Santa Cruz Solo


In 2013, I saw a video for a new bike by boutique cycling brand Santa Cruz and it looked pretty special.

The Solo is a medium-travel full-suspension bike which was released with the latest trend of 650b-sized wheels. And it was orange! I immediately fell in love, but it wasn’t exactly a cheap bike. After much persuading by a friend I decided to bite the bullet and order one. Sandy Plenty from The Trailhead Bicycle Company in Shrewsbury hooked me up and I waited.

After a few months, we were told there were delays. This was due to a trademark issue (the Solo name belongs to Rocky Mountain), so Santa Cruz deftly renamed the bike the “5010”. On the 19th of October 2013, a couple of friends and I headed to Llandegla, picking my new stead up along the way.

Santa Cruz Solo / 5010 in orange.

Everyone loves a new bike

There are a lot of options for mountain bikes, but they boil down to two main types; hardtails and full-suspension bikes. Hardtails are the classic mountain bike, with forks up front, they’re simple and relatively cheap. Full-suspension bikes’ rear shock helps the back of the bike stay in contact with the ground, but this adds a lot more complexity and drives up the price.

After riding my Specialized Rockhopper hardtail for a while, I took the plunge with a full-suspension bike. My first full-suspension bike was the exact copy of a friend; a Lapierre Zesty. I demoed his bike and was stunned by how much the rear suspension changed my riding, it injected a lot more fun into the mix.

Two Lapierre Zesty bikes at the top of the Wrekin in the snow.

The next year, I swapped from the Lapierre Zesty to another Zesty! Both bikes had 150mm of suspension travel and far exceeded my capability and daring. After this, I looked at a full-suspension bike with less travel – to match my ability – and decided on a Canyon Nerve; a 120mm trail bike.

Previously, I had changed my primary bike year after year, following the release of newer models. However, after I bought the Santa Cruz Solo, never felt the need to replace it. There is a philosophy which I feel applies here.

Buy nice or buy twice, when spending more makes the most economical sense

You are more likely to continue to use something if it “brings you joy”. And I think that is definitely the case here. Although my previous bikes were far better than I am, I never had that spark with them, that I had with my Santa Cruz.

Six years later

It was over six years until I bought another full-suspension bike, but this wasn’t a replacement for my Santa Cruz Solo. Today I have more fun riding my electric bike, I have re-purposed my Santa Cruz Solo so I can go riding with my son.

Santa Cruz Solo in the woods.