Santa Cruz Hightower LT - First Ride

Jul 6, 2017
by Mike Kazimer  



Santa Cruz released the Hightower early in 2016, a versatile trail bike with 135mm of rear travel that could be configured to run either 29” or 27.5+ wheels. It was well received in its stock configuration, but it wasn't long before someone figured out that it was possible to eke out even more travel from the rear end by running a different length shock, and images began appearing of riders who'd modified their Hightowers to turn them into even more formidable machines. Of course, this wasn't a practice endorsed by Santa Cruz, but it did show that there was a demand for a longer travel Hightower, one that would be better suited for enduro races and more aggressive riding.
Santa Cruz Hightower LT Details

• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Wheel size: 29"
• Rear wheel travel: 150mm
• 66.4º head angle
• Full carbon frame, C or CC options
• Boost hub spacing
• Size: S, M, L, XL, XXL
• Colors: Wicklow green, slate and grey
• MSRP: $3949 - $9249 USD (shown)
• Weight: 29 lb / 13.15kg (size large)
www.santacruzbicycles.com

That demand has been answered, and the result is the new Hightower LT. Designed specifically for 29” wheels, the Hightower LT has 150mm of rear travel and a burlier build kit than the original version. The front triangle remains the same, but the swingarm and upper shock link are new, created to accommodate the additional 15mm of rear travel.

The base model Hightower LT C R retails for $3,949 USD, a price that gets you a SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain, a 150mm RockShox Revelation, and a Fox Float DPS shock. At the other end of the scale sits the Hightower LT CC XX1 Reserve featured here, which receives a 150mm Fox Float 36 Factory, a DPX2 shock, a 12-speed SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain, and Santa Cruz's new carbon wheels, a high end build that will lighten your wallet by $9,299 USD.


Santa Cruz Hightower LT
Santa Cruz Hightower

Frame Design

If you're familiar at all with the original Hightower, the LT version will look nearly identical, and for good reason – the front triangle is the same, and the basic design of the VPP suspension layout remains unchanged. What's different is that the shock link now only has one position, rather than the high and low settings found on the original, and the swingarm now uses a post mount design for the brake caliper, rather than previous IS mount configuration.

Other than those changes, the Hightower LT has all of the well-thought out details that Santa Cruz has come to be known for – a threaded bottom bracket, clean cable routing, ISCG mountain tabs, and frame protection on the chainstays and downtube. There's also room to run a standard sized water bottle inside the front triangle, even with the reservoir-style DPX2 shock. It's a tight fit, but it works.


Santa Cruz Hightower LT
There's just enough room to fit a regular-sized water bottle without it contacting the shock.
Santa Cruz Hightower
The swingarm now uses a post mount brake caliper.



Hightower LT geometry


Geometry

More than anything it's the addition of a 150mm fork that changed the Hightower LT's geometry when compared to the original set up with a 140mm fork. That spec change slackens the head angle by .6° to 66.4°, and puts the seat angle at 73.7°. The chainstay length has also grown ever-so-slightly, up to 438mm from 435mm.



Santa Cruz
COYHAIQUE PATAGONIA CHILE - 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin
The Hightower LT on the left, and the standard Hightower on the right.







Adding more travel to an existing bike model doesn't necessarily make it better, but in the case of the Hightower LT, I haven't been able to find any downsides to that extra 15 millimeters of squish. The LT feels just as quick out of the gate as its shorter travel sibling, but when gravity takes over the slightly more relaxed geometry and extra travel makes it even easier to maintain speed through really rough sections of trail.

While the original Hightower was close, the LT version truly is a big-wheeled version of the Bronson, with the same impressive capabilities out on the trail. It's an extremely easy bike to get along with — from the moment I swung a leg over it I felt at home, thanks to the very balanced, neutral handling. There are longer, slacker, and even stiffer bikes out there, but part of what makes the Hightower LT so fun is that it's not a demanding bike to ride. Sure, it feels best at higher speeds, but that doesn't mean you need to have pro-level skills to enjoy the Hightower's performance.

When it comes time to climb, the Fox DPX2's three position lever is easy to reach, although I only really used the first two settings — the Hightower LT's suspension design is efficient enough that even on smooth logging roads the middle compression setting offers plenty of support. Out of the saddle pedaling does little to alter the bike's composure, and there's no unwanted suspension bob, only crisp acceleration. I do think that the seat angle could stand to be a bit steeper, although I was able to find a comfortable climbing position by scooting the seat forward. The Hightower LT's reach numbers aren't wildly long, which makes a steep seat angle a little less of a necessity.

The aforementioned Fox DPX2 felt extremely well matched to the Hightower LT, providing a more supple ride than the RockShox Monarch RT3 did on the original Hightower. This helps to create a bike with trail manners that are both energetic and composed, traits that make it possible to plow right down the fall line, but also pop up and over obstacles in the blink of an eye. Big hits are met with a well-controlled ramp up, and there aren't any harsh surprises even when all of the travel is used.


Who is the Hightower LT for?

We're starting to see a split emerge when it comes to longer travel 29ers, one that's due more to geometry numbers rather than outright suspension travel. On one side you have slacker, more steep-terrain-specific bikes like the Trek Slash, and on the other side sit bikes that are a little more well-rounded, ones that won't make you regret your decision if you decide to embark on a long mission with plenty of climbing and descending – Yeti's SB 5.5 comes to mind.

Where does the Hightower LT fall? I'd place it smack dab in the middle of the rugged all-rounder category – this is a bike that doesn't necessarily need to be fed a steady diet of steep, rowdy terrain to remain happy, although when the time comes to dive into the rough stuff it doesn't miss a beat. It's less of a specialist and more of a jack-of-all-trades, a versatile, extremely competent companion for just about every kind of riding, whether that's racing the Downieville Classic, on the EWS circuit, or just cruising around on your local singletrack. It has all of the ingredients that made the Hightower so popular in the first place, but with a little bit more awesomeness baked in, a recipe that makes for an even more enjoyable time out on the trails.










337 Comments

  • + 152
 sorry wallet
  • + 5
 shut up and take my money...now!!
  • + 115
 I would definitely choose this over the new Nomad 4
  • + 71
 I wouldn't. But that's what's great about bikes right now. Many options for many riders. @jaame:
  • + 9
 @gonecoastal: great point! If I was in the market, I would buy a Trek Slash to be honest!
  • + 3
 Solid choice. I was between the Slash 9.9 and a Geometron. I've ridden the Slash though(might've changed my mind had I rode the larger size Slash as well. Oh well)
The Nomad4 came along too late. Couldn't stomach a SB5.5 or Wreckoning with aftermarket shock @jaame:
  • + 26
 Come on, it's cheap compared to Intense!
  • + 25
 @jaame: agreed. I doubt most riders really riding style would warrant a Nomad 4 for everyday riding but I'm 40 so wtf do I know.
  • + 25
 @Longtravel: u know more probably than the vast majority that actually make themselves believe they need all travel and slackness.. Rode the slash, Hightower and 5.5c...Ended up with a fuel ex 9.9 and tossed a 140mm pike on. Capable of 90% of what these other steeds are only more nimble and light footed on the ups..
  • + 20
 @jaame: What you're saying is actually bringing up an interesting point... Are these bikes narrowing the consumer market for pure enduro bikes? Not too long ago the manufacturers were pushing the enduro category as the everyman's downhill bike that can pedal up... Yet now those same boys are pushing the middle ground bikes in the same manner as an everyman's enduro bike... Just my observation... but will it come to a point when the Nomads and Reigns of the world are the reserve of the pro racer's only? If anything such a market would be even narrower than the downhill category? With DH you never factor climbing in at all, but what the point of owning a bike that can't party like a DH but can't climb either?

Are we reaching the mountain bike singularity with bikes like the new Hightower?
  • + 1
 @EnduroManiac: how true.
  • + 1
 @longtravel @bohns1: I ride a Surface as an everyday bike. Some squish in the rear wouldn't be bad at time.
  • + 14
 Sorry wife.
  • + 7
 @Spark24: SC say the N4 is not for enduro racing.
  • + 21
 I would always go for a bike that can get rowdy at the expense of climbing, as long as it could climb.

It has been said the N3 is too much bike for me, but I rode a GT Sensor last summer for a month and it was shit. Shit handling, just not confidence inspiring or fun.

I guess that is billed as a trail bike, 130 travel. I would take my Nomad over that every time, even for riding on the road... because all I have to do is drop the post and flick the dhx2 to open and I'm busting out off curb corners and flower beds.

