The new 2022 Megatower is more enduro-ready than ever before, with on-board storage, longer travel, improved suspension and longer, slacker geometry

Product Overview

Santa Cruz Megatower C GX AXS RSV

Pros:

  • Useful storage. Rider-friendly sizing and geometry. Exploitable handling and suspension.

Cons:

  • Premium price tag.

Product:

Santa Cruz Megatower C GX AXS RSV first ride review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£8,999.00
TAGS:

‘Bigger and badder’ exclaims the slogan on Santa Cruz’s marketing blurb for the new Megatower. Considering the first generation bike was hardly a minnow, boasting 160mm of rear wheel travel and a 515mm reach on the largest frame size, that’s a bold claim, and just goes to show how incremental progress has transformed the 29er enduro bike in just a few years, something that’s evident in the other bikes in our best enduro mountain bikes roundup.  

But I’d argue that the most significant update to the new Megatower is much harder to put into measure with a slide rule or an angle finder. It’s the suspension performance that really gives the new Megatower an advantage over its predecessor.

Santa Cruz Megatower need to know

  • Mark 2 Megatower now comes with ‘Glovebox’ down tube storage
  • Slightly longer and slacker than previous generation – seat tube now steeper for better climbing
  • Dropout chips have been replaced by simpler (and cheaper) proportional chainstay lengths
  • Travel boosted to 165mm rear/170mm front
  • Improved suspension performance
  • C and CC carbon frame options
mbr editor sending a jump on the Santa Cruz Megatower

mbr editor Danny put the new Megatower through its paces in France

Santa Cruz Megatower frame and geometry

The second most obvious improvement on the new bike is the internal frame storage. When Santa Cruz launched the redesigned Bronson last year with its swollen down tube, plenty of riders questioned the outsize proportions. Well, now we know its purpose (although it’s weird that Santa Cruz didn’t just introduce the door at the same time).  

The Glovebox, as Santa Cruz has dubbed it, sits about midway along the down tube, above the kink where the forward shock mount sits. The plastic door uses a solid aluminium latch that secures with a positive action. It’s not quite as easy to release as the Trek lever, or the Specialized catch, but it’s a clean, discreet design.

Detail photo of downtube storage and bags on Santa Cruz Megatower

On board storage in the downtube, complete with little bags for organising stuff

Like most systems, the door doubles as a bottle cage mount (you’ll have to supply your own cage), and inside there are two bespoke sleeves included with the bike. Again, it’s not the easiest bike in terms of access – the Specialized is the clear winner here, but it’s not as difficult to stow or remove stuff as it is on a Trek, Focus or Orbea. 

Cutting a hole in the down tube obviously affects frame strength and stiffness, so Santa Cruz has had to add material around the opening. As a result, the new frame is slightly heavier than the previous generation, but the engineers have mitigated this as much as possible with revisions to other areas of the bike – losing the chainstay chips for example.

They have also worked hard on improving the stiffness on the larger frame sizes, so bigger/heavier riders shouldn’t feel compromised on ride quality. 

Detail photo showing suspension shock area on Santa Cruz Megatower

The new frame is a little heavier than the previous models due to the shock position

Santa Cruz has sharpened up the styling considerably, too, by incorporating the new design language introduced two years ago on the 5010. That means more angular tube profiles and hard-edge creases around the shock tunnel. As usual, there are two frame lay-ups – both outwardly identical – that balance weight with cost. The CC option being 3-400g lighter than the C according to Santa Cruz, and used for the top three build specs. 

As we’ve already mentioned, Santa Cruz has ditched the adjustable chainstay length found on the original Megatower for a simpler, lighter and more cost effective proportional chainstay system.

Originally conceived by Owen Pemberton of Forbidden Bikes when he was working for Norco, this has been standard issue on Santa Cruz models for a couple of years now. By moving the lower link position relative to the bottom bracket, Santa Cruz can manipulate the effective rear centre measurement using just one swingarm design. This saves money as the front triangle needs a separate mould anyway.

Close up photo of the frame of the Santa Cruz Megatower

The new Megatower comes with size specific geometry to ensure uniform great performance

On the Megatower every size gets a unique rear centre measurement, calculated to balance out the proportions of the bike as the front centre changes. Specifically it starts at 436mm on the small and tops out at 447mm on the XXL frame. And because the position of the lower link changes (the link itself does not), the kinematics also vary between sizes. Basically, the larger the frame, the higher the anti-squat. Which makes sense given larger riders are generally heavier and putting out more power. 

The larger the frame, the higher the anti-squat

Other elements of the geometry have also subtly changed. The head angle is now just over 1º slacker, the effective seat tube angle is around 1º steeper depending on the frame size, and the reach has grown 5mm on every frame size. Santa Cruz has also tweaked the head tube lengths with the XXL getting shorter and the XL and L getting longer. 

