Just don't call it a Tallboy LT2...

Need to know

  • Santa Cruz Hightower supersedes the Tallboy LT
  • 135mm travel
  • Can run 27.5in Plus or 29in wheels
  • Flip chip on shock link accommodates wheel size change
  • Avaiable to buy in two wheel size options and three build kits
  • Longer reach, slacker head angle, lower BB and shorter chainstays than Tallboy LT
  • Revised VPP suspension



Is the Santa Cruz Hightower just an updated Tallboy LT?

Well, yes and no. A long time has passed since that bike was introduced and the market for longer travel trail 29ers has changed accordingly. Hence Santa Cruz asserts the Hightower is a new model in its own right, rather than an update to the old Tallboy LT. That won’t stop people making comparisons, of course…


How does it differ to the Tallboy LT?

If we look at a few critical measurements, in terms of length a size large Santa Cruz Hightower is 36mm longer in the reach (450mm vs 414mm) and 49mm longer in the wheelbase (1,187mm vs 1,138mm), despite being 15mm shorter in the chainstay (435mm vs 450mm). This is also partly down to a 2.5° slacker head angle (67° vs 69°).

>>> Click here for the complete guide to mountain bike geometry

The BB height has dropped 7mm to 335mm, the seat angle has steepened 1.5° to 74.2° and there’s loads more room to move around the bike thanks to a 34mm drop in standover.


Has the suspension changed too?

Yes, the new VPP 3, as it has been dubbed, has a smoother progression, with none of the old hammocky feel, making it easier to setup and more predictable in feel. Helping grip and small bump performance is the addition of a Monarch shock with Debonair air can and stronger negative spring.

Is it a tight fit with the Plus tyres?

There isn’t as much clearance as with some Plus bikes we’ve seen, but the fact that Santa Cruz has specced 2.8in tyres (from Maxxis) and a Boost 148mm back end means they seem pretty happy in there. The Boost 110 spacing on the Pike gives ample room at the fork – we’ll just have to see how the bike performs in a typical British winter before we give it the full stamp of approval.


Won’t fitting Plus wheels muck up the geometry?

Not if you follow Santa Cruz’s two recommendations. Firstly, run the Pike at 150mm travel instead of 140mm. This can be done by ordering the Plus version of the Hightower, or changing the air spring in the fork. Then all you need to do is flip the chip on the shock link to the high position (shock forward) and you get very similar geometry.

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It’s a touch slacker and lower, but we’re really splitting hairs here. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, you’re stuck with the longer offset 51mm Pike fork whichever Hightower you buy, which is a shame because it gives the steering feel of a steeper head angle.

How much does it weigh?

Our large Santa Cruz Hightower CC XO1 with 29in Easton alloy wheels and flat pedals attached tipped the scales at 13.03kg (28.7lb).

What about prices?

The Hightower range starts at £3,999 for the S build kit and either 29in or 27.5in Plus wheels with the heavier C frame. This rises to £5,999 for the XTR version and lighter CC frame, and you can bump the price up a further £1,700 by speccing the Enve wheel upgrade. A Hightower CC frame alone costs £2,699.

So that’s the basics, but look out for our first ride impressions on the Hightower in the April issue along with some more accurate measurements.