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If big wheels and high speeds are what you’re after, the Enduro World Series-bred Santa Cruz Hightower LT CC X01 Reserve complete mountain bike is a truly worthy steed. Building on the legacy of the critically acclaimed Hightower, the longer travel Hightower LT blends the handling required to be competitive come race day with a playful side that remains inspiring when conditions are somewhat less demanding.
Where the Hightower could be rightly considered an exercise in versatility, the Hightower LT takes a somewhat more focused approach. After all, the LT was born of the needs of Santa Cruz’s Enduro World Series racers, who are perhaps uniquely qualified to push even the supremely capable Hightower outside of its comfort zone. The first ask was more travel, bumping the LT up to 150mm. This necessitated a few changes, most notably in the rear triangle, which forgoes the Hightower’s 27.5 Plus compatibility. Considering that Plus tires have yet to find 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 energetic 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 is occasionally out of the question.
The LT is born and bred for the grueling format of elite-level enduro racing, but while it’s certainly at home between ribbons of course tape, its far from a one-trick-pony. Looking at the geometry chart reveals a machine that’s very similar to the original Hightower, a bike that’s been praised for its restraint in the face of the trend toward extreme geometry. Plenty of 29 inch enduro bikes push head angles and wheelbase measurements much farther than the Hightower LT. By comparison, the LT retains a lighter steering feel that makes for quicker turn initiation, and an overall spritelier feel than some other bikes in its category.
That said, the LT is certainly not scared when the terrain turns steep and rough. At 66.4 degrees, the head angle is relaxed enough to maintain stability at eyewatering velocity. The chainstays have been lengthened ever-so-slightly to 438mm, which lends a more relaxed demeanor and applies slightly more pressure to the front wheel, further enhancing the LT’s balanced feel. This is a machine that will encourage you to push the envelope, but it won’t punish you for riding at a less than world class pace.
The 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. 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 competitive weight.
Of course, this build of the Hightower LT includes some of the finest components available. It begins with a worthy suspension package, courtesy Fox. The fork is a 36 FLOAT FIT4 Performance Elite unit, paired with the FLOAT DPX2 Performance Elite air shock. This setup offers an incredibly supple 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 a minimum of effort. SRAM’s phenomenal X01 Eagle 12 speed groupset provides the gear range necessary to tackle huge rides, while the Guide RSC brakes deliver the control and modulation necessary for negotiating technical sections of trail at blinding speed. 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, 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.
- Enduro World Series inspired ride for control at flat-out speeds
- 6in VPP travel tuned for extra bottom-out resistance
- 74-degree seat tube angle optimizes pedaling efficiency
- Longer reach shifts weight forward for better traction
- Carbon CC frame saves weight without sacrificing strength
- X01 Eagle drivetrain and Santa Cruz Reserve 30 AM Carbon Wheels
- Item #SNZ00EI
- Q & A
Can I Just Say...WOW
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
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.
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 email@example.com. I’m happy to answer questions or have a discussion on this bike.