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Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon CC 29 XX1 Eagle ENVE Complete Mountain Bike - 2017

$9,999.00

Item # SNZ00BW

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Item # SNZ00BW

Peak.

For as long as we can remember, every time we follow some clever innovator in the mountain bike industry as they go to plant a flag at the tippy-top peak of innovation, we're instead greeted by a neon Santa Cruz Bicycles sign already installed and flashing away. With the Hightower Carbon CC 29 XX1 Eagle ENVE Complete Mountain Bike, SC has established yet another lofty peak, though we suspect it'll take a while before any of its competitors can mount an expedition to join it. The map to the summit involves Boost axles, ENVE's 60 Forty HV wheels, and SRAM's XX1 Eagle one-by drivetrain and Guide Ultimate brakes.

While the racing pedigree of its build kit is readily apparent, the Hightower's mid-range, 5.3in travel belies its true nature. That travel and its 29in wheels may inspire initial comparisons with Mr. Moderate (the 5010) or SC's equivalent of a center in basketball (the Tallboy LT), but Santa Cruz instead encourages us to "think of it as the Bronson's taller brother." Yep, that Bronson, and the Hightower's innate aggression is confirmed by the wide, stiff ENVE wheels and a healthy 2.4in tire clearance. We've seen a recent trend of low-travel 29ers that ride more like trail bikes, but the Hightower may be the first model to convincingly push that trend into the all-mountain world.

The frame's 67-degree head tube sits on the slack end of moderate, so it pairs with the frame's long, enduro-minded reach, chainstays that are 15mm stubbier than the Tallboy, and the latest generation of Virtual Pivot Point travel for a machine that isn't afraid of trail furniture or grades. It's a helluva lot faster over light terrain and rocky climbs than bikes like the Bronson, but it's still capable of cleaning lines that would make the steep-angled Tallboy befoul its long-legged pants. For the time when discretion is the better part of not bailing, the stubby chainstays mean it can also dice techy sections like a bike with smaller wheels—all of which means that whether you're into taking the direct route over the crux or the big line when dropping in, the Hightower can handle it.

SC is so intent on proving the Hightower's outsized merit over rock gardens that it actually bypassed the Bronson and went straight to the 6.5in Nomad for suspension inspiration. While the big hit benefits are obvious, the Hightower's Nomad DNA also results in repositioned links, which may be why the it can accommodate a piggyback shock and a bottle cage—yet one more indication that the Hightower isn't just for XC hardpack or enduro shuttle loops. Instead, it's designed to be the engine on the way up and the sled on the way down.

SC refers to this Nomad-inspired VPP in-house as VPP3, but it's essentially the same VPP we've seen on the Bronson 2.0 and 5010 2.0 models, just optimized for 29ers and 27.5+ tires. A repositioned lower link now shelters above the bottom bracket, increasing ground clearance to decrease the chance of rock strikes while indulging the Hightower's desire to masticate scree fields and pick through the rooty, rocky, techy stuff. The upper link has also wandered up and forward, which makes for a more accommodating standover height for smaller riders wanting a huge ride, and it also stiffens the back end.

The latest VPP's changes aren't limited to wandering links, though; the system's tuning has also been tweaked. Where the old suspension curve described a deep "U," the new VPP's curve resembles a flattened check mark, with less dramatic ramping on either end of the arc. The results are that, during the initial and mid stroke, it boasts increased bump compliance to keep the tires glued to the trail for more traction across lumpy trails and root latticed climbs. It also maintains its predecessor's firm feel during accelerations while jockeying for position in a mass start or a finishing sprint. The RockShox Monarch's ramp-up arc doesn't dramatically alter as the shock compresses, so the pedaling platform stays consistent across travel, with less wallowing, bob, and bottom-outs—even while the Boost axle's path turns rearward to absorb big hits deep in its travel.

In the end, the Hightower is still a Santa Cruz, so it features the same Carbon CC frame construction that's ruined our tastes by giving us unrealistic expectations for how carbon should feel. For the top-tier CC frame, the engineers use a higher modulus carbon than the Carbon C model, so less material is required to hit the same strength and stiffness numbers. Less material equates to less weight, and, well, you can see where we're going with this. Climbing and pure speed both benefit when there's less mass for your engine to propel, a stiffer chassis tracks truer across the kind of terrain the Hightower will tempt you into.

