A Resurrection of the Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

The original Stigmata marked its territory inside the well stacked lineup of Santa Cruz mountain bikes in 2008. Made in the USA from Easton EA6X tubing, these ultra light race machines were quite the hit. Although, at the time and into the near future, ‘cross was and would be going through some changes. Disc brakes, through axles, pressfit 30, tapered head tubes and other technological advancements were on the horizon, many of which being already implemented by various companies.

This constant evolution and the crossing over of Easton’s tubing no longer being available in smaller batches made the guys at Santa Cruz a bit weary. They decided to sit out from a few cross seasons…

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

A few years back, talks of bringing the Stigmata back to Santa Cruz began to surface. The technology had settled: disc brakes are the new standard, as are tapered head tubes. Santa Cruz’s own facilities were getting fine tuned in China and finally, the team felt that they could offer a cyclocross bike on par with their mountain lineup.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

The Stigmata was resurrected at the right moment. With a revamp of a few other frames, Santa Cruz decided that internal cables were, quite literally, in. Even for the Stigmata. Every cable went internal, even on the fork. Their new facility was able to manufacture their new carbon layup, along with a proprietary fork to accommodate this routing.

A new layup method allows the rear brake line to be fed into a carbon tube, that’s part of the frame layup, offering a secure, rattle-free internal hose. This, along with ample guides, make the routing easy and a removable port cover will close up the opening for the front derailleur if a 1x system like CX1 is used.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

Both the front and rear wheels are disc, through-axle hubs and the bottom bracket is pressfit 30, for the first time ever for Santa Cruz. This is mostly due to the ease of installing the interal cables and being able to increase the downtube diameter.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

While the early whispers of the Stigmata called it a gravel bike, the end product is by all accounts, a lean, mean racing machine. With head tube angles varying from 71º in the 52cm size to 72.5º in the 60cm size and bottom bracket drop of 69mm across the board, the Stigmata offers a stable, yet zippy ride, perfect for racing and off-season riding.

Santacruz Bicycles Stigmata and Highball NZ press launch.
Photo by Sven Martin

What did I think of it? While I’ve yet to race the bike, we did spend an evening tearing through a MTB park on them upon our arrival to New Zealand where a few of us descended steep access roads and singletrack, while climbing up switchbacks.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

After a full day on the bike, I think with a bigger tire – the Stigmata is spec’d with a 33mm Maxxis Mud Wrestler but will fit a 43mm – this bike has great potential for an all arounder, trail or tarmac bike, even with the disc brakes, or as spec’d, equally as capable as a race bike. One related note: the bike is spec’d with 160mm rotors, which can be swapped with ease for more appropriate sizes if need be.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

In the size 58cm, it felt very familiar, as the geometry is almost identical to my Stinner cross bike. Overall, I had a lot of fun blasting down fire road descents and smashing around on trails but won’t be able to give a faithful review until I ride it on my home turf. What I will say is that I’m eager to ride it more.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

We’ve looked at this bike in detail, now onto the pressfit 30 bottom bracket – which is a first for Santa Cruz and as they’ve reported, is the by-product of weeks upon weeks of debate. Personally, I’ve never had good luck with these things on bikes that are often rode through rivers, or streams and tend to get muddy quite frequently. I don’t want to jinkx my experience, but it’s definitely something I’ll be keeping an eye on.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

My own caveat that is not necessarily the bike’s or Santa Cruz’s fault would be the standardization of wheel sizes and specs across all dirt platforms. If you’re going disc and through axle, it’d be nice to swap wheels between your MTB, road and cross bikes. It seems that’s a ways off… i.e. CX1 uses an 11-speed driver, while XX1 uses an XD driver, although, that’s not too hard to swap.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

Regardless, I’d say Santa Cruz did a hell of job resurrecting one of their beloved frames in a package that’s sure to deliver on both style and handling points. Even the paint looks fresh. I was lucky enough to bring one of these bikes back home with me from New Zealand and will be putting in some miles before writing a follow-up, more in-depth review.

The build specs and pricing are competitive with the following options available:

2015 Stigmata CC Red $6,599
2015 Stigmata CC Force CX1 $4,699
2015 Stigmata CC Rival $3,699
2015 Stigmata CC frameset $2,299

CC carbon size 56cm matte black w/ Red Enve: 16.35 lbs / 7.42 kg
CC carbon size 56cm matte black frame only: 2.23 lbs / 1013 g
CC carbon fork matte black: 0.93 lbs 424 g

See more specs and information at Santa Cruz and head to your local Santa Cruz rep for ordering. The Stigmata CC Cyclocross bike hits stores this month.

