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Large and in charge.
It's no secret that Santa Cruz team riders have been spotted enduro racing on modified 29-inch Hightowers, upgrading to this big-wheeled machine after seeing its freakish ability to carry momentum in a way that's simply not possible on 27.5-inch wheels. Realizing they were onto something after extensive testing, Santa Cruz went to the drawing board to reconfigure the original Hightower into a long-travel beast that's ready to dominate the most difficult enduro courses in the world. This redesign spawned the addition of the Hightower LT Carbon 29 S Complete Mountain Bike into Santa Cruz's line, which is something that's been asked for by aggressive riders seeking a longer-travel alternative to the original Hightower.
Instead of undergoing a drastic redesign, the Hightower LT retains many of the riding characteristics inherent to the original 29-inch bike, namely its ability to roll over anything standing in its path paired with a low-slung geometry that absolutely rails corners and provides instinctive handling when pushed to the limit. Whereas the original had 135-millimeters of travel at the rear and 140-millimeters up front (in 29er form), the Hightower LT has 150-millimeters of travel at the front and rear. In conjunction with a slacker head angle of 66.4 degrees and slightly longer wheelbase, you'll find the Hightower LT brings an unflappable level of confidence to steep descents peppered with minefield-like boulders and massive roots interlaced across the trail.
Since it's purely intended as a 29-inch application, the designers at Santa Cruz eliminated the flip-chip, making it more of a fine-tuned machine for enduro racing without the need for switching it to 27.5+ for trail use. The Hightower LT's links and swingarm are redesigned to accommodate the extra travel, but the front triangle remains the same to retain much of the original Hightower's geometry. As expected, the Hightower LT employs Santa Cruz's lauded VPP suspension, which offers a firm pedaling platform without wallowing like many long-travel sleds on the market. On the descent, the 150-millimeters of VPP suspension turns the Hightower into an absolute beast, gobbling up chunky rock sections and absorbing big hits without flinching.
Its build kit complements the Hightower LT's aggressive design, with Santa Cruz hooking up the "S" package with 780-millimeter Race Face Aeffect R riser bars and E13 TRS wheels for greater support with their 30-millimeter wide profile. Tires are upgraded to burly 2.4-inch Maxxis Minion DHRs, meaning you'll have heaps of traction and greater bump compliance. Instead of the Pike provided on the previous Hightower, you'll find a Fox 36 Performance fork giving the Hightower LT added stiffness to its longer legs. The drivetrain is updated as well, with the previous GX 1x11 upgraded to GX Eagle 1x12 for its larger range of usable gears, which is helpful in getting this brute up steep climbs between timed downhill stages.
- Santa Cruz's long-travel 29er is more aggressive than ever
- Designed for the extremes of professional enduro racing
- 150-millimeters of VPP travel smooths out rough trails
- Slacker 66.4 degree head tube for high-speed composure
- New VPP linkage and swingarm eliminates previous flip-chip
- Carbon C frame offers high levels of stiffness and strength
- FOX 36 Performance fork for stiff tracking over rough terrain
- GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain provides largest 1x gear range
- Item #SNZ00EF
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I've waited a while to give this bike a review so I could be very detailed about my impressions. I bought this bike after riding an enduro style bike. My hope was to make pedaling suck a little less, but still have plenty of travel to play around with. I've now been on a variety of rides and even in a 50 mile technical race. When I was deciding between the LT and the regular Hightower, I asked multiple bike shops their opinions, along with some friends who had ridden both. All of them said that the LT is definitely the way to go. You get so much more for the downhill without compromising the uphill. One even said he couldn't believe Santa Cruz would make a bike so similar to another. All of them said I should get the Hightower LT. I feel like I made the right choice. I was able to get a high quality bike that does everything and I didn't have to spend $9k to get a good ride. I've organized some thoughts into a pros and cons list. Here are my thoughts:
-GX eagle offers you a wide gear range and saves you some money.
-Comes with meaty 2.4 in tires.
-35mm width bars at 787mm makes you feel like you can take on the world.
-Shocks are easy to set up and they can handle anything
-Lifetime warranty on frame and bearings
-Plenty of travel for some good rides
-Pedaling position is comfortable, and the bike isn't a bear to go up hill
-This list could seriously go on for a long time
-Water bottle space is very limited. You need a side entry bottle cage and short bottle or the bottle wont fit in the frame.
-Bike tires can be a bit meaty for longer rides (also a pro).
-Dropper post doesn't like the cold.
-Not all of the cables are internally routed.
Long story short, if you get this bike, you wont be disappointed. The green looks better in person, but I still am not the biggest fan unless it has Kashima shocks. That's just me. Buy this bike and enjoy!
WOW. Best Bike Yet!
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
I built one up from the frame and this is super easy to build! I love that the brakes are NOT internally routed, and that the ports that are internally routed are an entire tube - super easy to install parts!
