Santa Cruz Bikes are known and loved for their progressive mountain bikes. So, it came as a surprise to many when they launched their first drop bar bike in 2007. Now, the Californian brand introduce the latest iteration, overhauled from the ground up. What’s changed on the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata, and what is it capable of?

Why are Santa Cruz Bikes called Santa Cruz Bikes? Well, it’s because the brand’s headquarters are based in the US town of the same name. The Californian company have made a big name for themselves in the mountain bike industry. Especially for their high-end full-suspension mountain bikes. Having their own UCI MTB World Cup downhill racing team is just a logical consequence. By doing a lot of development work with different carbon layups, Santa Cruz are always trying to optimise their frames. In doing so, they have come up with innovations like the Glovebox, for example, which now also features on the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata. Read on to find out which other MTB trends and developments the gravel bike has adopted and how it rides.

Santa Cruz Stigmata CC 2023 I 9.7 kg in Größe L I € 8,299 I Manufacturer’s website

From racing to trail riding! What sets the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata apart?

With the gravel craze at its peak, everyone in the industry wanted a piece of the cake, and by now almost all bike companies worth their salt have come up with their own interpretation of a gravel bike. As a mountain bike brand, Santa Cruz started making a drop bar bike as early as 2007 with the Stigmata. But they were ahead of the curve and stopped production in 2011, only to completely re-develop and relaunch it as a gravel bike in 2015. However, it’s clear that the latest 2023 model suits the brand’s image better than any of its predecessors. Equipped with a suspension fork and dropper post, it’s much more capable of going off-road. Furthermore, the above-mentioned Glovebox in the down tube offers plenty of storage space for things like energy bars, a spare tube, mini pump, or rain jacket, for those epic all-day rides. The simple and reliable closure of the storage compartment makes it even more convenient and prevents it from rattling even on the bumpiest terrain. It also gives you the option of mounting three bottle cages: two in the front triangle and one underneath the down tube. As expected from Santa Cruz, the Stigmata makes a high-quality and well-rounded impression in terms of the design language. To mountain bikers, the new gravel bike is clearly recognisable as a Santa Cruz, featuring the brand’s signature lines, oversized tubes, smooth transitions, and classic earthy colour tones. If all that isn’t a dead giveaway, the head tube badge will always help you identify the bike

Take it wherever you want! That’s what the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata promises.

Another thing the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata has copied from its big mountain bike siblings is the massive chainstay protector. Unfortunately, there’s no down tube protector, which is a big oversight on a gravel bike. The internally routed cables continue to be fed into the frame via external ports, which is slightly less clean, but it makes the use of a suspension fork easier. This makes the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata significantly more capable on the descents than its immediate competition in the gravel segment. That said, you can also get it specced with a rigid fork and front derailleur. These two build options should theoretically allow the new Stigmata to cater to a wide range of use cases. From gravel racing to bikepacking adventures and full-on trail action. The tire clearance has grown to 50 mm, and further increases the bike’s off-road capability.

A massive chainstay protector…
… but a bare down tube, unfortunately. You would expect some kind of padding on the down tube of a gravel bike.

5 builds for a lot of variety? Details and spec options of the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata

With the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata, greater versatility doesn’t necessarily mean more models. You can choose from exactly 5 different models, which offer significantly more in terms of componentry than the 8 variants of the predecessor. All of them rely on the same carbon frame with the high-end CC layup as well as 700×45C MAXXIS Rambler EXO tires. What’s new is that Santa Cruz chose to go with SRAM components throughout. The entry-level Stigmata CC going for € 3,999 comes with a SRAM Apex XPLR 1×12 drivetrain, 370 DT Swiss hubs laced to WTB EZR i23 rims, and is rounded off with ZIPP components for things like the seat post. All other models are exclusively available with wireless SRAM AXS shifting, supplied by either the Rival or Force groupsets. These include the Stigmata CC Rival AXS 1×12 for € 5,299, Stigmata CC Rival AXS 2×12 for € 5,299, Stigmata CC Force AXS Reserve 2×12 for € 7,499, and the Stigmata CC Force AXS Reserve 1×12 for € 8,299.

A storage compartment is incredibly convenient. As such, Santa Cruz have adopted the Glovebox technology on the 2023 Stigmata.
Blingeling: At the latest here it becomes clear which heart beats in the new Santa Cruz Stigmata 2023.

Other differences on the higher-end builds include the choice of rims, hubs, and seat post. In the case of the Santa Cruz Stigmata CC Force AXS 1×12 RSV model, you get the off-road package consisting of the 40 mm travel RockShox Rudy Ultimate suspension fork, and RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR dropper post, offering 50 mm drop.

