These days, mountain bike brands are all about gravel bikes, but one company started its foray into drop bars way back in 2007. Santa Cruz Bicycles first launched its quirky and fun ‘cross bike, dubbed the Stigmata, back before disc brakes proliferated the drop-bar bike phenotype. It was made from Easton EA6X aluminum in the USA and had cantilever brakes. It was weird. Funky. Cool.
Then, in 2015, the brand brought back the Stigmata but in carbon with disc brakes. I spent some time in New Zealand on the bike and logged many miles in Los Angeles. I loved it. So much so that I copied its geometry for my custom Firefly in 2016. Later, the Stiggy got another refresh and the 2019 iteration sported 27.5 x 2″ tires and was a carbon monster truck. I posted that review the day we refreshed our web design of The Radavist.
So when Santa Cruz announced its 2023 model, with the full SRAM AXS kit, including the RockShox Rudy suspension fork, I had to try it out, too. I’ve been ripping around on this lightweight and capable bike here in Santa Fe through the remnants of a dry and dusty El Niño year and have some thoughts on what makes the Stigmata so magical. Check it out below!