Bikes Buying Guide Featured Mountain Mountain Bikes News Reviews

The Santa Cruz Bronson is back and it’s rocking a new haircut…

Santa Cruz are a firm favourite amongst our customers as well as the team here at Hargroves Cycles. Just seeing those letters on any downtube envokes child-like giddiness from even our most seasoned members of staff. Their Bronson is a particular favourite thanks to the breadth of versatility it enjoys. Don’t put Bronson in the corner, chances are it’ll ride out of it and whoever’s onboard is bound to grinning ear-to-ear. With news of the 2022 4th generation Santa Cruz Bronson’s arrival you’ll be in no doubt of the buzz around the place when we realised we were going to be lucky enough to get our hands on one for release day. Here we take a look at the all-new bike in a bit more detail and what makes it so special, other than that glorious ‘Paydirt Gold and Grey’ paintwork.

When the Santa Cruz Bronson arrived back in 2013 along with it’s trademark 150mm travel it signaled the start of Santa Cruz’s 27.5″ wheeled journey. Fast-forward eight years and they’ve gone all business at the front, party at the back (don’t call it mullet though) with a mixed wheel size set up. Keep things fun and stylish in the rear thanks to the 27.5″ wheel while the now 29″ front wheel helps you roll into and over everything. The 160mm fork might assist with that a little bit too. That means roosting mad loam for the ‘gram with all-new levels of confidence has never been easier. The new Bronson promises to be super responsive at the back for turning and lifting while giving more traction and stability upfront than ever before.

To match the new wheel setup Santa Cruz has introduced all-new geometry for the Bronson meaning there’s enough room to run any coil or air shock. The 150mm VPP travel is more than enough travel to handle any situation while the design ensures no energy is wasted while you’re climbing. Clearance for up to a 2.6″ rear tyre and 223mm rear brake disc rotor takes care of the traction and stopping. All this equates to a bike that you can roll out of the shed without worrying about the type of riding you’ll be doing, it’s the best of all worlds!

The carbon frame is not only stunning but also supported by a lifetime warranty so you can ride safe in the knowledge Santa Cruz will repair or replace determined to be defective in materials or workmanship. Oh there’s crash replacement support too! Santa Cruz’s push for sustainability is real and we certainly admire that “Why scrap a frame when a simple bearing service can make one last a lifetime?” We couldn’t agree more. All of this paired with some super trick details such as mud flap to protect the rear shock, internal cable routing, rubberized DT protectors to handle knocks and threaded BB keep things super serviceable.

The 2022 Santa Cruz Bronson sits well placed within their range of bikes as a solid longer travel all-rounder. Available in a range of well-equipped guises and two striking colour options in the form of Paydirt Gold or Gloss Moss you’ll certainly get some admiring glances on the trail whether it be going full send on the way down or pedaling up as you cruise past the energy-sapping Enduro rig riding crew!

Shop our range of Santa Cruz Bikes available online and in any of our Hargroves Cycles stores to see what we have in-stock. Whether it’s a massive travel downhill machine, enduro, all mountain full-suspension, hardtail cross country mountain bike or gravel/cx bike you’re after, Santa Cruz have you covered.

Bikes Buying Guide Featured Mountain Bikes

Best Hardtails For £1,000

Hardtails have front suspension but are rigid at the rear, and offer plenty of benefits. They’re less complex than full-suspension, so they’re cheaper to make. This means a £1,000 hardtail has better components than a full-suss at the same price, yet costs less to maintain. They’re also significantly lighter, boosting a natural pedalling efficiency for an engagingly fast, sprightly ride – especially if you favour smoother trails.

Meanwhile, a suspension fork adds a lot of comfort and control over a fully rigid bike. But how do you decide what’s best for you with a £1,000 budget?

