Santa Cruz Hightower Mountain Bike Review

Santa Cruz Hightower

Price

Pros​​​​

Design, versatility, wheel size, adaptability

Cons

Price, rims 

Summary

​The Santa Cruz Hightower is one of he most versatile and adaptable bikes out there. Designed to handle everything and handle it extremely well, but that comes with a cost.

Our Rating

​90/100

Manufacturer

A little over a year ago, Santa Cruz first released the Hightower.

It was meant to be a replacement for the Blur LT, and Santa Cruz has even recently released the Hightower LT, which, as the name suggests, is designed for long travel with 150 mm rear travel.

The Hightower is a mid-travel 29er that can also be configured with 27.5+ tires. Let’s take a look at this mountain bike’s specs.

Tech Specs

FRAME: S, M, L, XL, and XXL
BRAKE TYPE: SRAM Guide RSC
SHIFTER: SRAM X01 Eagle
RIMS: Race Face ARC
TIRES: Maxxis Minion Tires
PRICE RANGE:  $3,999 to $9,299

As the Santa Cruz marketing copy says, the Hightower was built for “big days in big terrain.”

Whatever appears on the horizon, the Hightower is designed to deal with it. No matter where you choose to ride, the Hightower is meant to seamlessly adapt to your style and the trails you ride.

The big selling point with the Hightower is its adaptability for the classic 29” wheel as well as the newer 27.5” Plus. Below, we will look at what tires come standard with the Hightower. However, if you choose a 29” model, you can easily change things out later if you find that you need a little extra traction and vice versa.

Other highlights of the Hightower are that it comes in sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL to accommodate riders who are 5’2” to 6’7”; there’s a bottle cage mount within the front triangle that fits piggyback shocks; a 15mm thru-axle fork; and a 148mm rear axle spacing.

Frame

There are two carbon layups to pick from with the Hightower. The CC is higher end, costs more, and weighs about .6 pounds less than the C. The 135mm Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension design is used with the Hightower along with all other Santa Cruz full-suspension bikes.

Santa Cruz Hightower Review
Santa Cruz Hightower Breaks Review

The frame features a threaded bottom bracket that is low maintenance and does not creak. In the front triangle, the internal cable routing is clean, and water stays out thanks to the rubber gaskets at the exit and entrance holes. The underside of the downtube and the stays around the chain feature rubber guards. And, a standard DT Swiss number is used for the rear axle.

Brake Type

The Hightower features an IS-mount disc brake, specifically the SRAM Guide RSC. Riders have found that it is easy to fine-tune the lever feel of the Guide RSC and it allows for excellent modulation. However, it does weigh slightly more than the previous models from SRAM.

Shifter

SRAM also makes the shifter for the Santa Cruz Hightower. The X01 Eagle is considered by many mountain bikers to be the best drivetrain they have ever ridden. It has proven to be reliable and steadfast. And, there is no noise with the smooth, precise shifting. There is also a nice gear range to complement the X01 Eagle. The downside is that it’s fairly expensive and therefore adds to the bike’s overall price tag.

Rims

The rims are Race Face ARC, which is a favorite for wheel-builders around the globe. The rim is made of welded aluminum and is tubeless ready. Overall, it offers an exceptional strength to weight ratio.

Santa Cruz Hightower

Tires

For the 29er kit, the Hightower comes equipped with Maxxis Minion tires. For 27.5+, it’s the Maxxis Rekon. The Minion is celebrated for how it handles in the muck. It strikes an excellent balance between being grippy and durable. The Rekon is known for its enhanced traction while also achieving nice speeds in the right terrain.

Price Range

On the Santa Cruz website, you can find dealers for all of the Carbon C and CC options as well as the Hightower LT models.

You might be able to find a deal on a Hightower bike since the prices vary from shop-to-shop. Looking online, the MSRP prices are:

  • Hightower Carbon C / 29 - $3999
  • Hightower Carbon C / 27+ - $3999
  • Hightower Carbon CC / 29 - $6799
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    Hightower Carbon CC / 27+ - $6799
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    Hightower LT Carbon C - $3949
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    Hightower LT Carbon CC - $6799

There are also several different kits with additional performance parts so the prices may vary.

What We Like

From top to bottom, the Hightower comes with high-quality parts. Additionally, it’s versatile enough to handle your casual weekend trail ride or your heavy-duty, rain-soaked race.

And, all of the comments we’ve heard from riders is that it can handle grueling terrains without the need for much maintenance.

Pros

  • Excellent brakes and drivetrain from SRAM
  • Handles tough rides without the need for adjustments
  • Can be configured easily for 29” and 27.5+” tires

What We Don’t Like

Based on the feedback we’ve gotten from riders who have put in the miles in the Hightower’s saddle, the bike handles well on just about all trails, though you may want to consider the Nomad instead if you plan on tearing up rock gardens.

Cons

  • The price is a bit steep for casual riders
  • Might be hard to find at independent dealers
  • Reports of the rims taking on dents (though not large enough to be problematic)

Buying Advice

The Santa Cruz Hightower will work for a lot of people because it is versatile. However, the ideal Hightower owner would be someone who wants something that will get them to the top of the mountain efficiently while still packing some punch on the way down.

You should also consider purchasing the Hightower if you are experienced or have your heart set on 27.5+ or 29” tires but are curious about what the other style is like. The Hightower is versatile enough for you to experience both worlds.

Lastly, if you just want to have one bike for all of your MTB excursions but prefer something that is more on the longer-travel side of things, then the Hightower should fit your needs perfectly.

Conclusion

The Hightower is a popular bike for good reason. It can serve reasonably well as a competitive bike as it is stable enough and competent at speed.

Plus, if you are just interested in putting in serious pedaling efforts and crushing miles, it is efficient enough. And, you can also have a great time on any trail even if you are an average rider not interested in racing.

We recommend giving the Santa Cruz Hightower a serious look if any of the above strikes a chord with you.

This post was last updated on June 2nd, 2018 at 06:08 pm

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start BikesReviewed.com. In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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