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A refined fun machine.
Conquer new lines at higher speeds afforded by bigger wheels with the Enduro World Series-bred Santa Cruz Hightower LT Carbon CC X01 Eagle Reserve Complete Mountain Bike. Built off of the critically acclaimed Hightower, the LT ups the ante and adds travel and slack angles to improve the handling on the most brutal enduro race courses that still pedals with urgency and is playful in the park when you're not desperately trying to stop the clock with a quickness.
The original Hightower is a shining example of an all-arounder whereas the Hightower LT is a little more puffed up and was born of the needs of Santa Cruz’s Enduro World Series racers, who are about as gifted as they come and need just a little something extra than the Hightower to compete on the highest stage. Firstly, the travel got bumped up to 150mm requiring a new rear triangle and linkage, and in the process forgoes the Hightower’s 27.5 Plus compatibility. Considering that Plus tires lack the durability and thus hasn't found 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 get-up-and-go 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 are occasionally out of the question.
The LT is born and bred for the grueling format of elite-level enduro racing, and while it’s certainly at home between ribbons of course tape, that's not the only place where its comfortable. Peeping the geometry chart reveals frame numbers that are not unlike the original Hightower, a bike that’s not too extreme, lending to that all-arounder status. Many 29-inch enduro bikes have head angles that are 1-2 degrees slacker and wheelbase measurements much rangier than the Hightower LT. By comparison, the LT retains a lighter steering feel that's more nimble and agile, and one that feels sportier not just when pushed to its limits.
That isn't to say that the LT can't hang with those bikes when the terrain turns steep and rough. At 66.4 degrees, the head angle hits a sweet spot of being relaxed enough to maintain stability at scare yourself speeds. The chainstays have been lengthened ever-so-slightly to 438mm, which again adds stability while traversing rutted out trails at terminal velocity. Even with its ability to comfortably go fast, it doesn’t feel like a pig everywhere else on the ride.
This 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 and allow the bike to track better. 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 of FOX. The fork is a 36 FLOAT FIT4 Factory unit complete with Kashima coating, paired with the FLOAT DPX 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 minimum effort. SRAM’s excellent X01 Eagle 12-speed groupset provides the gear range necessary to tackle huge rides, while the newly spec'd SRAM Code RSC brakes deliver the power and modulation necessary for quickly scrubbing speed on technical sections of trail. 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 with a massive 30mm internal width, 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.
- Santa Cruz's EWS inspired ride for speed on tricky trails
- 6in of VPP travel tuned for extra bottom-out resistance
- 74-degree seat tube angle optimizes technical climbing
- A lower CG provides surefooted cornering
- Carbon CC frame saves weight without sacrificing strength
- X01 Eagle drivetrain and Santa Cruz Reserve 30 AM Carbon Wheels drop weight and boost durability
- Item #SNZ00I5
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I came from the Hightower of 2017 to the Hightower LT as soon as it was available, and stuck with it to the new choco milk brown of 2019. The LT was sought after long before it was released with tons of folks attempting to long-shock the regular hightower with hopes of adding some more travel to an already capable bike. Once the LT dropped I was much too excited to ride it. I would consider this one of the most capable and versatile bikes out there.
I am surprised with the climbing capabilities, and after getting my saddle, stem and bar position set, I feel this can tackle the steepest and most technical climbs with ease. Although not as efficient as a more XC oriented bike, I dont feel I lose out on much at all when it comes to riding with my XC friends. The X01 drivetrain is smooth like butter. I am a true believer!
The downs is where this tends to shine bright. Not only do the 29 inch wheels have an amazing rolling capability - they simply eat up everything and feel as if you add another 10mm of travel - but with longer travel (hence the LT) the suspension eats up the rest. This is a real pointer and can handle the meatiest of the descents!!! The reserve build is the cream of the crop! If you haven't seen Danny MacAskill shred the reserve wheels you MUST! Youtube it! They are absolutely bulletproof and handle like a dream. Light, stiff in all the right places, and smoooooth.
I am too happy with this ride and would recommend this bike to anyone.