With the Santa Cruz Stigmata CC, the US company wants to offer a bike that bridges the gap between cyclocross and gravel. Find out how this mustard yellow race machine fared out on the gravel.
Click here for an overview of the best gravel bike 2020 group test.
For the second generation of the Stigmata CC, the engineering team at Santa Cruz made some careful but significant changes. That means the carbon frameset now has clearance for tires up to 700 x 45C or 650 x 53B, mounts for a third bottle cage and a reworked carbon layup that promises more comfort. The tidy design language, as well as the high-quality finish, make an excellent first impression. Our test bike was equipped with a 1×12 drivetrain consisting of a mix of SRAM Force eTAP AXS shifters, cranks and brakes together with a SRAM X01 Eagle eTap AXS derailleur and 10-50 t cassette. The 440 mm EA70 AX bars and the EA90 aluminium stem along with the zero-offset EC70 seatpost all come from Easton. The 700 x 40C MAXXIS Ravager tires have a pronounced tread and are mounted on Santa Cruz’s own Reserve 22 carbon wheels. As the name suggests, the internal rim width of 22 mm is supposed to offer good support for up to 45 mm tires, while the 24-spoke build is designed to tread the line between comfort and stiffness. Refreshingly, there are no unnecessary nods to aerodynamic performance here, with comparatively shallow rims. The 8.10 kg weight in size 56 is only 20 g higher than that of the lightest bike in our group test, the Trek Domane SLR 9 eTap. In this component spec, the Stigmata CC costs € 6,199.
The Santa Cruz Stigmata C in detail
Drivetrain SRAM Force eTap AXS with SRAM Eagle eTap AXS derailleur
Gearing 42 t and 10-50 t, 1×12
Brakes SRAM Force HRD, 160/160 mm
Handlebar Easton EA70 AX, 440 mm
Stem Easton EA90, 100 mm
Seatpost Easton EC70, 0 mm offset
Wheels Santa Cruz Reserve 22
Tires MAXXIS Ravager 700 x 40C
|Seat tube||495 mm||520 mm||545 mm||565 mm||590 mm|
|Top tube||526 mm||545 mm||565 mm||572 mm||591 mm|
|Head tube||130 mm||150 mm||170 mm||185 mm||205 mm|
|Chainstays||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm|
|BB Drop||74 mm||72 mm||72 mm||70 mm||70 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,009 mm||1,015 mm||1,025 mm||1,034 mm||1,053 mm|
|Reach||372 mm||380 mm||388 mm||392 mm||405 mm|
|Stack||555 mm||576 mm||596 mm||609 mm||628 mm|
The Santa Cruz Stigmata CC in review
The Santa Cruz storms forward when pedalling. While accelerating and going uphill it benefits significantly from its low weight and comparatively low rotating mass. It masters even the steepest ramps despite the 42 t chainring thanks to the massive cassette with its 500 % range. The pronounced profile of the tires is a big advantage on loose terrain but results in relatively high rolling resistance on compacted ground or the road. The riding position is pleasantly compact while the overall comfort level of the bike is good. It’s the mix of compliance from the seatpost and damping stemming from the frameset, tires and wheels that lead to a balanced overall level of comfort. However, what we didn’t like while riding off road was the nervous handling of the Santa Cruz.
CC is denotes Santa Cruz’s highest-quality carbon construction, but it could also be seen as an indicator of the bike’s cyclocross heritage.
The incredibly agile front-end reacts to the smallest inputs, meaning you always have to pay attention. For cyclocross, where you’ll regularly take tight corners at slow speeds that kind of handling is definitely an advantage. However, it’s not quite as well suited to the demands of the gravel sector. The nervous front-end limits how stable the bike feels on the straights and reduces confidence as soon as you pick up speed. You’ll need to be experienced to be able to handle this bike well.
The Santa Cruz Stigmata CC accelerates very quickly with a high level of comfort and compact riding position. Unfortunately, the attempt to bridge the gap between cyclocross courses and gravel tracks is only a limited success. Experienced riders who want a direct handling and agile bike that excels on tight courses will find what they need here. Those looking for a more relaxed ride will find the nervous front-end tiring and will have less confidence in the ride. The Santa Cruz is a cyclocross bike with large tire clearances and far from a gravel all-rounder.
- balanced comfort
- well-considered component spec
- very agile front-end
- limited stability
- lack of confidence at high speed
For more info: santacruzbicycles.com
Click here for an overview of the best gravel bike 2020 group test.
All bikes in test: Argon 18 Dark Matter | Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX | Canyon Grail AL 7.0 | Cervélo Áspero | Giant Revolt Advanced Pro Force | Kona Libre AL | Liteville 4-ONE MK1 | OPEN WI.DE. | Pivot Vault Team Force | ROSE BACKROAD GRX RX810 Di2 | Santa Cruz Stigmata CC | Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO | Standert Pfadfinder | Trek Domane SLR 9 eTap
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in technical sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough surfaces? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with demanding bikes.↩
Playful bikes are a real pleasure for experienced riders. Of course, beginners appreciate a lively riding experience, too – just with an extra dose of confidence. Riding pleasure is, therefore, always defined as an intersection of agility, smoothness, handling and confidence. How much pop does the bike have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is it?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the road and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well in real life? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver during the test.↩
No, it’s not about perfect race tracks, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along high-speed passages need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret “Smooth tarmac” bikes as follows: Hard efforts at high speeds with a maximum efficient bike on a consistently well-paved road. Effort-joy ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
… also known as bike riding. Broken-up roads in the hinterland, deadlocked gravel roads, loose surfaces – sometimes muddy, sometimes bone-dry. For this, it takes bikes with super all-round, handling and wearing qualities uphill and downhill. Effort-joy ratio: 50:50↩
If you want to use your bike almost every day, you usually do not need an extremely tuned racing machine. Solid components, which are able to cope with the rigours of continuous usage in any kind of weather, are part of the basic equipment. At the same time, the bike should have practicable details: integrated fenders/assembly options, luggage racks/attachment points and a light system or at least the option of installing bike lights. The position on the bike should be rather relaxed, the overall comfort high, so that the Afterwork Ride becomes a cure and not a curse. Effort-joy ratio: 30:70↩
Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: GRAN FONDO-Team