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2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon 27.5+ S Complete Mountain Bike


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2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon 27.5+ S Complete Mountain Bike


The 2017 Santa Cruz Hightower Carbon 27.5+ S Complete Mountain Bike inherits the same long, low geometry and unique flip chip shock mount found in its more expensive Carbon CC sibling to bring rowdy versatility at a less shocking price point. Boost axles bump up the stiffness, which means it climbs like a trail bike and blasts through all manner of terrain like an all-mountain shredder. That flip chip adds the versatility to be converted to run as a 29er with minimal impact to the geometry, but the combination of Boost axles, SRAM componentry, plush yet grippy 2.8in tires, aggressively stubby chainstays, a long reach, and a decidedly slack head tube is a stellar combination that you may never be tempted to change.

As with the ability to swap wheel sizes, the Hightower’s mid-range, 5.3in travel belies its true nature. Though its travel and wheel clearance may initially inspire comparisons with the more moderate 5010 or the Tallboy LT, Santa Cruz instead encourages us to “think of it as the Bronson’s taller brother.” Yep, that Bronson. The 27.5+ Hightower’s 66.8-degree head tube angle, generous tire clearance, and reworked Virtual Pivot Point suspension all mean that it’s capable of cleaning lines that would make the steep-angled Tallboy stop in its tracks.

Santa Cruz is so intent on proving the Hightower’s outsized merit over rock gardens that it bypassed the Bronson and went straight to the 6.5in Nomad for suspension inspiration. Besides the obvious big-hit benefits, one result of this is that the link stays out of the way, which may be why the Hightower can accommodate a piggyback shock and a bottle cage — yet one more indication that the Hightower isn’t just for XC hardpack or enduro shuttle loops.

The Hightower’s two triangles are joined by the latest generation of VPP suspension. SC refers to it in-house as VPP3, but it’s essentially the same VPP we know and love with the Nomad-inspired updates mentioned above. A repositioned lower link now shelters above the bottom bracket, increasing ground clearance to decrease the chance of rock strikes while indulging the Hightower’s desire to masticate scree fields and dice through the rooty, rocky, techy stuff. The upper link has also wandered up and forward, which makes for a more accommodating standover height for smaller riders wanting a huge ride, and it also stiffens the back end.

The latest VPP’s changes aren’t limited to wandering links, though; the system’s tuning has also been tweaked. Where the old suspension curve described a deep “U,” the new VPP’s curve resembles a flattened check mark, with less dramatic ramping on either end of the arc. The results are that, during the initial and mid stroke, it boasts increased bump compliance to keep the tires glued to the trail for more traction across lumpy trails and root latticed climbs. It also maintains its predecessor’s firm feel during accelerations while jockeying for position in a mass start or a finishing sprint. The RockShox Monarch’s ramp-up arc doesn’t dramatically alter as the shock compresses, so the pedaling platform stays consistent across travel, with less wallowing, bob, and bottom-outs — even while the Boost axle’s path turns rearward to absorb big hits deep in its travel.

The Hightower Carbon features a full carbon fiber frame boasting the same stiffness, durability, and strength as Santa Cruz’s top-line Carbon CC frame. It’s just made with a less costly carbon fiber that carries a tiny bit more weight and brings a big reduction in overall price. The frame’s two carbon triangles are built as whole pieces rather than glued together from disparate bits, a method that saves weight and increases structural integrity by allowing Santa Cruz to wrap carbon continuously through and around key junctures. This process reinforces the frame with less material while eliminating the artificial stress points that result from bonded construction methods. Finally, the carbon is also compacted from the inside and the outside for a more even finish that avoids any structural defects, excess material build-up, and resin pooling for added weight savings.

Despite the appeal of 27.5+, the little flip chip niblet that sits in the upper link and allows the shock mount to migrate is pretty damn cool, and definitely warrants some attention. Being able to reposition the shock attachment point effectively accounts for the 9mm difference in radii between 27.5+ and 29in tires, keeping the geometry as static as possible across wheel sizes. There’s definitely a trend in the industry towards four-inch 29ers slacked out for trail riding, but the Hightower’s optional 29er incarnation pushes that trend into the all-mountain realm.

Santa Cruz’s ultimate 27.5+ trail machine

Responsive pedaling platform with 5.3in of VPP travel

Spacious geometry for sending bigger lines

Flip chip allows compatibility with both 27.5+ and 29-inch wheels

CC Carbon construction reduces weight and increases stiffness

Santa Cruz continues to lead the industry with innovative design


2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon 27.5+ S Complete Mountain Bike

Frame Material:

Carbon C



Rear Shock:

Rock Shox Monarch RT

Rear Travel:

135 mm


Rock Shox Pike RC 150 Solo Air

Front Travel:

150 mm


Cane Creek 40, integrated



Front Derailleur:


Rear Derailleur:

SRAM GX 1×11

ISCG Tabs:

yes, ISCG 05


Race Face Aeffect AL

Bottom Bracket:

included w/ crankset


10 – 42 t SRAM XG 1150


SRAM PC 1130


SRAM Guide R

Brake Type:

hydraulic disc


180 mm Avid Centerline


Race Face Ride Lo-Rise, 760mm, 35mm clamp

Handlebar Width:

760 mm


Santa Cruz Palmdale Lock-on


Race Face Turbine Basic, 35mm clamp


WTB Volt Race


[medium, large] Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 150mm travel, [extra-large] Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 170mm travel


Race Face AR 40


[front] Novatec D541 Torque Cap, [rear] Novatec D542

Front Axle:

15 x 110m Boost

Rear Axle:

12 x 148mm Boost


[front] Maxxis Rekon EXO 3C TR, [rear] Maxxis Rekon EXO

Tire Size:

[front] 27.5 x 2.8 in, [rear] 27.5 x 2.8 in

Recommended Use:

all mountain, enduro, trail, mountain bike

Manufacturer Warranty:

lifetime on frame

2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon 27.5+ S Complete Mountain Bike


Hightower 1C
  Seat Tube


Effective Top Tube






Stand Over Head Tube


Head Tube Angle


Seat Tube Angle


Bottom Bracket Drop




M 16.5in 23.7in 23.8in 16.9in 27.9in 3.5in 67o 74.3o 1.3in 17.1in 45.9in
L 17.7in 24.5in 24.1in 17.2in 28.1in 3.9in 67o 74.3o 1.3in 17.1in 46.7in
XL 19.3in 25.6in 24.5in 18.7in 28.3in 4.3in 67o 74.3o 1.3in 17.1in 47.8in
  Seat Tube


Effective Top Tube






Stand Over Head Tube


Head Tube Angle


Seat Tube Angle


Bottom Bracket Drop




M 16.5in 23.7in 24in 16.8in 27.8in 3.5in 66.8o 74.1o 1.1in 17.1in 46in
L 17.7in 24.5in 24.2in 17.6in 27.9in 3.9in 66.8o 74.1o 1.1in 17.1in 46.8in
XL 19.3in 25.6in 24.6in 18.6in 28.2in 4.3in 66.8o 74.1o 1.1in 17.1in 48in


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