Hightower Carbon CC XTR Reserve Complete Mountain Bike
Sure, we'd all love to have endless garage real estate packed with a steed for just about every ride, but the truth of it is that when we saddle up on bikes like Santa Cruz's new Hightower Carbon CC XTR Reserve Complete Mountain Bike, we're reminded that simplicity isn't so bad either. Simplifying the quiver to a bike that's more than capable of hanging with the big bikes, and powering up punchy climbs with short-travel compadres, the redesigned Hightower aims to streamline your wants and needs into one bike that can handle it all, and do it well. The new generation of Hightower tosses old geometry by the wayside, blowing beyond previous iterations of the Hightower and Hightower LT, and finding a nice spot to hang out just between the Tallboy and the Megatower. It packs in all-new geometry, and stretches further than even the LT before it, plus new lower linkage that lends queues to the Nomad for total downhill stability, while a flip-chip ads flexibility for pedal-heavy days. The result is a powerful trail bike that's capable of holding its own in the rough and rowdy, and racing back up to the top to get another lap of hits.
Throughout Santa Cruz's lineup, the Hightower has long been known as a do-it-all trail bike, capable of backcountry endurance adventures in the Santa Cruz mountains, and fast laps at your local trail network when you need to hammer out as many post-workday miles as possible. It remains as that, but as a more capable bike than before, stretching its reach out a 20mm (on sizes small through large), offering more room in the cockpit to play with, while a more relaxed head tube elevates confidence on the descent. The new head tube angle sits a full 1.5-degrees slacker than the previous Hightower in High mode, and 1.8-degrees slacker in low, stretching things out to power over bigger rocks and chunder than ever before. And while this stretched out cockpit can come at the cost of pedal efficiency, Santa Cruz designers mitigate sluggish climbing by moving the seat tube to a steeper angle, adding an additional 2.3-degrees in low setting, or 2.8-degrees in high. The results are a bike that's steeper and more capable than the LT, and with more pep in its step for tackling steep climbs than the previous Hightower.
The new Hightower amps up travel just a bit with 140mm of VPP suspension in the rear, and 150mm up front. This is combined with a new suspension design that takes cues from the Megatower and Nomad. Instead of relying on the upper-link driven design, the new Hightower enjoys the increased bump compliance, and glued-to-the-trail traction you'll experience from a lower-link mounted shock. This lower-link VPP platform is something that's previously been reserved just for gravity-fueled sleds, but we saw it grace the Bronson last year, stretching it into the enduro category for a feel that can tackle gnarlier steeps, and turn around to soar back up climbs. This means the new Hightower is more downhill capable than before, but without sacrificing it all when you set your quads on fire to earn your descent.
Santa Cruz combines the new lower-link suspension with flip-chip technology for adaptable geometry, so you can slacken things up for park laps with your crew, and steepen things, lifting the bottom bracket, and bringing in the head tube to a steeper angle for taking on all-out endurance backcountry expeditions, where every pedal stroke takes you further from the last cell tower, and you don't turn around until the sun is down, or you're out of water. The switch is easy to make with the turn of an Allen wrench, and changes the geometry quite significantly. The bike comes to you in Low mode, with a head tube angle that sits low and long at 65.2-degrees, perking up to 65.5 in High mode, while the seat tube angle shifts from 76.7 in Low, up to 77.1-degrees in High for a pedal-friendly position that's ready for attacking climbs.
While changes have happened left and right on the Hightower, one thing remains a constant, and that's Santa Cruz's carbon frame construction, with its legendary strength and unwavering stiffness. This particular Hightower benefits from the top-shelf Carbon CC layup, which drops weight, thanks to its use of a higher-end carbon, resin, and manufacturing process that sheds grams without sacrificing an ounce of strength or stiffness. You can count on this lighter Carbon CC version to drop anywhere from 250-to-280-grams below the lower-spec Carbon C model, making it well worth the upgrade if you covet a lighter build.
This build of Hightower combines a finely tuned ensemble of cherry picked components, starting with the upgraded Santa Cruz Reserve 30 wheels, which provide all of the strength and stiffness benefits of carbon hoops, and with a 30mm internal width for hosting lofty trail tires, so you can comfortably float on 2.4 - to - 2.5 - inch wide trail tires for gripping loose corners, and enjoying a bit of pneumatic suspension allotted from the loftier sizes. To bolster additional strength at the spoke face, these Reserve Carbon wheels are reinforced along the spoke nipple interface to prevent them from pulling through at high spoke tensions, and during aggressive riding. These crem-de-la-crem hoops are combined with Shimano's latest-and-greatest 12-speed drivetrain for providing plenty of range on the days that tickle 5-digit ascent numbers, while a Rock Shox Ultimate suspension package cushions the biggest blows on the descents that follow.
- Kill the quiver with the more-capable-than-ever new Hightower
- New geometry stretches beyond its predecessor and Hightower LT
- Lower-link driven VPP improves small bump compliance
- Flip-chip slackens headtube angle from 65.5 degrees to 65.2 degrees
- 5-inches of VPP travel eat up rocks, roots, and log rolls
- Carbon CC frame reduces weight without sacrificing strength, stiffness
- Reserve Carbon Wheels provide telepathic handling and strength
- Shimano's latest and greatest 12-speed drivetrain tackles 5-digit ascents