Santa Cruz Hightower LT - First Look

Introduced in 2016, the Santa Cruz Hightower combines 135mm of rear travel with your choice of 29-inch or fat 27.5 plus wheels. From relatively early in the piece, a number of Santa Cruz sponsored riders began putting the Hightower to use in EWS events. The bike was certainly fast and capable in 29er format but the riders wanted more travel for the rougher EWS courses, and that's where this project began.

Experimentation started with modified suspension links, extracting 146mm of travel from the rear end. After trialling a number of variants to obtain the desired leverage ratio and spring rate, they decided that updating the swingarm was the best solution.

So the new Hightower LT utilises the same front triangle as the regular Hightower but employs a new carbon swingarm (the difference is easy to pick as the newer rear end runs a post-mount fitting for the rear brake). With the new swingarm, the production level Hightower LT offers 150mm of rear wheel travel, which combines with a 150mm fork (the regular Hightower has 140mm travel up front in 29er format). With the added travel and new swingarm, the LT no longer offers 'plus' tyre compatibility, as it lacks the flip-chips for adjusting the frame geometry.

The geometry of the LT is a fraction slacker and more gravity oriented; the 66.5 degree head angle is half a degree slacker than the regular Hightower while the bottom bracket height pretty much the same. At 438mm, the chainstays are a few millimetres longer but overall the geometry remains quite close to the standard version.

As with the regular Hightower, there's room for a bottle within the main frame and it can accommodate a piggyback shock. Threaded bottom brackets are standard and the cable routing features internal guides for fuss-free assembly.

The Hightower LT will be offered in either a top-end CC carbon or the slightly heavier (but more affordable) C carbon versions. Both frame kits and complete builds will be offered.

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