Is Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS Worth Buying? [Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS Review]

Share with friends
We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS

  • Price: $5,799
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Wheels: 700x40c
  • Drivetrain: 1 × 12 Electronic

What we like about it: The Champion’s Choice all-carbon gravel bike with a wider 700x40c wheelset combined with a 1×12 electronic drivetrain and a more compact and lighter hydraulic disc brake to fuel your adventures.

What we don’t like about it: The inability to do professional trail riding, you need to source a more professional line of vehicles.

Rating: (4.8/5)

Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS


I know many of us still remember the Stigmata as the unsurpassed 2015, but the Santa Cruz Stigmata, back in 2022, continues to surprise us incredibly.

Incorporating more MTB design standards, it raced to victory at the legendary Three Peaks and has continued to contend at elite cyclocross races around the world in just a few months after its release.

The CC carbon body fusion free geometry plays an important role in the ease of riding.

Adjusted to improve the handling of smaller riders and reduce toe overlap, wider tire clearance carries a 700x40c wheelset, combined with the Force/X01 AXS hybrid kit, the kind of drop-bar singletrack and gravel rallycat we can all get on board with.

Supporting three water bottle holder details, allowing you to use the 1 × 12 Electronic power drivetrain in the rally as much as you want to lose power, SRAM class. And the famous internal alignment disc brakes to give you more confidence boost.

Whether you’re just thinking about riding, or want to stand proudly on the podium, the Santa Cruz Stigmata is always there for you.

Gravel Riding

2022 Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS Gravel Riding

Riding gravel roads is fun. I don’t worried about the Santa Cruz STIGMATA because of the countless gravel and loose sand on the road, rather it is a fun way to test endurance compared to the rigors of mountain adventures.

When I got on the steeper 73.5° seat tube angle and the larger 700 x 40c wheels I knew it was capable of giving the rider maximum comfort riding.

If you are a rider used to smaller wheels such as 650b tires, then the Santa Cruz STIGMATA supported and combined Force/X01 AXS mashup kit will bring out the fun of gravel road riding.

You should also note that the Maxxis Ravager EXO, 700x40c front, and rear wheelsets will make it easier to float on the sand than spinner tires. The 52/54cm frame height allows you to maximize shock absorption while riding, reducing your arm soreness.


2022 Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS Performance

I rode for almost 1h on a gentle road with a lot of rocks and dark potholes. As the uphill I was facing grew longer and longer and was followed by a continuation of the descent, I realized I was driving into hilly terrain.

The STIGMATA equipped SRAM, 1×12 electronic shines at this time.  And with the SRAM Rival 1 DUB Wide, 38T crank technology, I was able to pedal with ease and smoothness, like cutting butter, even on the rising terrain that required greater physical output.

Also, I remember when I was riding through the countryside to the gravel, despite the winding road, I was still able to maintain agile handling on the endless dry gravel, which I think is inseparable from the 65mm of trail.

In addition, the cc carbon body with a moderate 282mm BB height can efficiently handle even excessive friction and bumps. I know that for some newbies who are more familiar with bike construction, they will be concerned about riding the Santa Cruz STIGMATA without a damped front range.

But I think the Santa Cruz blends material and performance in place, and is able to reduce the pressure on the body and achieve both lighter volume, but also able to respond positively to the efficiency of the ride.

Forest Road

As opposed to the dry gravel roads, when Santa Cruz STIGMATA and I pulled into a wild but not harsh section of forest road, there were rising trails, slippery mud from the rain, and sudden drop-offs. To be honest, I would have been really worried about the Santa Cruz STIGMATA in the face of the difficulty transition.

But after actually sitting in the saddle on the WTB and giving me an encouraging rebound, I knew the call to ride had been made. The 73.5° seat tube angle combined with the Maxxis 700x40c wheelset started my pedaling in an efficient range.

And to be sure, I thought the drive was already superior on gravel roads, but on this unfamiliar stretch of forest road, the SRAM, 1×12 electronic drive technology was no better than a 2x or 3x mountain bike drive. In addition, you do not need to worry about the lag in the loading process, from my experience, it is in an efficient linear drivetrain.


As I was more efficient in weaving through trails that had thick fallen leaves, I realized that the Santa Cruz STIGMATA was truly a shredder in every sense of the word. This is largely due to Santa Cruz’s decision to use its updated VPP suspension platform, which means the rear end is very soft, softer than many hardtail bikes I’ve ridden in the past.

This became even more apparent as the wider and taller wheelset made the riding scenario turn from fall singletrack to traditionally wet areas with such a strong grip on the ground.

As my wheels grinded deeper into the forest road, I realized that I had come to a place where I had suffered numerous setbacks and that I had stalled and slipped more times in this section than I would like to admit. It looked easy, but apparently, I had underestimated its difficulty.