Hardtails fall into three camps: cross-country (XC) racers, trail bikes and hardcore. XC bikes focus on low weight and rapid acceleration, typically with 100mm of fork travel. At Hargroves Cycles we get a lot of demand for bikes of this type so we’ve shared some of the best new examples with you below. Trail bikes offer longer, slacker and more relaxed geometry, greater strength and 120mm-130mm travel, plus a little more weight. Hardcore hardtails, meanwhile, are a little too tough and heavy for anything other than aggressive descending, and with 140mm-160mm of bounce, they’re incredibly capable. The first thing to decide, then, is what kind of riding you want it for.

At £1,000, the frame is going to be made of aluminium, or possibly steel. Carbon fibre and titanium tend to cost significantly more. Look for a quality air fork (coil forks are heavier and harder to adjust) plus drivetrains and hydraulic disc brakes from recognisable, named series. If it’s Shimano that means Deore at least, SLX and maybe some XT highlights. For SRAM, the equivalent is X-5 and GX, with maybe X-7 or NX highlights.

Single front-ring, 11-speed transmissions are great for trail or all-round use, as they save around 400g, improve ground clearance and mean you’re less likely to drop your chain. They also reduce bar clutter. If you prefer big miles and big, long climbs to woodsy trail hacking, however, twin front rings give you a wider choice of gears.

Tubeless tyres are a great way to save weight and reduce the risk of punctures, so Tubeless Ready wheels and tyres (which can be converted with a simple kit) are a definite benefit. As for wheel size, you have a choice: 27.5in or 29in. Though small on paper, the differences are noticeable on the trails – 29ers roll very well with their shallower angle of attack, and are perfect both for XC and hardtails.

Meanwhile, 27.5in wheels are more agile, stronger for a given weight, and have a wide choice of ‘aggressive tyres’. They usually have the edge for spirited riding (and tend to suit riders on smaller frames better), but you can’t really go wrong if the bike’s intent matches yours.

What about tyre width? The new, mid-volume ‘Plus’ sizes – 2.8in-3.0in, as opposed to regular 2.35in or the 4in-5in of fat bikes – give hardtails valuable extra comfort and traction.

It’s also worth thinking about the potential for future upgrades. Dropper posts are a fantastic boost to performance and confidence, though you’re very unlikely to get one equipped on a decent bike at the £1,000 price bracket, so it’s one to consider adding at a later date.

When you’re looking at hardtails, make sure it’s compatible with a dropper post by checking that its frame takes either 30.9mm or 31.6mm posts (there aren’t many 27.2mm droppers) and has internal dropper routing (‘Stealth’ routing). Check out dropper posts here.


So you know what kind of riding you do, what style of bike you want and what to expect in terms of spec. What now? The most important thing, regardless of preference or brand, is to get the right size.
We recommend our in-depth sizing guide, and remembering that you must have room to move the seatpost from your personal highest setting (for climbing) to right down out of the way (for steep descending). Seatposts have a minimum insertion point beyond which they can’t stretch. Meanwhile, a too-tall seat tube will stop you getting low enough over the back. XC needs less top tube clearance than trail, but more is always better!

When comparing bikes, look for ‘reach’ measurements (sometimes referred to as ‘handlebar reach’, or more accurately ‘saddle-bar reach’, it’s the distance from the saddle to the bars) as these are directly comparable across all brands.

All other numbers – such as the top tube length (TT) or even the effective top tube length (ETT), which is taken horizontally from steerer tube to seat tube, are influenced by the angles of other tubes. That makes them potentially deceptive.

Each maker gives an average height range per frame size, so it’s best to start there. If you’re between sizes, go for the smaller one, so long as the other measurements still work. Why? It’s easier to adapt ‘up’, altering things such as stem length, seat post offset, saddle and bar position, to make sure you get the right fit and the best riding position.

Need some inspiration? The 2018 model year Cube Acid (available now) is particularly stacked. At £899 it offers 11-speed Shimano XT drivetrains and 100mm Rockshox Recon air forks in both 27.5in and 29in wheel sizes. It’s a pretty amazing price too that allows some room to consider new accessories, or treats such as clothing or protection.

