The Santa Cruz Bronson
was one of my favorite bikes of 2018, but when I was aboard that bike I found myself wondering if a bigger wheeled version would be even better. I'm still wondering, because while the Megatower may look similar to the Bronson, it has a completely different suspension feel – it lacks the ground-hugging plushness that I enjoyed on the Bronson.
Where I live is unofficially called the '"City of Subdued Excitement," and that “subdued excitement” phrase kept popping into my head as a way to describe what I was feeling when I was riding the Megatower. It's a very capable bike, and it can handle everything from bike park laps to enduro race runs without skipping a beat, but it felt like it took more effort to get it to come alive compared to bikes like the Scott Ransom or Yeti SB150.
Like a parent faced with an impatient teenager who wants to borrow the car on a Friday night, the Megatower doesn't just hand over the keys to its speed. It takes some coaxing; this is a bike that rewards pilots, not passengers, riders who are willing to push hard in order to really wake it up. It was easier to get it to wake up in the Whistler Bike Park, where there's no shortage of higher speed trails. In that setting - fast, semi-smooth trails - the Megatower came alive, with lots of support for railing through bermed turns and popping off the lips of jumps.
On slightly flatter, fast sections of trail the Megatower responded very nicely as well, with lots of support to generate speed by pumping through rollers and corners. There was plenty of stability, especially in the longer chainstay setting, and as long as you can hang on for the ride there doesn't seem to be any upper speed limit.
The Megatower has a very progressive leverage curve, but without any spacers installed (the stock configuration) I was bottoming out the RockShox Super Deluxe shock too often for my liking. Adding two volume spacers and running a touch more sag gave me the balance I was looking for, and helped add a little more small bump compliance. However, square-edged hits were still quite noticeable, a sensation I first experienced when I rode the bike down in New Zealand.
I ran the low-speed compression all the way open and tried multiple suspension settings, and even different wheels, but the amount of feedback that passed through the bike and into my hands and feet in rough terrain was greater than I would have expected from a bike with 160mm of travel. I have a feeling this sensation was related to the very progressive suspension curve - it reminded me of what I experienced aboard the YT Capra, another very progressive bike. It's also possible that a lighter compression tune (the Megatower has an MM tune) would have helped, although going that route could potentially make the suspension feel less supportive. Keep in mind that I'm not the heaviest rider out there (a side effect of riding all the time) - bigger riders may have better luck with the Megatower's kinematics.