You need the endurobrogeo for that kind of action. Who cares about uphills? I never time myself uphill anyway.
  • + 8
 @jaame: The Orbea Rallon pisses on both of them. Next gen geo.
  • + 8
 Sorry wallet? $4k way too much to ask for a 150mm carbon 29er that's designed to ride any trail you can throw at it, and with a lifetime warranty?
  • + 14
 This is such a bummer for current Hightower owners like myself who were excited about the rumors of SC just selling us links. It's the only difference. A Post mount rear brake doesn't justify making us buy a whole new bike, only dollars do. F
  • + 19
 @theedon: you would also need a new shock, and the pivot locations are different on the new swingarm. Santa Cruz considered offering a hop-up kit, but the costs start adding up when you factor everything in, not just a different link.
  • + 3
 @cyrways: Sorry wife - my wallet was being bad.
  • - 20
flag Fattylocks (Jul 6, 2017 at 8:06) (Below Threshold)
 @EnduroManiac: And customer service couldn't be any worse. I personally do not have any experience with SC but Intense, yikes.
  • + 3
 @bohns1: I was about to get a Hightower or SB5.5 but I ended up with Trek Fuel EX 9.7 and slapped a 150mm pike on it. Man it gave me the biggest smile on my face when I was riding it. like you said it's just as capable than any other longer travel bikes out there..but don't get me wrong this new hightower LT is still badass.
  • + 12
 @Fattylocks: I have been buying SC bikes for a good 15 years starting with the first edition superlight...customer service has been excellent...although I rarely needed it...
  • - 8
flag Jimmy0 (Jul 6, 2017 at 8:21) (Below Threshold)
 I can't believe my buddy Nelson @motoboy36 was the first one to think of this and do to his own HT. Trendsetter that guy
  • + 6
 @theedon: One consolation, if yours is in the siracha red, it looks better than these new ones with dull colors. 135/140 is also more than enough for most people and most riding, IMO
  • + 13
 @kdiggity: simply put... yes. revelation and nx spec is simply unacceptable for a $4000 bike. I'm not made of money.
  • + 6
 @Jimmy0: Thank you for your acknowledgments. I will make sure to bring you along with me to the top of the world.
  • + 3
 @theedon: if you wanted a 150 travel bike why did you buy a 135 one?
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: Mike, is the shock metric config?
  • + 5
 @ukr77: No it's not a metric shock
  • + 18
 I better throw my old 2017 Hightower away, this one has 15mm more travel.
  • - 6
flag creativefletch (Jul 6, 2017 at 9:41) (Below Threshold)
 @EnduroManiac: $9249 for model shown, what a F@cking steal for a plain looking bike.
  • + 18
 @Fattylocks: You bash SC customer service on-line because of a bad experience with a completely different company?

Sorry man, that make no sense.. That's like blaming your girlfriend for something your brother did and then calling her out to her whole family on Facebook, for something she didn't do.

Intense may have licensed VPP from SC, but that it. No other affiliation.

SC customer service has always been amazing in my experience. Shout out to Willie for his help down there.
  • + 14
 Looks like a Hightower.
  • - 5
flag WasatchEnduro (Jul 6, 2017 at 10:35) (Below Threshold)
 @ryanandrewrogers:

Agreed. I think it's a little embarassing. why the f*ck not at least put a Yari on it. At least you'd get the stiffness a bike like this needs, f*cking flexy revelation sh*t. That fork's fine for trail/xc, not AM. Embarassing, Santa Cruz! The $4k Stumpjumper (comp carbon) has a Yari and GX, just saying, though I know it's not a "Santa Cruz".

I appreciate the DPS rear shock, in my experience it's freaking awesome and outperforms the monarch series easily, but sh*t, at this price give us GX and Yari, please.
  • + 1
 @theedon:

I think you'll still be able to sell yours in a heartbeat if you're looking to upgrade. And SC isn't phasing out the old one, there's still plenty of demand. I know people looking for a used HT.
  • + 8
 @WasatchEnduro: Have you ridden a new Revelation yet? They no longer have 32mm stanchions - the design is based on the Pike but with a Motion Control damper. It's now to the Pike what the Yari is to the Lyrik.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: what is the new shock size? 200x57?
  • + 2
 @EnduroManiac: So it should be, its a mass market brand now using mass produced frames from the far east.
  • + 1
 @Spark24: I think that will continue. Most of us if we are being honest dont need and enduro race bike as we ride up, down and along. We also dont go anything like as fast as pro's or are prepared to take the same risks.
  • + 4
 @mikekazimer: No I haven't Mike. Others below have mentioned the same, which I didn't know. Fully on board with though. And my Yari's doing fine so far, so no bias against the damper.
  • + 3
 @gonecoastal: sold my Nomad 3 and just ride my Surface at the mo. That thing rips!
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: Have you had a chance to ride a modified '16 HT? If so, any difference btn the new vs old?
  • + 1
 @bohns1: great idea. Just the type of thing I'd do. Probably feels more alive, involving and fun too.
  • + 1
 @bohns1: Totally agree – I ride an older Fuel Ex 9 with 120mm – short travel 29ers can easily handle more chunky terrain than the numbers might imply. Howerver, I'll probably be moving on to the Hightower LT because I mostly ride enduro and gnar these days.
  • + 4
 You could just long shock the existing Hightower to get 150mm of travel.
  • + 1
 @theedon: only difference besides a Fox 36, 12 speed drivetrain, and 170mm dropper with the good lever, and a whole new rear triangle you mean....
  • + 0
 I'm already running a 160mm fox 36 and a 170mm reverb. Lots of the people who ride for them have been "over shocking" them to get 150. The problem is the rear tire can rub on the seattube if you have a huge compression. A few months ago the rumor that was floating around amongst people in the know was that they were making a kit and were going to sell it as a hop up. Just a new link and you'd new to buy a longer shock.We'll obviously they've decided against that. @NelsonSunshine:
  • + 1
 Lots of reasons! Haha!@davidfregoli:
  • + 1
 @jaame: i second the motion
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: Did they do away with 27.5+ option with the HTLT?
  • + 1
 @jaame: I dont time uphill either... But when u live in the Rockies and you got to seriously climb to get to the downs, it just makes more sense.. I don't like being tired when I get to the top either! 130mm rear, 140mm front on 29 is the sweet spot for me!
  • + 2
 @theedon: Dude! Your current Hightower is fine! I see dudes nailing road gaps on them and huge drops with shit eating grins on their face... Pretty sure you'll be good.
  • + 2
 @rvelasco24: For sure it's bad ass! The fuel ex is one of the best rounded out rides this year! Guys are even using them in enduro round my parts over the slash just because of the added pedal efficiency... Such an capable all rounder!
  • + 2
 @0gravity: Totally agree.. I can still scare the shit out myself on 130/140 while my steed laughs it off!
  • + 5
 @bohns1: I am good, but we want what we want! Never settle for what you don't! I love my Hightower. A good number of my buddies have them. All with 160 up front. I personally want 150 in the back. I'll figure it out. Maybe I'll make my own links and sell them?!?!? Hahaha! Do you guys remember for a short period of time bike companies made links with various holes to change your travel to where you preferred?
  • + 2
 @High-Life: yep! That 135mm just ain't going to be capable anymore... Get her listed on Pinkbike sales! Lol
  • + 1
 @Lankycrank: Tons of guys in my area riding enduro on the fuel ex over the slash just built up a little buried but still maintaining the added pedal efficiency.. Jesus, dudes nail the Swansea road gap on the fuel ex 130mm no big deal!
  • + 1
 @High-Life: i know right
  • + 1
 I think we should compare the new rear triangles. I know all I have is pictures to go on, but I am not seeing a difference. Where I see the difference is in the shock stroke. 51mm vs 57mm and same eye to eye. I bet linkage and shock would get you there. @theedon:
  • + 1
 @OliverDeez: not to pick nits, I don't think they would say it was a different rear end of it was the same.
  • + 1
 @ryanandrewrogers: if you think that's a pisstake you should see the UK pricing....it's the same in £ as $ even though the FX rate is 1.30. Santa just priced themselves out the market big time.
  • + 0
 @jaame: Could do with a slash tbh!
  • + 1
 This is when I wish my wallet (or credit card) were limitless. Last I checked, it was far from it.
  • + 1
 @theedon: Not positive but I think through a SC dealer you can order just the link. Worth looking into. Maybe your current one is "damaged" thus you need a replacement. Hope it works out, I may purchase a HT frame and do the same.
  • + 51
 A Revelation on a $4k build. At least let me pull my pants down first SC.
  • + 57
 Lube will cost you an extra $1k.
  • + 29
 You know its the 2018 revelation with the pike chassis?
  • - 10
flag WAKIdesigns (Jul 6, 2017 at 4:02) (Below Threshold)
 @Kiwiplague: why would someone want a Revelation that is a Pike? The existence of that fork was always a mystery to me... Crappy damper making it hard to utilize 150mm of travel... for 100g more and 30% lower price I would go for Sector Gold. It's basically a fireroad warriors "freeride" fork or what a hen pecked husband would buy for his wife's Enduro bike affraid she will moan about the weight.
  • + 22
 @WAKIdesigns: hey, I'm not saying its not a rip off, just that some people might not be aware its not the old 32mm legged fork.
  • - 6
flag WAKIdesigns (Jul 6, 2017 at 4:15) (Below Threshold)
 @Kiwiplague: yes off course
  • + 3
 Best comment of the week!! LOL!!
  • + 9
 @Kiwiplague: Also people talk about the old revelation like it was a wet noodle. I rode one, it wasn't. Stanchion diameter isn't the only way to stiffen a fork, folks, & RS isn't FOX where chassis size = stiffness (which wasn't even true for FOX, half the reason the stepcast exists is so that people stop buying the F series 32(lightened for XC racing) & thinking all 32s are noodly.)

