 770mm, with grips fitted the overall width grows to 780mm, with 30mm of rise. A 35mm clamp stem with 50mm reach adds a little extra length to Andy’s bike and puts more of his weight over the front wheel for additional traction. Burgtec Bartender Pro grips in the Super Soft compound round out the cockpit and, when combined with the flex built into the carbon layup of the Burgtec bars, reduces the level of vibration transmitted through the cockpit to Andy’s hands, mitigating arm pump and hand fatigue on long descents.
A staff favourite at Dirt School and Tweed Valley Bikes; SRAM Code RSCs are on stopping duties for almost all of our bikes, and Andy’s Bronson is no exception. Consistent performance, reliable bleeding and with enough adjustability in setup meaning everyone can get them feeling exactly as they like means that Codes are the go to for Andy’s Bronson. 200mm Centreline rotors give plenty of stopping power and metal pads front and back give maximum power and heat dissipation.
“SRAM Code RSC brakes are the most powerful and confidence inspiring brakes I’ve ever used. They have more than enough power when you need them, but enough feel that I rarely lock a wheel. An impressive balance from something that feels so light at the lever.”
Andy has built his Bronson with a firm emphasis on enduro riding. To give maximum traction, and protection, on rough and technical terrain Andy has fitted Tough casing WTB Verdict tyres front and back. The soft compound High Grip rubber lets Andy eke out all the available traction which, as we head into winter, will pay dividends as the trails become more and more slippery.
To give extra support and puncture protection, Andy has fitted tyre inserts front and back. Supporting the sidewall under hard cornering forces, and allowing the use of lower pressures, gives improved traction in all conditions while the added pinch flat protection gives peace of mind when Andy is charging into rock gardens and square edge hits.
“You can definitely feel the tyre inserts limit the amount of volume available to the tyre to deform, but it protects the rim so comfortably that it really doesn’t matter if you hit it.”
To stand up to the rigours of modern enduro riding, Reserve 30 rims combine lightweight with a stiff and robust build. The laterally stiff wheels give a direct feel to the handling of the Bronson, while the light overall weight lets them spin up to speed quickly and reduces the unsprung mass of Andy’s bike. Backed by a lifetime warranty, Reserve 30 wheels bring high performance and peace of mind to Andy’s Bronson. Industry Nine 1/1 hubs give a quick pedal response with just 4° of float across 90 points of engagement.
SRAM Eagle gearing gets Andy to where he needs to go with a 10-52t cassette paired with a Burgtec 32t chainring. The X01 AXS rear derailleur is built tough, shrugging off impacts with roots and rocks without flinching.
Burgtec Penthouse MK5 flat pedals, a 175mm Reverb and Burgtec Cloud saddle finish off Andy’s Bronson.
Andy’s Bronson Full Spec:
Frame - Santa Cruz Bronson CC, Large
Fork - Fox 36 Factory, 160mm (80 psi, 3 tokens)
Shock - Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate (190 psi, 3 token)
Wheelset - Reserve 30 on Industry Nine 1/1 hubs
Tyres - Front: WTB Verdict, 29 x 2.5, Tough Casing, High Grip (21psi with insert) Rear: WTB Verdict, 27.5 x 2.5, Tough Casing, High Grip (24psi with insert)
Brakes - SRAM Code RSC with SRAM Centreline 200mm rotors
Cassette - SRAM X01 Eagle 10-52t cassette
Rear mech - SRAM AXS X01
Chainring - Burgtec 32t
Cranks - SRAM X01 Eagle 170mm
Dropper post - Rockshox Reverb, 175mm
Saddle - Burgtec Cloud
Bar - Burgtec Ride Wide Carbon 30mm rise, 35mm clamp, 770mm wide
Grips - Burgtec Bartender Pro Minnaar Signature, Super Soft
Stem - Burgtec MK3 Enduro stem, 35mm clamp, 50mm reach