A refined fun machine.
Conquer new lines at higher speeds afforded by bigger wheels
with the Enduro World Series-bred Santa Cruz Hightower LT Carbon CC X01 Eagle
Reserve Complete Mountain Bike. Built off of the critically acclaimed
Hightower, the LT ups the ante and adds travel and slack angles to improve the
handling on the most brutal enduro race courses that still pedals with urgency
and is playful in the park when you're not desperately trying to stop the clock
with a quickness.
The original Hightower is a shining example of an
all-arounder whereas the Hightower LT is a little more puffed up and was born
of the needs of Santa Cruz’s Enduro World Series racers, who are about as
gifted as they come and need just a little something extra than the Hightower to
compete on the highest stage. Firstly, the travel got bumped up to 150mm
requiring a new rear triangle and linkage, and in the process forgoes the
Hightower’s 27.5 Plus compatibility. Considering that Plus tires lack the
durability and thus hasn't found acceptance with racers at the sport’s top
levels, we’re inclined to agree that the Hightower LT’s move to a dedicated
29-inch chassis is the correct choice for a bike of this nature. This
dedication to 29-inch wheels also means that the LT does away with the
Hightower’s adjustable geometry, courtesy of a flip chip, in favor of a fixed
position upper link that’s been updated to provide the aggressive feel demanded
by some of the fastest enduro racers on earth.
The LT’s 150mm of travel has been painstakingly refined,
drawing lessons from every aspect of Santa Cruz’s enviable racing organization.
As with all VPP bikes, the LT’s counter-rotating links are carefully arranged
to resist activation by pedaling forces, all but eliminating unwanted bobbing
under power. This being the latest iteration of VPP, it’s tuned to provide more
midstroke support than previous generations of the VPP platform, giving the
rider a better feel for the terrain, and a slightly more get-up-and-go ride
feel. Based on feedback from team riders, the leverage ratio has been altered
slightly, lending more progression at the end of the stroke, for greater
resistance to bottoming. It’s a subtle change that’s easily appreciated at
maximum speed when avoiding hard impacts and flat landings are occasionally out
of the question.
The LT is born and bred for the grueling format of
elite-level enduro racing, and while it’s certainly at home between ribbons of
course tape, that's not the only place where its comfortable. Peeping the
geometry chart reveals frame numbers that are not unlike the original
Hightower, a bike that’s not too extreme, lending to that all-arounder status.
Many 29-inch enduro bikes have head angles that are 1-2 degrees slacker and
wheelbase measurements much rangier than the Hightower LT. By comparison, the
LT retains a lighter steering feel that's more nimble and agile, and one that
feels sportier not just when pushed to its limits.
That isn't to say that the LT can't hang with those bikes
when the terrain turns steep and rough. At 66.4 degrees, the head angle hits a
sweet spot of being relaxed enough to maintain stability at scare yourself
speeds. The chainstays have been lengthened ever-so-slightly to 438mm, which
again adds stability while traversing rutted out trails at terminal velocity.
Even with its ability to comfortably go fast, it doesn’t feel like a pig
everywhere else on the ride.
This Hightower LT is built using Santa Cruz’s top tier CC
carbon fiber construction. By using some of the finest, and strongest, raw
materials available, Santa Cruz is able to make its CC level frames extremely
lightweight while maintaining outstanding impact resistance, exceptional
stiffness, and just the right amount of finely tuned flex to cancel out trail
chatter and allow the bike to track better. Of course, balancing these factors
requires true mastery of carbon fiber, and the design team at Santa Cruz has
proven time and time again that their command of carbon fiber construction is
unsurpassed in the bike industry. The result is a frame that will hold up to
years of hard riding, will provide a comfortable ride, and will do so at a very
Of course, this build of the Hightower LT includes some of
the finest components available. It begins with a worthy suspension package,
courtesy of FOX. The fork is a 36 FLOAT Performance Elite, paired with the FLOAT DPX Performance Elite air shock. This setup
offers a supple—if not superlative—stroke, easy on-the-fly adjustments, and a superior
range of tuning options that allow both savvy suspension tuners and those less
fussy about their setups to achieve exceptional feel with minimum effort.
SRAM’s excellent X01 Eagle 12-speed groupset provides the gear range necessary
to tackle huge rides, while the newly spec'd SRAM Code RSC brakes deliver the
power and modulation necessary for quickly scrubbing speed on technical
sections of trail. The Rockshox Reverb dropper post enables the necessary
on-the-fly saddle height adjustment, while the Santa Cruz carbon fiber
handlebar offers a perfectly tuned balance of stiffness and flex that simply
surpasses many of the best aftermarket carbon fiber handlebars available.
And perhaps most exciting, this version of the LT rolls on
Santa Cruz’s Reserve carbon rims with a massive 30mm internal width, laced to a
DT Swiss 350 hubset. The Reserve rims showcase Santa Cruz’s carbon fiber
expertise, with a highly refined profile and reinforced nipple beads that
nearly eliminate any chance of failure. And should you defy those odds, the
Reserve rims are backed by a no-nonsense lifetime warranty, just like Santa
Cruz’s carbon fiber frames.
- Santa Cruz's EWS inspired ride for speed on tricky trails
- 6in of VPP travel tuned for extra bottom-out resistance
- 74-degree seat tube angle optimizes technical climbing
- A lower CG provides surefooted cornering
- Carbon CC frame saves weight without sacrificing strength
- FOX Performance suspension straddles race day and everyday
- X01 Eagle drivetrain and Santa Cruz Reserve 30 AM Carbon Wheels drop weight and boost durability