The frame's two carbon triangles are built as whole pieces rather than glued together from disparate bits, a method that saves weight and increases structural integrity by allowing Santa Cruz to wrap carbon continuously through and around key junctures. This process reinforces the frame with less material while eliminating the artificial stress points that result from bonded construction methods. Finally, the carbon is also compacted from the inside and the outside for a more even finish that avoids any structural defects, excess material build-up, and resin pooling for—you guessed it—even more weight savings.

As you've no doubt gathered from the above, we're big fans of what the Hightower is capable of when run as a 29er; however, we do also love the plushness of 27.5+ tires, even if it means occasionally laying aside those gorgeous ENVE hoops. Sometimes this can be logically rationalized—for riding in snow or sand, for example—but often it comes down to pure impulse. If you can relate, then you'll be pleased to note that the little flip chip niblet that sits in the upper link allows the shock mount to migrate, effectively accounting for the 9mm difference in radii between 27.5+ and 29in tires. It keeps the geometry as static as possible while allowing the Hightower to serve as three-season race rocket and, come winter, a 27.5+ sleigh ride machine.

  • The zenith of big-wheel, big-travel enduro extravagance
  • 6in of VPP travel tuned to demolish courses
  • Geometry is longer and slacker than the original Hightower
  • Industry-leading carbon construction makes no compromises
  • ENVE's carbon technology tuned for enduro nastiness
  • SRAM's top-tier Eagle drivetrain ensures you'll always have a bail out gear

Tech Specs

Frame Material:
Carbon CC
Suspension:
VPP
Rear Shock:
Rock Shox Monarch RT3
Rear Travel:
135mm
Fork:
Rock Shox Pike 29 RCT3
Front Travel:
140mm
Headset:
Cane Creek 110 Series
Shifters:
SRAM XX1 Eagle
Front Derailleur:
n/a
Rear Derailleur:
SRAM XX1 Eagle
ISCG Tabs:
ISCG 05
Crankset:
SRAM XX1 Eagle
Bottom Bracket:
BSA threaded
Cassette:
10-50t SRAM XX1 Eagle
Chain:
SRAM XX1 Eagle Powerlock
Brakeset:
SRAM Guide Ultimate
Brake Type:
hydraulic disc
Rotors:
180mm Avid Centerline
Handlebar:
Santa Cruz Carbon
Handlebar Rise:
flat
Handlebar Width:
780mm
Grips:
Santa Cruz Palmdale lock-on
Stem:
Easton Haven Aluminum
Saddle:
WTB Silverado SLT
Seatpost:
[M - L] Rock Shox Reverb Stealth, [XL] 170mm
Seatpost Diameter:
31.6mm
Wheelset:
[rims] Race Face ARC 27
Hubs:
Industry Nine Torch
Front Axle:
15 x 110mm Boost
Rear Axle:
12 x 148mm Boost
Tires:
[front] Maxxis Minion DHF Exo 3c, [rear] Maxxis Minion DHR2 TR
Tire Size:
29 x 2.3in
Pedals:
not included
Recommended Use:
enduro
Manufacturer Warranty:
lifetime on frame

sizing chart

Hightower size by rider height

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Geometry chart

Santa Cruz

Geometry Chart

 

Hightower 1C
29er
 

Seat Tube

(c-t)

Effective Top Tube

(eTT)

Stack

(S)

Reach

(R)

Stand Over

Head Tube

(HT)

Head Tube Angle

(HTo)

Seat Tube Angle

(STo)

Bottom Bracket Drop

(BBD)

Chainstay

(CS)

Wheelbase
M 16.5in 23.7in 23.8in 16.9in 27.9in 3.5in 67o 74.3o 1.3in 17.1in 45.9in
L 17.7in 24.5in 24.1in 17.2in 28.1in 3.9in 67o 74.3o 1.3in 17.1in 46.7in
XL 19.3in 25.6in 24.5in 18.7in 28.3in 4.3in 67o 74.3o 1.3in 17.1in 47.8in
27.5+
 

Seat Tube

(c-t)

Effective Top Tube

(eTT)

Stack

(S)

Reach

(R)

Stand Over

Head Tube

(HT)

Head Tube Angle

(HTo)

Seat Tube Angle

(STo)

Bottom Bracket Drop

(BBD)

Chainstay

(CS)

Wheelbase

M

16.5in 23.7in 24in 16.8in 27.8in 3.5in 66.8o 74.1o 1.1in 17.1in 46in
L 17.7in 24.5in 24.2in 17.6in 27.9in 3.9in 66.8o 74.1o 1.1in 17.1in 46.8in
XL 19.3in 25.6in 24.6in 18.6in 28.2in 4.3in 66.8o 74.1o 1.1in 17.1in 48in

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