The stanchions on the 32mm revelation had a lot thicker walls than something like a FOX 32. Fork was just fine for it's intention.

@WAKIdesigns

It isn't a fork marketed at end users. It's a fork marketed at (& probably directly asked for by) brand managers trying to hit a certain pricepoint. Remember how everybody freaked out about how XO1 wasn't much cheaper than XX1? Same thing, it was cost savings to help brand managers save money in one spot to be able to spec higher in another.
  • + 5
 I have owned 3 RS Revelations and I have loved them. All on my hardtails, built with spare parts, and bought the forks used for about $200. 150mm Revelation handled everything my lyrik 180mm did.
  • + 4
 @Kiwiplague:

So it's a lighter weight Yari? I'm cool with that. Sorry SC for screaming at you earlier.
  • + 3
 @abzillah: I rode everything I could ride on 180 Lyrik on HT with 100mm Reba. I raced DH on a hardtail, I rode XC with DH tyres, World Cup track on 120 bike. Blind man climbed Everest, animal lover tried to hug a polar bear. Just because you can doesn't mean it makes much sense... Revs of the past had crappy damper that even by 2016 couldn't even stand next to 2008 Mission Control DH. The moment RS release Lyrik at weight below 1800g made Rev completely pointless. WHat can be observed with several companies like Kona, speccing even their 110-130 bikes with Pikes. Anyone who can ride a bit and tried several forks can confirm that. Claiming otherwise is just trying hard to achieve nobody knows what. Rev is a fork for gram counters who can't appreaciate real damping.
  • + 2
 @groghunter:

Groggy Hunter...... it was flexy as sh*t at the longer travel settings eg. 140-150mm (as you'd expect). It was fine set at less travel than that.
  • + 1
 @WasatchEnduro: The Yari is a Lyrik chassis - a very stiff fork. I have one in 180mm on a park bike and it just. won't. bend. The Pike is a less stiff chassis, I would expect. OTOH the Pike has the charger damper and the Yari is spec'd with the older MC damper, stock.

The answer to your question is "yes" if you are talking about price points, but "no" if you are talking about chassis stiffness and / or damper.
  • + 2
 @WasatchEnduro: Essentially, yes. The 2018 Revelation is the the Pike as the Yari is to the Lyrik.
  • + 1
 @abzillah: I have nothing against them at all, I actually ride one on my Nukeproof and it's more capable than me. But then that bike cost me about a grand, not four.
  • + 1
 The old 32mm Rev with the 20mm axle was awesome as a DJ fork @ 100mm travel. Totally not too weak.
  • + 45
 With so many bikes being great all-arounders it's getting harder and harder to decide what my next bike might be.. Damn my first world problems...
  • + 41
 BUY ANYBIKE AND JUST HAVE FUN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 38
 RRRROYD YER FOCKING BAYK!!!!!!!
  • + 4
 airdrop edit ftw if they add boost to their frames it's a go for me
  • + 10
 @WAKIdesigns: They took our jeerrrbs!
  • + 8
 @Wamprat: Dey duk er derk.
  • + 1
 wicklpw green Smile
  • - 1
 @Boardlife69: it came to me how seldom it is to see someone on Pinkbike writing something that would send me to a dictionary... but you just did... and it seems that in Danish it means "I just spilled coffee on an anteater".

Stoop dat wRoyting! Royd yeR bayeks, ye shambling, Rump-fed moldwaRps!
  • + 7
 you're not allowed to buy a new bike until you wear out the one you have...
  • + 1
 whoops, replied to wrong post.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Instructions unclear; bike just got a lifetime ban for testing positive for EPO.
  • + 2
 There are a lot of good bikes out there, yes, but they are not all created equal. My $0.02: When picking a new bike, try to find out how the suspension design works - look up it's anti-squat and pedal kickback graphs. AS basically tells you how well it's going to pedal, and PKB tells you whether the suspension will feel stiff under compression. In many design, PKB increases as AS does - such as with most Santa Cruz designs - but there are designs out there that have more or less PKB for the same AS.

After that I check the geometry.

Most bike reviews these days are very touchy-feely. If you do your research you will find that the reviews tend to match the numbers (what a surprise). For example bikes with high AS and low PKB tend to be described by reviewers as "pedals better than you'd think it would." (Reviewers tend to realize that the suspension compresses easily with no feedback at the pedals and assume that means it's a pig to pedal, hence the surprise.)
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Not Danish. Its South Park for "they took our jeerrbs".
  • + 0
 @Boardlife69: i know, just wanted to add a twist to it... I live in Sweden, I was told to not trust Danes...
  • + 1
 @MisterJones: That won't work cuz I'm picky AF! and I need to be stoked on what I ride! Just the way it is!
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns:

What's wrong with Danes?
  • + 2
 @FabianJ: Nothing. More power to Great Danes... errr... sorry, I'll see myself out.
  • + 0
 @FabianJ: one word for you: Kamelåso Big Grin

One of the funniest inter-scandinavian things I have ever seen was in queue to the lift in Hafjell during World Cup. Long line to the lift. Just before going onto the chairlift a Danish guy says something to a Norwegian guy in Danish. The Norwegian guy replies in English that he doesn't understand. Danish guy repeats in Danish. Norwegian guy repeats: sorry? - Danish guy finally answers in English: is it ok if I take the lift with you? Behind me I hear a Swede saying to another Swede: why does he think that anybody understands his weird language?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns:
By far most risky google of the day, but I saw the Norwegian comedy video.

Damn. I wish I could laugh but it really hits me on a personal level. I have no idea what people say around me anymore, it's just stutter and nasal sound everywhere. We should just convert to bornholmsk, that way we could really get the best of both languages.
  • + 23
 I personally would have liked to have seen a 160mm fork up front with a slightly steeper seat angle and bb height adjusted to suit but that would have required a front end change which they seem to have decided to avoid (for cost reasons assume).

Real question is who is gonna be the first brand to get a properly engineered (from the ground up) 170/180mm park 29er out there, that has got to be the next engineering frontier surely?
  • + 10
 After they sell all these HTLT's they will release exactly what you just said. Then they will release the Nomad 29er after they sell all the nomad v4's.
  • + 2
 I wonder if it's even needed though, these 150mm 29ers seem to be ridiculously capable. 180mm is only 10mm off the DH bikes Loris & Luca are riding (Only Greg gets the 210mm due to his larger frame size.)

FWIW, Snow Summit certainly isn't the most technical riding, but their rental fleet this year is a crap ton of Trek Slashes.
  • + 6
 Manufacturers need to take note of what Transition is up to. 17' Trek Slash and Enduro aren't right unless you're headed down the some crazy steep stuff. I wish I didn't buy a MY17 29er....
  • + 1
 @Loamhuck:

I actually wonder if this new hightower has a reduced fork offset. Apparently Nomad V4 does, & it's not even a 29.

I guess SC just didn't make a press release about using these quicker forks like Transition did, which is weird.
  • + 8
 @groghunter, the Nomad V4 doesn't have a reduced offset fork - it's specced with a 42mm offset Lyrik, and the Hightower LT doesn't have a reduced offset fork either.
  • + 2
 Go ahead, put a 160mm fork up front. I'm sure it would ride fine.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: I've seen at least one person who needed to replace it(crash damage) saying SRAM told him that it's using a 42mm offset, not the 44.
  • + 4
 @groghunter: The two millimeter difference isn't going to make a big handling difference - that's still considered the "typical" offset for a 27.5" wheel. If it were a 37mm offset, which is what's usually used on a 26" fork, that would be notable.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: I mean, I get that, but unless you're going from a 37mm to a 51mm, at some level, ALL this fork offset stuff is fine tuning, rather than broad stroke changes(Chris Porter has said as much in interviews, & he's played with everything in that range.) The fact remains that SC specifically bought the 42mm version over the 44, & considering the problems said individual is having finding a replacement 42mm fork, this could not have been a trivial decision.

