Santa Cruz Stigmata Review

June 18, 2019 6 min read 2 Comments

Santa Cruz Stigmata Review

Tyler's 54cm Stigmata 

Ride thoughts and Characteristics

I’d like to preface this by saying that I’ve been searching for a fat tired bike to ride on the road and dirt since late 2014 when I had a custom bike built at the forefront of fat tired road/gravel bikes. While that suited my wants for a while it was replaced by others as tech in the bike industry advanced, but I still wasn’t completely satisfied. Now with the new Stigmata, I think I can settle in on this bike for a while as it really does fit my needs all in one bike. Plus, it looks nice hanging up next to my Santa Cruz Tall Boy.

Comparison to previous gravel rig

The most simple way I can sum it up is that other bikes I've ridden that are deemed as an “all road” or “Quiver Killer” made me want to ride an MTB when things get technical or a road bike when on the pavement, but the Stigmata keeps me happy no matter the terrain. It has a lively feel when climbing up hills in SF and handles the descents even better but it really shines when you take it on dirt/gravel/single track. It's comfortable, responsive, and rips descents.

One Unique Point

I know a lot of people may look at this as the drop bar bike for a mountain biker, but I feel it is way more than that. I feel just as comfortable and quick on the pavement as I do in the dirt on this bike. The bike feels smooth and eats up any bumps from broken pavement, chunky gravel, and riding down steps in the headlands, it really smooths things out without any harsh responses.

Overall

The build quality and attention to detail really sets the Santa Cruz apart from other similar bikes with a Geo that feels just right. It has fender mounts, 3 bottle mounts, a sealed off bottom bracket shell to keep things clean and dry, tire clearance for days, and best of all no gimmicks. I see lots of long 100+ mile days on mixed pavement/dirt rides, climbing fire roads to get to single track descents, early mornings riding Golden Gate Park, and the occasional cyclocross race. Call it what you want… gravel, cross, all road, etc., it's a bike to me and one that I intend to have lots of fun on regardless of the terrain.

Previous Bikes Owned

Squid Bikes Squidcross

Ibis Hakka MX

Icarus

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

 

Justin's 60cm Stigmata 

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review 

 

Ride thoughts and Characteristics

My first ride on the Stigmata was Lost and Found, a one hundred mile gravel race, in the Sierra’s. Having never ridden a stigmata, I had no idea what to expect.   On the first descent of the race, I proceeded relatively easy so as to feel out the bike. Trying to find out where best to put my weight, I was instantly surprised with its nimbleness and confidence inspired stability.

Comparison to previous gravel rig

My previous gravel bike was the Ibis Hakka MX. This bike was absolutely fantastic yet differed from the Stigmata, most noticeable in it’s handling. The Hakka was slow to turn and descended like a Cadillac. Some folks will appreciate that I, however, am looking for a bit more excitement with the ability and confidence to bounce all over the trail.

One Unique Point

This bike honestly feels like a hardtail MTB in how well it slices up the terrain but when you reach the bottom of the hill it's still fast as hell on the flats.

Overall

In the never-ending search for the bike that does everything, Santa Cruz has made leaps and bounds with this new offering.   In the San Francisco vicinity where fire roads lead to single track and your ride days are 75-100 miles with 65% of the terrain is dirt, this bike represents an amazing addition to the quiver.

Previous Bikes Owned

Ibis Hakka MX

Stinner CX

Speedvagen CX

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

 

Matt's 54cm Stigmata 

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

 

Ride thoughts and Characteristics

This bike is smooth. My first time riding, other than a short city commute, was at Lost and Found. What better way to celebrate #newbikeday than to hop right into a 100 mile gravel race right? This gave me lots of time to get to know my new stigmata. One of the first things that I noticed was how smooth the bike was. Especially the rear-end.  My bike is set up with 1x Di2 which with both levers shifting the rear derailleur. I didn't think I'd ever use the left lever to shift but was pleasantly surprised by the ability to easily shift when downing food with my right hand. I also have the super fancy carbon reserve wheels. Honestly, I can't say much about them other than I didn't notice them and I feel confident having the SC guarantee behind these wheels if I should ever decide to get all Danny MacAskill on them. One thing that I did notice about the bike is that the rear-end was pretty lively, there were a few times when I lost traction on the file tread IRC boken tires and the back of the bike got a little loose. It wasn't a scary loose, it was more like a little drifty, predictable looseness that I look forward to getting real sideways this fall.

Comparison to previous gravel rig

My other gravel bike is a Ritchey Outback, which is pretty different than the Stigmata. The outback is metal and it's got a really long wheelbase which makes it really stable all of the time, it also makes the handling a little bit slow. Before my outback, I had a 2015 stigmata and I loved it until the baggage handlers broke it in 2018. I remember my original stigmata being super stiff, especially in the front. I could point it down anything and it wouldn't budge, which was fun, but a little bumpy. This new stigmata has the same point-ability, but with a bit more compliance. One thing to note, my previous stigmata was a size 56 with the 100mm stem slammed. The new stigmata geometry has more stack in the headtube which pushed me into a 54 cm frame to get the correct drop. Now I have a 110 stem but the reach is just a bit short right now. I'll be experimenting with a 120 stem but worry that too much weight will be over the front wheel.

One Unique Point

I strap my wind jacket to the massive downtube, just in case I get cold. I'm also curious about mounting fenders to this bike next winter. With a ton of clearance and 650 wheels as an option, I could see this bike transform into a winter base mile adventure machine. That is, once cross is over because this bike will be racing cx.

Overall

I'm a big fan of this bike. I loved the original carbon version in 2015 and this bike is even better, the only thing I'd change is the amount of stack at the headtube. It seems like they were trying to allow most people to run stems in a semi-slammed position. I think they could have decreased the stack and forced some people to run a few spacers under the stem.

Previous Bikes Owned

Redline Conquest Pro (cantilever)

Ritchey Swiss Cross (cantilever)

Santa Cruz Stigmata 2015

Ritchey Outback 

 

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

Santa Cruz Stigmata Bike Review

 


2 Responses

Matt Quann
Matt Quann

November 13, 2019

@Luke The stigmata (and OPEN UP) both have shorter chainstays. The Stigmata also has a bigger bottom bracket drop. Those 2 things combined will definitely change the characteristics.

Luke
Luke

November 12, 2019

Question re: My previous gravel bike was the Ibis Hakka MX. This bike was absolutely fantastic yet differed from the Stigmata, most noticeable in it’s handling. The Hakka was slow to turn and descended like a Cadillac. Some folks will appreciate that I, however, am looking for a bit more excitement with the ability and confidence to bounce all over the trail.
How is that possible? Could you please share a bit more on Hakka handling? Stigmata has a very high head-tube. Geometry wise, Hakka is much closer to cyclocross bikes. Hakka is also much closer to OPEN UP – this bike has very good handling reviews.

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