twindaddywrote a review of Santa Cruz Bicycles Highball Carbon - 2012 on December 21, 2011
I didn't get a chance to compare this to other carbon hardtails, but I own a Nomad-c and Tallboy-c and had high expectations of this as well. I was not disappointed.
I had planned to transfer parts from my Fisher Paragon, but instead opted to go a little heavier. Reba RLT Ti 20mm fork, X.9 1x9 drivetrain, Sun Ringle Charger Expert wheelset with heavy tires. It tips the scale at 23 pounds, yet doesn't "feel" heavier than my 20 pound One9. The bottom bracket area is super stiff which makes this thing launch when you mash the pedals.
I've ridden a fair mix of flowy single track, fire roads and semi-chunky downhill(ish) terrain. This bike excels on the trail and rides as fast as it feels. The only issues I've come across is the low bottom bracket leading to challenges on some of the ledge trails where the uphill pedal tends to hit the side of the trail and in narrow gully trails. I run my One9 super low as well (the EBB allows you to run it higher or lower in the rotation), so it wasn't unexpected. What it gives you in cornering and stability is worth it to me.
It's nice to see SC venturing out of their comfort zone and nailing it as well as they did.