Santa Cruz launches the brand new Blur 3, plus its lightest carbon hardtail ever

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Today you lovely readers don’t just get to find out about one shiny new bike. No ma’am. Because you’ve been on your very best behaviour (well, close enough), today the hip Californian mountain bike brand that is Santa Cruz Bicycles is releasing two brand spankers to the whole wide world. And we’ve been lucky enough to have been riding them.

One of these freshly-baked bikes is an updated iteration of the Highball carbon hardtail. ‘Updated’ is selling it well short though, because this frame has had a wholesale redesign from the BB shell up. It represents the third generation of the Highball platform, and the new sleeker carbon fibre frame has dropped nearly 200 grams over the previous version while creating a more compliant and comfortable ride (more on that later on).

santa cruz blur highball
The latest Santa Cruz Highball is brand new from the BB shell up.

But the biggest (and arguably more exciting) news is of course about the return of an absolute classic; the Santa Cruz Blur.

Originally launched all the way back in 2002 as one of the first VPP suspension models from Santa Cruz, the Blur featured a generous 115mm of rear travel, 26in wheels and the capability to fit an 80-100mm travel fork. It was made in the USA from welded alloy tubing that was treated with a lovely anodised finish, and it even had rim brake bosses on it (best ask your parents if you’re wondering what the heck those things are).

Popular amongst the racing crowd for its efficient pedalling VPP suspension design, the Blur went on to spawn multiple iterations over the years, including a longer travel LT model, 4X and TR models, and then lighter carbon fibre versions too. The Blur had a good decade’s worth of stardom there, but around 2013 (when 29in wheels began to dominate the cross-country and marathon racing scenes), the last Blur XC was finally put to rest, having been partially cannibalised by one of Santa Cruz’ own bikes; the 29in Tallboy.

santa cruz blur carbon
Yeah you read that right – it’s back baby!

Although the Tallboy continues to be one of Santa Cruz’ most popular models, over time it has steadily gotten a little slacker, a little portlier, and a little bit more capable thanks to the adoption of 120-130mm travel forks, dropper posts, chunkier tyres and (in the case of the latest Tallboy 3) even 27.5+ wheelsize capability. No longer is the Tallboy Santa Cruz’ thoroughbred race bike. Instead, it’s evolved into a lightweight trail bike. And that’s left a bit of a gap in the lineup.

Ready to plug that gap left behind by the Tallboy’s migration, the brand new Blur bursts back into the spotlight as Santa Cruz’ flagship full suspension XC race bike. Ta-da!

Weighing in at just a lick over 2kg (4.5lb), this is the lightest Blur ever. It’s designed specifically around 29in wheels (no plus-size capability here), and it’s balanced out with 100mm travel front and rear. The dual-link VPP suspension platform remains, but it’s been carefully tuned around a single-ring drivetrain for maximum pedal efficiency. Sorry, no front derailleurs allowed to this party.

There are loads of other lovely details in this new bike, so let’s take a closer look at some of the finer points that make up the brand new, third generation Santa Cruz Blur Carbon.

santa cruz blur
The Santa Cruz Blur is BACK!

