Santa Cruz overhauls trail-slaying Hightower

Santa Cruz Hightower 2020
Santa Cruz's Hightower is longer, lower and slacker than the model it replaces (Image credit: Santa Cruz)

The Santa Cruz Hightower is the latest model in the company's portfolio to receive the lower link-mounted suspension arrangement, something which has allowed the engineers to slacken up the bike's geometry. As such the Hightower's geometry is longer and more relaxed (65.2-degree head angle) than the model it replaces while the chainstay length remains more or less the same.

Santa Cruz Hightower pivot assembly

VPP stands for Virtual Pivot Point, a lower-link suspension technology that features throughout Santa Cruz's mountain bike range (Image credit: Santa Cruz)

Another significant improvement is the new 140mm of rear travel to go with a 150mm fork (160mm forks are compatible). All models can accommodate both 29-inch and 27.5+ wheels thanks to the geometry-adjusting flip-chip in the shock mount. The new lower link-mounted suspension design is claimed to produce not only a linear shock curve but also eliminates bobbing caused by pedalling when the shock is open.

Santa Cruz Hightower's new lower link-mounted suspension desig

Like the V10 and Megatower, the new Hightower features a flip chip which allows the bike to switch between 29-inch and 27.5+ wheels (Image credit: Santa Cruz)

The range comprises five carbon models (available in CC or C grades) as well as three aluminium options, each of which is available in sizing ranging from S-XXL. The new frames have been engineered to balance stiffness and comfort without affecting overall weight while still retaining the beefier tubing and solid junctions the manufacturer has become known for.

Santa Cruz Hightower frame detail

The Hightower portfolio comprises both carbon and aluminium frame options (Image credit: Santa Cruz)

The bike's straight seat tubes mean longer dropper posts can be fitted. As such all but three models in the eight-bike line-up use factory-fitted RockShox Reverb Stealths ranging in lengths from 125 (small) to 200mm (XXL). 

Other nifty features include the frame's ability to accommodate a water bottle, cleaner and more refined cable routing (no more cable rub) as well as a tailgate shuttle guard, downtube protector, shock shield and noise-cancelling chainstay protector.

All Hightowers benefit from a lifetime frame and pivot bearing replacement warranty.

Santa Cruz Hightower chainstay

A host of protective shielding measures including a noise-cancelling chainstay protector have been fitted to keep the frame in top-top condition (Image credit: Santa Cruz)

Range and pricing:

  • Santa Cruz Hightower AL D - £3,099 / US$2,899
  • Santa Cruz Hightower AL R - £3,599 / US$3,499
  • Santa Cruz Hightower AL S - £4,399 / US$4,199
  • Santa Cruz Hightower C R - £4,499 / US$4,299
  • Santa Cruz Hightower C S - £5,399 / US$5,199
  • Santa Cruz Hightower C X01 - £6,599 / US$7,099
  • Santa Cruz Hightower C XTR Reserve - £8,399 / US$9,899
  • Santa Cruz Hightower C XX1 AXS Reserve - £9,399 / US$10,499
Aaron Borrill
Freelance tester

Aaron is Bike Perfect's former tech editor and also the former gear editor of Bicycling magazine. He's tested thousands of bicycles all over the world. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, raced nearly every MTB stage race in South Africa and completed the Haute Route Alps. Recently, Aaron has also taken up Zwift racing and competes at the highest level of eRacing, the ZRL Premier Division.

Rides: Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg