Yes, all road bikes are all the rage these days. The idea of riding from your garage until the pavement ends and beyond with a single bike is catching fire. There are gravel bikes aplenty, but the new Santa Cruz Stigmata CC carves out a little slice of road, cyclocross and gravel heaven for those looking for the ultimate in versatility.
Santa Cruz Stigmata CC Features
- Hi-mod carbon layup for maximum stiffness and minimum weight
- BB30 bottom bracket
- Accomodates tires up to 41mm
- Thru axles: 15QR front and 142×12 rear
- Comfortable angles for stability at speed
- Post mount disc brakes
- Internal cable routing
- Full, lifetime warranty – details
- Colors: Black or Orange
- Weight: 1030 grams (frame/hardware), 430 grams (fork)
- Complete: 15.9 lbs (road mode) 18.0 lbs (CX mode)
- Price: $2299 (frame) or $4599-$6599 (completes)
Tackle any road with the Stigmata CC
With the launch of the Stigmata, Santa Cruz has re-entered the cyclocross/gravel/road market with a serious splash. Out of the gate, the Stigmata featured all the trappings for a winner and after hundreds of miles aboard a custom-built Stigmata CC, I’m going to come right out and say that this bike is something special.
My test bike is set up with a full SRAM Force 1 kit, Zipp carbon cockpit and a set of race-worthy Zipp 202 Firecrest Clinchers. Initially configured for road mode, I had several hundred miles riding this sub-16 lb. do-it-all machine on pavement followed by several hundred miles in cyclocross/gravel mode. As a one bike quiver, the Stigmata CC leaves little to be desired.
Base miles were achieved on a variety of terrain with a hefty focus on climbing (because that’s what I do). Set up with a 44T chainring and an 11-36T cassette, there wasn’t a climb that I couldn’t crush. But with a maximum pedaling speed of about 34 mph (in 44/11), I was forced to coast down long mountainous descents.
Coming off the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-mod and the Orbea Orca M-Team, the Stigmata does yield to the best road bikes on the market — I’d be foolish to tell you otherwise. But, it does climb well and remains balanced both in and out of the saddle. Sometimes, slack angles and long wheelbases tend to make for a wonky out-of-saddle experience (on steep pitches), but the Stigmata feels natural. You can feel the extra weight and it may not be as zippy when sprinting, but that’s not what this bike is for and doesn’t detract from the overall performance.
The ride quality of the Stigmata CC is nothing short of superb. It’s evident that Santa Cruz knows how to make great bikes — because after such a long hiatus from the skinny tire scene, you’d guess they never left. Their carbon fiber experience is really on display here with beautiful lines and a great combination of compliance and stiffness. In fact, I’d put the comfort on par with some of the best frames on the market. With the drop seatstays, the seat tube is free to flex a little more and take the edge off. For proper fit, I’ve got a zero setback post, but a setback post would provide even more comfort.
Handling is as expected with a 69mm BB drop and 1024mm wheelbase. It’s not going to be tabbed as razor-sharp, but it inspires supreme confidence at speed with predictable and stable handling. Lateral stiffness remains excellent at all speeds and thru axles ensure it tracks without a hint of flex — making riding road discs a worry-free experience.
As I always say, “every good road turns to gravel” and the Stigmata is the perfect bike for every “good” road. With 25mm tires, gravel can be a little sketchy at speed, but when outfitted with a set of Bontrager CX3 32mm tires, the versatility of this bike begins to come into view. I’d say a set of wider, semi-knobby tires would be even better, but the CX3’s are smooth-rolling enough on the road and grippy on gravel, dirt and mud.
You can tell that Santa Cruz engineers optimized the Stigmata for gravel as it just feels at home. It tracks well, remains stable and begs for more.
Heading for the local CX series, I had no doubt in the hardware. With a course filled with tight turns, mud, sand, rough grass and a steep flyover bridge, I was eager to see how the Stigmata would perform. At the gun, the Stigmata was no slouch and gets out as fast as the best cyclocross bikes.
As I lapped the course, the Stigmata became more and more comfortable on everything but a tight section of S-shaped switchbacks where the low bottom-bracket and slack handling reminded me that this is a “one bike quiver” and not a CX race bike. The frame is easily-shouldered when needed and can take serious abuse. In the end, the bike fared better than I did, but winning isn’t everything, right?
Bits and pieces
With muscular/industrial looks and fantastic road, dirt and gravel manners, the Stigmata CC is a helluva lot of fun. The geometry makes for an easy fit for non-professionals, like myself and makes all terrain feel like second-nature. For the ultimate in versatility, I’d save some money and get a dedicated set of CX/gravel and road wheels.
The closest off-the-shelf kit to my test bike would be the Stigmata CC CX1 with Enve M50 Fifty — with the exception of the carbon cockpit. Going 1×11 is fantastic overall except on high-speed descents where you’ll run out of gears in a hurry. In the end, you’ll have to decide if you want to go 1×11 or 2×11 and, of course, budgets will come into play. Going with the Stigmata C Rival does increase the overall weight, but at $3499, you get a great do-it-all bike.
For the ultimate do-it-all, I think a compact crankset with a wide-range 11-36t cassette would allow you to truly ride everything (road, gravel and CX). It’s not a pro-level CX race bike, nor is it a peloton-worthy road bike, but let’s be honest with ourselves here — it is a fantastic bike for all things skinny tires.
- A do-it-all machine for 99% of us
- Excellent ride quality that dampens road and gravel chatter
- Light enough to be sub-16 lbs. on the road
- Capable at speed with good handling manners
- Beautiful industrial looks
- Accomodating, all-around geometry
- Lifetime warranty
- Front brake line routing should enter straighter into fork
- Not as nimble as a dedicated CX racer
The Bottom Line: Santa Cruz Stigmata CC
If you’re looking for a single bike to do all things skinny tire, the Stigmata CC is the ticket. It rides well on the road, exudes confidence in gravel and can tackle any CX course you’ll encounter — all while remaining light, smooth and lively.
Buy Now: Visit CompetitiveCyclist.com
The Santa Cruz Stigmata CC can capably tackle all things skinny tire. It rides with comfort and precision on the tarmac while remaining smooth and confident in gravel and CX courses. In the end, simply choose your drivetrain option, get a set of extra wheels and you'll have a one-bike-quiver.
- Road Manners
- Gravel Manners
- CX Manners
- Ride Quality