Photo of blue Santa Cruz Megatower with mountain view behind

The model we rode featured the Matte Nickel colourway, or there’s this rather nice ‘Trans Blue’ gloss finish option

There’s still a flip chip, offering just 3mm of BB height/0.3º angle adjust, but more significantly it also tunes the suspension feel. Talking of the BB height, this has been raised a touch because the rear travel has been increased by 5mm to 165mm (paired with a 170mm travel fork up front).  

Santa Cruz Megatower components and build kits 

In the UK, the Megatower will be available with five different build kits. Top of the range is the all-singing, all-dancing XX1 Flight Attendant bike. Next in the hierarchy is the X01 AXS model with Reserve carbon wheels (choice of either coil or air shock), followed by the X01 with cable-operated drivetrain and alloy wheels.

Photo detail of brake rotor on Santa Cruz Megatower

Fox 38 Float Performance Elite with SRAM Code RSC brakes

There’s a GX AXS model with either alloy or carbon Reserve wheel options, then a GX-Eagle-equipped S (gets a RockShox Super Deluxe Select + shock and Fox 38 Performance fork). Bringing up the rear is the R model with NX Eagle drivetrain, Super Deluxe Select shock and Zeb R fork. 

Photo detail of the cassette on the Santa Cruz Megatower

Behold the sleekness of that wireless groupset

The model I rode was the GX AXS RSV. It saves some cash with the heavier C carbon frame, which is then ploughed back into the sweet, wireless SRAM drivetrain. Other parts on the bike include a superb, and race-ready Maxxis Assegai/Minion DHR II tyre combo with MaxxGrip compound up front and MaxxTerra out back. Both running the updated EXO+ reinforced casing (coil shock bikes run Double Down casings out back). The cockpit is handled by a Burgtec stem with 800mm Santa Cruz Carbon bars and soft House grips.

Photo detail of the chainstay protector on the Santa Cruz Megatower

Chunky chainstay protection to keep things in order

To keep the chain located on the 30t chainring there’s a chainguide and taco bash guard. 

Standard issue parts also include a pair of down tube protectors, one for tailgate shuttles, a threaded BB, integrated rubber chainstay protection, shock guard, rear bearing eyelet in the shock, a machined alloy UDH mech hanger and well-considered cable routing that works whether you run your rear brake on the left or the right. 

Santa Cruz Megatower: how it rides

If you’re acquainted with the old Megatower, the new version will feel pretty similar the first time you swing a leg over it. That 5mm increase in reach is hardly noticeable, especially in conjunction with the increase in stack height. And while the 1º change in head and seat angles seem dramatic, you’d have to be climbing directly off one bike and onto the other to pick up the difference. In other words, the Megatower produces a really familiar riding position. In no way is it extreme or progressive, but it definitely feels like a solid place to conduct business. 

mbr editor Danny testing the Santa Cruz Megatower on dry dusty forest trail in France

mbr editor Danny tested the new Santa Cruz Megatower on a range of different trail types

And that familiarity continues to manifest itself on the trails. The Megatower is a bike that’s very easy to get along with – there are no awkward silences or small talk, you feel completely in tune with one another from the first pedal stroke. Tuck in low to the bars through a long, sweeping corner and you can play with the balance of grip. Either lean on that tenaciously sticky front tyre and carve discreetly but rapidly onto the next straight, or nudge your weight forward, push with your feet and let the rear wheel drift through the apex. Fast or fun; the choice is yours. 

Bang into a rock garden or series of bumps and you’ll feel the support through the Performance Elite damper on the Fox 38 fork. It’s never harsh, but it requires strength to carry speed. With the shock in the high position, there’s plenty of mid-stroke support at the back to lean on, but the Megatower felt muted, and never that well tied down in that setting. Moving to the low position was a revelation. Yes, the support drops away a touch, so you sit a bit deeper in the stroke, but there’s a big increase in grip levels, and the extra progression means there’s more pop.

Detail photo showing shock on Santa Cruz Megatower

Lower leverage ratio equals better control

This is a real advantage for generating speed, changing lines or weighting and unweighting over rough sections. Despite the change in dynamic sag, it doesn’t feel too low when climbing either, and pedal clearance is reasonable. 

Overall, Santa Cruz has lowered the leverage ratio on the new bike, so the damping is moving less oil throughout the stroke, which gives superior control. And that predictable consistency is a real boon on the trails. That’s not the only improvement, either. On the old Megatower I can recall a couple of moments braking into rough chutes where the suspension seemed to choke up, probably due to pedal kickback, but on the new bike I didn’t experience any of those moments. If you’ve got the legs, switching to a 32t chainring would probably further help in this regard. 

mbr editor Danny riding the Santa Cruz Megatower on rocky trail in France

Its good, but a Fox Float X2 could make it better

I didn’t get the chance to try the Megatower with the Fox Float X2 shock, but from talking to Kiran MacKinnon, who did all of the tuning, it could unlock even more performance from the bike. Aside from giving the rider more control over set-up than the RockShox, Santa Cruz spent a long time tuning the Megatower with this shock, and ended up with completely custom valving. When the product manager is running something on his bike, you know it’s probably the one to go for. 