What offset is Transition using for their new Geo? If we can, lets put some context into this discussion.
  • + 3
 @groghunter: 42 or 44mm (it depends on fork brand) for the 29" Sentinel.
  • + 2
 @mikekazimer: Assuming that the 44 is in lieu of a 51, that's 7mm, so more significant than the 2mm on the SC, but we're also talking 2 different wheel sizes. Wouldn't a 29" wheel require more offset to achieve the same change in trail numbers vs a 27.5"?

If we start talking about the 46mm 29er options, it gets even closer.

Then, of course, I'd be interested to hear what the Hightower LT is running, as well.
  • + 1
 @Loamhuck: Do you ride a Transition?
  • + 2
 @Loamhuck: Give it to me???????
  • + 3
 Out of curiosity, why do you think a 170/180 park 29er would sell? I have a 180mm park bike in 27.5 and absolutely zero desire for it to have bigger wheels. Most guys I know who ride similar stuff won't touch a 29er.
  • + 1
 @shaneo50: A good friend swung his leg over one and has modified his current rig with a reduced offset fork and angleset and can't stop talking about it. I reduced offset on my 29 fork on the Slash and shortened the stem and it's money. Feels like a shredable 27.5 race bike! @bulletbassman yeah no
  • + 17
 I guess that we'll need to wait for the next generation of bikes to see some steeper seat angles. For taller riders that is a big issue.
  • + 6
 I agree. Totally too slack. I would be happy to take 3 inches out of the actual seat to bar measurement. Get that seat out of the way for descending.
  • + 1
 Yep, frankinfail....
  • + 15
 I´d love to see pinkbikes´s article comparing New Orbea Rallon x ST Hightower head by head. As Orbea launched its new Enduro Beast, i think Rallon will be a great contender to ST Hightower.
  • + 2
 I love SC, currently have a 5010, but the Rallon is my favorite new release thus far.
  • + 13
 A step in the right direction but I have a few suggestions:
1.stop making such long seat tubes in the bigger sizes! Don't make seat tubes longer than 450mm! We have 170-200mm dropper posts now!
2. Also get with the program and give us a 75º seat angle AT LEAST! Slack seat angles suck for sustained climbing and slamming the seat especially on with big wheels!
  • + 9
 Orbea Rallon...
  • + 9
 never mind the fact that the actual seat angle is slacker than the head angle... as a tall guy who's going to use all of his seat post extension, I have zero interest in this bike.
  • + 2
 SC seem really slow on the seat angle. They're generally quite conservative with geo (not necessarily a bad thing, variety and all that) but their seat angles are the major turn off for me. That and the prices ;-)
  • + 3
 sorry mate, commenting on seattube lengths isin't fair. they're that length for a reason, there are tall people who need every millimeter of that seattube even with a long stroke dropper.
  • + 0
 shout out to Kona who make there xl process with a 18inch seat tube.
  • + 3
 I ran a 150mm Reverb on my large Hightower and I could have easily run a 170mm dropper. How much shorter of a seat tube do you want? 170mm seems like plenty of drop.
  • + 3
 @seraph: 440mm on a large would be ideal I think.
  • + 2
 @GumptionZA: Yeah well I'd like to ride a XXL because of the reach but I'm not 200cm tall so super long seat tubes suck! Those tall people you speak of must be well over 200cm in order to run into problems with a 450mm seat tube and a 200mm dropper post!
  • + 1
 @seraph: my comment was mainly referring to the XL and XXL sizes. The reach on the L is way too short for my liking.
  • + 2
 Santa Cruz (like many others) do not present the real seat tube angle numbers, but ST and fork seem pretty parallel. It would not be a huge mistake to estimate the real STA at the values similar to HTA. ST geing straight and not that much offset from BB the result is the longest virtual top tube in the market. And that is at stack height! At the real riding position it gets much longer. So, to reiterate who is the Hightower LT for? Clearly not tall riders riding steep climbs. Do medium sized guys really need 29ers? Or do you need 150mm bike for riding flats? This is not how I would define a "well-rounded" or "a jack-of-all-trades, a versatile, extremely competent companion for just about every kind of riding" bike.
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: depends on your body proportions, you cant go assuming everyone has stumpy legs and a long torso because its simply not true. if the seattube on my bike was 450mm, then with a 200mm dropper it would be on its limit, and at 1.94m I'm tall, but by no means super tall.

if you want a longer reach but youre too short to size up then get a longer stem, a pole bike or a nicolai or a mondraker or any other long bike but leave the seattube out of it, I'm hanging on by a thread as it is!
  • + 2
 @GumptionZA: Really? Even with the dropper on the minimum insertion your saddle is too low? Wow! A longer stem will change the handling and not in a good way! And yes there are longer bikes out there but I'd like to be able to try other brands too.
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: yea dude, granted it isin't a common problem among riders, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

that said, my bike does only have a 490mm long seattube, which is a very common XL ST length, but on the shorter side.
  • + 10
 the question i have now, will it be possible to use the Hightower LT links on a normal Hightower to get the 150mm of travel as well?
  • + 3
 Sounds like the swingarm change might still be an issue if you were to substitute the links.
  • + 13
 Santa Cruz wouldn't want to make it that easy, not when they could sell you a whole new frame ;-)
  • + 4
 Vital's review says "For those wondering, Santa Cruz will not be offering "hop up" kits for your existing Hightower. When considering how many parts are required, it's more economical to simply purchase a new frame."
  • + 2
 This is such a bummer for current Hightower owners like myself who were excited about the rumors of SC just selling us links. It's the only difference. A Post mount rear brake doesn't justify making us buy a whole new bike, only dollars do. F @gumbytex:
  • + 3
 @gumbytex: That sounds suspiciously like " We like money. Send us more"
There is no reason a rear triangle, linkage, and brake mount adaptor would be out of the question... but they'd be very low margin parts, and have to be made in MY17 colorways...
  • + 2
 @gumbytex: lol that's the first time anyone has ever called buying a new frame economical
  • + 1
 My questions:
Is the rear triangle really needed? Is all that changed is a post-mount? If so, no thanks.
Is the shock the same?
If all that is similar, maybe all that's needed is the link? They sell link/bearing kits for all their bikes, so eventually we'll have access to those links.

Also, if any of you are interested in making your Hightower ST (short-travel) better, give DVO a call. They made a Jade with travel reducers for me and it transformed the bike. It rides like a mini DH bike and still climbs every bit as good as it did.
  • + 4
 @nuttypoolog: The shock is different, as are the pivot locations on the new swingarm, which is why Santa Cruz made the decision not to offer a hop-up kit.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: Ah. I hadn't read that.

I'm glad it only has 15mm extra of travel. If it was a 160 bike that may have tipped the scales enough I'd consider swapping.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: Or should that be made sure no one could make a hop up kit
  • + 1
 @nuttypoolog: If you're looking at spending that kind of coin, it's seriously hard to ignore getting a DVO Topaz in 200mm I2I length, and then getting the right sized spacer to make it into a 200x55mm shock. I know it sounds dumb to only get 146mm of travel and have clearance concerns for the cost of a shock, BUT, if you're moving away from a stock Monarch, I'd argue it's worthwhile.

