When you think of building a bicycle out of carbon fiber, one thought comes to mind: “Hey, that bike’s going to be crazy light!” And we don’t blame you. After all, composite materials have made it almost trivial to build a road bike that tips the scales at around 13 pounds.
But there’s another way to work with carbon. Instead of striving to build the lightest bike possible, you can work to build the strongest. Carbon has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel: Use enough, and you can build something nigh indestructible.
That’s the route Santa Cruz has taken with its Blur LTc trail mountain bike. It’s certainly not the lightest bike around — at 27 pounds you can find bikes with similar specs that weigh up to 3 pounds less. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find any that are as stoutly built to handle whatever trails you throw under them.
Previous models of the Blur LT were crafted out of aluminum. The carbon version of the frame is a pound lighter. On paper that may not seem like a huge weight savings.
But Santa Cruz claims that in its testing, the Blur LTc was the strongest frame they’ve ever made. And you can feel that strength and stiffness on the trail.
Bombing down the local descent that often leaves us wishing for a stouter bike, the Blur LTc was as precise as a fishing knife while still feeling as hardy as a bespoke ax. It wasn’t a feeling of the bike disappearing beneath you, rather the feeling that it was grabbing onto your chosen line, and never letting go.
On the way back up the hill, the bike isn’t quite as brilliant. On steeper pitches, traction was a little lacking, and the rear wheel would break free. Some of that is down to technique, of course, but some other suspension designs we’ve ridden have kept us more firmly planted on climbs.
The fact that you can take one frame platform from all-mountain shredder to nearly cross-country–racing light is a pretty remarkable achievement. If you’re looking for one bike to handle everything shy of a competitive downhill race, the Blur LTc is a jack of all trades, and a master of at least several of them.