Santa Cruz rolls out the Hightower

Complete details, pricing and weights

Santa Cruz once again has a 29er trail bike in its line. The Hightower builds on the pedigree of the Tallboy LT with a host of refinements that make it an entirely new, more versatile machine.

Hightower highlights

  • Longer, lower and slacker than the Tallboy LT
  • 135mm rear travel
  • 1x specific frame design
  • Available in 29er and 27.5+ builds
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket
  • Offered in M, L and XL frame sizes
  • Claimed frame weight with Monarch RT3 shock 5.88lb / 2.68kg
  • Available now

Bringing back the big gun

The hightower has 135mm of rear suspension travel and is compatible with 140-150mm forks:
The hightower has 135mm of rear suspension travel and is compatible with 140-150mm forks:

Santa Cruz rolled out its first long-travel 29er, the Tallboy LT, in the spring of 2012. At the time it was an incredibly capable machine, but the evolution of 29ers, and trail bike geometry in general, left it looking steep in the front and overly long in the rear when compared with some of the recently released 29er trail bikes. Santa Cruz retired the Tallboy LT at the back end of 2015, leaving many riders to wonder what would come next.

The Hightower shares the same 135mm of rear suspension travel as its predecessor, but the geometry and handling is different enough that Santa Cruz opted to give the bike a new name to accompany its more aggressive personality. If you're into numbers, the Hightower's head angle is 2.5 degrees slacker and the chainstays are 15mm shorter than the Tallboy LT. Frame reach has increased considerably across all frame sizes, too. As a result, Santa Cruz won't offer the Hightower in an XXL as it did with the Tallboy LT. The reach of an XL Hightower is approximately 16-18mm longer than an XXL Tallboy LT, depending on the wheel configuration – more on that in a bit. 

The majority of features incorporated into the Hightower follow the same steady progression of refinements Santa Cruz rolled out last year with the redesigned Bronson and 5010. Like these two smaller-wheeled siblings, the Hightower uses a reworked VPP arrangement, with the lower VPP link tucked above and behind the 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell. (Yes, Santa Cruz stays the course with a threaded BB. Thanks, guys!)

The Hightower also features internal cable routing for the rear derailleur, a 148x12mm rear thru axle, and a 31.6mm diameter seat tube to accommodate 150mm dropper seatposts, which comes stock on all complete bikes. Unlike the Tallboy LT, the Hightower is a 1x specific machine.

Big wheels or big rubber – you choose

Geometry changes aren’t the only major difference between the Hightower and the Tallboy LT. The Hightower was designed to be compatible with 29 and 27.5+ wheels. To dial in the geometry, Santa Cruz opted to use an offset chip in the shock mount.

According to Santa Cruz, Hightower riders who wish to dabble with the 27.5+ format at a later date will need to flip the chip to the high position and replace the stock 140mm fork with a 150mm version to preserve the bike’s handling. With a longer fork installed and the chip in the shock flipped the geometry varies ever so slightly between the two wheel sizes. 

The hightower is compatible with 29er and 27.5+ wheels:
The hightower is compatible with 29er and 27.5+ wheels:

Build kits, pricing and weights

Santa Cruz offers the Hightower in three 29er and three 27.5+ builds. The 29er builds with XO1 and XX1 kits are available with an upgrade to ENVE's M60Forty carbon wheels. The Hightower is available in the premium 'CC' carbon as well as the slightly heavier, but more affordable 'C' carbon builds. According to Santa Cruz, there are no plans to develop an alloy version of the Hightower. 

The hightower features a 73mm threaded bottom bracket and is 1x specific : the hightower features a 73mm threaded bottom bracket and is 1x specific
The hightower features a 73mm threaded bottom bracket and is 1x specific : the hightower features a 73mm threaded bottom bracket and is 1x specific

The Hightower is also available as a frame with shock for $2,899 / £2,699 (Australian pricing was not immediately available)

