Santa Cruz Bicycles Highball 27.5 Carbon CC Mountain Bike Frame - 2017 $1,899.00
If the squeaky wheel gets the grease, then the lack of a 2017 redesign for the Highball 27.5 Carbon CC Mountain Bike Frame indicates Santa Cruz Bicycles couldn't find a single squeak to grease. A big part of this is that, in an industry replete with complicated suspension widgets, the Highball's hardtail rear triangle is a refreshingly simple mechanism: just add power and go. And with the peerless efficiency of SC's Carbon CC lay-up and the nimble dexterity of the mid-sized wheel standard, you'll be going very, very fast.
As with the original 29-inch model, the Highball 27.5 is a single-piece layup of carbon fiber instead of a jigsaw puzzle of individually-cured carbon tubes. This allows Santa Cruz to wrap the fibers continuously around structurally important junctures like the head tube and bottom bracket, strengthening the frame, dissipating the force from impacts and pedaling load, and allowing for comparable strength with less material and a lower weight. Translated into trail talk, this means the Highball hits the bricks when you stomp on the pedals, dampen high-speed chatter, and hold lines like a cat on carpet — all with a low-weight that makes any full-suspension bike look like a bloated downhill-only machine.
The Highball does address the lack of rear suspension with a diminished seatpost, down to 27.2 millimeters. While this doesn't quite equate to the square-edge hit capabilities of the Nomad or Bronson, it does help to eat up trail vibrations that tend to accumulate over the course of a long ride. Up front, the 27.5 model has a more moderate head tube angle than the Highball 29er. At just 69 degrees, it rides the divide between slack stability and razor-sharp handling, keeping you in control while helping to control the terrain. Unsurprisingly, it also has shorter chainstays than the 29er version, which maximizes the hardtail rear triangle's efficiency while mashing.
Finally, Santa Cruz's approach to the carbon lay-up process deserves a quick mention before we sign off. The carbon is compacted from both inside and out, eliminating voids, preventing delamination, and creating a smooth interior. While that level of aesthetic perfection is a nice idea, even if we can't see it, the real-world benefits of a perfect interior include no resin pools or unintended material abnormalities, which can structurally compromise a frame over time.
- One of the most advanced cross country hardtails to date
- Slightly slacker geometry than the 29er version
- Uncompromising carbon construction for stiff efficiency and low weight
- Mid-sized wheels are fast on flats but nimble in terrain
- Santa Cruz Bicycles continues to quietly dominate the XC game
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