Take a look around on various mountain biking forums, and the name “Megatower” has been thrown around jokingly as a name for a supersized Hightower LT. And while Santa Cruz is using the name Megatower to describe their newest 29er mountain bike, it’s quite a bit more than just a Hightower or Hightower LT with more travel. Instead, the new 2019 Santa Cruz Megatower is a long-travel trail crusher, designed to hit the downhill at warp speeds.
Here’s the nerdy details: a 65 degree headtube angle, 76.6 degree seattube angle, 160 mm travel front and rear. The Megatower is designed to fit either a coil shock or air shock, with suspension kinematics and a linear spring curve to match. Like the Nomad, the Megatower is imbued with a fair bit of flexibility. There’s a lower-link flip chip is offered to adjust head and seattube angles 0.3 degrees, while a flip chip at the rear axle allows the rear wheel to be moved fore and aft 10 mm. In it’s longer setting, the Megatower can fit up to a 29 x 2.6″ tire. Santa Cruz really sweat the details here: every model comes with ISCG05 chain guides out of the box, a substantial rubber chainstay protector to keep the frame protected and your ride quiet, a bottom bracket guard, shock fender, and integrated shuttle guard to prevent wear and tear to your bike.
Other features include tubes that the internally-routed brake and derailleur lines pass through for simple installation, a removable downtube protector for shuttle days, a rear shock mudguard to deflect trail debris, and the typical Santa Cruz threaded bottom bracket for greater serviceability.
The VPP linkage ideology found throughout the Santa Cruz line is adapted here, with similar goals to the Nomad: mount the shock as low as possible, with a long upper link which connects the top tube to the seat stays, and a lower link that runs from the chainstays to the shock. This brings the bike’s leverage closer to that of the Nomad. This translates to a rear end that can be supple off the top and tracks well through chunder, but still offer enough mid-stroke support that the bike doesn’t feel unwieldy through technical singletrack.
The difference here comes in that lower-link flip chip: as opposed to being set parallel to the shock like on most bikes, the flip chip is now set perpendicular. Instead of adjusting purely for bottom bracket height and frame angles, this ideological rethink changes the rear suspension kinematics depending on how the chip is oriented. In it’s lower setting, the spring curve becomes more progressive: plusher off the top, and firmer at the middle and end of it’s travel.
When we first heard about this new long-travel 29er, we thought, “Oh, so if it’s not a bigger Hightower, then is it more like a Nomad with 29 inch wheels?” Well, yes and no. The Nomad is an excellent park bike, thanks to it’s bottomless suspension and nimble 27.5″ wheels. The Megatower is instead a no-hold-barred race bike designed to destroy any enduro course. It’s combination of swappable wheelbases, slack-but-not-slow head angle, and 29″ wheels portends a bike that plows through rock gardens, grips like crazy, and gets through an enduro course like few others.
It’s clear to see that the new Megatower isn’t for 95% of mountain bikers out there. On a lot of trails, it might not be nimble enough or poppy enough for slow-speed sections. But for those looking for a purpose-built 29er with Enduro World Series aspirations, Santa Cruz has answered the call.