Cube Acid

Meanwhile, Scott’s impressively racy £979 Scale 980 goes for SRAM’s NX cranks on its 1×11 drivetrain, plus other quality kit including 29in Synchros rims and Maxxis Ikon tyres, while Specialized takes the 29er all-rounder route with its £950 Rockhopper Pro. This long-running favourite features a 2×10 Shimano Deore/SLX drivetrain and an 80mm-100mm Manitou Markhor air fork with lightweight alloy steerer.


Looking for women’s-specific? Cube’s £959 Access WS SL features an impressive Shimano XT 1×11 drivetrain, Shimano hydraulic discs and Rockshox’ Recon air fork, all in a physique-tailored package. For more on women’s-specific bikes, see our upcoming full guide. 

Cube Access WS SL

Whatever catches your eye, bear in mind the advice on sizing, be realistic about what you might want to do with it, think how far you might want to upgrade in the future, and cast around Hargroves Cycles for what a couple of hundred extra pounds might get you… we got pretty excited about the Cube Reaction Race 2018. At £1,299 it’s a refined, update to an already on-song model with a spec list that boasts SRAM Eagle GX 1×12, RockShox Judy fork, Shimano Deore, Stealth dropper post cable routing, a thru axle rear end, and more!

Cube Reaction Race

Buying Guide Mountain Mountain Bikes Parts And Accessories Wheels

Understanding Mountain Bike Wheels

Following on from our Road Bike guide, we’re going to be looking at probably the most important part of the bike, the wheels! Mountain bikes have a variety of sizes, and it can be quite a minefield to navigate for a beginner. You could be gearing up to tackle those woodland trails, yet haven’t even thought of the correct wheel size! There are so many decisions to make from the standard 27.5-inch wheels to the more extreme Fatbike wheels. Do you want a smooth ride or one that can accelerate and keep its speed whilst going downhill? Well look no further we’re here to help you find the right size and fit for your mountain bike.

26 Inch Wheels

One of the smaller wheels you can fit on a mountain bike, these used to be standard among the mountain scene before the larger 29inch became popular. These wheels are the lightest, offering great acceleration along the single track trails. At high speeds, the 26 inch doesn’t sacrifice on the control in taking a corner. You can rip through the woods, dodging and diving between trees and really cut those seconds of your time. Though they are still knocking about, the 26-inch wheel has been replaced more often than not by the 27.5 inch.


The Mavic Crossride Wheelset

Our pick: The Mavic Crossride Wheelset – our only wheelset that still provides for the 26-inch wheels. Now with a wider and lighter rim, that really generates speed downhill.

27.5 Inch Wheels (650b)

The 27.5 inch, is the product of marrying the 26 inch and the 29er. It’s a great combination of both, offering lighter weight than the 29er, and handles like a 26 inch. It’s the perfect wheel for your mountain bike, so much so that it has now pretty much replaced the 26 inch as the standard for MTB. Don’t get confused by the 650b, that is a common name for the 27.5 inch with the 650 being the diameter of the wheel itself, and the letter b – the width (the name originates from the French way of sizing wheels).

The Mavic XA Elite WheelsetOur pick: The Mavic XA Elite Wheelset – Strong, light and it doesn’t compromise on strength. Tubeless ready for better traction, comfort and reduced risk of those pesky flats.

29 Inch Wheels

The biggest size wheel we have, the 29er is the wheel size that stole the throne from the 26 inch. Giving a larger surface area, allowing for improved traction whilst on those trails. The 29er is one of the best wheels for giving a smooth ride, rolling over the bumpy ground like it was a rolling pin. The 29ers carry their speed well and giving you such good stability you may not have found in other bikes or wheel sizes.

The Mavic Crossmax Elite Wheelset

Our pick: The Mavic Crossmax Elite Wheelset – A perfect mid-range wheelset, that has all the benefits of a strong, light wheel. This is perfect for upgrading your bike from your stock 29″ wheels.