Santa Cruz Stigmata 2023

€ 8,299


Fork Rockshox Rudy Ultimate 40 mm
Brakes SRAM Force 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Force AXS XPLR 1x12
Chainring 38
Wheelset Reserve 25|GR/ DT Swiss 350 12 x 100/12 x 148 mm Through Axle
Tires Maxxis Rambler EXO 700 x 45 c 45
Cranks SRAM Force 1 DUB 172,5 mm
Cassette SRAM CS-XG-1271-D1 10-44T

Technical Data


Mehr ist mehr, jedenfalls was Reifenfreiheit angeht. Die ist beim Santa Cruz Stigmata 2023 auf 50 mm angewachsen.

The geometry of the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata

A common complaint about the previous Stigmata was that it wasn’t composed enough, which meant they had to revise the geometry. Therefore, the stack and reach have grown, and the wheelbase has also become longer. That should result in more stable handling and less nervousness, especially at high speeds. Nevertheless, the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata remains on the agile side. The toe overlap has also been eliminated.

Santa Cruz Stigmata

Size S M L XL XXl
Seat tube 455 mm 485 mm 515 mm 545 mm 575 mm
Top tube 552 mm 570 mm 592 mm 600 mm 631 mm
Head tube 105 mm 120 mm 145 mm 160 mm 180 mm
Head angle 69.5° 69.5° 69.5° 69.5° 69.5°
Seat angle 74° 74° 74° 74° 74°
Chainstay 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm
BB Drop 78 mm 76 mm 76 mm 74 mm 74 mm
Reach 390 mm 405 mm 420 mm 435 mm 450 mm
Stack 564 mm 576 mm 600 mm 612 mm 631 mm
Routes like these require a certain degree of agility, and although more composed, the new Santa Cruz Stigmata is still plenty agile.

First ride review – How does the new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata fare?

Get out there and ride! But where? Considering the suspension fork and dropper post on our test bike, we settled on going properly off-road. Making our way to the trail, we rode on asphalt, across meadows, and through the woods. The riding position is strikingly balanced for a gravel bike designed by hardcore mountain bikers. It feels comfortable yet aggressive, without feeling too stretched or bent forward. The reach to the handlebar gives your upper body enough space. Nevertheless, the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata cannot hide its progressive heritage. While it remains an agile bike that doesn’t feel overly sluggish in any way, the revised geometry definitely pays off because it stays composed and stable on the straights despite everything.

Tuning-Tipp: down tube protector & luggage straps for long hauls

Across the bridge and into adventure!?

The looser the terrain, the more at home the Santa Cruz Stigmata feels. While it might feel a bit sluggish on the road and takes some time to get up to speed, it just wants to get going when the going gets rough. It gave us this impression on the climbs, descents, and straights. The new Stigmata clearly feels most comfortable on very rough trails and paths. The fun-factor increases as the trail degrades: the more natural the terrain, the more fun you’ll have on this bike. The grippy 45 mm wide MAXXIS Rambler tires, suspension, and pronounced compliance offered by the frame instil you with confidence, which is underlined by the manoeuvrable handling. However, you might want to watch out for steep inclines. The gear range offered by the SRAM XPLR drivetrain is too small as the 40 t chainring doesn’t offer a suitable gear for technical climbs when paired with the biggest 44 t cog on the cassette. A mullet variant combined with a wider range mountain bike cassette would certainly have been the better choice for the flagship build. However, the gear range should be fine on the other models, which are targeted more at all-road and gravel riding.

Off-road performance and versatility: The option of a 40 mm travel suspension fork makes the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata considerably more capable.
This is underlined by the dropper post. The gravel apple clearly doesn’t fall far from the MTB tree on the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata.

Who is the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata for?

The new 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata is perfect for those who don’t want to or cannot commit. You might want to go on a bikepacking adventure through Germany today, commute to work next week, and attend a gravel race the week thereafter. In theory, that shouldn’t be a problem, though you might need to make a few modifications regarding the gear range and suspension. As such, this gravel bike is best suited to anyone who wants to do everything. Thanks to the option of a dropper post and 40 mm travel suspension fork, the world is your oyster.

Can’t stop smiling! Whether rain, sun, or both, the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata is a ton of fun off-road.

Our conclusion on the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata

Is the 2023 Santa Cruz Stigmata a gravel bike for all occasions? Yes and no! It forms a good starting point for different use cases, but, depending on the exact build, it’s ultimately geared more towards one specific application. The agile and fun handling performs best off-road, especially when combined with a suspension fork and dropper seat post. It might be a little too much for hardcore roadies, but mountain bikers will love it. In the end, gravel is still what you make of it.


  • high-quality and classy design
  • comfortable and fun handling
  • confidence instilling thanks to plenty of damping and grippy tires
  • generously sized and easily accessible integrated storage compartment


  • limited gear range for steep off-road climbs and uphill trails
  • lack of mounting points for bikepacking

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Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Dylan Wolsky, Jan Richter