Hightower Carbon CC 29 X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike - 2017 by Santa Cruz Bicycles
Santa Cruz Bicycles' Hightower Carbon CC 29 X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike is something of a bellwether for the current direction of the off-road flock. It features a host of tech that virtually every manufacturer is dabbling in but that few--if any--have managed to fit into a single model as well as SC. Of these, the integration of a flip chip in the upper link is the most revolutionary, as it allows the Hightower to toggle between the 29er platform featured here and the plush, all-mountain/bikepacking float of a 27. 5+ set-up without compromising the frame's geometry--and that geometry definitely warrants preservation. Santa Cruz likens the Hightower to the Bronson, a bike that effectively re-wrote the definition for enduro. Given that comparison and the inherent attributes of wagon wheels, we expect the mid-travel, 29er Hightower to handle everything from crunchy terrain to hardpack and climbs with a versatility that approaches the specialized competence of bikes like the big-hit Bronson and the XC Tallboy. It doesn't disappoint. The frame is slung long and low with generous travel for a 29er, but its relatively short chainstays and stiff Boost axles ensure that it handles tricky situations and dices terrain with all the expert flair of a celebrity television chef. Santa Cruz is so intent on proving the Hightower's outsized merit over rock gardens that it bypassed the Bronson and went straight to the 6. 5in Nomad for suspension inspiration. Besides the obvious big-hit benefits, one result of this is that the link stays out of the way, which may be why the Hightower can accommodate both a bottle cage and a piggyback shock--yet another indication that it thrives on XC hardpack and enduro shuttle loops. The Hightower's two triangles are joined by the latest generation of VPP suspension. Santa Cruz refers to it in-house as third generation VPP, but it's essentially the same VPP we know and love with the Nomad-inspired updates mentioned above. A repositioned lower..
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