27.5/29 Inch Plus

These are quite new on the scene, fitting mostly on 26-inch wheels (with quite wide rims). These tyres offer a completely different riding experience, without really compromising on performance. With the Boost standard (this refers to the front hubs, which are 10mm wider than standard and the rear hubs are 6mm wider), this allows for stiffer wheels which equal increased handling and with the plus tyres, you don’t lose out on the grip. The plus tyres’ cushioning is top notch, giving you a smoother ride.

Mountain Bike Wheelsize
Mountain Bike Rider image


Fatbike Tyres

Now if you want massive tyres, that relentlessly tackle any terrain thrown at it then you should consider a fat bike. These bikes were originally invented and used for crawling over snowy forests and sandy dunes. Yet they have found their way to normal trails, and offer such a different experience from other mountain bikes. The bigger tyres and the low pressure within them, are all the suspension you need, but that doesn’t stop the bikes themselves having front fork suspension. Fatbike tyres look like they’d be heavy and hard to roll, when really the low psi (some people go as low as 15 or 12 psi, whereas most MTB riders using 650bs are running on 25 psi) feels like you’re riding on a balloon. Probably the only downside is they are much heavier than your standard mountain bike, but then again it always comes down to the rider’s preference.


Fort William Weekend: 20% OFF POC Helmets & Awesome Savings on Protection

Feeling pumped for Fort William this weekend? We sure hope so because we have a super special offer for you, for this weekend only! We have not one but TWO AWESOME DISCOUNT CODES that will give you access to some incredible deals so keep reading!

20% of POC Tectal and Tectal Race Helmets

We spied the POC Tectal Race Helmet back in March for one of our fresh goods round-up’s and since then it’s been a permanent feature of the office radar. It’s a lush looking helmet with a bag of features. Being POC you know it’s going to be made to an incredibly high standard and is more comfortable than a pillow factory.

POC Tectal Race Helmet – RRP £170

The Tectal Race usually retails for £170 but this weekend you can grab one for only £136 – Be sure to use the code: FORTBILL20 on the shopping basket page.

POC Tectal Race Helmet

POC Tectal Helmet – RRP £155

If you fancy the standard POC Tectal helmet you can also grab this at the bargain price of £124 – Again don’t forget to use  discount code: FORTBILL20 on the shopping basket page.

POC Tectal Helmet

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20% off Fox Protection

You can’t have a new helmet without treating yourself to some new armour too. So you don’t have to shell out a whole bunch of cash, you can get a whopping 20% off our range of Fox knee and elbow guards. The Launch Enduro Elbow and Knee guards fit really well and are pedal friendly. You could pick up the elbow and knee pads for just £73.58 using code: FORTBILL20 at the checkout.

Fox Launch Enduro Elbow & Knee Pads


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Extra 10% off all MET MTB helmets

Got your eye on a new MET mountain bike helmet? Perhaps the MET Lupo or Parabellum in electric blue is your thing. Grab them this weekend at a bargain price. Simply use code: FORTBILL10 at the checkout to get another 10% off any MET MTB helmet. If you’re in need of a full face – you can pick up at Met Parachute Helmet for only £122.39 with the discount code.

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Extra 10% off all Giro MTB helmets

We’re also doing 10% off all GIRO MTB helmets too! Pick up the classic Giro Hex for only £64.34 – we have good stocks of all colours and all sizes. Again, the code you need is FORTBILL10.

Giro Hex Mountain Bike Helmet – RRP £79.99


GIRO Montaro MIPS helmet – RRP £139.99

If you’re looking for more protection the GIRO Montaro MIPS helmet is a great choice and a bargain at £102.57 with discount code: FORTBILL10.

Giro Montaro MIPS Helmet

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Those magic codes again:

  • 20% of POC Tectal and Tectal Race Helmets – Use Code: FORTBILL20
  • 20% off Fox Protection – Use code: FORTBILL20
  • Extra 10% off all MET MTB helmets – Use code: FORTBILL10
  • Extra 10% off all Giro MTB helmets – Use code: FORTBILL10

We hope you all have an awesome weekend and enjoy the Fort William DH action!


Matt (TT)