2018 Santa Cruz Blur 3 Features

  • Lightweight full suspension XC race bike
  • Full carbon fibre frameset
  • Available in C and CC carbon frame options
  • Claimed frame weight: 2060g (Medium CC frame w/shock, axle & seatclamp)
  • 29in wheels
  • VPP suspension design w/forged alloy links & sealed bearings
  • 100mm rear travel
  • 100mm travel fork w/44mm offset
  • 69° head angle
  • 74° seat angle
  • 432mm chainstay length
  • 73mm English threaded bottom bracket
  • 1x specific frame design
  • DT Swiss 148x12mm thru-axle
  • Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • Frame RRP: £2999 (Blur CC frame including Fox Float DPS shock)
  • Complete bike RRP: £3699 – £7899
santa cruz blur
New forged alloy upper VPP link is hollowed out for lower weight.
santa cruz blur carbon
The Fox Float DPS rear shock is tuned for the Blur’s 100mm of VPP travel, and it’s tethered to a handlebar remote via a regular gear cable.
santa cruz blur carbon remote lockout
Fox’s latest push-to-unlock remote allows you to lockout the fork and shock simultaneously at the flick of a button.
santa cruz blur carbon
Smooth integrated headset uses drop-in cartridge bearings.
santa cruz blur carbon
Cabling is a mixture of internal and external routing to avoid tight bends for smoother shifting. Note the bosses on the downtube that allow for a bottle to sit inside the mainframe, and the second set below that accommodate a second bottle to the belly of the frame.
santa cruz blur carbon
Thick rubber armouring lathers the inside of the drive-side swingarm.
santa cruz blur carbon
Alongside the Hightower LT and the new Highball, the Blur is one of the first Santa Cruz models to move to post mount rear brake tabs, which allows for clean adapter-free mounting with a 160mm disc rotor.
santa cruz blur
Santa Cruz Blur 3 Geometry. The head angle isn’t particularly slack, but those front centre measurements are very long for an XC race bike.
santa cruz blur
Base builds will start at £3699 for the ‘R’ build kit, which comes with the slightly heavier and cheaper Blur C carbon fibre frame.
santa cruz blur
There’s a new ‘XE’ build kit for 2018, which uses an E*13 9-46t cassette and Shimano 1×11 shifting.
santa cruz blur
You want bling? £7899 USD will get you the top-end XX1 Blur CC model with Santa Cruz’ own Reserve carbon rims.
santa cruz blur
There’ll be two colour options for the new Blur, including this ‘I don’t want to be noticed’ tar-black finish.
santa cruz blur
*Dust and sunshine not included in RRP*
santa cruz blur
The new Highball CC carbon frame comes under the 1 kilo mark.

Also launched alongside the new Blur is the 3rd generation Highball. Available only in carbon CC and C frame options (there are no current plans for alloy Highballs), this frame has an entirely new carbon fibre layup and fresh moulds that elect for slimmer and rounder tube profiles that have helped to lower the frame weight by 172 grams (a 13% weight drop). There’s also been a significant boost in compliance thanks to the dropped seatstays, while modernised geometry sees a full degree lobbed off the head angle and a hefty increase in reach measurements to bolster the front centre length of the bike for more stability.

2018 Santa Cruz Highball 3 Features

  • Lightweight hardtail XC race bike
  • Full carbon fibre frameset
  • Available in C and CC carbon frame options
  • Claimed frame weight: 1140g (Medium CC frame including all hardware)
  • 29in wheels
  • 100mm travel fork w/51mm offset
  • 69.5° head angle
  • 73° seat angle
  • 430mm chainstay length
  • 73mm English threaded bottom bracket
  • 1x specific frame design
  • 3x bottle cage mounts
  • DT Swiss 148x12mm thru-axle
  • Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • Frame RRP: £1699 (Highball CC frame)
  • Complete bike RRP: £2799 – $6599
santa cruz blur highball
The dropped seatstays allow the whole seat tube of the frame to flex more for added compliance at the saddle. Santa Cruz says there is twice as much compliance compared to the old Highball.
santa cruz blur highball
You can fit two water bottles inside the main triangle, and one underneath the downtube. Like the Blur, the new Highball is 1x specific and comes with bolt-on belly armour.
santa cruz blur highball
Rear spacing is 148mm wide. Santa Cruz also include a spare derailleur hanger with each frame and complete bike.
santa cruz blur highball
Internal cable routing allows for multiple options, including the fitment of a stealth dropper post.
santa cruz highball
Santa Cruz Highball frame geometry.
Pricing kicks off at £2799 for the Highball C R build.
santa cruz highball
There are six build kits available; three with the Highball C carbon frame, and three with the Highball CC frame.
santa cruz highball
You want bling? £6799 gets you ALL OF IT.
santa cruz blur highball
We like the purple, but there’s this clean chalky-grey option for the Highball too.
santa cruz blur highball
You too could also ride trails on a bicycle like this.

The new Highball and Blur models are already in the country, and with Santa Cruz dealers as of today. If you’re searching for more information on the new Blurball models, get in touch with UK distributor Jungle Products. Also of note is that Jungle will have the bikes on display to the public at the first NPS XC race next weekend at Sherwood Pines.

Want to know how the bikes actually ride? Then make sure you follow these links to read our first ride review of the Santa Cruz Blur and the Santa Cruz Highball after we spent several days in California putting the new bikes through their paces.

Comments (1)

  1. I’m curious how the 2018 Blur compares to the 2018 Anthem 29er? I ride XC only with occasional race. Looking to replace 27.5 hardtail

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