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Review: Santa Cruz Stigmata Gravel Bike

By Bruce Lin
Photos By Chris Motta

Check out our Cross and Gravel Bike Collection.

 Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

Santa Cruz is a brand that’s made its name building shred-happy mountain bikes, and with their Stigmata cyclocross bike, they’ve finally applied their expertise to skinnier tires. Riding the Stigmata at local cross races, mingling among a sea of classic and established cyclocross brands, people definitely took notice. The yellow is eye-searing, and the teal accents only add to the bike’s manic attitude. Fortunately, for some, Santa Cruz usually supplies a more neutral paint scheme along with their pop colors, but I’ve personally developed quite an affinity for sugar rush-inducing colors of my test bike.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

The edgy square tubing of the frame feels distinctly Santa Cruz, like their current mountain bikes, and gives the bike a uniquely tough and purposeful look. Being the higher-end, CC variant, the frame also about 200g lighter through the use of higher modulus carbon. Despite that, I never felt shy about pinging rocks off the downtube, rallying the bike down loose, rowdy dirt roads, and even occasionally riding some light singletrack.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross BikeThe bike is built with SRAM’s 1x Force drivetrain. I enjoy the simplicity of the system, just as I’ve come to enjoy it on my mountain bikes. I’m now a committed 1x convert, and would say that, for most applications and decently fit riders, 1x is the drivetrain of choice. With the 42t chainring and 11-36 cassette I have enough range for the majority of my riding along the Colorado Front Range, and more than enough for racing.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

I took the opportunity to fit some knobby 40c tires on the bike (the Stigmata is capable of fitting up to 41c tires, and potentially more in the fork) to make it cushier during epic gravel grinder rides, and did find I wanted some lower range with the bigger rubber. Going to a 40t chainring, and even a 38t when loaded with bags, was enough to make grinding out long dirt miles more bearable and it brought me plenty of success in a couple local gravel races.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

Though I never got the chance, I did toy with the idea of attempting to max out the derailleur with an 11-42t cassette for an even lower range.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

With 40c tires, the carbon Stigmata is one of the most comfortable bikes I’ve ever ridden, absorbing bumps and vibrations, keeping my bum and wrists happy all day no matter the road surface.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

The super blingy, color-matched ENVE M50 wheels add to the compliant feel with their wide internal width, plumping up whatever tires I mount nicely while feeling extremely stiff and snappy under power. They helped keep the bike light too, the complete build weighing in at just under 18 lbs with pedals and my computer. The handling is fairly neutral, not veering too far into ultra-racey territory, making the bike extremely versatile.

Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike

It’s more than just a cyclocross bike. I’ve used the bike for everything; commuting, easy road rides, long gravel adventures, and some off-season hooning on easy mountain bike trails. The Stigmata took everything I dished out and it has truly been one of my favorite rides over the past year.     

Intended Use: Cyclocross, Gravel Grinding

Highlights: SRAM Force 1, ENVE M50 Wheels.

Check out our Cross and Gravel Bike Collection.

About Bruce Lin: 
Bruce is a writer, a rider, and not much else. He loves getting his bikes dirty, trying new tech, and riding tough trails that make him suffer for hours at a time.