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2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Highball Carbon 27.5 R2 Complete Mountain Bike


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2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Highball Carbon 27.5 R2 Complete Mountain Bike


In the era of huge enduro sleds, the term “all-mountain” has come to paradoxically refer more and more to just the downhill part of riding. Santa Cruz Bicycles’ Highball Carbon 27.5 R2 Complete Mountain Bike refuses that narrative direction, though, replacing the gee-golly suspension and exaggerated angles of many six-inch bikes with a hardtail platform that climbs as well as any bike on the market but is still nimble enough to dice surprisingly techy sections of trail furniture. Where bikes like the free-for-all Nomad are the equivalent of taking an axe to rooty chutes, the Highball is a scalpel, giving a skilled user the precision to perform surgery when things get techy.

Given its twin focus of climbing and speed, the Highball R2 is well-served by Shimano’s SLX M7000 double drivetrain. One-by certainly has its place, but two chainrings and an 11-speed cassette give this Highball build the ability to always find the optimal gear, regardless of the grade and terrain.

The Highball does address the lack of rear suspension with a diminished seatpost, down to 27.2 millimeters. While this doesn’t quite equate to the square-edge hit capabilities of the Nomad or Bronson, it does help to eat up trail vibrations that tend to accumulate over the course of a long ride. Up front, the 27.5 model has a more moderate head tube angle than the Highball 29er. At just 69 degrees, it rides the divide between slack stability and razor-sharp handling, keeping you in control while helping to control the terrain. Unsurprisingly, it also has shorter chainstays than the 29er version, which maximizes the hardtail rear triangle’s efficiency while mashing.

As with the original 29-inch model, the Highball 27.5 is a single-piece layup of carbon fiber instead of a jigsaw puzzle of individually-cured carbon tubes. This allows Santa Cruz to wrap the fibers continuously around structurally important junctures like the head tube and bottom bracket, strengthening the frame, dissipating the force from impacts and pedaling load, and allowing for comparable strength with less material and a lower weight. Translated into trail talk, this means the Highball hits the bricks when you stomp on the pedals, dampen high-speed chatter, and hold lines like a cat on carpet — all with a low-weight that makes any full-suspension bike look like a bloated downhill-only machine.

Finally, Santa Cruz’s approach to the carbon lay-up process deserves a quick mention before we sign off. The carbon is compacted from both inside and out, eliminating voids, preventing delamination, and creating a smooth interior. While that level of aesthetic perfection is a nice idea, even if we can’t see it, the real-world benefits of a perfect interior include no resin pools or unintended material abnormalities, which can structurally compromise a frame over time.

A cross-country speed machine built for the climbs

Carbon hardtail platform blends low weight and stiffness

Moderate geometry angles balance stability and aggression

Short chainstays and 27.5in wheels add agility for dicing terrain

A double Shimano drivetrain ensures you’ll always have the right gear

Santa Cruz Bicycles has been rewriting the hardtail book since 1993


2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Highball Carbon 27.5 R2 Complete Mountain Bike

Frame Material:

Carbon C


RockShox Reba RL

Front Travel:

100 mm


1-1/8 – 1-1/2 in Cane Creek 10


Shimano SLX M7000

Front Derailleur:

Shimano SLX M7000

Rear Derailleur:

Shimano SLX M7000 Shadow+

ISCG Tabs:



26 / 36 t Shimano SLX M7000

Bottom Bracket:

73mm English threaded


Shimano SLX M7000


Shimano SLX M7000


SRAM Level T

Brake Type:

hydraulic disc


160 / 160 mm Avid Centerline


RaceFace Evolve Flat

Handlebar Width:

720 mm


Santa Cruz Palmdale lock-on


Race Face Ride


WTB Volt Race


Race Face Ride

Seatpost Diameter:

27.2 mm


[rims] WTB STP i19 TCS


[front] Novatec D711, [rear] Novatec D772

Front Axle:

15 x 110mm Boost

Rear Axle:

12 x 142mm


Maxxis Crossmark DC EXO

Tire Size:

27.5 x 2.1 in


not included

Recommended Use:

cross country

Manufacturer Warranty:

lifetime on frame


2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Highball Carbon 27.5 R2 Complete Mountain Bike


Highball 27.5
  Seat Tube


Effective Top Tube






Stand Over Head Tube


Head Tube Angle


Seat Tube Angle


Bottom Bracket Drop




S 16in 22.6in 22.7in 15.5in 28.3in 3.9in 69o 73o 1.6in 16.7in 42.1in
M 17in 23.6in 23in 16.3in 28.9in 4.3in 69o 73o 1.6in 16.7in 43.1in
L 19in 24.6in 23.4in 17.2in 29.9in 4.7in 69o 73o 1.6in 16.7in 44.1in
XL 21in 25.6in 23.8in 18.1in 31.3in 5.1in 69o 73o 1.6in 16.7in 45.2in


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