2018 Santa Cruz Nomad 4 – Review

November 13, 2017 MTB Enthusiasts of Utah

About a week after they released the Nomad 4, I was in between bikes and thought I’d demo the Nomad 4 for a day at Deer Valley Resort.   I had a Nomad 3 back in the day and was wanting to try one anyway.  Total mistake.  That was without question the most fun I’ve had on a bike in recent memory.  I had to have one.  I literally ordered one the next day.


I went with the X01 Coil + Reserve Build through Guthrie Bikes. I made a few minor tweaks with a new bar, stem as well as a some Saint Brakes.  My first ride was the usual Jacobs Ladder run in Corner Canyon.  This is a 2k ascent in about 5 miles and another 5 miles of mostly DH.  Pretty good test run for most bikes and where I generally gravitate too with a new bike.  The size large came with a 170mm dropper which was welcomed – out of the box this thing felt dialed.  That same grin on my face from Deer Valley was immediately back after the quick loop.

Shortly after picking up the Nomad I had a trip planned to Dublin, Ireland and I figured I may as well bring the bike along with me.  I planned in an extra 5 days just to shred bikes and really put the Nomad through it’s paces.



Ireland ended up being an incredible place to put the bike to the test both in it’s climbing and DH prowess.   Climbs in Ireland are raw, steep, rooty, rocky and if it was smooth it was generally a steep fire road.  Needless to say it was a good place to hammer out some climbs.  The Nomad feels a little board uphill.  It wanders a bit as you’d expect, but the climbing position and pedal platform was surprisingly comfortable.  After 5 days straight, each day with at least 3k feet in climbs and one with 5k I was impressed at it’s capabilities.  Would you have more fun climbing a 100mm XC bike?  Maybe, but that’s not the the intended use of this weapon.



Having just come off a Hightower and previously a Yeti SB 5.5 I was used to the aggressive 29 and was excited to get back on a 27.5 bike.  A couple years prior I spent a lot of time on long travel 27.5 bikes, including the Nomad 3, Evil Insurgent, and YT Capra.  All fun bikes and I couldn’t wait to get to spend a bunch of time on the Nomad.


This bike definitely takes any long travel trail bike I had tried to another level.  The best way to describe the bike is just fun.  I’ve never been on a more lively and hard charging bike, ever.  Having spent quite a bit of time on a V10 in Whistler, I couldn’t help but think how much more I would have rather been on a bike like this.  Having been on several other Santa Cruz bikes as of late, the reworked Kinematics of the suspension really stood out.  It was so plush and bottomless, it ate up anything I threw at it.  Ireland was interesting in descents as a majority of what I rode was completely raw trail and largely un-manicured.  The Nomad ate up anything thrown at it and put one heck of a smile on your face while at it.


On the topic of coil vs. air, I spent time with the Nomad set up with a RockShox Super Deluxe Coil RCT as well as with a Super Deluxe Air RCT.  My demo bike had the air shock and I purchased the Coil.  When all was said and done, I preferred the Super Deluxe Coil. Yes, the air shock shock was probably plenty of shock for the bike, but the coil shock made the bike feel a little more glued to the ground and didn’t give up much in the way of liveliness.  A minor weight penalty was worthy of the benefits in my eyes.  Some may spring for the air shock for more of an all rounder, which would be just fine as well.

Its cornering ability is especially something to take note of – It’s low center of gravity makes slashing around turns something to remember.  It’s pretty hard to overlook that sensation of smsashing into a berm, feeling the side nobs hook up and catapulting you exactly where you are headed.  Those closest bike I’ve ridden to the Nomad would be the 2017, Specialized Enduro, which just did not have the same low bottom bracket feeling that gave you that incredible glued to the ground feeling.  While on the topic, the Nomad comes with a flip chip, a simple High / Low setting.



I spent a day at Bike Park Ireland where I decided to flip the chip to the low setting.  I have felt flip chips before making minor tweaks, but this was a pretty dramatic change.  What was once a trail bike is a full on DH bike with this change.  To this day, one of the most fun days on a bike ever.

Final Impressions:

When all is said and done as I was headed home for the states I couldn’t help but be blown away with the abilities of that bike.  In that week I put over 150 miles on a 170mm trail bike with a coil, most of which with no uplift service.  If you want to go out with your DH bro’s for a weekend of shredding and pedal up while you watch them push then this is your bike.  If you want to head out with your XC bro’s and don’t mind climbing up last and they don’t mind eating your dust on the way back to the car than this is your bike.


Thank you to Guthrie Bike for the support.




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