What this does do is open the door for somebody with the willingness to make a custom link that accomplishes most of that. If it can be pulled off with a metric shock (e.g. Trunnion 205x55mm) and have decent space, then there's the answer for everybody who already has a 160mm fork and wants to run a somewhat improved setup in terms of rear tire clearance at bottom-out.
  • + 6
 Frankintower fail. Its like when Spec brought out their first 650b and used a 29er front triangle and different rear and hacked spacers. With a seat angle like that, I don't see how you can say it has negatives. So many better long travel 29ers geo out there. Best thing is it is a direct shout out to my old beloved 2013 Tallboy LTC with that colour scheme....
  • + 16
 @Richt2000 sorry mate, this bike will blow the doors off your old 2013 Tallboy LTC.
  • + 0
 @lccomz: True but the geo is compromised.
  • + 4
 @lccomz:

Yea it would for sure, but I sold that 2 years ago. It would't blow the doors off my enduro 29 ltd coil (or a wreckoning)
  • + 4
 @jclnv: Every part of every bike is a compromise! That's not a bad thing!
  • + 0
 @Sardine: No they compromised the seat angle by not making a dedicated main frame.
  • + 1
 @jclnv: agreed. After running a 44mm offset 29er fork this week, I feel most manufacturers have it all wrong.
  • + 4
 @Loamhuck: Indeed. They're pissing in the wind half the time. Something as simple as the long seat tube lengths on 90% of bikes that prevent most people from running a 150mm+ dropper proves that. .
  • + 5
 I don't know a single HT owner that runs their fork in 150mm (I know several, it's North Van...they are everywhere!). They are all at 160mm. Sooooo.....that seat angle?
  • + 3
 @ukr77:

But if they had bothered to make a new front triangle it could have been 75 sta and a 65.5 ha and a decent reach and competed with Slash, Carbine, Wreckoning, e29, etc etc

That new transition is coming too and that will blow this out of the water....
  • + 3
 @Richt2000: I do not like the 17' slash 29er. You can't steer the thing unless it's on a steep descent.
  • + 2
 @Loamhuck:

Yea I'm not keen on it either - seat angle is too slack
  • + 1
 @Richt2000: Do you know when the new Transition is coming out?
  • + 2
 @jclnv: Isn't a short seat tube a deal with the devil? You have to make the front triangle narrower which decreases frame stiffness. IMO there's a reason you don't just build every bike like a dirt jumper.
  • + 1
 @shaneo50:

No. I get insider info on 1/2 the brands, but sadly not transition.
  • + 1
 @Richt2000: all good! heard sometime this autumn but I am thinking September...
  • + 0
 @lccomz: I bet u not in the climbing department!
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: Front triangle narrower?
  • + 1
 @ukr77: i run mine @140
  • + 1
 @Richt2000: Any insider info on Santa Cruz? Do you know if they are going to come out with a new Bronson?
  • + 1
 @shaneo50:

Haven't heard anything, and as its only 2 years old its very unlikely. I only heard about the Nomad and Frankintower LT this year...
  • + 1
 @ukr77: so your friends who run the 160mm air spring on their Hightowers are completely unable to pedal them uphill because of the seat tube angle? Or, are they somehow able to tough it out and overcome?
  • + 1
 @bohns1: wanna bet? Gen 3 VPP is a far better climbing layout that gen 2 VPP.
  • + 5
 when are they going to make steeper seat angles so your ass is not over the cassette and get a better pedaling position?
those slack seat angles are great on flat terrain but when you point up your weight is off the back. people swear its the head angle but its the seat angle that makes bikes hard to climb. simple weight distribution

the new Rallon is the only big 29 i would ride at the moment. the new transition will prob will be better also
  • + 6
 Every bike review nowadays is a total testament to how capable the newest generation of bikes really are. Crazy how good bikes are now. Super exciting stuff. Now, Where did I leave my AmEx.
  • + 2
 This is the first time since a few years that I am excited for a Santa Cruz bike! Awesome rig!
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Actually agree with that, I am not a SC fanboy (at all) but this year they are bringing out some good stuff, the V10 is better than ever, the new Nomad and now this, fix the seat tube angle though (always something to moan about)
  • + 6
 They should have made a Nomad 29 with 170mm of travel. There's still no such bike on the market while the Rockshox website already lists 170/180mm 29er Lyrics.
  • + 4
 Wreckoning and E29 can happily take a 170 fork
  • + 1
 @Richt2000: Which would push Wreckoning's seat angle even deeper in the slack seat angle territory and don't forget that its chainstays, at 430mm, are the shortest among its direct competition.

Nomad 29 is just a matter of time. If 29er V10 is pending, there should be absolutely no reason not to make a 29er Nomad. Santa Cruz bike line-up strategy seems to be:"Let's 29 everything!"
  • + 1
 @jollyXroger:
I do hope so. Hopefully this is just a stopgap.

Yea I won't own another Evil until they steepen their seat angles up. They are fine if you are average proportions, but with my long legs I end up way to far back over the rear wheel.

E29 Ltd Ed Coil is where I'm at at the moment....
  • + 5
 "just enough room"

That somehow feels like an understatement. The gap makes me quite sure that Santa Cruz used a Purist as their benchmark. I wonder if a CamelBak's taller cap would even fit.
  • + 2
 Not sure how much the shock moves out of the way when the bike is sagged, but a side loading cage is probably the way to go here. Otherwise if you stop for a picknick, you'll have to weight the saddle to be able to get the bottle in or out. Either way, it is a good compromise for a lot of people who prefer a bottle over a backpack. I personally like to have the top tube low (and don't mind the backpack). Then others are put off by a swoopy downtube a la Pivot. This is what you'll get if you squeeze the two tubes together, keep them reasonably straight and still want enough room for both the suspension linkage and a bottle. Pick your stuff wisely. Side loading cage, short bottle. I wonder if there'll be a time when people who don't like a backpack just place a stationary reservoir inside the frame and guide a hose through the steerer tube to be able to drink while riding. I've seen triathletes use something like that, but then again they already have their heads down there.
  • + 3
 It does. Ratboy and Josh Lewis use the Camelback ones.
  • + 6
 Get a kids water bottle and cage
  • + 4
 @gonecoastal: An idea so brilliantly simple I'm kind of embarrassed I never thought of it...
  • + 3
 Not my idea originally. Heard about it when people were making noise about the YT Jeffery 29 bottle and cage @slimboyjim:
  • + 2
 My experience is when you stuff a water bottle in a frame where it barely fits like this that you get rubbing on the shock. Not the end of the world but it does happen.
  • + 3
 Conflicted on this one. I love my Nomad and I was very impressed with a Hightower demo, but this seems a bit half-baked if not lazy from SC. Why not just make an "upgrade kit" to the regular HT with a new linkage and flip chip delete instead of making a whole new bike which only the rear triangle is new?
  • + 2
 They couldn't get the full 150mm and the desired bottom out resistance with just the upper link change; the rear triangle had to change to get all the way to 150mm and achieve the desired suspension characteristics.

I'm bummed that the tire clearance in the rear didn't improve. (Tall tires chew up the back of the lower link).
  • + 2
 @genericmk: The tire clearance thing would point to me that maybe SC rushed to put this out due to demand and competition instead of taking their time to put together a brand new bike that can compete with the burly 29ers from Evil and Yeti and YT.
  • + 3
 nsmb's review points to a lot of rider input from SC's EWS racers. is it possible they like this bike and prefer it over a bigger enduro sled like the Slash, Wreck., and Rallon? is there something to having a bike that can ride competently on slower technical terrain and still descend pretty hard, or as hard as you are actually able?

point to my first sentence is that if graves still prefers a stumpjumper, the SC guys like this HTLT, and most of Transition's people ride long-travel Scouts, are we all too big for our britches for wanting bigger and badder bikes? should we just ride harder and smarter on the bikes we have? i'm willing to believe this frame is mostly a business decision, but i also know for a fact i see a lot of guys on XC trails and at the bike park (racing or not) that are on machines they can barely handle on flow trails, never mind actual terrain.
  • + 1
 +1
Being a patrol owner I'm super excited to see what Transition does with the sentinel but if I was buying another bike it would be a boosted smuggler. It would fit my probably terrian better 60% of the time.
  • + 1
 @EKrum: Yes, really excited about the new Transition Sentinel. What are your initial thoughts on the new Hightower LT?
  • + 3
 @shaneo50: my thoughts really don't matter
  • + 7
 This ain't as special as the Rallon in my eyes
  • + 3
 All the Insufferable Santa Cruz fanboys will eat this up and talk about how great it is, but the fact is this bike is a stop gap frankenbike.

Santa Cruz is trying to milk some more money out of their molds and not trying to actually be progressive with their geo.

Not that it matters because the primary rider of this bike is a 50 year old guy with a 200k+ income who likes to "shred" single track for an hour and then talk about it for 2 hours while drinking some sick IPA's next to his Range Rover Sport.

Those Santa Cruz rims are all about profit. Charge the same as last years bike with ENVE's and pocket the rest. Guess what rich guy, I'll still judge you as being too poor to afford real carbon rims!
  • + 18
 Wow, you got all that just from what bike a guy's riding?
  • + 33
 Hey, that's me, he's talking about me. I've finally made the comment section of pinkbike.
  • + 5
 Man your like Sherlock Holmes with the science of deductionWink
  • + 7
 "this bike is a 50 year old guy with a 200k+ income " sc designer-,cant remember the guy's name, said something like that himself in an interview, that is how sc position itselve. that is life, one doesn't have to choose sc there are hundreds of equally good or better brands/bikes.
  • + 3
 You went a little crazy with the cheese wiz there but you are basically on point about the frankenbike. No new front triangle, modified link and slightly modified rear - a complete stopgap. Specialized did it with their move to 650b, Ibis did it with the HD-r, I'm sure there are others. Smart money says wait until this time next year when they release the real deal LT HT...with a new front triangle, steeper seat angle, slightly slacker front end, room for WT style rubber, and more front end travel. That is the bike the fan boys want and that is the one they will pay more for aftermarket. Or, buy this version and swap frames out next year...
  • + 5
 If it's a stop gap, then the next question is "on the way to what"? Where should they have gone or what should they have made?

