No matter if you’re at a race with hundreds of others or on a local ride with a small group, you always remember seeing a Santa Cruz. It’s a bike brand that stands out because it doesn’t try to. Steeped in authentic mountain biking culture, the Californian brand has found an elite market in South Africa that is diverse in location, but unified in its understanding of what makes a premium brand.
You won’t find Santa Cruz on display at many bike shops. It’s not that kind of bicycle brand. There are only 12 Santa Cruz retailers in South Africa and they’re selected because of who they are – passionate riders with years of experience who resonate with the brand values of Santa Cruz. Astute customers find confidence in Santa Cruz’s unrivalled brand equity and scarcity within a crowded market.
Most South Africans know Santa Cruz as the bike brand that Greg Minnaar has ridden to sporting greatness. But that’s just one part of the Santa Cruz story in South Africa. The most qualified people to tell the rest of the story are those who ride and work with the brand on a daily basis.
Kevin Evans has raced bicycles at the highest level and after retiring from racing, focussed on his retail store, The Bike Shop in the coastal holiday town of Plett. He fell out of love with bikes and spent his time running and playing golf to satisfy his love for the outdoors and exercise. But that changed once he started riding a Santa Cruz…
“About five years ago I bought myself a Santa Cruz Tallboy 3. Being a short travel trail bike designed to amplify the descents, it was exactly what I needed to bring back my mountain biking mojo. After a year on the Tallboy, I moved to a Hightower. But that was just too much bike for me and the tame trails we have around here. With the launch of the Blur, I found myself going full circle and thriving on a fast, capable marathon style bike. My journey with Santa Cruz has given me first hand experience of the brand’s ability to build mountain bikes that I choose to ride, and spend my own money on!”
Evans is probably the only Santa Cruz retailer in South Africa who has ridden the new Blur. Released less than three weeks ago and with limited stock in the country, the new Blur has given South Africans a premium lightweight high-performance marathon/stage race bike - with a second bottle cage.
“Look, two bottle cages is a critical consideration for most of the committed endurance-focussed mountain bikers who need that additional bottle to make the finish line. I was keen to gauge the differences between the previous Blur and the new one … besides being lighter overall, the redesigned rear triangle is as responsive as the previous one, which is a key feature in my opinion. The more I ride it, the more I like it,” says Evans.
Jason Lind of Olympic Cycles in Cape Town developed his affection for Santa Cruz almost two decades ago.
“Santa Cruz has always been an authentic bike designed to deliver a capable, memorable ride. In terms of the type of riding and the attitude to riding, the Western Cape is similar to California, where Santa Cruz is based. There’s always been a good mix of marathon riding, gravity riding and trail riding here. I think that’s helped Santa Cruz, which caters well for all those segments, to become a successful, trusted brand in this part of South Africa.” said Lind.
“I like to ride different bikes to understand what makes them different. So I change bikes a lot! With Strava I can always get confirmation when I have ridden a Santa Cruz because my times are faster on regular segments, but I put in less effort. The proof of the Santa Cruz credibility is in the riding,” says Lind.
In Gauteng, Santa Cruz has become a sought-after brand second to none! Jacques Maritz of Hot Spot Cycles in Pretoria says that his Santa Cruz customers are definitely not impulsive buyers.
“Look, there are some customers who put their names down for a new model as soon as it’s launched. They haven’t even seen it yet and they want it. They’re seriously loyal Santa Cruz riders,” says Maritz.
“But then I also have those customers who want a premium brand bike and who absolutely cherish the process of sitting down over a meal or a coffee with me to customise their new Santa Cruz to suit them. There’s no rush, but there’s plenty of effort that goes into the finest details. And when that customer collects his/her bike, that’s when I feel a huge sense of satisfaction.
“What also makes Santa Cruz different is that the Sales Director for Rush Sports, Sam Bull, is happy to engage directly with any customers who may have questions about the bike they’re about to buy. He will even meet them for a ride and let them try his own bike out if necessary. Rush Sports goes the extra mile for sure and that is part of the success of the Santa Cruz brand in South Africa,” he adds.
Ian Walker of Mellow Velo Cycles in Johannesburg also says he gets Santa Cruz customers booking new models the moment they’re launched.
“This is because Santa Cruz is an exclusive brand. You don’t find Santa Cruz bikes everywhere. Combine that with the fact that Santa Cruz offers industry-leading lifetime warranties on the frame and linkage bearings and user-error warranties on the wheels and you have a brand which appeals to discerning riders who are buying more than just another bicycle; they’re buying into an elite culture.”
“We have done some very unique custom builds with Santa Cruz where our customers have been able to successfully choose a build that’s unmistakably Santa Cruz, but also highly personalised. This level of refinement isn’t possible with just any brand and that’s part of what makes Santa Cruz so sought after in South Africa,” adds Walker.
“We generally sell out of all bikes before they even land, which speaks to the strength of Santa Cruz, says Sam Bull, Rush Sports Sales Director. “This, coupled with the fact that only a select number of South Africans can reach Santa Cruz’s premium price-points makes for quite an exclusive owners' club.
“The Californian brand makes bikes for true enthusiasts with myself being one of them. So much so, that if you were to give me a blank cheque, I would choose to ride the exact bike I am riding right now. It's special to be a part of a brand like Santa Cruz."
For more on Santa Cruz Bicycles, check out their website here.
The Santa Cruz dealer list for South Africa:
Finish Line Cycles https://finishlinecycles.co.za
Hot Spot Cycles https://hotspotcycles.co.za/
Mellow Velo Cycles https://mellowvelo.co.za/
Coimbra Cycle Centre https://coimbracycles.co.za
Bobby's Cycles http://bobbyscycles.co.za
Greg Minnaar Cycles https://www.gmcycles.co.za
Cycleworld Bloemfontein https://cycleworld.store
Valencia Cycles https://vbike.co.za
Flandria Cycles http://www.flandria.co.za
Olympic Cycles https://olympiccycles.co.za/
The Bike Shop http://www.thebikeshop.co.za/