Hightower Carbon 29 S Complete Mountain Bike - 2018 by Santa Cruz Bicycles
It may not feature SRAM's top-end Eagle drivetrain, but the Hightower Carbon 29 S Complete Mountain Bike still has the same long, low geometry and peculiar flip chip shock mount system as its more expensive, X01- and XX1-equipped stablemates. It's also got the added stiffness of Boost axles, which improve the spokes' bracing angle and net a bump in wheel stiffness, addressing the main concern we've had with noodly 29ers over the years. The industry has recently been dabbling in the world of low-travel 29ers that ride more like trail bikes, but the surprisingly capable Hightower pushes that trend into the all-mountain world, adding rock gardens and heavily latticed root systems to the wagon wheel menu. Though the Hightower's mid-range, 5. 3in travel and 29in wheels may initially inspire comparisons with Mr. Moderate (the 5010) or SC's equivalent of a center in basketball (the Tallboy LT), Santa Cruz instead encourages us to "think of it as the Bronson's taller brother." Yep, that Bronson. Given the implied big-hit aggression of this comparison, we're compelled to again dip into the lore of North American ball sports for an analogy: the Hightower isn't a gangly hoopster so much as a two-wheeled version of a predatory linebacker. The frame's 67-degree head tube sits on the slack end of moderate, so it pairs with the frame's long, enduro-minded reach, chainstays that are 15mm stubbier than the Tallboy, and the latest generation of Virtual Pivot Point travel for a machine that isn't afraid of trail furniture or grades. It's a helluva lot faster over light terrain and rocky climbs than bikes like the Bronson, but it's still capable of cleaning lines that would make the steep-angled Tallboy befoul its long-legged pants. For the time when discretion is the better part of not bailing, the stubby chainstays mean it can also dice techy sections like a bike with smaller wheels--all of which means that whether you're into taking the direct route over the crux or the big line...
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