As I lowered the gears from the high gears of the just rising terrain to a lower gear, which was a breeze for the SRAM 1×12 electronic drivetrain. In addition, as my front wheel began to roll downwards in a noticeable trend, I brought on the SRAM Rival 1 internal alignment disc brakes to assist my confidence due to more caution.

But there was little fuss when my rear wheel tracked the wet rocks without any problem. There were a few outstanding moments that stood out to me during my time on the bike, and that simple little drop was one of them.

Main Features


Santa Cruz Stigmata/ Gloss Lavender and Gloss Carbon
Santa Cruz Stigmata/ Gloss Lavender and Gloss Carbon

For Santa Cruz’s claim of having a lifetime warranty on the CC full-carbon body, from what I feel, it is much stronger and lighter compared to other carbon fiber ones on the market. Fender mounts add a bit of CYA, and highlight the Santa Cruz Stigmata’s ever-widening scope of purpose.

Although it will have regrets in the color of the paint, only three colors. My favorite is its Gloss Lavender, special enough and looks very stylish. In terms of details, the bike is equipped with three full-size water bottles that can support me without feeling too much energy loss even after riding for nearly 2h on gravel roads.

And if you notice the more tidy details like 12mm front axle, flat mount brakes, and build-specific Reserve wheel packages, you’ll understand that the Santa Cruz STIGMATA I’ve described is a constant companion.


In fact, from the riding feeling after the test, I have a prediction for the 73.5° seat tube angle, because it is comfortable enough. At the same time, combined with the 388 mm of reach, it is efficient enough for me to pedal efficiently on climbing sections.

Of course, if you notice his 72.0° head tube angle you will understand that despite his wheels reaching a height of 700x40c, the steering response is flexible enough. And it has to be said that keeping a value of 346mm in the BB height can also give you more support in terms of the center of gravity or acceleration of the ride.

The freer body is thanks to the 1,266 mm stretch, which you have to admit is well thought out by Maxxis.

Component and Specifications

Maxxis Ravager EXO, 700x40c

Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS

To be honest, I’ve ridden a lot of gravel bikes that are hot this year, but there really aren’t too many gravel bikes with a 700x40c wheelset to look at. More like Malin’s 37c tires, this size will be more friendly to commuters in some cities, shuttle in the city or weekend riding a little light gravel are available.

So it’s clear that Stigmata prefers the adventure of the outdoors. For gravel roads with more sand and gravel culverts, the Maxxis, 700x40c is extremely tough to crush and ignore these small obstacles.

The rough surface is effective in providing more traction and grip from the wet and slippery trails on forest roads and winding tree roots. In addition, with the 65mm of trail, it doesn’t lose out to the smaller 650b wheels in terms of steering. In my riding tests, the Santa Cruz Stigmata wheelset performed admirably.

SRAM 1 × 12 Electronic Drivetrain

Santa Cruz Stigmata Rival AXS has SRAM 1 × 12 Electronic Drivetrain

When I saw that the $5799 Santa Cruz Stigmata came with a 1×12 e-drivetrain, I was honestly really surprised. I would even think you could totally pay by credit card just because of this electronic drivetrain.

Of course, in terms of riding performance, the Santa Cruz Stigmata has found its own lighter weight shifting method in the process of speed regulation. The compact lever shape achieves smooth and sensitive speed adjustment, and the comfortable not-soft, and not-hard can be felt in the hand.

Compared to traditional mechanical shifting, which requires the rider to dial the chain stay to adjust to the desired position. The advantage of electronic shifting is that it is easy to change gears at the push of a button.

In addition, if you’re a demanding rider, SRAM supports custom button presses to find the correct gear faster. And from the official test results, the whole process will reduce your thinking time by 25%.

SRAM Rival 1 Flat Mount Hydraulic Disc

SRAM Rival 1 Flat Mount Hydraulic Disc

For the Santa Cruz Stigmata, the details lie in every aspect, the SRAM Rival 1 Flat Mount is more compact and lighter, giving the bodywork further relief.

In the effect of braking Hydraulic Disc is more expensive, and the use of the reduced sense of resistance. And I also did not have the expected sense of jarring. But I have to say, as I have ridden the top Santa Cruz full shock series, although both are SRAM level braking, but the rival series is really not as high-end as the code series in terms of the linear feeling of braking. At the same time, because of the need to further reduce weight on the body, I also can not feel the swift feeling of four pistons, SRAM Rival 1 will be more gentlemanly, and the noise will also be less.

Other Versions of Santa Cruz STIGMATA

2022 Santa Cruz STIGMATA Force

At $6,549, the Santa Cruz STIGMATA Force does come with a few upgrades. Compared to the STIGMATA Rival, it has a full carbon fiber body and fork, and a 700x40c wheelset. However, the braking model is SRAM Force, which is more compact and lighter than the STIGMATA Rival.

