One of the first full-suspension bikes that actually worked was the Santa Cruz Superlight. It made its debut more than a decade ago, back when Santa Cruz was one of the first brands to solve the problem of double squishy bike inchworming along the trail, robbing the rider of power.
Since then, however, Santa Cruz one-upped itself with the virtual pivot-point (VPP) Blur, an even better multi-pivot, full-suspension bike that overshadowed what was good about the single-pivot Superlight.
Now along comes a reborn Superlight, this time as a 29er.
Why would anyone want a single-pivot, four-inch-travel Superlight 29er when Santa Cruz introduced a Tallboy just last year, with yummy VPP suspension just like the Blur? Simple: money. The Tallboy costs significantly more than the new Superlight 29: $2,300 for the least expensive complete Tallboy, versus $1,850 for the cheapest Superlight 29.
Santa Cruz says they’ve applied the best of the Tallboy’s geometry on the Superlight 29. That’s a very good thing. When we tested the Tallboy last year the real genius was in the steering; getting a 29er to initiate a turn can sometimes feel like you’re trying to extract a spoon from a gallon tub of Jiffy. But the Tallboy suffers none of that hesitancy, nor is it irked by mid-course corrections, when you have to stand the bike back up to jigger your line.
As for details, the Superlight 29 is getting what sounds (to the ear of a 26er) like a steep head angle: 71 degrees. But that’s identical to a Tallboy, and that bike doesn’t feel at all nervous (don’t forget that the taller wheel makes steeper head angles necessary and even desirable, and that bigger wheel gives you a lot more insurance against endos).
One other advantage of single-pivot: It’s lighter. The Superlight 29, at 5.94 pounds with Fox Float RL shock, comes in more than a half-pound lighter than the alloy Tallboy. And probably more impressive for a rig with bigger wheels, just a third of a pound heavier than the original Superlight.