NOTE on Comparing Star Ratings between Interbike 2014 and 2015 bike tests: I’ve found already that the new bike designs I’m riding this year are a step better than the best bikes I rode last year. What was a 5 star rating last year would only be a 4 star rating this year.
I had ridden the original carbon Bronson, but wasn’t impressed with its climbing abilities. Based on early reports on the new Bronson though, the changes to its VPP suspension geometry seemed promising.
Climbing - 4 stars
Climbing performance of the revised Bronson is really good with performance lacking perhaps only in comparison with dw-link designs that feel like they provide a more direct connection between the pedals and the rear wheel. Climbing performance of the revised VPP suspension is better than just about all of the Horst Link designs that I’ve ridden (e.g. Specialized FSR) that require more compression damping on the rear shock to manage the active nature of the Horst Link design.
Descending – 5 stars
The Bronson felt great going downhill. It seemed to settle into its suspension travel even better than the prior version of the Bronson for which descending was a strength. The handling characteristics provide a good blend of stability and quickness. The only area in which I thought the Bronson could be improved is that its frame is not quite as stiff as that on the RFX so the Bronson felt a little less rock solid in choppy terrain or in off-camber corners.
Cornering - 5 stars
Steering on the Bronson felt both stable and predictable. Like the RFX, I wouldn’t characterize the handling as either fast or slow but rather as having the right balance between quickness and stability.
I really liked the feel of the revised Santa Cruz Bronson. Some bikes feel alive and responsive, while others do not regardless of whether they have geometry that fits the current trends. The Bronson is one of those bikes that felt both fun to ride and willing to allow its rider to push it harder.
5 stars - Absolutely outstanding
3 stars - Solid performance, meets expectations
1 star - Misses expectations by a wide margi