In addition, I also noticed some details, such as the drivetrain of the choice of more road bikes commonly used 2×11. To be honest, the range of speed regulation will be more abundant but also means heavier.

All told, if you are a rider who rides more stacked terrain, perhaps the richer power support will give your ride a boost, but newbies may find it slightly complicated.

2022 Santa Cruz STIGMATA GRX

STIGMATA GRX retains the design framework of Santa Cruz STIGMATA, basically choosing a formula for some important components: full-carbon body and fork, Maxxis, 700x40c wheelset, and SRAM grade brakes.

But we still see some subtle differences in the GRX and Force both use Shimano 2×11 combination Shimano 48/31T drivetrain.

Compared to Rival’s 1×12 combination SRAM Rival 1 DUB Wide, 40T, it has a broader range of speed options, which may save you a lot of physical output for some of the more demanding upward climbs.

If you are an experienced and more adventurous rider, then the Santa Cruz STIGMATA Force/ GRX can satisfy you.

Both are good choices. And if you are more in control or a complete novice, the Santa CruzSTIGMATA Rival is also a standard answer.

Santa Cruz STIGMATA Specs

Weight8.89kg / 19.6lbs8.47kg / 18.68lbs0kg / 0lbs
Wheel Size700c700c700c
Rear DerailleurRival 1 Long Cage, 11spShimano GRX, 11spdSRAM Rival XPLR AXS
ShiftersSRAM Rival 1Shimano GRX 810Rival eTap AXS HRD
CranksetSRAM Rival 1 DUB Wide, 40tShimano GRX 11spd, 48/31tSRAM Rival 1 DUB Wide, 38t
CassetteSRAM PG1150, 11spd, 10-42tShimano Ultegra HG800 11-34tSRAM XPLR XG 1251, 10-44
ChainSRAM PC1170Shimano SLX M7000, 11spdSRAM Rival, 12spd
Bottom BracketSRAM DUB 68mm Road Wide BBShimano Ultegra BBSRAM DUB 68mm Road Wide BB
BrakesSRAM Rival 1 Flat MountShimano GRX 810SRAM Rival 1 Flat Mount
HeadsetCane Creek 40 IS Integrated HeadsetCane Creek 40 IS Integrated HeadsetCane Creek 40 IS Integrated Headset
StemEaston EA50 StemEaston EA90Easton EA90
GripsVelo Bar TapeVelo Bar TapeVelo Bar Tape
Front HubDT Swiss 370 100X12i9 1/1, 12×100, Centerlock, 28hi9 1/1, 12×100, Centerlock, 28h
Rear HubDT Swiss 370,142×12, XD, 28hi9 1/1, 12×142, 11spd, Centerlock, 28hi9 1/1 12×142, XDr, Centerlock, 28h
RimsWTB EZR i23p 700cEaston ARC Offset 25 700cEaston ARC Offset 25 700c
SpokesSapim RaceSapim RaceSapim Race
Front TireMaxxis Ravager EXO, 700x40cMaxxis Rambler, 700x40cMaxxis Ravager EXO, 700x40c
Rear TireMaxxis Ravager EXO, 700x40cMaxxis Rambler, 700x40cMaxxis Ravager EXO, 700x40c
TubesReserve Tubeless SealantReserve Tubeless SealantReserve Tubeless Sealant
Seat PostEaston EA50, 27.2, 12mm offset, 350mmEaston EC70, Zero OffsetEaston EC70 27.2 Zero Offset 350mm
SaddleWTB Silverado Medium CroMoWTB Silverado Medium CroMoWTB Silverado Medium CroMo


What do we like about it?

  • The top of the stream gravel bike, more professional, higher-end components
  • Full carbon fiber body frame, more efficient and active in the face of outdoor friction
  • SRAM, 1×11 speed drivetrain, easy to operate, climbing energy-saving
  • SRAM, hydraulic disc braking more sensitive, to challenge the higher difficulty to bring absolute confidence
  • The wide 700x40c tires are more efficient and aggressive for handling different terrains
  • Freer body frame with support for mounting three water bottle holders and fenders

What we don’t like about it?

  • Unable to face more off-road terrain
  • Paint color can not do more


  • What is the size of Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS tires?

The tire size of Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS is 700x40c.

  • What is the Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS drivetrain?

Santa Cruz V10 drivetrain is SRAM Rival 1,1×11 speed.

  • What are Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS brakes?

Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS brakes are SRAM Rival 1 Flat Mount hydraulic discs.