  • shapethings

    Nice looking rig with some quality details. Hopefully they gave you a new Highball for a long-term test as well.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Shit, I couldn’t take TWO bikes home with me. My thoughts on those bikes to come. The 27.5 is rowdy!

  • AidanNW

    This bike arouses me.

    Perfect paint job.

    Impressive components.

    Perfect photography of said bike.

    I seriously want this.

  • Warwick

    Nice Weka!
    Agree with your comments about standardisation of wheel specs/axle config for more interchangeability, it will be interesting to see how this evolves over the coming years

  • http://www.brokenandcoastal.com/ Broken and Coastal

    My Bronson needs a friend. Next bike for sure!

  • Eirik

    What cages are sitting on that devil?

  • Richard Smith

    I reserve the phrase “bike boner” for very special occasions and this is absolutely one of them.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I know the feeling!

  • Keith Gibson

    this looks great

  • http://www.theRadavist.com/ Morgan Taylor

    Modern Santa Cruz tech and aesthetics, dialed cross geo, WIN.

  • Em

    Feel the 1mm difference. O rly?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      BB drop is a hell of a factor.

      • Em

        Ok chief. Sure 1mm isn’t too much? Maybe split the difference at 0.5mm and that’ll be perfect! But really, seems like tire choice would impact feel more than that bb drop difference.

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          Here’s a good read: http://www.cxmagazine.com/bottom-bracket-height-dropping-in-cyclocross-bike-geometries
          Not saying you don’t know, but it’s easy to notice a lower BB, especially when the Stigmata shares the same geometry with my Stinner. Even before I saw the Stigmata’s geo, I could tell the BB was lower, regardless of tire size.

          • Em

            It’s cuz you always ridin’ dem 40s.

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            I see your point, but I’d argue it’s less of a factor than the actual drop of the BB – maybe more of a “bb height” as commonly used in road bike geometry. BB drop is used to describe the relationship of the BB to the hubs (wheel axis) on MTBs, less commonly used for road.

            You can have a 2.25″ tire in the rear on a MTB and a 2.4″ up front. Or 2.25″ rear and front, but it doesn’t affect the frame’s actual geometry. I run my 40mm tires at a much lower pressure than a 33mm tire, so it’s not so much of a static measurement. BB drop is a relationship to the wheel axis, not the height off the ground.

            This relationship to the wheel axis is more relevant than height because it affects your center of gravity by posting you to the confines of the wheel’s axis.

            When you’ve spent a lot of time on cross bikes, of varying tire sizes, with different BB drops, you can pick up on things like BB drop.

            All I’m saying is, I noticed it almost immediately. Whether or not it was a lucky guess, or some other factor like frame weight / material, it’s a worthy point to note in an early-on review. I’m not one to be stubborn, I’ll admit when I’m wrong, but it was one of the first things I picked up on.

          • miles whitmore

            BB drop is very commonly used for road. Actually I’d say it’s more common in that context than in mountain bikes which more often than not list an inch dimension for height and nothing else. The difference between the two is that with one the mfg are just trying to obfuscate the actual dimensions by providing the bb height and (commonly) not the tire size that the bb height was calculated with since it’s a resultant dimension.

            Running a larger tire in the front of a bike does actually affect the bikes actual geometry, it raises the front, lowers the back. Actually could change the head/seat angle by up to half a degree if you got really extreme with the tire size differential. Though I agree that it is for most of the time it’s hard to really notice but….funny thing. Just doing some quick calcs in bikecad on a bike with about an 1089mm (a 29er that I had open in bikecad already) wheelbase on those different tire sizes (difference in diameter between those two is about 5mm) would result in a…..wait for it….1mm difference in bottom bracket height. A cross bike would actually have an even greater difference because shoter wheelbase and…trigonometry.

            I think that one of the dirty little secrets of bikes and the bike industry is that we tend to make far too big a deal about a half degree here and a couple mm there, frequently in my experience the frames/bikes just aren’t that consistently true to spec. 1mm is basically nothing when you are talking about a tube structure made by a low wage employee. Unless you measure it accurately and truly know what the dimensions are, what it says on the spec sheet is probably off to some degree.

