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While your friends risk strained biceps and broken quads just to get their huge travel rigs into the bike rack, you'll be darting ahead, light and carefree on the 2017 Santa Cruz Highball Carbon 29 R2 Complete Mountain Bike. Featuring an elongated top tube, stable wheelbase, and aggressive stance the Highball is prepared to tackle terrain that would send most other hardtails running for cover. The R2 build kits up with Shimano's workhorse SLX drivetrain, Level T hydraulic brakes, and WTB wheels to deftly navigate the trail.
Despite a new paint job, the latest frame is still the same rebellious answer to the slacked out, super cush enduro trend dominating the glossies as of late. To accommodate its big wheels, the Highball 29's chainstays register at a hair under 17 inches, but a steep head tube brings the wheelbase to over a half-inch shorter than the smaller-wheeled Highball 27.5.
The Highball 29 is nimble enough to gently pick through trail furniture, digs in through berms, and still shines brightest when opening up the throttle. The 12 x 142mm rear axle is the stiff rear triangle's best friend, ensuring that every possible watt goes straight into the trail, and the slimmed-down 27.2mm seatpost helps to alleviate chatter from the countless more miles of hardpack you'll be able to cover compared to the hulking six-inch sleds your buddies are on.
Santa Cruz uses a lower modulus carbon for Highball Carbon C frame than that used in the top-end Carbon CC models, so more material is required to achieve the same stiffness and durability. The tradeoff is that those few grams also come with a big decrease in cost. The whole frame is a single layup instead of a jigsaw puzzle of individually-cured carbon tubes, so the fibers wrap continuously through structurally important junctures like the head tube and bottom bracket. This strengthens the frame by dissipating the force from impacts, and also more efficiently channels pedal input.
- A responsive XC endurance hardtail
- Short wheelbase for precise handling
- Steep front end stays on point while climbing
- 29in wheels handle obstacles with ease
- Santa Cruz Bicycles' more affordable Carbon C construction
- Shimano's SLX drivetrain provides a wide gear range
- Item #SNZ00AY