I've taken this bike out about 5 times so far, all shorter rides as it's December in Utah, but every ride has just gotten better and better on this bike. I came from a Yeti SB4.5c, a bike with less travel but also 3 pounds lighter. I don't even notice the extra weight, I actually have climbed some steep and loose sections on the HTLT that I wasn't able to on the SB4.5c! The real place where it shines is downhill. This thing is a monster truck. I've never EVER ridden a bike where I see a big rock on the trail and just point the bike straight at it and just glide right over. There's a local trail I've ridden about 100 times (Jacob's Ladder, Draper, UT), and yet on this bike the trail is now a new trail - I'm taking lines I've never imagined taking before and with speed. I'm excited for when I am really used to this bike and really start shredding things - I'm so excited for summer!
I'm only 5'4" and female. Many bike companies seem to believe that small humans aren't capable of riding a 29er comfortably, but I'd like to say that they are wrong. I LOVE 29" wheels and I love the way this thing rides! Great job, Santa Cruz!
I did swap the Rock Shox Reverb for a Fox dropper and the SRAM Guide Ultimates for XTR's, I just don't care for either SRAM brakes or SRAM droppers, but that's personal preference. I also do 95% of my own bike maintenance and I prefer the Shimano brakes and cable droppers for ease of bleeding.
Best Bike I've ever ridden
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
The title says it all, I've had a lot of bikes over the years but this one takes the cake. Right out of the box this bike was more capable than anything I've been on before. It's fast, climbs great, fun to jump, it's fast, handled 2 days of brutal enduro racing and oh yea...it's fast.
Spent some time pedaling the original Hightower and was really impressed of how capable it was. I was about to pull the trigger when I caught wind of the LT dropping over the summer, I decided to hold out and was so glad I did. The added travel in the rear makes this Hightower one of the closest bikes to a "quiver killer" that I've had the pleasure of riding. Santa Cruz knocked it out of the park with this one.
Hightower LT is finally here!
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
In early 2016 Santa Cruz released the revolutionary Hightower which quickly became one of their best sellers. The Hightower was versatile and could accept both 29” and 27.5+ wheel configurations. Many people found the 29er version to be a fast, highly capable trail-slayer. Soon there was demand for a more aggressive version of the bike as evidenced by many riders attempt at long-shocking their Hightower’s to get more rear travel (a modification not recommended by Santa Cruz). Enter the new Hightower LT- a bike that heeds the rider’s call for a more aggressive machine. The Hightower LT utilizes a new rear triangle and linkage with the same front triangle, yielding 150mm of travel with a longer wheelbase and slacker geometry. One thing worth noting: the Hightower LT does not accept 27.5+ wheels and tires- it’s 29er only.
I’ve been riding the original Hightower for the past 8 months. That bike has helped make me a faster rider both up and down the mountain not to mention it’s an absolute blast to ride. I enjoy the rolling speed of the 29” wheels and Santa Cruz nailed the geometry with an ideal balance between high-speed stability and nimble handling. When the shiny new Hightower LT showed up at our office I was eager to take it out on my favorite gravity-focused Park City trails. I noticed right away that the new LT was noticeably more composed on high speed sections, rough trails and descents. It provided some extra stability in places where the shorter travel Hightower felt slightly under-gunned, without sacrificing much of the nimble handling. It felt like it climbed almost as well as my Hightower, though you do notice the longer wheelbase.
Nevertheless, this bike is no slouch on the uphills and I have no doubt that it can handle all day cross-country rides involving significant climbing.
It’s worth mentioning the perks of purchasing a Santa Cruz bike. You get a lifetime warranty with free lifetime bearing replacement for the original owner. You also get a threaded bottom bracket which means easier serviceability and reduced creaking compared to PressFit BB’s. The frames have molded tubes for internal cable routing which makes the cable routing process a lot easier, no need to fish for cables inside the frame. Santa Cruz frames are built to last and have held up better for me than other brands. It’s a bike you can ride hard, put away dirty, and not feel bad about it. New for 2018 Santa Cruz is offering their house brand of carbon wheels called Santa Cruz Reserve. They are available on certain builds.
Who is the ideal rider for the Hightower LT? Riders that want a capable 29er all-mountain bike that won’t hold them back when the going gets rough. Riders looking for a bike that is comfortable enough to pedal around all day but won’t shy away from the gnarliest trails. If you are focused on speed and live for the descents this bike could be your best friend. If you do any Enduro racing this bike would be a great choice. Why would you choose something like this over the Bronson or Nomad? Well that would depend on your preference between 29” and 27.5” wheels.
If you have any questions or want to see if this is the right bike for you, call me at 801 736 6396 ext. 4801 or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to answer questions or have a discussion on this bike.