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Hightower Carbon CC 29 XX1 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike
The Hightower Carbon CC 29 XX1 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike - 2018 might be the most capable bike in Santa Cruz's lineup in terms of exceling on all types of terrain. Boasting plush and efficient suspension, the Hightower confidently handles sketchy descents and then happily pedals back to the top. When the trails are not so intense, the Hightower is right at home cruising buff singletrack due to its balanced geometry. With geometry and travel right in the sweet spot for an aggressive trail bike, the Hightower does have one side effect: ear-to-ear grins while pedaling back to the car after riding almost any trail—though that’s less of a side effect and more a symptom of a successful all-rounder.
Suspension duties are handled by 5.3in of smooth yet efficient VPP travel. Santa Cruz has two different VPP iterations: the gravity-inspired lower-link, featured on the Nomad and V10, and the all-mountain upper-link, found on the Hightower. The upper-link mounted VPP design is known for snappy handling. You'll find yourself rocketing out of berms and popping off every rock in sight. The counter-rotating links provide a high degree of anti-squat to minimize suspension bob and provide a firm pedaling platform. This helps the bike pedal efficiently when you're sitting and spinning but also when you're out of the saddle mashing up a climb. When the trail transitions from a climb to a descent, the middle of the travel is linear to ensure maximum bump absorption. If that descent has some nasty square-edged hits, a progressive end stroke is there to prevent harsh bottom outs.
The Hightower sports 29in wheels which roll fast and hold their momentum well, especially through successive obstacles, keeping you from getting hung up in technical terrain. This separates the Hightower from Santa Cruz's 27.5in offerings such as the 5010 or the more appropriate comparison, the Bronson. The bigger 29in wheels are speed-focused and help you cover ground quickly, smoothing out terrain along the way. Elements of modern frame geometry—such as low standover and a low-slung top tube—help compensate for the larger wheel size, keeping the handling responsive enough to navigate tight switchbacks and snake through narrow trees.
Santa Cruz incorporates elements of modern geometry throughout the Hightower, striking a nice balance between high speed stability and nimble handling. The moderately slack 67-degree head tube angle is stable at speed and on steep descents but not too slack to cause the front end to wander on climbs. Climbing abilities are further enhanced by the 74.3-degree seat tube angle, which puts you in a comfortable position for gaining some vert. Of course, the Hightower is not just about climbing. When it’s time to descend, the 17.1in chainstays are short but not too short, letting you rail tight berms but also giving you the stability to take the straight line through chunky rock gardens. As mentioned above, a low bottom bracket and short standover height do a good job hiding the wheel size, helping you feel more inside the bike rather than on top of it—which is great for overall handling on 29er trail bikes. The reach and wheelbase also find a nice middle ground, further contributing to the balanced handling. Bottom line: this bike rips on challenging terrain but doesn't feel sluggish on tame singletrack. Kudos to you, Santa Cruz.
The frame is constructed from top-of-the line CC carbon in an exclusive manufacturing facility. Santa Cruz founded this facility to ensure proper quality control and to protect the advanced carbon layup techniques they developed. A one-piece layup is used to eliminate overlapping joints, meaning less material is required because there is no need to bond or wrap those joints. This sheds unnecessary weight. Carbon is wrapped seamlessly between tubes for better distribution of loads and impact energy, resulting in a stronger frame. The layup also allows them to integrate full length carbon tubes for internal cable routing. Routing your cables is simple and quick, no need to fish for cable or use a guide line. Another benefit of Santa Cruz’s layup is that they can achieve maximum compaction of the carbon layers. This prevents resin migration, resulting in a strong frame that is almost as smooth on the inside as it is on the outside. Frame clearance allows for 29 x 2.4 to 2.5in tires. The frame is backed by a lifetime warranty to the original owner and includes pivot bearing replacement.
This build comes with revered Fox Factory suspension. Fox's top-of-the-line offering includes a low friction Kashima coating, top level damping, and low weight. Shifting duties are handled by SRAM’s flagship XX1 Eagle drivetrain. The 1x12 drivetrain has a wide gear range with a 50t bailout gear, which has proven useful on grueling climbs with false summits (read: Puke Hill here in the Wasatch). You can expect precise shifting, reliability, and durability from the drivetrain for smooth, worry-free accelerations. To keep that momentum in check Santa Cruz specs Guide Ultimate brakes. They modulate well and have plenty of stopping power. The brake levers are carbon, which resists breaking during a crash and won’t bend, unlike aluminum levers. Carbon levers don't get cold or hot in extreme temps, which may sound trivial, but it makes for happy fingers in those conditions. The hubs are US-made Industry 9 Torch with uber-quick 3-degree engagement. This gives you a near instant pedal response when ratcheting through slow speed tech. The hub shell is beautifully machined and anodized to prevent oxidation or corrosion.
- Aggressive trail bike for big days on challenging terrain
- 5.3in VPP travel soaks up rough stuff yet pedals efficiently
- Balanced geometry is fast but not sluggish on tight trails
- 29in wheels roll fast and float over obstacles
- Carbon CC construction reduces weight and maintains strength
- Top-of-the-line Fox suspension is light with superior handling
- XX1 Eagle drivetrain offers precise, reliable shifting
- Santa Cruz Bicycles is known for rugged reliability, backed by lifetime warranty on frame
- Item #SNZ00EA