  • How do I choose the size of Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS?
Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS Size Chart

Comparison Table

Specialized Diverge Expert Carbon$6,2001×12 electronic700x42cSRAM Rival eTAP AXSHydraulic DiscClick View
BMC URS LT TWO$6,2991×12 electronic700x40cSRAM Rival eTap AXS HRDHydraulic DiscClick View
Lauf Seigla – Race Wireless$5,3901×12 electronic700x40cSRAM Force Flat mount hydraulic discClick View
Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 eTap Suspension$6,4991×12 electronic700x45cSRAM Force eTap AXS HRD 2shydraulic discClick View

2022 Specialized Diverge Expert Carbon vs 2022 Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS

2022 Specialized Diverge Expert Carbon

Within the framework of $6,200, the Specialized Diverge Expert does make some upgrades. Compared to the Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival’s traditional drivetrain, the Diverge Expert has opted for a 1×12 electronic drivetrain, which effectively reduces instability or reduced efficiency in terms of riding experience.

In addition, STIGMATA Rival different is equipped with a wider 700x42c wheelset. To be honest, despite the drivetrain using the technology of electronic support, but in the face of such an exaggerated wheelset, I think the speed may also face more output.

Of course, I am undeniable about the Specialized Diverge Expert hardtail that has a 20mm value of front travel. Although it seems a little weak, it can still handle some small bumps positively.

The Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival relies more on the fit of components and the choice of frame materials, such as the cc carbon body and fork, tall wheelset and 545mm seat tube length, and 73.5° seat tube angle. In addition, both have opted for more efficient and expensive hydraulic disc brakes.

From my personal riding habits, the Specialized Diverge Expert is more suitable for riders who specialize in more outdoor adventures, while the Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival is more compatible.

Learn more :Is Specialized Diverge Comp E5 Worth Buying? [2022 Specialized Diverge Comp E5 Review]

2022 BMC URS LT TWO vs 2022 Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS


For a stable output of riding, you can see some trends from Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival’s choice of wheels. Compared to BMC URS LT TWO’s 700x40c wheelset with 42c tire clearance, Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival 45c’s larger tire clearance can support you to choose more.

Also, in terms of drivetrain, the BMC URS LT TWO opts for the more technological 1×12 electronic drivetrain technology, which is really a trend. And of course, on the price is a big part of the $6299.

In my experience, I honestly felt that the BMC URS LT TWO was more sluggish in terms of steering. And I think this may be related to its longer 77mm of trail.

All in all, the performance of the more expensive BMC URS LT TWO offers me no more novelty. And although upgrades have been made to some important components, I would prefer the Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival from an affordability standpoint.

Learn more : Is BMC Roadmachine X Two Worth Buying? [2023 BMC Roadmachine X Two Review]

2022 Lauf Seigla – Race Wireless vs 2022 Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS

2022 Lauf Seigla - Race Wireless

My design concept for the Lauf Seigla is mixed. With 30mm of front travel, I would be more inclined to classify it as a hardtail. But again, you have to admit that this tiny travel value is almost on par with the Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival which is more dependent on components and frame materials for damping. So you can’t have much more than that in a $5,290 price frame.  

Secondly, the choice of wheelset is the same for both, with a tall 700x40c wheelset and a more rapid and expensive hydraulic disc brake. By contrast, it is clear that Lauf Seigla’s drivetrain has opted for a more technologically modern 1×12 electronic drivetrain.

Compared to the traditional mechanical drivetrain, it can effectively reduce the problem of instability or reduced efficiency.

Add it all up, if your choice of outdoor riding is not so demanding and more focused on economic value, then the Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival is actually highly recommended.

Learn more : Is Lauf Anywhere – Weekend Warrior Worth Buying? -[2023 Lauf Anywhere – Weekend Warrior Review]

2022 Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 eTap Suspension vs 2022 Santa Cruz STIGMATA Rival AXS

Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 eTap

The efficiency of the Grizl CF SLX 8 for damping is something I was able to feel from its efforts to add 30mm of travel. Although for a full shock rider like me who rides more, this value is too small.

Comparing the Santa Cruz STIGMATA, which relies on components and body material for damping, you may see the difference from a long ride. But if you’re not used to long rides, I think you can totally consider the Santa Cruz STIGMATA as well.

In terms of wheelset size, the 700x45c value is clearly more friendly for gravel roads that crush some gravel potholes and have no significant rising terrain. But if you’re on some hilly terrain or not technically forested roads it seems that the strong grip may slow you down considerably.

So, I actually think that the gravel road bike’s wheelset setting at 40c is still more moderate.

In addition, in the choice of drivetrain, Grizl CF SLX 8 has chosen a more technological 1×12 electronic drivetrain, which is more expensive and simpler compared to the traditional mechanical drivetrain.

All told, you can’t hate anyone more obviously between the two. But the Santa Cruz STIGMATA is relatively more suitable in terms of affordability or modest choice.

In case, the above comments are helpful to you, please remember to share the subscription. Have a great day!

learn more:Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension 1by Review [2022]- Take A Gravel Ride That Just Says Go!

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top