Conqueror any trail.
Santa Cruz was an early adopter to building 29ers that not necessarily designed for the cross-country race course. That bike was the Tallboy and as more and more aggressive riders took 29ers to more and more demanding trails, an even more capable bike was needed. Thus the Hightower was created adding a bit more travel to pair with the superior rollover ability of bigger wheels causing the rest of the industry to stop and take notice. If you haven't had a chance to experience the ride of big wheels on a trail bike or if you're already one of the initiated and looking for a new trail machine, the Santa Cruz Hightower Carbon 29 R is the perfect opportunity to pick up an excellent do-it-all trail bike, outfitted with SRAM's excellent NX Eagle componentry and powerful Guide T hydraulic brakes. The bike packs 135mm of well-mannered VPP suspension and 140mm of plush travel from the RockShox Revelation RC fork getting you down the trail quickly and confidently.
The Hightower is a 1x specific setup and as such, it allows Santa Cruz to chop down the chainstays for intuitive handling on tight trials and up techy climbs. When gravity brings you back down the hill, the 67-degree head tube angle, added stiffness afforded by the front and rear boost spacing, and the latest version of the excellent VPP suspension platform provides a point and shoot riding style, leveling everything in its sight. Its versatility extends to buff singletrack as well, pedaling along with efficiency and grace that you wouldn't expect from a bike this capable.
The strategically positioned suspension pivot placements on the Hightower affords the linkages to remain out of the way and lets the frame accommodate a reservoir shock and a full-sized water bottle, allowing the bike to tackle enduro races or after work hot laps alike. This machine is equally at home on 6-hour backwood pedal fests one weekend or multiple lifts and shuttles to the top of the mountain the next, so if you're looking for that one bike to rule them all, look no further.
Santa Cruz sets the bar on carbon frame construction, and its top-notch fit and finish are present on this frame too. The Hightower Carbon C is fully constructed from carbon fiber and boasts the same ride quality and durability of Santa Cruz's top-of-the-line Carbon CC frame. However, it packs more value since it's a less costly material, carrying just a little more mass but bringing down the price of admission substantially. Construction methods are identical for the C and the CC classes, and each triangle is built as a whole unit, allowing the engineers to wrap carbon through high-stress junctions avoiding weak points or areas of the frame with less structural integrity. The carbon is compacted from the inside as well, further eliminating excess material build-up and saving more weight over quicker and less precise construction methods.
The Hightower's two triangles are joined by the latest VPP suspension. The lower link now finds a home above the bottom bracket, increasing its ground clearance and reducing the risk that errant trail debris, thrown up by the front tire, will smash into it. The upper link makes the move higher up on the frame as well, improving standover height for smaller pilots, permitting the use of longer dropper posts, and lets riders size up if they want a bike with a longer wheelbase for more stability.
The latest VPP changes aren't limited to just relocated links. The leverage ratio throughout the travel is also tweaked. Santa Cruz explains how the travel of the old suspension curve resembled a "U," whereas the new VPP's curve describes a flattened check mark, which creates less ramping on either end of the arc. On the trail, you'll notice increased compliance off the top and through the mid-stroke, keeping the rubber glued to the trail for more traction and a more comfortable ride. Whether you're hustling to the top of the singletrack or standing to mash over a crux section of trail, the excellent pedaling characteristics are still present and your efforts won't be lost top excessive bob. The FOX Float rear shock offers excellent adjustability and is custom tuned to maximize the performance of the VPP design.
We do prefer the feel of the Hightower in the 29in version offered here, but if you feel like experimenting with the float and increased traction of 27.5+ wheels, the world is your oyster and the bike will accommodate. The increase in grip is hard to ignore and your local terrain and riding style will ultimately dictate what wheel size proves advantageous for your riding. A flip chip that sits at the shock's lower mount and it allows for the geometry shift needed for the slightly smaller diameter wheels. When running 27.5+, Santa Cruz recommends extending the fork 10mm to bring the bike's geometry back to its intended numbers.
- Santa Cruz's capable 29er trail assassin
- Efficient pedaling platform offers 5.3in of VPP travel
- Balanced geometry for all-day pedaling or shuttling alike
- C Carbon construction reduces weight and increases stiffness
- Flip chip allows compatibility with 27.5+ and 29in wheels
- Workhorse drivetrain and suspension packs value and performance
- Santa Cruz brings speed and stability to the trails