Not a superbikes wear capes.
When the Hightower arrived back in 2016, it turned the industry on its ear by showcasing just what a big wheel ripper was capable of. Of course, you can never have too much of a good thing and owners were already tweaking away at their HT's in an attempt to eke out a little more travel, making them a bit more composed in enduro arenas. Around that same time, images started circulating showing Santa Cruz enduro racers on special Hightower machines that certainly had different linkages and rear ends. And before we knew it, Santa Cruz had production ready Hightower LT's and enduro racers and aggressive trail riders had a new bike to aspire to own. This version, the Hightower LT Carbon CC X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike offers the increased suspension travel, with its premium CC carbon frame that provides stiffness and lightness that truly shines on all-mountain and enduro trails, and pairs it with SRAM's smooth shifting and rangy X01 Eagle groupset, and plush FOX suspension.
Since the Hightower LT uses the same front triangle as the OG HT, the two bikes share a similar riding experience. Of course the 15 additional millimeters of travel out back and 10 up front, along with the half-degree slacker head and seat tube angles come into play when the trail turns steep, rough, and fast. The slacker geo and increased travel comes curtesy of the all-new rear triangle and a redesigned linkage to handle a longer stroke shock to maintain the well-loved VPP kinematics.
Managing the rear squish duties is a FOX Float Performance Elite DPX shock that's specifically tuned for this latest iteration of VPP suspension that dials in more mid-stroke support for pedaling efficiency and allows the bike to ride higher in its travel so its intended geo numbers can shine and you don't smash a pedal on every rock outcropping. Its wide range of adjustability lets you easily tune the ride that caters to your weight, riding terrain, and style.
The chainstays remarkably only grow 2mm more than the 435mm stays on the Hightower, so you still get the nimbleness and agility on tight trails. The bottom bracket is a mere 1mm taller when static, but once laden with proper sag, the bottom bracket sits even lower than that of the Hightower for better berm blasting madness. It loses its flip chip option and thus its ability to operate with 27.5+ wheels, but that’s a tradeoff that's worthy of its refined, race-ready geometry and the fact that most tires currently lack the resilience that 29ers have when sending it through chunder in the name of weight savings. This bike is intended for much more aggressive riding and racing, and larger 2.8-inch tires at low pressure, while providing heaps of traction, have a certain vague and bouncy quality that is often offsetting to most racers. That said, the bike still clears 29 x 2.5-inch rubber which is still a substantial amount of tire to hug the ground, without feeling squirrely on shale and kitty litter.
Santa Cruz builds this LT up with SRAM's Eagle X01 groupset for its precise shifting, light weight, excellent gear range, and durability. With its 10-50t cassette, you'll get the climbing gear you need for those long stage transfers or just long hours in the woods, with enough top end that you won't spin out on the descents or road sections. When it comes time to scrub speed, the upgraded SRAM Code RSC brakes with 200/180mm rotors front and rear slow you down with the authority of the 4-piston DH brake that it is.
Carbon construction has been a hallmark of Santa Cruz bikes for a while and its dedication with the material really shines on this CC level carbon frame. CC carbon frames are on average 250-280g lighter than their C level counterparts, letting you shed some extra weight while maintaining the same stiffness and durability you've come to expect from Santa Cruz. Years of racing and R&D experience have produced a meticulous method for one-piece carbon layups using unidirectional carbon to reduce excess material in overlapping joints.
This clean construction, done with an internal bladder that presses outwards against the mold while the carbon cures, also incorporates perfect ports for internal cable routing and running dropper posts, so routing is easy and actually a joy to build. Internal cable routing also makes for a bike that's easy to clean and maintain, with the perk of being aesthetically pleasing. In a testament to quality, Santa Cruz stands by its carbon construction with a lifetime warranty on the frame, which extends to the bearings in the linkage, so you can ride with confidence into new and rougher terrain.
- Go faster on aggressive trails with 6in of travel
- Revised VPP linkage and swingarm offers suspension that feels bottomless
- Improved confidence on descents with the slacker HTA
- Excellent stiffness and light weight offered from the CC level carbon
- SRAM's Eagle X01 group offers smooth shifting and wide gearing
- Designed for aggressive riders and racers wanting more travel in a 29er format