Now while I do have a Land Rover LR3, I'm not an SC fan boy. ;-) Just curious because it sounds like SC decided to continue forward in an evolutionary manner and provide what a lot of people are clearly already after; a long travel 29".

Or should every new offer be a clean sheet design? This isn't always realistic or prudent. And long term evolution of a design isn't really a bad thing. The Porsche 911 is a great example.
  • + 1
 @BDKR: 911 is a great comparison. It's rear engined by tradition, not because it's the optimal placement. It's a fantastic vehicle, but at the end of the day it's a compromised design. They can't change it without turning off their (very wealthy) customers. The Carrera GT and 918 were unbound by that tradition and were mid-engined.

Santa Cruz compromised because they wanted to get some more life our of their molds and they know that the majority of their customers will buy whatever new thing they put out.

Also, I get that right now there is so much uncertainty and things are changing so rapidly that it makes sense to be conservative and let thing play out. Maybe Apple is the better comparison?

Anyways, the next step is probably a Nomad looking 29er with a lower link driven shock (much better performance) and the latest fork offset gimmick. And it will be super ugly so it can accommodate a 2 liter water bottle and will be slightly ahead of the next color trend.
  • + 2
 @BDKR: They should have taken a hard look at the work and experimentation that Transition is putting in...you'll see 44mm offsets as the norm in the next two years with a +25mm reach.
  • + 7
 @wibblywobbly: As a 911 guy, I feel compelled to point out that...

a) Porsche is willing to piss off their constituents when they must. The 996 is a perfect example of this.
b) Even the engine in the rear has benefited greatly from evolutionary steps. The old air cooled 911's had the engine behind the rear wheels. With the water cooled cars the engine moved forward and the car as a whole draws benefit from the engine and trans-axle weight being "on" the rear wheels.

I firmly believe whether a design is a compromise also has a lot of contributing factors that must play into it. The 911 of old was a compromised tradition driven design, but as a result of evolution, it's become a great design with attributes and abilities that can't be matched by FWD cars, front engined RWD cars, and mid engined cars. That engine in the back provides tons of options for attitude control on the way in and traction on the way out.

OK, I'm done. LOL
  • + 1
 @Loamhuck: I hear ya, and I agree. I wonder if while focusing on the rear triangle, VPP revisions, and Minnars V10 demands (I don't know if they have more than one design team or not) they overlooked the things you mentioned.

Clearly a lot of effort was placed on the Nomad as well.

I hope both of things find their way on to the next iteration.
  • + 4
 @bishopsmike: Exactly! LMFAO! Bike envy stress will shorten wibblywobbly's life. Ride your bike
.
  • + 2
 So I don't see it as a stop gap, just the way they're positioning it. A hair more travel in the rear, what the people were wanting. I don't see it as an aggressive enough bike to compete with the E29, Slash, etc. Something that will still work for a hard charging weekend warrior without floppy steering or needing to have Mount 7 in your backyard to be able to make use of it, as well as the enduro-bro who will absolutely ride it with a 160mm fork. In fact, I'm shocked it's not stocked with one. I've ridden a HT and if I owned one (29 setup) I'd go 150mm all the way, I'd wager most riders looking at the LT version will want a 160mm fork.

WW I think you're spot on with the pricing though. SC loves the cash grab. Their pricing to distributors is already higher than many other brands (sorry LBS), so they're already making more on a comparable bike (though to be fair, I'm not sure how much their cost base differs), and house brand stuff is the oldest trick in the book to bump up margins. I haven't studied the spec in detail, but yeah, part of that high end premium buys you house brand stuff.

Anyway, I still like it and will be renting one during my autumn trip to Moab. Enchilada-style baby!
  • - 6
flag thenotoriousmic (Jul 6, 2017 at 11:53) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah Santa Cruz fell off years ago they're just selling bikes to old dudes who potter around trail centres these days. They're just reacting to what other successful bikes are doing instead of being at the cutting edge like they used to be.
  • + 2
 @WasatchEnduro: given they are part of the pon group who own focus along with other brands i suspect they cost no more to make than the focus frames
  • + 11
 You need to be 50 and make 200k a year to get this bike? I have a 5010 CC with ENVE's, a Bronson with ENVE's and a V10, bought them all within the last year and a half. I'm 30 years old and married and live in a small house. I own a small butcher shop and barely make 70k a year. Guess what, I have good credit and know how to manage my money and pay all my bills on time. These dentist/Range Rover/high income comments are getting out of hand. If you really want to buy something, work hard, improve your credit and you can get anything you want. This is how the world works: Get Credit - Get Nice Things. I just like riding nice bikes, I guess I should sell them all and get an old steel 40 pound hardtail and be a "real" mountain biker. I'll also fill my water bottle with cheap beer.
  • + 2
 @wibblywobbly Huh! I ride bikes like this and buy new ones every couple seasons and I make far less than 200k! Don't kid yourself dude... Its all about priorities for some folk!
  • + 2
 @dimetera413: Exactly! Although I save up for atleast half to three quarters of full cost and put remainder on line of credit rather than credit card... I hate carrying depreciative debt.. That of which all bikes and nice vehicles are unfortunately.
  • + 2
 @WasatchEnduro: Santa Cruz is one of the only companies that assembles bikes in the USA, which I would suspect drives their higher cost. People claim they want made in the USA, but then never want to pay for it.
  • + 1
 @parallaxid: I'm fine with made in Taiwan.. That's the way the manufacturing process is going anyways.
  • + 2
 @LarsdBars: What do you mean "finally"? You've been a Pinkbike member for a single day.
  • + 2
 I'm currently on a Specialized Enduro 29, a large 2015 aluminum version, with 160 pike, monarch plus shock, wtb asym 35/29 wide rims, an upgraded 350 ratchet hub, guide rsc brakes. The thing is a monster. I have a 26" carbon nomad and a 27.5 alum reign with 160 fox 36's, but I feel perfect, and am faster, on the Enduro (I'm almost 6-1). I want to like the HTLT, and will probably demo it, along with the new enduro (either the carbon or alum) and select few other lt 29ers. But looking at the geometry and the specs of the HT, especially compared to the enduro...I know everyone despises Big Brother, but the bang for the buck of the $4,500 Enduro vs the Hightower is huge - the only thing the $4,900 comparable build kit for the LT has going for it is the eagle drive train (plus look at those seat angles! 76 vs not even 74). I'm a SC fan boy but I have a hard time justifying an LT purchase, unless the ride of the $4,900 build is absolutely mind-blowing...
  • + 6
 new SC colorways are FUGLY
  • + 2
 Well now get longer travel, but not every one will want to run 150mm travel all the time, bike manufacturers are not giving customers what they really want?
One bike that can be 130 or150 travel with simple flip chip or shock flip
Or is that just me that wants that?
  • + 4
 scott genius, or canyons flip switch thingo already exist
  • + 2
 ok so its more aggresive than the regular hightower but less than Trek's Slash and Evil's the wrekoning?? So what is this bike then?? I thought the Hightower was trail/enduro and this new one was supposed to be full on enduro bike but they say it isn't.
Whats next a 165-170mm 29er?
Man im getting confused with so much categories.
  • + 2
 Both myself and a friend thought the original Hightower rear suspension didn't have as much support as the longer travel Bronson. Maybe it was just the base Monarch shock of the Hightower. Anyone else experience the same thing?
  • + 2
 Monarchs have a really soft profile to them. I have to put in like 5, I think, of the bands that help the ramp up. So it was probably just the monarch. But they are 2 different frames keep in mind
  • + 3
 it is a "monarch problem". even with thr stock bands its too supple and if you add more its too stiff. very hard to dial it in this bike. switching to another shock fixes it..and so did sc.
  • + 1
 Is it me or is this new Hightower 15mm higher and another 4K? Okay so you drop some serious G 4-8k and get an additional 15mm of travel. Santa Cruz needs to offer an option to existing Hightower owners, new rear triangle and shock $800-1200. Offering upgrades and continuous improvement would set Santa Cruz apart and build further brand loyalty.
  • + 1
 So you're telling me that you would pay $800 to $1200 for 15mm and PM?
  • + 1
 Yes if it included a shock upgrade @mylespotter:
  • + 1
 What's the word on tire clearance in the rear triangle? Original Hightower couldn't fit a proper 29in 2.4 rear tire. Is the new rear triangle an improvement in this regard? Is the linkage at all reworked in the rear? The tire rubbed the links worst.
  • + 1
 Did Santa Cruz fire the designer that came up with the good color schemes from the last couple of years? The old Hightower had 2 great color schemes, same with the 5010, now they are mismatched or just plain boring. Reminds me of old Santa Cruz, hopefully they dont bring back the Denver Broncos 5010.
  • + 0
 The blue/orange colorway was one of the best versions they ever produced.
  • + 4
 Just when i thought i was 100% sold on the SB5.5. Now i have to go OCD all over again in making a decision...
  • + 2
 I'm voting for the SB FWIW. Good luck!
  • + 1
 haha in the same boat now! Have you demo'd the SB5.5?
  • + 1
 I've never read that the Hightower was lively, or eager, or fun even.

