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Ain't no tower high enough.
Santa Cruz blessed us with the Hightower early on in 2016. A bike to rival the Bronson, though with less travel, the 27.5+ compatible 29er captured the hearts of many riders. So, why change it? Because, while quite capable with 135mm of travel, the designers for Santa Cruz, and many of their pro riders, live life with the belief that more of a good thing is probably better. With their new Hightower LT Carbon CC mountain bike frame, Santa Cruz has shown us that more can indeed be better. Six inches of supple VPP suspension gives you the squish you were missing from the standard Hightower, so you're ready to gobble up rock gardens and race down mountains like nobody's business.
The industry has viewed 29ers with a mixture of love and hate over the past decade, but recently, with more reliable, stable, and confidence inspiring bikes being released with 29in wheels, we're finding that more riders are growing to love the lower rolling resistance and ability to cover more ground with each pedal stroke. That's especially evident in all-mountain and enduro circles. Given that changing preference, we weren't surprised that Santa Cruz followed up the XC-hungry Tallboy with the Hightower, effectively ushering 29ers into the world of enduro, and we're stoked to see the addition of a long travel 29er to the menu. While the Hightower was well loved for its increased rolling speed and ability to roll over rocks that would have deflected you off of the trail on a smaller wheel, some of the gnarlier riders found that its 135mm of suspension wasn't enough to keep up high speed in super rough terrain, thus the 150mm Hightower LT was born.
The Hightower LT doesn't stray terribly far from the standard Hightower in overall geometry. In fact, they share the same front triangle all together. The key changes are those 15 additional millimeters of travel and the head and seat tubes, both of which are half a degree slacker. While increasing the travel is a relatively obvious way to change the way a bike rides, the most significant difference between the Hightower and the Hightower LT's geometry is seen in the rear triangle. It maintains the same dual-upright design as before, but saw a redesign in the linkage and a new swingarm, which proved to be necessary in order to keep the well-loved VPP characteristics present with the new rear shock. The new FOX Float Factory DPX Kashima coated rear shock is paired with the most up to date iteration of VPP to dial in more mid-stroke support, so you don't have to worry about sinking through all of your travel too quickly when sending it down rock gardens or big drops. FOX's kashima coating on the Float lends itself to unmatched smoothness as you (ahem) float through your travel without jolts and harsh snags.
The chainstays received a miniscule 2mm stretch beyond the compact 435mm stays on the Hightower, so you won't have to worry about increased difficulty and strain on technical climbs full of big power moves. At 1mm higher when unloaded, the bottom bracket did see a small lift, but once sagged-out, the bottom bracket should sit even with or slightly lower than the bottom bracket of the Hightower. The flip chip present on the Hightower and Tallboy is lost on the LT, since the bike is intended to stay in race-ready geometry at all times and it's no longer built for 27.5+ wheels. While the shift away from plus compatibility may be alarming to some riders, plus wheels and tires currently lack the resilience that 29ers have when sending it through chunder, and Santa Cruz saw this flaw. Since the bike is intended for much more aggressive riding, it's critical to know that your tire won't burp under you if you need to hit a drop to flat. With that said, the bike is still able to roll with up to a generous 2.5in tire, enabling a substantial amount of rubber to keep contact to the ground, so you don't need to worry about getting squirly on shale and blown out corners.
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 learned 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 enduro schralping
- 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 feels bombproof on descents
- CC level carbon for unmatched stiffness and decreased weight
- Designed for extreme riders who need more travel from their 29er enduro beast
- Item #SNZ00FI
- Q & A
Awesome bike, and easy to build!
- 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.
Control at Mach Speeds
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I made a big jump when this bike came out and put my 5010 up for sale. I spent 3 years on a 5010 and decided I wanted to try both bigger wheels and bigger travel. I haven't looked back since. This bike is so much fun and ridiculously fast. I'll admit, it climbs slower than the 5010. But it is far and away more fun, more stable, and much faster once your point it downhill. I built this with a Lyric 160 and some bombproof industry nine wheels and feel that I could take on anything. So far I've ridden this all over Park City, St. George, and Moab, including down the Whole Enchilada, and have had nothing but smiles. The DPX shock has been great and the bike has handled with relative ease, and amazing composure, anything I've thrown at it.
This bike is really quite fast. It is at home at in the air, in the corners, and blasting through chunder. I absolutely love it. I was on the fence between this and the Yeti Sb5.5. The 5.5 was a smaller (cockpit) bike and it felt more nimble in the corners, but at speed the hightower LT seems more stable. Both are great bikes, but I definitely feel like I made the right choice.
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.