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2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon CC 29 X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike

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2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon CC 29 X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike

 

Santa Cruz Bicycles’ Hightower Carbon CC 29 X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike is something of a bellwether for the current direction of the off-road flock. It features a host of tech that virtually every manufacturer is dabbling in but that few—if any—have managed to fit into a single model as well as SC. Of these, the integration of a flip chip in the upper link is the most revolutionary, as it allows the Hightower to toggle between the 29er platform featured here and the plush, all-mountain/bikepacking float of a 27.5+ set-up without compromising the frame’s geometry—and that geometry definitely warrants preservation.

Santa Cruz likens the Hightower to the Bronson, a bike that effectively re-wrote the definition for enduro. Given that comparison and the inherent attributes of wagon wheels, we expect the mid-travel, 29er Hightower to handle everything from crunchy terrain to hardpack and climbs with a versatility that approaches the specialized competence of bikes like the big-hit Bronson and the XC Tallboy. It doesn’t disappoint. The frame is slung long and low with generous travel for a 29er, but its relatively short chainstays and stiff Boost axles ensure that it handles tricky situations and dices terrain with all the expert flair of a celebrity television chef.

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 both a bottle cage and a piggyback shock—yet another indication that it thrives on XC hardpack and enduro shuttle loops.

The Hightower’s two triangles are joined by the latest generation of VPP suspension. Santa Cruz refers to it in-house as third generation VPP, 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 features the same Carbon CC frame construction that’s ruined our taste by giving us unrealistic expectations for how carbon should feel. For the top-tier CC frame, Santa Cruz engineers use a higher modulus carbon than the Carbon C model, so less material is required to hit the same strength and stiffness numbers. Less material equates to less weight, and climbing and pure speed both benefit when there’s less mass for your engine to propel.

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 even more weight savings.

Finally, a note on tire clearance, which has become one of the key characteristics underwriting an off-road bike’s ideal use narrative. In the present 29er mode, the Hightower easily clears tires in the 2.4 and 2.5in range, but going any larger risks compatibility issues, depending on the tire manufacturer. If you’re building a snow or bikepacking rig with 27.5+ wheels and tires, the Hightower can accommodate most 2.8in tires, but may have trouble with some manufacturers’ 3in specimens.

 

2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon CC 29 X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike

A trail 29er with all-mountain pedigree

5.3in of the latest VPP suspension

Geometry inspired by both the Bronson and Tallboy

Peerless Carbon CC frame construction process

RockShox cushion throughout, including dropper

SRAM’s 12-speed, 1x drivetrain features the ultimate bailout gear

Santa Cruz Bicycles continues to define the direction of the industry

 

2017 Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Carbon CC 29 X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike

Frame Material:
Carbon CC
Suspension:
VPP
Rear Shock:
RockShox Monarch RT3
Rear Travel:
135 mm
Fork:
RockShox Pike RCT3
Front Travel:
140 mm
Headset:
Cane Creek 40
Shifters:
SRAM X01 Eagle
Front Derailleur:
n/a
Rear Derailleur:
SRAM X01 Eagle
ISCG Tabs:
yes, ISCG 05
Crankset:
30 t SRAM X01 Eagle Carbon
Bottom Bracket:
73mm BSA threaded
Cassette:
10 – 50 t SRAM X01 Eagle
Chain:
SRAM X01 Eagle PowerLock
Brakeset:
SRAM Guide RSC
Brake Type:
hydraulic disc
Rotors:
180 / 180 mm Avid Centerline
Handlebar:
Santa Cruz Carbon flat bar
Handlebar Width:
780 mm
Grips:
Santa Cruz Palmdale lock-on
Stem:
Race Face Turbine
Saddle:
WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost:
[sizes medium, large] RockShox Reverb Stealth 150mm travel, [size x-large] RockShox Reverb Stealth 170mm travel
Wheelset:
[rims] Race Face ARC 27
Hubs:
DT Swiss 350
Front Axle:
15 x 110mm Boost
Rear Axle:
12 x 148mm Boost
Tires:
[front] Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C, [rear] Maxxis Minion DHR2
Tire Size:
29 x 2.3 in
Pedals:
not included
Recommended Use:
trail, all-mountain, enduro
Manufacturer Warranty:
lifetime on frame
Actual Weight:
Sriracha Red, M: 12840g; Matte Black/Mint, L: 12970g

GEOMETRY CHART

Hightower 1C
29er
  Seat Tube

(c-t)

Effective Top Tube

(eTT)

Stack

(S)

Reach

(R)

Stand Over Head Tube

(HT)

Head Tube Angle

(HTo)

Seat Tube Angle

(STo)

Bottom Bracket Drop

(BBD)

Chainstay

(CS)

Wheelbase
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
27.5+
  Seat Tube

(c-t)

Effective Top Tube

(eTT)

Stack

(S)

Reach

(R)

Stand Over Head Tube

(HT)

Head Tube Angle

(HTo)

Seat Tube Angle

(STo)

Bottom Bracket Drop

(BBD)

Chainstay

(CS)

Wheelbase
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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