All these improvements add up to a considerable upgrade over the old model. Better geometry, better suspension, better practicality. So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re all about racing the clock, or only care about having fun, the new Megatower can wear either of those hats. 

Santa Cruz Megatower range overview and prices

There are 11 builds available in the new Megatower range, six with the carbon C frame, and five with the premium carbon CC frame. This includes coil shop options on the top builds within each frame option.

Santa Cruz Megatower C R

  • Price: £5,499
  • Frame: Carbon C 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select230x62.5
  • Fork: RockShox Zeb, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM NX Eagle, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 RE
  • Wheels: RaceFace AR Offset 30 29″ rims with SRAM MTH 716 hubs
  • Seatpost: SDG Tellis Dropper

Santa Cruz Megatower C S

  • Price: £6,599
  • Frame: Carbon C 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+230×62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Performance, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code R
  • Wheels: RaceFace AR Offset 30 29″ rims with DT Swiss 370 hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or RaceFace Aeffect

Santa Cruz Megatower C GX AXS

  • Price: £7,899
  • Frame: Carbon C 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+230×62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Performance Elite, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle AXS, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Wheels: RaceFace ARC Offset 30 29″ rims with Industry Nine hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

Santa Cruz Megatower C GX AXS Coil

  • Price: £7,899
  • Frame: Carbon C 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ Coil230x62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Performance Elite, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle AXS, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Wheels: RaceFace ARC Offset 30 29″ rims with Industry Nine hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

Santa Cruz Megatower C GX AXS RSV

  • Price: £8,999
  • Frame: Carbon C 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+230×62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Performance Elite, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle AXS, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Wheels: Reserve 30 29″ carbon rims with Industry Nine hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

Santa Cruz Megatower C GX AXS RSV Coil

  • Price: £8,999
  • Frame: Carbon C 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ Coil230x62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Performance Elite, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle AXS, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Wheels: Reserve 30 29″ carbon rims with Industry Nine hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01

  • Price: £8,399
  • Frame: Carbon CC 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: FOX Float X2 Factory 2-Position lever 230×62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Factory, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Wheels: RaceFace ARC Offset 30 29″ rims with Industry Nine hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Coil

  • Price: £8,399
  • Frame: Carbon CC 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: FOX DH X2 Factory Coil 2-Position Lever 230×62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Factory, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Wheels: RaceFace ARC Offset 30 29″ rims with Industry Nine hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV

  • Price: £9,699
  • Frame: Carbon CC 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: FOX Float X2 Factory 2-Position lever230x62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Factory, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM X01 Eagle AXS, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Wheels: Reserve 30 29″ carbon rims with Industry Nine hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV Coil

  • Price: £9,699
  • Frame: Carbon CC 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: FOX DH X2 Factory Coil 2-PositionLever 230×62.5
  • Fork: FOX 38 Float Factory, 170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM X01 Eagle AXS, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Wheels: Reserve 30 29″ carbon rims with Industry Nine hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

Santa Cruz Megatower CC XX1 AXS Flight Attendant RSV

  • Price: £TBC
  • Frame: Carbon CC 29″ 165mm Travel VPP
  • Shock: Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate FlightAttendant 230×62.5
  • Fork: RockShox Zeb Ultimate Flight Attendant,170mm
  • Groupset: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS, 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Code Ultimate
  • Wheels: Reserve 30 29″ carbon rims with i9 Hydra hubs
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6 or OneUpDropper V2

 

Verdict

All these improvements add up to a considerable upgrade over the old model. Better geometry, better suspension, better practicality. So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re all about racing the clock, or only care about having fun, the new Megatower can wear either of those hats. 

Details

Frame:Carbon C, 165mm travel
Shock:RockShox Super Deluxe Select+
Fork:Fox 38 Float Performance Elite, 170mm travel (44mm offset)
Wheels:Reserve 30, Industry Nine hubs
Tyres:Maxxis Assegai/DHR II 29x2.5/2.4in
Drivetrain:SRAM Descendant 7K 30t, 170mm, SRAM GX Eagle AXS 12-speed shifter and r-mech
Brakes:SRAM Code RSC, four-piston, 200/200mm
Components:Burgtec Enduro MK3 stem, 42.5mm, Santa Cruz 35 Carbon Bar 800mm, RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper 170mm, WTB Silverado Race saddle
Weight:TBC
Size:S, M, L, XL, XXL
Size tested:L
Geometry ridden:Low
Rider height:5ft 10in
Head angle:63.5º
Effective seat angle:77.5º
Bottom bracket height:343mm
Chainstay length:441mm
Front centre:826mm
Wheelbase:1,266mm
Top tube:613mm
Seat tube:430mm
Reach:472mm