Large and in charge.
It's no secret that Santa Cruz team riders have been spotted enduro racing on modified 29-inch Hightowers, upgrading to this big-wheeled machine after seeing its freakish ability to carry momentum in a way that's simply not possible on 27.5-inch wheels. Realizing they were onto something after extensive testing, Santa Cruz went to the drawing board to reconfigure the original Hightower into a long-travel beast that's ready to dominate the most difficult enduro courses in the world. This redesign spawned the addition of the Hightower LT Carbon 29 S Complete Mountain Bike into Santa Cruz's line, which is something that's been asked for by aggressive riders seeking a longer-travel alternative to the original Hightower.
Instead of undergoing a drastic redesign, the Hightower LT retains many of the riding characteristics inherent to the original 29-inch bike, namely its ability to roll over anything standing in its path paired with a low-slung geometry that absolutely rails corners and provides instinctive handling when pushed to the limit. Whereas the original had 135-millimeters of travel at the rear and 140-millimeters up front (in 29er form), the Hightower LT has 150-millimeters of travel at the front and rear. In conjunction with a slacker head angle of 66.4 degrees and slightly longer wheelbase, you'll find the Hightower LT brings an unflappable level of confidence to steep descents peppered with minefield-like boulders and massive roots interlaced across the trail.
Since it's purely intended as a 29-inch application, the designers at Santa Cruz eliminated the flip-chip, making it more of a fine-tuned machine for enduro racing without the need for switching it to 27.5+ for trail use. The Hightower LT's links and swingarm are redesigned to accommodate the extra travel, but the front triangle remains the same to retain much of the original Hightower's geometry. As expected, the Hightower LT employs Santa Cruz's lauded VPP suspension, which offers a firm pedaling platform without wallowing like many long-travel sleds on the market. On the descent, the 150-millimeters of VPP suspension turns the Hightower into an absolute beast, gobbling up chunky rock sections and absorbing big hits without flinching.
Its build kit complements the Hightower LT's aggressive design, with Santa Cruz hooking up the "S" package with 780-millimeter Race Face Aeffect R riser bars and E13 TRS wheels for greater support with their 30-millimeter wide profile. Tires are upgraded to burly 2.4-inch Maxxis Minion DHRs, meaning you'll have heaps of traction and greater bump compliance. Instead of the Pike provided on the previous Hightower, you'll find a Fox 36 Performance fork giving the Hightower LT added stiffness to its longer legs. The drivetrain is updated as well, with the previous GX 1x11 upgraded to GX Eagle 1x12 for its larger range of usable gears, which is helpful in getting this brute up steep climbs between timed downhill stages.
- Santa Cruz's long-travel 29er is more aggressive than ever
- Designed for the extremes of professional enduro racing
- 150-millimeters of VPP travel smooths out rough trails
- Slacker 66.4 degree head tube for high-speed composure
- New VPP linkage and swingarm eliminates previous flip-chip
- Carbon C frame offers high levels of stiffness and strength
- FOX 36 Performance fork for stiff tracking over rough terrain
- GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain provides largest 1x gear range