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Drug Dealers for Bike Junkies - Santa Cruz Bronson Fix

Monday, September 01, 2014

Part 1: One Percent

Not so long ago, I was thinking a Pivot Mach 6 could be a good addition to my stable. The Pivot Mach 6 is a bonafide mountain ripper.

The Pivot Mach 6 is made for fast descents on technical terrain. The bike climbs well enough to get a gonzo crazy rider to the top of a mountain; where said rider can plummet down the mountain at extreme speeds. This somewhat dangerous form of entertainment is partaken by a minority of riders known as the "One Percent".

Part 2: Ninety-Nine Percent

A person that wants to get some exercise while riding through pretty countryside does not need to spend $6,000 to $10,000 for a high-tech wonder bike. Trail bikes, such as the Specialized Rockhopper Comp, are designed to serve the needs of 99% of recreational mountain bikers.

This sensible bike costs $1,050 and rides nicely. Here is a short video showing the Rockhopper in action.


As you can see, the Rockhopper is a competent trail bike. This bike has a nice SRAM X5 2x10 drivetrain, Tektro hydraulic disk brakes and Rockshox front fork. The frame is made from heat treated 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum and is fairly light.

Lots of manufactures make good mountain bikes at the $1,000 price point. If you want to ride deep into the boonies, these value-priced mountain bikes will very likely get you back.

There are mountain bikes that cost less than $1,000 that are fine for riding on dirt roads and smooth trails, However, these less expensive bikes are heavy, generally wear out quickly and have low-end components. One of the better inexpensive mountain bike is the Trek Marlin 6 with the Shimano Altus group and Suntour XCT coil fork.

This bike has 29" wheels and lists for $599. Shimano Altus component are recreational grade and work okay. However, shifting gets a little iffy when pedaling up a moderately steep hill. The Trek Marlin has a 3x8 or 24 speeds. The rear cogs have a "Mega-Range", which means that low gear is very low.

When approaching a steep hill, you need to get into low gear before you start climbing. Low-dollar derailleurs tend to lock into gear under heavy pedal pressure. If you are in too high gear when you start climbing, you won't be able to downshift. You will probably bog-down and end-up pushing your bike up the hill. Mountain bikes in the $500 to $600 range are targeted at beginners that want to give mountain biking a shot. These entry-level bikes sell very well.

Part 3: Drug Dealers For Bike Junkies - The Golden Bike Shop: Danger Zone

The motto for the Golden Bike Shop is "Drug Dealers for Bike Junkies". Here is a shot of the motto on a Golden Bike Shop water bottle:

I wandered into the Golden Bike Shop to see about reserving a Pivot Mach 6 demo bike for the weekend. I like to take a bike I am interested in buying on a few long trail rides before laying-down a big wad of cash. Golden bike shop has a huge demo fleet.

I had demoed a 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon X01 that impressed me to pieces. However, I checked with shops that sold Santa Cruz bikes and found that the 2014 Bronson bikes were sold out.

The 2015 Santa Cruz bikes were starting to trickle-in. The 2015 Bronson had a lower component specs on fork and crank. The 2015 Bronson was still a good bike. Unfortunately, the 2015 price was higher.

As I filled-out the paperwork for the Mach 6 demo bike, I asked the shop guy if they were going to sell any large frame 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson bikes from their demo fleet. He told me that they had already sold the demo Bronson bikes.

Then he said, "Which Bronson are you looking for?" I blurted out, "I want a 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon C with SRAM X01 and FOX Racing TALAS RC2 FIT Fork!" I felt a little like Ralphie in a Christmas Story. I almost added, "And a thing that tells time!"

The shop guy says, "We got one!" I follow the guy over to bike racks.

I had looked for a Bronson when walked past the bike racks on the way in. This shop is full of great bikes, One particular bike is easy to miss.

The shop guy points to a brand spanking new 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson. The bike is Tennis Yellow. The tires showed that bike had never carried a rider.

Here is a factory photo of the Tennis Yellow 2014 Bronson Carbon C with the 1x11 SRAM XX1/X01. I looked at the price tag. The original price was $8,400. The price was marked down to $6,800.

I asked him what the best he could do on the bike. He says, "I'll go figure that out, right now." He goes back to the computer by the checkout stand. He punches a few numbers into the computer. He pulls out his business card and scribbles a number on the back. He hands me the card with his best price.

I couldn't believe the price he had put on the card. I expected a few hundred bucks off, maybe. The price quote was $5,750! We are talking a $2,650 discount from list. I just said, "Wow, that is good price!" I was ready to pull the trigger. However, I told the guy, "I wanted to noodle on it bit." He said, " No problem. You have been a good customer. I can put a hold tag on the bike for a couple of days."

I am pretty sure he knew he had me hooked. I bought the Bronson two days later.

Here is a photo of my new bike the first time the tires ever touched dirt. My first ride was on some nice easy single track at Beaver Ranch.

Here is a photo of the trail. This nice trail get a little steep later on.

This is a very nice trail system. I had the place all to myself. The Bronson really pedals well. The bike is wicked fun a on steep rocky downhill due to 6.25" of plush suspension. Surprisingly, the Bronson climbs with ease.

The Bronson is back on the rack wearing the appropriate amount of dirt. I had the bike out to Buffalo Creek and Three Sisters several times. Although the Bronson doesn't feel fast, I seem to overtake other riders very quickly. I have yet to be passed by another mountain biker.

The control characteristics of the Bronson are fantastic. The only problem is the rear tire is wearing out very quickly.

Thanks for reading my blog.
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