Riders absolutely adored the Santa Cruz Hightower all mountain bike upon release. It’s longer travel, coupled with VPP suspension design wasn’t just a mixture of pedaling efficiency and suspension prowess, it proved that a bike could feel just as good on tamer tales as it was on radical trails. While the Santa Cruz Hightower is geared toward versatility and balance on the trail, the Santa Cruz Hightower LT C long travel 29er mountain bike is a bit more focused. After all, the LT was born of the needs of Santa Cruz’s enduro racers, who are uniquely qualified to push even the supremely capable Hightower outside of its comfort zone.
Changes from the Hightower to the Hightower LT start from the back forward. While the front triangle and VPP suspension kinematics are the same as the standard bike, the rear swingarm changes to accommodate the longer shock. It’s not a night and day difference, but enough added capability to be a different bike. The rear end has slightly longer chainstays (438mm from 435mm) to accommodate the longer shock. Accompanying the 29er only wheelset option is a 150mm travel fork (compared to 140mm), which slackens out the headtube angle to 66.4 degrees. This makes for a bike that feel comfortable right from the start. It feels best at higher speeds, but still surprisingly fun at lower speeds that a more novice rider might ride at. The bike feels even more of a jack of all trades than even the standard Hightower, all thanks to its additional suspension travel.
How does it feel on the trail? Well, seeing as it’s roots are in a trail bike, the Hightower LT handles like a nimble rally car compared to the monster truck-like all mountain and long travel 29er competition. The VPP suspension is known to be an active companion climbing. This ensure the bike absorbs bumps well and limits kicking rocks and roots to the rider. On the descents, riders who modified their regular Hightower bikes get their wish; it feels faster on descents, and actually hides it’s 29er wheel size very well. The extra travel and slacker headtube does wonders in making the bike more stable. There’s a reason why the Hightower LT has been so successful in the Enduro World Series; it doesn’t feel like a monster truck like some of the competition, which means it is easy to quickly grow comfortable on high speed rough tracks and tight switchbacks alike.
Overall, the Santa Cruz Hightower LT strikes an excellent balance between downhill slayer and a versatile trail bike. It climbs well, is lightweight, and comes with well thought out specs over the whole price range. The threaded bottom bracket, space for a water bottle, legendary Santa Cruz quality, and five-frame size range (S-XXL) pushes this bike over the top.
The Santa Cruz Hightower LT C is available in five sizes (S-XXL), two colorways (Clay & Carbon and Sky Blue & Gold), and in two build kits:
- Santa Cruz Hightower LT R – Rock Shox Revelation RC 150mm fork, Fox Float Performance DPS 150mm shock, SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain w/ 10-50t cassette, SRAM NX 30t crankset, SRAM Guide T brakes, Race Face Aeffect dropper seatpost. It retails for $3999.
- Santa Cruz Hightower LT S – Fox 34 Float Performance 150mm fork, Fox Float Performance DPS 150mm shock, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain w/ 10-50t cassette, SRAM Stylo 30t crankset, SRAM Code R brakes, RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper seatpost. It retails for $4899.
Santa Cruz offers a lifetime warranty for each frameset they sell.
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