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Break up with bob.
There are times when full suspension mountain bikes are a definite necessity, but if your focus is less on enduro pro DH bombing runs and more on speed, then you probably won't miss the 6in of marshmallow suspension Santa Cruz's Highball 29er Carbon CC XTR Complete Mountain Bike forgoes with its hardtail and big-wheeled aggression. One thing you might miss, though, is bobbing up and down on smooth singletrack or steep climbs, and the Highball Carbon CC's hardtail is even more efficient than the heavier, more pedestrian Carbon C model. Say goodbye to Bob, once and for all.
As with its predecessor, the new Highball frame's carbon layup is a single piece instead of a jigsaw puzzle of individually-cured carbon tubes. This allows Santa Cruz to wrap the fibers continuously around structurally important junctures like the head tube and bottom bracket, strengthening the frame, dissipating the force from impacts and pedaling load, and allowing for comparable strength with less material. Translated into trail talk, this means it hits the bricks when you stomp on the pedals, dampens high-speed chatter, and holds lines like a cat on carpet — all with a low weight that makes any full-suspension bike look like a bloated DH slug.
The Highball somewhat addresses the lack of rear suspension with a diminished seatpost, slimmed down to 27.2 millimeters. While this doesn't quite equate to the square-edge hit capabilities of the Nomad or Bronson, it does help to eat up chatter that will otherwise accumulate over the course of a long ride. Up front, the 29-inch model has a sharper head tube angle than the Highball 27.5 so it dances nimbly through switchbacks and technical sections. Although it has longer chainstays than the 27.5 version, The Highball 29er actually has a shorter wheelbase, courtesy of that head tube angle, which contributes to the confident handling when quarters get tight.
For 2016, Santa Cruz is finally building the Highball XTR as a true, all-XTR affair. The previous generation's Race Face crank has been replaced with Shimano's flagship XTR double crankset. While the enduro crowd is falling over themselves to hop on the one-by bandwagon, cyclists who are interested in every aspect of the ride — both up and down — will appreciate the expanded range of gearing options afforded by a double chainring mated to an 11-40t cassette. The rest of the kit remains largely the same in the new model year, including the standout DT Swiss 240 hubs and FOX Racing Shox 32 Float fork.
- Item #SNZ005D
- Q & A
Fast, light, perfect
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Highball's occupy that space in the MTB world that is a bit forgotten. Hardtails are fast and can charge all day. While the lack of rear suspension may scare off people who think they're going to be dropping 15 footers and jumping gaps, most people want a fast, efficient bike. If you like to pedal, this is your bike. Give me a shout directly if you'd like to know more. email@example.com 801-204-4557