Nomad Mk4 - First Look

It may still offer a similar amount of travel and use the VPP suspension system but it’s almost hard to believe this is still a Nomad. With the Nomad Mk4, Santa Cruz has made some massive changes across the board, changes that don’t necessarily come through when you look at the spec sheet.

It still runs 27.5 wheels and the travel is 170mm at both ends of the bike; that’s a 5mm increase in the rear travel and the same up front. However there are major changes in the VPP suspension design and how the travel is actually delivered.

The shock is now driven by the lower linkage in a manner that’s more like their V10 downhill bike. This change is critical as it has allowed them to change the leverage ratio—something that directly influences the feel of the bike. Previous versions of the Nomad have used a leverage rate that was initially regressive, before turning progressive from the sag point through to bottom-out. Like the V10, the new Nomad is now progressive all the way through its travel (as shown below).

The blue line is the Mk3 Nomad with its regressive initial leverage rate while the green is the consistently progressive leverage rate of the new Nomad.
The blue line is the Mk3 Nomad with its regressive initial leverage rate while the green is the consistently progressive leverage rate of the new Nomad.

Put in plain English, the new design will improve the initial suppleness of the  suspension and should help it track the ground better than before. Beyond this, the VPP retains a high level of anti-squat around the sag point, which should ensure decent pedalling performance. The anti-squat also drops off deeper into the travel to reduce pedal kickback and drivetrain interference.

From a technical suspension geek standpoint, the Mk4 is a substantial improvement over the pervious Nomad and all of the shorter travel Santa Cruz models. It’s also worth noting that Santa Cruz will now be offering the Nomad with both air and coil rear shocks—take your pick.


The other big changes are in the geometry department. By modern standards, most Santa Cruz models are a little short in the reach for a given size. It doesn’t really pose an issue as their seat tubes are quite short, so most riders can just jump up a size if they want a longer frame and there’s still loads of room for a dropper post. Where I can ride a medium frame on most newer frames, I generally choose a large Santa Cruz. Well that wouldn’t be the case on the new Nomad. The reach on most sizes has increased by around 30mm, which is a huge change. To use a medium size as an example; it used to have a 415mm reach on the Mk3 but that has now grown to 440mm (or 336mm in the ‘low’ geometry setting).

It now features adjustable geometry via a ‘flip-chip’ on the lower link. This allows you to swap between a 65 degrees (same as before) and a new 64.6 degree head angle. Even without a slacker front end, the new Nomad will offer added high speed stability thanks to the longer reach; something that pushes the front end out further and gives the bike a longer wheelbase. Meanwhile the back end tucks in a fraction closer to the bottom bracket, with the chainstay going from 433mm to 430mm and there’s clearance for tyre widths up to 2.6 inch.

The claimed frame weight has gone up a little – now at 3,160g for the lighter CC model – but this is more in keeping with what we expect from a big travel bike like the Nomad.


The first Nomads are expected to land in Australia in late June and we’ll have a range of options to choose from. The top-end CC model will be offer as a frame kit for $5,199, supplied with a RockShox Super Deluxe air or coil.

Complete builds with the more affordable (and slightly heavier) C frame start from $7,249 with SRAM NX 1X11. You can also get it with GX Eagle 1X12 for $8,449 or $9,499 with Shimano XT. The CC builds start at $10,999 Eagle X01 and lots of carbon bling or $12,449 with Eagle XX1.

Check the Australian version of the Santa Cruz Bicycles website for all the spec details -


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