But Mike's story differs...

I own a 5010 V1 and I absolutely LOVE it. I was gonna go for the Hightower for my next bike but I was bummed when I started reading/hearing that the Hightower was kind of muted/dead feeling.

So what's the deal?
  • + 5
 This bike doesn't excite me as much as I hoped it would.
  • + 1
 Am I the only one who noticed the typo on the chainstay length?
Text reads "chainstay length has also grown ever-so-slightly, up to 338mm from 335mm."

13 inch chainstays are mighty impressive for a 29" wheel. Seems almost, er, impossible?
Might need to edit those to 435mm and 438mm.
  • + 1
 Great looking bike. However, I'll keep my Tallboy LTc. My last bike purchase was a Beta X Trainer (a two-stroke 300 cc dirt bike that rides like a mountain bike, www.betausa.com/content/beta-xtrainer). It was $3,000 less than the top-of-the-line Hightower LTc. Seems a better value.
  • + 4
 Meh! Was hoping for something more interesting with this bike. I'll happily stick with my '17 Enduro 29.
  • + 1
 I was about to say "Who would sell a current model year bike of nearly the same characteristics that you're happy with for a different similar bike?"

Then I look four posts down and see that teethandnails is apparently putting his '17 Enduro 29 up for sale. :-)
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer I don't suppose you have had a chance to try the new Orbea Rallon as well as this HTLT? On paper the Rallon seems to have certain advantages (longer reach, steeper seat tube angle) but obviously paper doesn't dictate how the bike rides. I absolutely loved the original hightower when I demoed it but I would like to know thoughts from someone who may have tried both...thanks in advance!
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer I see the hightower being offered in many sizes with not a huge difference between adjacent sizes. I guess a lot of people could decide to size up or down to achieve more stability or more manoeuvrability. To put your review more into perspective, which size did you ride and how tall are you (inseam would be helpful too)? Did you size it like you normally do or did you go up/down? Thanks!
  • + 3
 I'm 5'11", with a 33" inseam, and I rode a large, which is what I would normally ride.
  • + 3
 A 13.3" bottom bracket with a 1.3" drop? Is the only place you pedal this bike is up fire roads?
  • + 3
 Kinda what I thought. I want more bikes with extreme high/low flip chips for either really rocky riding with 29" wheels, or for bunping up the front fork and installing 275x2.6 tires. I think Scott was onto something with the new Genuis, and I hope they keep that multi-wheel option around for an LT model.
  • + 1
 If it's a Enduro why the DPX2, which is concerned to Fox a trailbike shock! Would choose the X2 instead, but then there would be not much room for the bottle to fit into the frame!

Maybe in an XXL there still is?!
  • + 1
 The DPX2 is the replacement for the Float X, and is certainly capable enough to be used as an "enduro" shock.
  • + 1
 Looking for a new bike and it's a toss up between a Hightower LT, trek slash, orbea rallon or a nomad 4...even looking at an ally nomad. Any one shed some light on these bikes?
  • + 2
 Santa Cruz has 5 of the same bikes with different names on them. How stupid. This is exactly why cross town rival IBIS is better positioned.
  • + 0
 Other than those changes, the Hightower LT has all of the well-thought out details that Santa Cruz has come to be known for – a threaded bottom bracket, clean cable routing, ISCG mountain tabs, and frame protection on the chainstays and downtube.

... really: clean cable routing? I always found the routing above in the BB a bit awkward - from downtube to seatstays, looks a bit strange, in particular w/o bottle cage.
  • + 1
 Sounds like an amazing bad ass ride! Love how SC listened to its customers and did this Smile I might just be able to sell my DH bike and 27.5 trail bike to get a one bike do all !!!
  • + 0
 Surprised this bike wasn't compared to the Intense Carbine. My LBS will have the HTLT and Carbine available for demo....so why not. I demoed a bunch of bikes before getting the Intense Primer including the original HT. Just by looking at the numbers I think the Carbine may edge it out....but only a demo ride will let me know for sure. Great time to by a longer traver 29'er!
  • + 1
 Yeah, very nice. I've got the 2017 short travel. But why a 150 mm fork on the LT and not a 160? Why such a steep HA?

I definitely prefer the Nomad 4 for all purpose riding here in Finale.
  • + 0
 498mm Reach on XXL? I am 6'5 / 196cm, and i just find that loooong. My trail and DH bikes are each 480mm in Reach, and they look long, but feel good for my size. Not sure I would go up another 2cm though. Nice looking bike though!
  • + 3
 I don't read bike reviews since they are mostly glossed over, but the pictures are eye candy!
  • + 2
 Love the bike and it will be replacing my Tallboy LT, but the mustard color not so much..
  • + 1
 Sucks that we cannot update the Hightower to get the extra travel. Oh well, I cannot justify and new bike for a little more travel.
  • + 1
 @parallaxid: "assembled in the USA" is a lot different than "manufacutred in the USA"

The frame is made in China and all the parts come from Taiwan/China/Cambodia.
  • + 1
 I just found out that you can long shock the Fuel EX and get 136mm of travel out of the rear. Slap a 150 fork on it and your dialed.
  • + 1
 @Macdady any info about how to long shock the Fuel EX and get 136mm of travel out of the rear ?
  • + 1
 @ThomPowder: my buddy did it to his fuel ex. He put a DVO Topaz rear shock on it. I can ask him the shock specs, send me a private message.
  • + 2
 Did they run out of colours and decide to recycle the old Bronson tennis ball yellow?
  • + 2
 Well being that my 2015 Nomad was stolen last week that just makes my decision of which bike to buy that much easier
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer - Mike, how high are you running your bars on the Tallboy (top of bars in inches if poss). They look quite high.
  • + 2
 On the Hightower LT? I don't think they're that high - it's a size large, and the ground to top of the grip height is 41.75 inches.
  • + 3
 So basically it's a trail bike?
  • + 2
 New Orbea Rallon, Whyte S-150, Norco Range C9, now this... #firstworldbikechoiceproblems
  • + 1
 @TallTomT Don't forget the Evil Wreckoning. That said, I'm glad SC came out with the HT LT. When I demoed the HT last year I thought this is good, best SC bike I'd ridden years, but just a bit more would make it even better. Apparently many others thought the same thing.
  • + 1
 Perfect for People looking for that "one bike"... not so much for people looking for an absolute shredding machine/park destroyer...
  • + 1
 So its practicly a Bronson with 29in wheels and some slight geometry changes,right?
  • + 2
 Sorry for asking, but what does "LT" stand for?
  • + 5
 Long Travel
  • + 4
 long travel....
  • + 27
 Loan Time!
  • + 14
 Liberty trumpet
  • + 7
 Liv Tyler
  • + 8
 Large Testicals
  • + 6
 Large Trustfund
  • + 4
 Love Triangle
  • + 2
 Anybody in here ride a Yeti SB5.5? Curious to get your thoughts on it...
  • + 1
 Maybe try a Nukeproof Mega 29er guys? Hell of a bike. 150mm travel with a 66HA
  • + 1
 New colors for the Hightower too. Thought maybe my hightower was a bit too much travel but not anymore.
  • + 2
 So it's basically a 29'er Bronson?
  • + 0
 "There's just enough room to fit a regular-sized water bottle without it contacting the shock."

...Until you actually sit on the bike and it contacts the shock.
  • + 2
 Damn it. I had my mind made up on a frame. Now I have to rethink it.
  • - 1
 Honestly, wait a year until the geo is updated to account for LT 29er mods. Take a look at Transition - it is money.
  • + 2
 @Loamhuck: I love the transitions. The Smuggler has been one of the bikes I was set on. It's just the frame is so freaking heavy and I know that as soon as I pull the trigger on something they'll drop an updated carbon one that will be amazing. I've honestly been waffling a bit on 27.5/29. I was dead set on a scout but everyone at work has me talked into a 29.