MODELHightower C Hightower C Hightower CC Hightower CC Hightower CC Hightower CC 
KITS AM 27.5+ S AM 29 X01 AM 27.5+X01 AM 29XX1 AM 27.5+XX1 AM 29
MSRP $4,599 / £3,999$4,599 / £3,999$6,499 / £5,349$6,499 / £5,349+ENVE $8,499 / £7,049$7,799 / £5,699$7,799 / £5,699+ENVE $9,799 / £7,399
FRAMECarbon C 27.5+ 135mm travel Carbon C 29 135mm travel Carbon CC 27.5+ 135mm travel Carbon CC 29 135mm travel Carbon CC 27.5+ 135mm travel Carbon CC 29 135mm travel 
SHOCKRockShox Monarch RTRockShox Monarch RTRockShox Monarch RT3RockShox Monarch RT3RockShox Monarch RT3RockShox Monarch RT3
FORKRockShox Pike RC 150RockShox Pike RC 140RockShox Pike RCT3 150RockShox Pike RCT3 140RockShox Pike RCT3 150RockShox Pike RCT3 140
RDSRAM GX 1x11 RDSRAM GX 1x11 RDSRAM X01 Carbon 11sp RDSRAM X01 Carbon 11sp RDSRAM XX1 RD BlackSRAM XX1 RD Black
FD1x only1x only1x only1x only1x only1x only
CHAINGUIDEN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
SHIFTER SRAM GX  11spSRAM GX  11spSRAM X01 Trigger Shifter  BlackSRAM X01 Trigger Shifter  BlackSRAM XX1 Trigger Shifter BlackSRAM XX1 Trigger Shifter Black
BRAKESShimano SLX M675Shimano SLX M675SRAM Guide RSCSRAM Guide RSCSRAM Guide UltimateSRAM Guide Ultimate
ROTORSShimano 66 180mm RotorShimano 66 180mm RotorAvid Centerline Rotor 180mmAvid Centerline Rotor 180mmAvid Centerline Rotor 180mmAvid Centerline Rotor 180mm
CRANKSETRaceface Aeffect SL 30t 175mm w/BBRaceface Aeffect SL 30t 175mm w/BBRaceface Turbine Crank 30t 175mmRaceface Turbine Crank 30t 175mmRaceface Next SL 30t 175mmRaceface Next SL 30t 175mm
CASSETTESRAM XG1150 CS 10-42SRAM XG1150 CS 10-42SRAM XG-1180 Cassette 10-42SRAM XG-1180 Cassette 10-43SRAM XG-1195 Cassette 10-42SRAM XG-1195 Cassette 10-42
CHAINSRAM PC1130SRAM PC1130SRAM PC1130SRAM PC1131SRAM XX1 SRAM XX1 
BARRaceface Ride 35x760 Lo-Rise BarRaceface Ride 35x760 Lo-Rise BarSCB 16 AM Flat Bar Carbon 31.8 x 780SCB 16 AM Flat Bar Carbon 31.8 x 780SCB 16 AM Flat Bar Carbon 31.8 x 780SCB 16 AM Flat Bar Carbon 31.8 x 780
STEMRaceface Turbine Basic 35Raceface Turbine Basic 35Raceface Turbine Basic Stem 31.8x50mmRaceface Turbine Basic Stem 31.8x50mmEaston Haven 31.8x55mm StemEaston Haven 31.8x55mm Stem
GRIPSSanta Cruz Palmdale Grip, BlackSanta Cruz Palmdale Grip, BlackSanta Cruz Palmdale Grip, BlackSanta Cruz Palmdale Grip, BlackSanta Cruz Palmdale Grip, BlackSanta Cruz Palmdale Grip, Black
HEADSETCane Creek 40 IS Tapered HeadsetCane Creek 40 IS Tapered HeadsetCane Creek 40 IS Tapered HeadsetCane Creek 40 IS Tapered HeadsetCane Creek 110 IS Tapered HeadsetCane Creek 110 IS Tapered Headset
SEATPOSTRockShox Reverb Stealth 150mmRockShox Reverb Stealth 150mmRockShox Reverb Stealth 150mmRockShox Reverb Stealth 150mmRockShox Reverb Stealth 150mmRockShox Reverb Stealth 150mm
SADDLEWTB Volt Race SaddleWTB Volt Race SaddleWTB Silverado Team SaddleWTB Silverado Team SaddleWTB Silverado SLT SaddleWTB Silverado SLT Saddle
TIRE, FRONTMaxxis Rekon 27.5x2.8 EXO 3C Tubeless ReadyMaxxis Minion 29x2.3 DHR2 TR 3cMaxxis Rekon 27.5x2.8 EXO 3C Tubeless ReadyMaxxis Minion 29x2.3 DHR2 TR 3cMaxxis Rekon 27.5x2.8 EXO 3C Tubeless ReadyMaxxis Minion 29x2.3 DHR2 TR 3c
TIRE, REARMaxxis Ikon 27.5x2.8 EXO Tubeless ReadyMaxxis Minion 29x2.3 DHR2 TRMaxxis Ikon 27.5x2.8 EXO Tubeless ReadyMaxxis Minion 29x2.3 DHR2 TRMaxxis Ikon 27.5x2.8 EXO Tubeless ReadyMaxxis Minion 29x2.3 DHR2 TR
TUBES/SEALANTStans Sealant 2ozStans Sealant 2ozStans Sealant 2ozStans Sealant 2ozStans Sealant 2ozStans Sealant 2oz
FRONT HUBSRAM MTH 716 15X110 Torque CapSRAM MTH 716 15X110 Torque CapDT 350 15/110mm 28H Torque CapDT 350 15/110mm 28H Torque CapIndustry Nine 15/110mm 28HIndustry Nine 15/110mm 28H Torque Cap
REAR HUBSRAM MTH 746 148x12 SRAM MTH 746 148x12 DT 350 148x12 28h Rear hub XDDT 350 148x12 28h Rear hub XDIndustry Nine 148x12 28h Rear hub XDIndustry Nine 148x12 28h Rear hub XD
RIMEaston AR 40 27.5" Rim 32hEaston AR 27 29" 32H Easton ARC 40 27.5" 28HEaston ARC 27 29" 28H / ENVE M60FortyEaston ARC 40 27.5" 28HEaston ARC 27 29" 28H / ENVE M60Forty
SPOKESDT ChampionDT ChampionDT CompetitionDT CompetitionDT CompetitionDT Competition
WEIGHT (Size L)13,460g / 29.67lb13,489g / 29.73lb12,686g / 27.96 lb12,721g / 28.05lb | ENVE 12,573g / 27.72 lb12,330g / 27.18lb12,365g / 27.26lb | ENVE 12,217g / 26.93lb

So how does it ride?

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I spent four days riding the Hightower while testing out a new stage race format in the Aysén region of southern Chile. It wasn't quite an enduro, but it was certainly more than your standard cross-country event. Stay tuned for the full review. 

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