I have been anxious to get to ride Santa Cruz’s new Hightower. Dane and I spent an afternoon putting this bike through it’s paces at the legendary trails of Santa Cruz.
While the Hightower can run 29 inch or 27.5 plus wheels, we chose to test it with 29 inch wheels. With 135mm of rear travel, 140mm up front, and a 67 degree head tube angle, the Hightower doesn’t appear to be the most capable bike on paper. However, when you throw a leg over it, you are quickly proven wrong. There’s a reason why this is the bike of choice for Enduro World Series Pro riders Mark Scott, Iago Garay, and Evan Turpen; its a very fast bike.
We rode a medium frame equipped with the XO1 build and Enve M60 wheels. This build includes Sram XO1 1×11 drivetrain, Sram Guide RSC Brakes, 140mm Rockshox Pike RC3, Rockshox Monarch RT3, and a Rockshox Reverb 150mm dropper post.
As is standard with all Santa Cruz bikes, the Hightower features a threaded bottom bracket for a creek free drivetrain. Collet style pivots bolts mean you wont have to worry about anything coming loose. Finally, the internal carbon tubes make internal cable routing easy and keeps everything quiet.
Over the course of our ride I wasn’t able to find the limit of this bike. Rocks and roots were no problem and handling through fast berms was easy. I haven’t ridden too many 29ers but I am starting to find them more and more attractive. Their ability to hold a straight line through technical sections is impressive. Whats more, nothing seems to slow them down.
Overall this bike was extremely impressive. I felt comfortable on this bike from the moment I hopped on it. Handling was easy and it accelerated faster than most 29ers. Its surprisingly capable on technical terrain yet is a blast to ride on more mellow trails. Its ability to swap between 29 and 27.5+ and overall versatility mean this bike can handle nearly anything you throw at it.