Santa Cruz's team riders have been racing enduros on modified Hightowers, a fact that didn't go unnoticed. They tweaked their personal Hightowers to eke out a little more travel, which left the rest of us waiting patiently for Santa Cruz to release the burlier version of this big-wheeled machine. Santa Cruz was able to quickly bring the frame to market by reconfiguring the original Hightower into this long-travel beast. The Hightower LT Carbon 29 R Complete Mountain Bike is the most value-focused build in Santa Cruz's Hightower LT line, but will charge just as hard as any of the pricier models.
Under testing and racing scenarios, Santa Cruz realized that a total redesign wasn't necessary, so the LT uses the Hightower's front triangle. Thankfully, it retains many of the riding characteristics inherent to the original 29in bike. The bike simply blitzes through rough terrain and the low bottom bracket ensures that it rails berms with authority and keeps things cool and confident when you are at your limit. The original 29er Hightower had 135mm of rear travel and came stock with a 140mm fork up front. By contrast, the Hightower LT has 150mm of travel, front and rear. This kicks the head tube angle to a slack 66.4 degrees and it offers a slightly longer wheelbase. Get the new LT on some demanding trails and you'll instantly notice the bigger bike brings an unflappable level of confidence on steep, black diamond descents with hub-deep rock gaps and slippery off-camber roots.
One big difference is that the LT is intended for 29er applications only—gone is the flip chip that switched it to 27.5+. This change makes the Hightower LT a more refined, 29in enduro slayer. To reconfigure the Hightower to LT status, the links and swingarm were redesigned to accommodate the extra travel and longer shock stroke. This preserves Santa Cruz's lauded VPP suspension, offering a firm pedaling platform without wallowing like many long-travel sleds on the market. On the descents, the 150mm of VPP suspension turns the Hightower into a monster that smashes through chunky rock gardens and sails off big jumps like a pro. We hope that you enjoy crushing PR's and stealing KOM's, because with this bike, we damn near guarantee that you will.
Its build kit is competent, value packed, and matches the Hightower LT's aggressive design. Santa Cruz's R build features a 780mm Race Face Aeffect R riser bar and WTB rims with a 29mm internal profile for greater support and larger tires. Maxxis Minion DHRs are a solid spec with awesome braking and driving traction that doesn't impede cornering confidence. The RockShox Revalation fork might not sport all the bells and whistles of the Pike or 36, but it's close, and it's a hell of a jumping off point. The drivetrain gets SRAM NX 1x11 which works great and offers a ton of usable gears so you can sprint to stop the clock and still have plenty of range to head over to the next stage and do it over again.
- Santa Cruz's long-travel 29er is more aggressive than ever
- Designed for the extremes of professional enduro racing
- 6in of VPP travel smooths out chunky runs
- Slacker 66.4-degree head tube for high-speed composure
- New VPP linkage and swingarm focuses on 29in wheels only
- Carbon frame offers high levels of stiffness and strength
- 6in RockShox Revalation fork leads with plush travel
- SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain provides great range