January 12, 2021
As a mountain biker by nature and road biker by fitness-guilt, the transfer over to the gravel scene was a no-brainer. After a few demos on some other popular carbon gravel bikes, I decided to go with the 2021 Santa Cruz Stigmata and a Juliana Quincy for the Mrs.
I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feedback on this popular gravel grinder. If you're in the market for a new bike or feeling the itch to start a new build, hopefully, my honest opinion on this classic redesign will help you along the way.
My personal build is the Santa Cruz Stigmata Moonstone Blue, Force Kit 1x AXS build. It comes with an AXS X01 12spd derailleur, SRAM Force 42t crankset, carbon CC frame, and Easton components. I went with two different wheelsets, the 650b RaceFace ARC 25 (same set I run on my Tallboy, just a bit bigger) for the chunky gravel rides and the 700c Santa Cruz Reserve 22 Carbon set for the long days with some mixed terrain. Mine are also spec'd out with an AXS mullet build with SRAM Force up front and 10-50t Eagle in the rear (business up front party in the back). I run the same AXS X01 derailleur on my Tallboy as well, and it's been nothing but consistently great for me. Don't fix it if it ain't broken I guess.
First off, let's get the MOST IMPORTANT stuff out of the way. They look incredible, I mean, c'mon. These two bikes are stunning. Everyone wants a bike that's easy on the eyes and will get you a couple of extra likes on IG. I think it's hard to find a better-looking gravel bike on the market. That said, it does come with a hefty price tag, with builds starting at $3,499USD going up to $5,499+USD.
The Stiggy is surprisingly light. Well, depending on who you ask. If you're asking your roadie friend about his featherweight Émonda he'll probably tell you that 18lbs is insanely heavy for a bike. For me, a gravel bike with disc brakes, an MTB derailleur, and some pretty beefy tires rounding out to 18 pounds and some change is a trade-off I would take any day. This bike doesn't feel sluggish on the trailers either. Climbing is a breeze, and once you get out of the saddle, it takes off like a rocket ship. The frame is composed of Santa Cruz's Carbon CC compound. Not to mention, the new 2020+ models have an improved carbon layup, making them even lighter.
Now let's talk rubber, (no not that kind you sicko). I've been running the Ultra Dynamico Rosé Brevet (bought at a discount on the Japanese Blue Lug Website) 650B x 47.99 tires. These tires eat up dirt and feel incredible on longer gravel days in the saddle. With light sidewall protection, these make for a very supple and comfortable ride. With the 700c, I've been running a mix of Maxxis Ramblers 700x40c and WTB Byways 700x44c. The Ramblers have been great for mixed terrain this time of the year, living and riding in Utah. I can still hit patches of snow, ice, and gravel, all while maintaining a good grip on the pavement. The byways are currently sitting on my shelf until the conditions get a bit dryer, but damn, those things are quick! I would highly recommend any of these tires to someone wanting to ride gravel. That said, I would recommend going with a 650b and throwing on some chunky 2.0 tires on these things, making it an absolute weapon of a bike. PS - I run all my tires tubeless.
The Stiggy is the perfect quiver killer for any type of ride. Throw some slicks on it, and it'll ride rip up some pavement. Or throw some knobby 650b tires and eat-up some single-track. In the saddle, the stigmata feels like a sporty mountain bike inspired build while handling as a gravel bike should maneuver.
Its versatility is unmatched, simply ask our office staff. We have four people who ride Stiggy's. Some race cyclocross, some commute daily to work, some ride gnarly single track, and everything else in-between. Honestly, I struggle to find something negative to say about this bike. The lack of mounts on this bike may make it less appealing to some people who want to do multiple day bike-packing rides. One small variable considering the price, you would think that they would include some better-looking components. I could go without the stock Easton EA90 stems. It just reminds me too much of a hockey stick. But other than that, the bike rides and looks like a dream.
The Stigmata is an incredible all-around carbon gravel bike. It's without a doubt my choice as the best gravel bike for 2020-2021. I'd highly recommend it if you're in the market for a new gravel bike. The lifetime frame warranty and wheel warranty (if you go with the Reserves) might be the icing on the cake. Plus, the new 2021 colors for the Stigmata and the Juliana Quincy are some of my all-time favorites!
For more spec details on this bike, head over to Santa Cruz Bicycles and discover where you can get this bike at your local bike shop.
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