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Hightower LT Carbon CC X01 Eagle Complete Bike
If big wheels and high speeds are what you're after, the Enduro World Series-bred Santa Cruz Hightower LT Carbon CC X01 Eagle Complete 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 in favor of a fixed position upper link that's been updated to provide the aggressive feel demanded by some of the plane'ts fastest enduro racers.
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 mid-stroke support than previous generations of the VPP platform, giving the rider a better feel for the terrain, and a slightly more energetic ride. 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 most 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 sprightlier 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 eye-watering 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 impressively 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.
This bike is an in-house build we put together with race-worthy components from our inventory. It begins with an admirable suspension package, courtesy of Fox. The fork is a Factory series Float 36 with Fox's most successful damper to date, the GRIP2. We went with 160mm of travel instead of the stock 150mm, giving you a little extra edge for those chunky enduro stages and fall-line descents. It's paired with the FLOAT DPX2 Performance Elite air shock out back with a piggyback reservoir to manage heat build-up on long descents. 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 DH-worthy Code RSC brakes deliver the control and modulation necessary for negotiating technical sections of trail at blinding speed. A reliable Crank Brothers Highline Dropper post, TruVativ carbon cranks, and sturdy e*thirteen aluminum wheels with a modern 30mm internal width round out this bruiser of a bike.
- Enduro World Series inspired ride for control at flat-out speeds
- 6in of VPP travel tuned for extra bottom-out resistance
- Slack and low geometry lends stability without feeling sluggish
- 74-degree seat tube angle optimizes pedaling efficiency
- Carbon CC frame saves weight without sacrificing strength
- ISCG-05 tabs allow you to run a chain guide for racing
- X01 Eagle drivetrain for a wide range with crisp shifting
- 160mm travel Fox Factory 36 GRIP2 fork for exceptional damping and traction
- Item #SNZ00L7