So I've got a call in on a Pivot Switchblade.
  • + 1
 @onemanarmy: Wait on a 29er until they shake-out the geo issues. I have a slash and do not like it - I swapped steerer offsets 51-->44 and it's a brand new bike. It's a maneuverable beast now not a sluggish sled.
  • + 1
 @onemanarmy: Transition also has the LT 29er coming out - Sentinel...should be available in carbon at some point too.
  • + 1
 @onemanarmy: FWIW, at Hightower/Scout travel numbers, I like the 29 wheels. Anything more than that, I like the 27.5 still. I suppose it does depend on a few things: How tall you are, and what you plan to do with it. I don't race, so anything under 140mm I'm looking to be a bit more efficient, so the rollover of a 29 wheels feels right. Over ~140mm mark, it's more of a fun/goof off bike for me. Patrol/Process 153/Bronson are all a blast to get loose on.

I didn't care much for the Switchblade to be honest. Reeeally wide rear on it. I mean, absolutely stout. At 180lbs and 5'10" it was just a lot of bike to get moving.
  • + 1
 @mikealive:

Good insight. Honestly... with a wife, 2 kids and a refocus on my career it's been a long time since i road actively so I'm looking for an efficient pedaler that's fun in the comers. I really have no need for huge travel. I come from BMX and DS racing... keeping up going downhill isn't my issue. LOL!

I know the switchblade is super stiff. I'd actually avoid carbon wheels because of the super wide rear end and bottom bracket. End up being too stiff.

I'm looking for the dopest most affordable frame set I can get. The build kit means nothing to me.

And that hefty rear end on the switch... I honestly don't know what I weigh right now but I'd venture to guess 235/240. And I've got legs like tree trunks. Getting it moving isn't a problem. It's keeping it moving. LOL
  • + 1
 @onemanarmy: this spring I left bike shops after ~8 years in the biz. I'd offer the following advice:
-Yep, you are, uhh, a 'sturdy' enough rider for that Switchblade, lol Smile At that rider weight you should be able to move that bike just fine. Read some reviews on it, I don't think I've been the only one to say it feels sluggish, but you might like that stiffness/width. Good call on avoiding the carbon hoops on that bike! Can't say enough good things about the new Flow MK3's from Stan's, they would be a good fit there. If you go carbon, give Derby rims a look. Good quality, good price, and the company is basically just a few people.. been great to work with.

- That wheelsize thing... man, I'm a 29r guy for the most part, but I also cut my mtb legs in the midwest where everything was a 'pedal trail'. It will depend on where you ride and who you ride with too... that said, most of the bmx/moto guys I've had as customers preferred the 27.5 wheels because of how they wanted to ride the bike. Answer here is to ride as many as you can before buying. If you also have the height to go with your weight, again, a 29r is going to feel just fine to you.

-If you really want to geek out, look into suspension design--or again, try to ride as many as you can. The difference between say the Process 111 and the Smuggler is enormous! The Process is much more lively in the back, playful and poppy. The Smuggler is a bit more stable when you point it and shoot, but more on the grounded side vs being playful. Both great bikes, both great companies, just depends what you want from your ride. I personally really like the feel of Santa Cruz suspension as it fits my riding style well. At this point my next bike looks to be the Hightower. Lifetime frame/brearings, and a threaded bottom bracket are all pluses. If the choice gets pushed out til next season, I'd love to see Kona make their Hei Hei 29 with a bit more travel--Kona's geo is always so dialed!

I love seeing people come back to the sport after time off to focus on raising a family. Whatever it ends up being, enjoy it man! You've earned it!
  • + 1
 Have yet to see any comments on the advertised weights... 26lb for the XE and 22lb for the X01?!
  • + 2
 I am retarded.. SC specs are screwed up on mobile.
  • + 1
 I'm not retarded - 22lbs for CC X01 and 26lbs for CS XE
  • + 3
 those were obviously incorrectly posted on the SC website. It's been updated since for both the LT and standard HT. Posted weight for the LT CC XX1 with carbon rim is 13.82 kg / 30.46 lbs. The R build is a hair over 32 lbs.
  • + 1
 @ajjrsons: yep, i thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
  • + 1
 The og hightower proto got raced with that much travel...this bike's been a long time coming!
  • + 2
 Time for a beer and to read this article again ....
  • + 1
 Dang. Looks like my 2017 Enduro 29er is for sale already Frown
  • + 0
 Same bikes since 2015, just different year! Lost all business from me since they cut out 26s.
  • + 1
 Me want! Will sell my loved patrol.
  • + 1
 Yeah I will pass, my Hightower is already to long for tight trails.
  • + 1
 so not like this hightower then youtu.be/3a3EJ-mcaTM
  • + 1
 ordering that tomorrow, no doubt!
  • + 1
 The tennis balls went big! How do you sit down on tennis balls that BIG!!
  • + 1
 @Jimmy0 where's my shoutout
  • + 0
 bad spot for a dt swiss ratcheting axle, they don't belong on a proper mountain bike!
  • + 1
 I wish this in 27.5 wheel size... anyway, no money Frown cool color!
  • + 0
 No one has anything more to say, this is it already?
  • + 0
 Short WB, steep HA, slack SA... who buys this crap?
  • + 1
 Seriously, being a long legged guy (97cm) I can't stand SA's slacker than 75.5. Coming from MX and DH I notice how ridiculously unstable most trail bikes are, why don't companies add 30-40mm to their wheelbases. It seems like a lot of the industry builds bikes for the 5'8.5" guy who does most of his steering by turning his bars and climbs up via a mellow grade fire road to take it much too easy on the way down because, "I need to get up for work in the morning." At least you can always buy an XXL G16 and throw a -1 angleset in it!
  • + 1
 Zerode Yellow .
  • + 1
 Finally!
  • + 1
 Groundhog Day ?
  • + 0
 Hahaha is this what you've been waiting for?? @beeboo
  • + 1
 Oh my god Big Grin this is amazing!!!
  • + 0
 So what we have here is a 29'er Bronson. Very similar Geo.
  • + 1
 Do they make a 26?
  • + 1
 Want!
  • + 0
 carbons dead
  • - 2
 what a joke. They are trying to ram very slightly different version of the same bike down everyones throats.
  • + 0
 LT tallboy LT
  • - 1
 That Tallboy LT in Senna Yellow... you could see it from a mile and get dehydrated from drooling by the time it approached you... wrrrrr YUM!

twentynineinches.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2012_TALLBOY-LTc-YELLOW-3QTR.jpg
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: nope. looks like a banana.
  • + 3
 @Longtravel: nobody disses Senna Yellow...
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns:

Yes Waki, I had a blur LT aluminium and a Tallboy aluminium and when that yellow TBLTC came out I had to have one - sold both my alu bikes and bought that yellow beast in early 2013. Loved it so much.

Now it would ride aweful compared to a following / primer / hightower I'm sure.

It had such a short wheelbase for a large - it was such a fun and poppy bike!
  • + 2
 @Richt2000: When I was selling my Nomad I wanted to go full retard with Tallboy LT or Blur TRc. It happened that Blur costed less in 2013 than alu Nomad in 2008... how can we whine on 650B...
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns:

That blur TRC is a classic. If I could fit another bike in the stable I'd buy a large now just purely for jumping!
  • + 0
 @Richt2000: it's a great bike for smooth trails. Super snappy. But it is worthless in a bikepark although geometry may suggest otherwise. It can do big stuff but it leaves no margin. It's also super strong, despite near XC racing weight, as long as you don't hit it into a rock... Also it requires a decent shock, SAG point is within 5PSI, you have to get it right. It rode like garbage with 2nd gen CTD and only ok after I PUSHed the shock. Guys at TFTuned said, there is no way to make this shock work as well as much younger RP23 with Boost Valve. I was riding it locked out all the time, otherwise it would blow through travel. In general bike was super cool but only in lightweight setup (140float32, Nobby Nics, Crossmaxes), but once I made it into a NU Skul Trail with 160 fork and Minions, it just couldn't deal with what I wanted it to do. Everything is manageable until you get a bit off planned line, and get munched by bigger rocks. My Carbon jack may choke a bit on them but it will get me through them. Also I have better feedback from 160 of travel on Antidote than I had on SC with CTD Float.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: You know you want the new Nomad.
  • - 2
 @onemanarmy: I believe my current bike is better than the new Nomad at everything that Nomad does and more Wink If they made a Nomad 29 I wouldn't be that confident. If I had cash for EXT Storia then I would be rather certain that I own one of best mountain bikes out there, ever
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