            All that said I totally agree that BB drop is one of the first things that one can pick out on a bike. I was riding my road bike with 75mm of
            drop on some trails and fire roads in Marin just yesterday and it is definitely more stable and predictable when both wheels start sliding while descending on coastal or bobcat than another bike I have which has about a 5mm higher bb drop. In this case I made both the bikes and while I’m no master frame builder I have checked and doubled checked the dimensions so I know what they are.

    • Jacob R

      Just for reference, 1mm is slightly larger than the diameter of my pencil lead

      • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson


        • Em

          I’ll stay stubborn in my view. If 1mm is immediately noticeable, at what point does the difference become imperceptible? 0.5mm? 0.25mm? Anything up to 1mm is probably close to manufacturing tolerances.

      • tinty

        See if UCI notices 1mm.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I’ve just decided to roll over and admit idiocy here. I felt like I noticed it – even today when riding it with 40mm tires – but I’m not going to argue over 1mm, because, yeah, then I look like an idiot. I’m not too proud to admit that.

      • Em

        I didn’t want to argue, but had no choice. Now, if it was 2mm, please, go ahead and wax poetic all day ;)

  • scott

    Excited to see the stigmata return. Thanks for sharing your initial impressions. Looking forward to the full review. So glad it’s designed to fit a 40c tire. I’ve taken a pass on quite a few CX bikes that officially list 38c as the max.

  • mrbiggs

    When you say “driver” are you meaning cassette? Or is there some special reason I don’t understand that wheels couldn’t be traded between my bikes? I’ve imagined that if I have, say, three wheelsets, each with ten-speed cassettes and same size rotors and identical-size thru-axles, I can merely swap ‘em. Right now my CX/roadie bikes have rim brakes, so there’s a divide between them and my MTBs.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      The driver is what the cassette mounts to. XX1 uses an XD driver and CX1 uses a standard 11 speed driver. So if you are going between XX1 and CX1 you have to swap the driver and the cassette.

      • Geoff Casey

        With my DT240’s I just pull the cassette off with the entire freehub body for a tool-less change. Way easier than pulling out the chain whip. This way you can go between the XD driver (mtn) and Road 11sp which uses a different freehub body and end cap. I also go between my road and CX wheels this way. Saves money on expensive cassettes too

  • Tyler Howarth

    Seriously John why did you have to post this porn it’s too damn good

  • Adam Bowen

    any chance of an aluminum version coming?

  • breed007

    The 142 rear spacing is a major selling point. The biggest reason I haven’t bit the bullet on a disc CX bike is not wanting to have three different rear hub sizes.

  • Jim Cameron

    Hey John, are those inline cable adjusters? By SRAM?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Those are actually brake line quick releases, so you can swap brakes from left to right (i.e. moto routing), easily.

      • Paul

        SRAM calls it the connectamajig fitting, allows for internal routing without bleeding, also used on the reverb stealth. easy moto changes is just a bonus

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          Good to know!

  • ray

    Most excellent, I need this bike for no other reason other than it looks awesome! Great write up and photos Mr. Watson, thanks.

  • Lino Miguel

    What do you think about the Faqs (stigmata) in the part saying that the drivetrain with 11v is extremely close do the frame? Do you think a brand new bike have this problem?The chain really rub the frame?
    While the 142x12mm rear spacing would suggest that you could use
    any old mountain wheel in the frame, that’s not quite the case. If
    you’re intending to run a 10-speed drivetrain, any mountain wheel will
    indeed work. However, if you want to run an 11-speed road drivetrain,
    you’ll have to ensure that the freehub body is designed for road
    drivetrains. Road freehub bodies are slightly longer than mountain
    freehub bodies, which means that if a mountain wheel is used in the
    Stigmata with an 11-speed drivetrain, the chain will be dangerously
    close to the frame (and likely rub the frame), and the cassette lockring
    could potentially unscrew itself. The exception are wheels that use
    SRAM’s XD Driver, although SRAM currently does not make a cassette for
    the XD Driver that will work with a road drivetrain (max cog size on a
    CX1 derailleur is 36 teeth, current XD cassettes use 42-tooth large


    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Personally, I’d just run road wheels on it and avoid the issue but that is strange. I missed that…

  • Eric Karacsonyi

    The boss has approved a new bike purchase. This bike just made number 1 and bumped the gt grade down.
    I love the orange!

  • Patrick Fetzer

    Jut got one of these in the shop and man is it turning heads….I’ve just spun around the neighborhood on it and I have to agree with the above review…very zippy and snappy.