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For those who always want more.
Santa Cruz altered the trail game in 2016 with its Hightower. Riders seeking an aggressive machine with the ability to run 29er or plus wheels clamored to it and were rewarded with a well-mannered, all-around ride. Eventually the bike was pushed through its paces with many riders hitting up enduro races aboard their steeds and while it was still quite capable with 135mm of travel many riders were over forking and over stroking their suspension in an effort to coax out a little more travel, and around this same time Santa Cruz's pro enduro riders were asking the engineers for something just a bit more too. The result was a new rear end and suspension linkage with a slightly longer shock that created the Hightower LT Carbon CC mountain bike frame, and Santa Cruz proves that a touch more travel and slack angles can make a Hightower even more capable. Six inches of supple VPP suspension provides higher speeds and a bigger safety margin over the standard Hightower and if you loathe equipment holding you back, this is your frame.
It appears that 29ers have come in and out of fashion in the past decade, hardly anyone will deny that they are fast, but wheels, tires, and frame geometry weren’t stiff, durable, or quite dialed for the aggressive set. However, now that everything is up to snuff, we're seeing more riders falling victim to that increased rollover ability and opportunity to cover ground quicker that only comes from larger diameter wheels. Enduros are now commonplace for wagon wheels and we're even seeing them on World Cup DH courses. As such, it's no surprise that Santa Cruz followed up the Hightower with a highly specialized 29er built for the world of enduro, and we're confident it’s the shape of things to come. The original Hightower, while still loved for its speed and ability to roll over rocks that would have smaller wheels pinballing off course, was a little under gunned by aggressive riders and now the 150mm Hightower LT should set things straight.
Looking at the geo charts, you'll realize that the Hightower LT doesn't stray too terribly far away from the standard Hightower's number. Make sense as they share the exact same front triangle. Differences do include the 15 additional millimeters of travel and the head and seat tube angles, both of which are half a degree slacker. While increasing the travel is a surefire way to add some speed and confidence into a ride, that's usually only half the story. Both the Hightower and its larger sibling maintains the same dual-upright design as before, but a redesigned linkage and a new swingarm were needed in order to create a leverage ratio that kept the well-loved VPP kinematics present with the new rear shock. The new FOX Float Factory DPX Kashima coated rear shock is paired with the latest iteration of VPP to improve the mid-stroke support, so you have a firm pedaling platform as you pedal between stages or up to the top of your favorite downhill, while preserving a bottomless feel through rock gardens and big drops. FOX's Kashima coating on the Float adds durability and a certain smoothness that’s often duplicated but never replicated.
The chainstays stretch a mere 2mm past the compact 435mm stays on the Hightower, so you won't notice any loss in agility or difficulty punching the bike up and over technical climbs. The BB height sits 1mm higher while static, but once sag is accounted for, the bottom bracket should sit slightly lower than the Hightower allowing the CG to be lower so you can hug corners like never before. Gone is the flip chip that is present on the Hightower and Tallboy as the bike's geometry is dialed for 29-inch wheels exclusively. This shift away from plus compatibility might turn off some would be buyers, however, plus wheels and especially tires currently lack the durability that 29-inch equipment offers when racing over sharp ax heads and since the bike is intended for much more aggressive riding, the vague and bouncy nature of plus tires wouldn't be welcome on the race circuit anyway. That said, the frame still accommodates a generous 2.5in tire, enabling a substantial amount of rubber to keep in contact with the ground from blown out kitty litter to moist loam.
Carbon construction has always been something that Santa Cruz has taken seriously, and it set the bar high with its CC level carbon. CC carbon frames are a full 250-280g lighter than their C level counterparts, so you can shed some extra weight while maintaining the same stiffness and durability you've come to expect from Santa Cruz. Years of experience and trial and error have produced a meticulous method for one-piece carbon layups using unidirectional carbon to reduce excess material in overlapping joints. The front triangle is assembled as one piece together, rather than separate tubes bonded together in a mess of resin as an afterthought.
This clean construction, done with an internal bladder that presses outwards against the mold while the carbon cures, also incorporates perfect ports for internal cable routing and running dropper posts, so routing is easy. Internal cable routing also makes for a bike that's easy to clean and maintain, with the perk of being aesthetically pleasing. In a testament to quality, Santa Cruz stands by its carbon construction with a lifetime warranty on the frame, which extends to the bearings in the linkage, so you can ride with confidence into new and rougher terrain.
- Santa Cruz's ultimate 29er for aggressive trails
- 6in travel maintains higher speeds on rougher trails
- New VPP linkage and swingarm for suspension that feels bottomless
- Slacker 66.4-degree head tube angle inspires confidence on the descents
- CC level carbon for unmatched stiffness and decreased weight
- Designed for enduro racers wanting more travel and progressive geometry
- Item #SNZ00JV
- Q & A
A great all arounder
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
My previous bikes were a SC Nomad and SC Bronson, so I kept it in the family. This bike feels capable as my old Nomad, but carries speed and rolls better due to the 29 inch wheels. Strava doesn't lie and I hit several PRs on my first ride on this bike. Thats said, this is my first 29er and I could feel the added weight of the larger wheels when grinding up steep pitches so I swapped the rear tire from a DHR2 to a better rolling Aggressor tire. This is a great all around bike and i never feel like the trails are too much for my setup.